Dr Mabel Josephine (Jo) Mackerras

Dr Mabel Josephine (Jo) Mackerras was a zoologist specialising in entomology and parasitology. Born in 1896 in Deception Bay, she completed her schooling at Brisbane Girls Grammar School before earning her Bachelor of Science at UQ in 1918. For the two years following, while undertaking a Walter and Eliza Hall fellowship in economic biology, Dr Mackerras co-published some 14 research papers with renowned biologist Thomas Johnston.

While attending the University of Sydney in 1924, Dr Mackerras met her future husband, Ian Mackerras. The pair became one of the most distinguished couples in the Australian scientific landscape.

From 1943 to 1946, Dr Mackerras worked in the Australian Army Medical Corps, and conducted research to reduce the incidence of malaria in troops. Her work also contributed to the future development of pharmaceuticals to combat the disease.

Outside of her time in the army, Dr Mackerras’ career was largely spent in positions at CSIRO and QIMR where she conducted research projects investigating various parasites and animals. Notably, in 1947 she uncovered the life history of the rat lungworm – which was named angiostrongylus mackerrasae in her honour. Her efforts enabled the rat lungworm to later be identified as the cause of eosinophilic meningitis that was affecting the people of the Pacific Islands.

Dr Mackerras was awarded a Doctor of Science honoris causa from UQ in 1967 and passed away in 1971.


Doctor of Science honoris causa


Bachelor of Science
Master of Science