Dr Frances Shapter

Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Scien

School of Veterinary Science
Faculty of Science

Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Scien

School of Veterinary Science
Faculty of Science
+61 7 535 15046


Dr Shapter's background was originally in Agricultural Science and higher education which evolved to the completion of her PhD in molecular genetics in 2008. Prior to her current appointments she was the senior researcher on ARC linkage, Australian Flora Foundation and RIRDC research grants looking at the genetic foundations of domestication and adaptation in Australian native grasses. She supervised two HDR students and has a strong publication record in this field. Her research interests centre on identifying and developing practical applications for gene sequencing. Fran is passionate about teaching and has worked as a facilitator commercially and trained early career researchers and PhD candidates in Project Management, IP and commercialisation and Leadership. She was a participant in the 2020 summit and was appointed to the federal advisory Rural R&D Council in 2009. Dr Shapter was also a sitting member of the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator's Ethics and Community Consultative Committee, 2016-2020.

Fran began tutoring at the UQ School of Veterinary Science in 2011, in large animal production, parasitology and microbiology. Since then she has held a variety of teaching, research and professional roles based around project management, curriculum design and blended learning design. She was the project manager for a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) grant which developed 40 vertically and horizontally integrated, online, adaptive tutorials for veterinary science students and was co-author on the manual developed by this project. She assisted with the development of a new flexible delivery laboratory animal science course in 2015 and delivers 5 weeks of online learning units into this course currently. She has been part of the SoTL research and evaluation associated with both these projects and has reported outcomes at University showcases annually since 2016.

In 2017 Fran became the new Student Clinical Skills Hub Coordinator, a purpose-built, state-of-the-art self-directed learning facility for students of veterinary science. Whilst undertaking this role student usage, resource availability and online support for the Hub has increased more than tenfold. Fran's aim is to provide a safe, authentic, self-directed learning environment where students can practice their clinical skills in accordance with individual competences, beyond the scheduled contact hours of their programs and further enhance their capacity for self-directed, lifelong learning whilst acknowledging the vast array of qualifications, previous training, life experience and cultural backgrounds each student brings with them to the Hub.In 2020 Fran recieved a UQ Teaching Excellence Award due to the demonstarted impact of the SVS Student Clinical Skills Hub.

In 2019 Fran was appointed as a Lecturer in Veterinary Science, while continuing her role as the Hub's coordinator. She continues to maintain her teaching roles into the veterinary program in animal handling, animal production, reproduction, microbiology, parasitology and plant identification. Fran has an additional role in the School with regard to asissting with the design, development and integration of blended learning resources, after working with the Science faculties blended learning design team in 2018. However her SoTL portfolio is best showcased by the development of the online learning community and training resources she has developed for the Student Clinical Skills Hub. As of June 2021, Fran has also taken on the role of the School of Veterinary Science Honours Program Coordinator.

Research Impacts

As a research assistant Frances worked on projects developing the application of pyrosequencing to wheat microsatellites and allele specific PCR for SNP detection in Barley (1). During her PhD she identified novel genotypes (2) and phenotypes (3,4) within Australia's unique native grasses which may be exploited through introgression of wild material into cultivated crops or in their own right as new cereal species.

Frances's post-doctoral research focussed on an ARC-Linkage project developing a mutation protocol for an undomesticated polyploid Australian native grass and has characterised several genes associated with domestication in this species (5). A mutation population was established and screened with 46 elite breeding lines being identified and rolled into a RIRDC commercialisation trial of a native perennial grain. Three of these lines are being developed by the project’s industry partner as new commercial breeding stock.

The ARC linkage project also developed a new protocol for primer design in undomesticated grasses using next generation sequencing (NGS) technology (6). Additionally NGS was used to genomically screen the mutant population for beneficial polymorphisms, which have been confirmed using Sequanom technology (5). Frances has also successfully applied a modified application of NGS to the question of adaptive genetics in a wild grass species through an Australian Flora Foundation project (7,8).

(1) Bundock PC, Cross MJ, Shapter FM and Henry RJ. (2006) Robust allele-specific PCR markers developed for SNP’s in expressed barley sequences. Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 112: 358-365.

(2) Shapter FM, Eggler P, Lee LS and Henry RJ (2009). Variation in Granule Bound Starch Synthase I (GBSSI) loci amongst Australian wild cereal relatives (Poaceae). Journal of Cereal Science, 49: 4-11

(3) Shapter FM, Lee LS and Henry RJ (2008) Endosperm and starch granule morphology in wild cereal relatives. Plant Genetic Resources, 6: 85–97.

(4) Shapter, FM, Dawes, MP, Lee, LS & Henry, RJ (2009). Aleurone and subaleurone morphology in native Australian wild cereal relatives. Australian Journal of Botany, 57( 8):688-696.

(5) Shapter FM, Cross M, Ablett G, Malory S, Chivers IH, et al. (2013) High-Throughput Sequencing and Mutagenesis to Accelerate the Domestication of Microlaena stipoides as a New Food Crop. PLoS ONE 8(12): e82641. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082641

(6) Malory, S, Shapter, FM, Elphinstone, MS, Chivers, IH, Henry, RJ (2011). Characterising homologues of crop domestication genes in poorly described wild crop relatives by high throughput sequencing of whole genomes. Plant Biotechnology Journal 9(9): 1131-1140.

(7) Shapter, FM, Fitzgerald TL, Waters DLE, McDonald S, Chivers IH, Nevo E, Henry RJ (2012) Analysis of ribosomal gene diversity in wild plant populations from contrasting climatic environments. Plant Signalling and Behaviour 7(6): 602-604.

(8) Fitzgerald, T L, Shapter, FM, McDonald, S, Waters, DLE, Chivers, IH, Drenth, A, Nevo, E and Henry, RJ (2011). Genome diversity in wild grasses under environmental stress. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108(52): 21140-21145.


  • Postgraduate Diploma, Southern Cross University
  • Postgraduate Diploma, Southern Cross University
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Southern Cross University
  • Postgraduate Diploma, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Agricultural Science, The University of Queensland


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  • Gibson, Justine, Reynish, Ingrid and Shapter, Frances (2018). Vertical modular framework eLearning manual. Gatton, QLD Australia: School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland. doi: 10.14264/99aee1d

Book Chapter

  • Shapter, F. M., Crowther, A., Fox, G., Godwin, I. D., Watson-Fox, L., Hannah, I. J. C. and Norton, S. L. (2018). The domestication, spread and uses of sorghum as a crop. Achieving sustainable cultivation of sorghum Volume 2: sorghum utilization around the world. (pp. 31-64) edited by William Rooney. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing. doi: 10.19103/as.2017.0015.01

  • Shapter, Frances M and Waters, Daniel L E (2014). Genome walking. In Robert J. Henry and Agnelo Furtado (Ed.), Cereal Genomics: Methods and Protocols (pp. 133-46) Totowa, NJ, United States: Humana Press. doi:10.1007/978-1-62703-715-0_12

  • Waters, Daniel L.E. and Shapter, Frances M. (2014). The polymerase chain reaction (PCR): General methods. In Cereal Genomics: Methods and Protocols (pp. 65-75) Totowa, NJ, United States: Humana Press. doi:10.1007/978-1-62703-715-0_7

  • Sexton, Timothy R. and Shapter, Frances M. (2013). Amplicon Sequencing for Marker Discovery. Molecular Markers in Plants. (pp. 35-56) edited by Robert J. Henry. Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. doi: 10.1002/9781118473023.ch3

  • Bhattacharya, Anjanabha, Rice, Nicole, Shapter, Frances M., Norton, Sally L. and Henry, Robert J. (2011). Sorghum. Cereals. (pp. 397-406) edited by Chittaranjan Kole. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-14228-4_9

Journal Article

Conference Publication

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision