Vice-Chancellor of the University of Tasmania Professor Peter Rathjen was appointed to the role in March 2011.

Prior to his appointment to UTAS, Prof Rathjen was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Melbourne. He was Dean of Science at that university and before that he was Foundation Executive Dean, Faculty of Sciences at the University of Adelaide. As a biochemist, he has specialised in embryonic stem (ES) cell research.

Prof Rathjen, with his wife Dr Joy Rathjen, established an internationally recognised research program into stem cell biology and stem cell therapies.

Prof Rathjen is Patron of the Science Teachers' Association of Victoria, is on the Board of the Tall Poppies Campaign, and was the winner of the inaugural South Australian Premier's Science Excellence Award in the category of Research Leadership in 2005.

Prof Rathjen studied as an undergraduate in the Department of Biochemistry at Adelaide University. As a 1985 Rhodes Scholar Prof Rathjen undertook a DPhil at Oxford University. He began investigating the molecular regulation of ES cell differentiation during a two-year postdoctoral position at Oxford.

He returned to Adelaide University in 1990 as a lecturer. In 1995 he was promoted to the chair of the Department of Biochemistry and in 2000 he became head of the new Department of Molecular Biosciences.