Alana De Luca
PhD Candidate, Tasmanian Devil Immunology
Menzies Institute for Medical Research,
University of Tasmania
Young Tassie Scientists 2019, 2021
Being a scientist is all about asking questions. I grew up in Western Australia and while I was in high school, I discovered that my favourite kinds of questions were ones to do with how the body fights different diseases. Since then, I have studied why some babies are born too early and why some people’s brains break down. Now instead of looking at human diseases, I am researching why the Tassie Devil population is being plagued by super weird facial cancer. I hope that my work can help wild devils stay healthy, and also help us understand more about how cancer works.
The Tassie Devil is the world’s biggest meat-eating marsupial. They are only found on our little island of Tasmania and their closest relatives haven’t existed in about 11,000 years! Part of my job is to hang out with devils, but I also spend a lot of time in the lab. I get to play with chemicals that glow different colours under a blue light and grow all things I used to get in trouble for when I left old mugs out too long!