Emily Attrill holding a model heart

Emily Attrill

Brilliant Bloody Bodies

PhD Candidate, Muscle Physiology
College of Health and Medicine,
University of Tasmania

I have always been fascinated with the human body. My Grandad was one of the earliest Australian heart transplant recipients and the idea that my Grandad’s heart could be replaced by another one blew my kid-mind. I was obsessed with understanding how. At school, I would take any chance I could get to talk about the body; the pinnacle of this being in grade three when I convinced mum to let me take sheep organs into school for my ‘Human Body’ oral presentation (my teacher couldn’t even look, but my peers thought it was gross and awesome).

Growing up in rural Victoria, I wasn’t exposed to many scientists and thought my only option was to become a doctor or surgeon. However, I attended the Rotary National Science and Technology Forum in New Zealand, and that changed my life forever. It was like two weeks of work experience where I got to try dozens of science and technology careers, but what it showed me was that if I wanted to understand the human body, then I should be a scientist!

My research now focuses on understanding how blood flows through our blood vessels and travels to muscles. We have a limited amount of blood in our bodies, so we must send it to the organs that are doing the most work. During exercise, and after we eat, the hardest working organ is our muscles, but how do our blood vessels know that? This is something I am trying to work out. I get to do cool things in the lab, like using ultrasound machines and glowing jelly, to look at how blood vessels control the flow of blood to our muscles. Understanding the human body remains my passion because now I get to look more closely at how all the little bits and pieces work together to make both you and me!


Follow Emiily on Twitter: @EmAttrill