Jake Newland wearing a labcoat

Jake Newland

If DNA could fly

PhD Candidate, Neuroepigenetics
College of Health and Medicine,
University of Tasmania

Did you know you are made of acid?! It’s a very well organised acid, you might know it as your DNA. DNA is how your body knows how to be you. Little parts of your body, called cells, read DNA like a book, and just like a book, DNA can be read in different ways. DNA could have full stops, be scribbled out, or the pages could even be stuck together or ripped out! There’s different ways of reading DNA to let your body do different things in different places. I look at how reading DNA changes how your cells grow in your body. But I also look at how your DNA can be read wrong sometimes. To do this I study flies, who are full of DNA just like you and me!

I first got interested in science when I was your age (I can’t see you right now, so I don’t know what age you are but it’s still true, every grade and every year gives another chance to get interested in science). Whether its learning about the planets in primary school or learning about DNA at university there’s always something new and exciting to learn about science.  After year 12 I was eager to learn more which lead me to university where I studied biology, in particular the brain, to become a medical researcher.  A medical researcher is a scientist who focuses on learning about the body so that we can find ways to make better medicine. That interested me because of the opportunity to help people with science, and now with my research I hope to discover ways to improve people’s lives.

When I’m not exploring DNA, I play hockey and spend time with my friends. I also get excited whenever I see a fly outside of the lab.