Rhiannon Terry smiling at camera

Rhiannon Terry

Natural Product Bio-Prospector

PhD Candidate, Chemistry
College of Sciences and Engineering,
University of Tasmania

Have you ever wondered what makes a flower smell, why koalas love eucalyptus or what makes brussel sprouts taste so bad? These are the kinds of little mysteries I work to solve, by looking at the chemicals involved.

Plants can make a range of chemicals to help them grow, stop them being eaten or even to encourage animals to eat them and spread their seeds. We can learn what chemicals, also known as natural products, plants have and use them as well. Natural products are extremely important for our health, since almost all of our medicine comes from plants or is made to do the same thing plants do!

I have always enjoyed having nature and plants around. Going for bush walks, filling the house with so many it has become an indoor jungle, and eventually going to university to learn about how they grow and change in different conditions. Then in my second year of university I took my first ever chemistry class and found a way to learn about both!  My PhD project involves looking at the chemicals in native Australian plants and the parts of plants farmers normally throw away. Most days you will find me in the laboratory getting chemicals out of a pile of leaves with a household coffee machine in search of new natural products.