The Footnotes

AGRICULTURE & ENVIRONMENT

10 questions with a Biotechnologist

FN: Emma, what is Biotechnology? 

Emma: At its simplest, biotechnology is technology based on biology – so, biotechnology helps to develop technologies and products that help improve our lives and the health of our planet.

Is Biotechnology a new concept?

We have used the biological processes of microorganisms for more than 6,000 years to make foods like bread and cheese, and to preserve dairy products. So… definitely not new! 

If I were a biotechnologist… what would I be working as?

You could be working for Sydney Water doing waste-water management, you could work for a cheese factory or a brewery or even for a company that’s developing new drugs!

There are tonnes of jobs out there.

You could be reducing rates of infectious disease, using biofuels to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 52% or more, decreasing water usage and waste generation or tapping into the full potential of traditional biomass waste products, producing foods free of allergens and toxins such as mycotoxin.

So what will you do?

I want to be an independent scientist and keep studying bacteria, and working out what it can do. But…my life long dream is to open a science café! I’ll serve home made beer and cheese.

Bacteria… what’s something that I wouldn’t know?

Something really interesting about bacteria is that it can actually change its shape.

Why would it do that?

Basically, so that it can hide from your immune system. It means you’ll be sicker, for longer.

What did you study?

I studied Chemistry in year 12 and then I started my Bachelor of Biotechnology. I fell in love with Biology in my first year!

What’s a misconception about science?

A lot of people think that this is a male dominated industry. But it’s absolutely not. Woman can do really, really well in science, so don’t be turned off by this misconception!

Find out more about the Bachelor of Biotechnology, here OR, ask you can email through a question to the UTS Science team, here.

Interview is with Emma Dawson of UTS.

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