Samantha Nixon is a former arachnophobe turned venoms scientist and spider advocate. She is a final year PhD student at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, the University of Queensland and CSIRO Agriculture and Food. Her research harnesses the unique chemistries in spider venoms to make new medicines against the drug-resistant parasites of Australian sheep, which cost over $435 million each year. She now applies her discoveries to major human neglected tropical diseases, and coordinates an international team testing venoms against hookworms, blood-flukes, filarial worms and malaria – finding venoms active against every parasite tested so far.
Samantha is an avid explorer, working around the world from the Australian deserts, to the Amazon and even Antarctica as the youngest member of the 2018 all-women expedition to Antarctica with the Homeward Bound Leadership program. Samantha never imagined herself as a scientist—let alone of spiders—so she dedicates her time to science communication to help others get over their fear of spiders. Samantha’s work has been featured on children’s television (Channel 10’s Totally Wild and Scope), Channel 7 and 9, ABC Radio, The Conversation Curious Kids and in national and international print and digital media. She also travels to Queensland schools to share her work to help inspire the next-generation of Australian scientists.
Samantha has been recognised for her work with awards and grants from the Burroughs-Wellcome Trust, a 2019 National Geographic Women of Impact Earth Day Ambassador, the World Association for the Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology, the International Society for Toxinology and the inaugural University of Queensland Global Change Scholar Award.
Skills & Expertise
- Science communication
- Drug discovery
- Venomous animals
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