Jennifer L. A. Shaw

Can't believe I won! So happy right now! Thanks to everyone who voted for me! I will be giving the prize money to an amazing charity called 'Room to Read'. They help children from impoverished communities in Africa, Asia and India reach good levels of literacy by providing textbooks in their language, teachers to teach them how to read and build schools in some of the poorest communities. Check out the amazing work the do at

Favourite Thing: Without a doubt the best part about being a scientist is getting to travel all over the world and meet people from all walks of life. My second favorite things are going on field (camping) trips to collect samples and getting my results back so I can find out what tiny animals are living in our water systems! I also love finding out new things about the world and nature that I didn’t already know by reading articles, watching documentaries and sharing information with other scientists



Maghull High School, Liverpool, England 1999 – 2003; Maghull high school 6th form, Liverpool, England 2003 – 2005


University of Liverpool Sept 2007 – July 2010

Work History:

United utilities in the UK as an environmental scientist for 4 months inbetween finishing my masters and starting my PhD


University of Adelaide February 2012 – 2015

Current Job:

Studying microbial commuites in freshwater systems using genetics (sequencing their DNA) in order to determine water system health. PhD research.

Me and my work

I ensure our rivers and drinking waters are healthy and clean for us to enjoy by looking at the bacteria and microscopic animals in the water by sequencing their DNA!


I went to  college after finishing high school and studied Biology, Performance arts, Psychology and English literature.

I decided that I wanted to go to university to do Genetics and managed to get a place in the University of Liverpool in the UK, but before my course began I decided to take a gap year to travel around Australia and Asia.


Whilst in Australia in Cairns I learnt to scuba dive and fell in love with the ocean and decided that I wanted to spend my life trying to protect the ocean and the planet from man-made destruction such as pollution, over-fishing and climate change. So I decided to change my course from Genetics to Marine Biology.

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So off I went to uni and did 3 years Marine biology, because I still liked genetics I decided to choose some genetics modules as part of my course so I could major in Marine biology and minor in genetics. Whilst doing marine biology I got to do research in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Cyprus studying marine animals and their habitats.

Whilst at uni I decided that I liked doing my own research so told myself that I would one day do a PhD and become a scientist. To do a PhD first you have to do a masters, so after university I went to Wales to do a masters in Marine environmental protection. For my masters dissertation I got to go to Africa for two months (for free!) to do my research on mangrove swamps.

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After that I was offered a PhD at the University of Adelaide. Which is what I am in the middle of doing now!



At the moment my research involves using genetics (sequencing DNA) as a way to find out what animals are present in freshwater rivers, lakes and streams. I am also doing research for SA Water to find out what tiny animals are lurking in drinking water! This is to make sure that all our drinking water is clean and safe to drink.

So to sum me up in a sentence: I love scuba diving, I love animals, I love learning new things about the world we live in (Biology) and I love traveling. Doing science is the best job in the world because it means I get to do the things I love (and get paid for it!) and I’m working on protecting the things I love.


My Typical Day

I dont have a typical day. I could be in the field, in the lab, at a computer writing or analysing my data or at a conference.

What I'd do with the money

I would like to give the money away to a charity or organisation which promotes science education in the developing world.


Living in a wealthy country we don’t realise how lucky we are to have access to a good education. There are millions of children in the world who don’t get a good enough education and many that don’t even get the opportunity to go to school. They are never able to get a good job as a result and can’t earn enough money to pull themselves out of poverty. $1000 in a 3rd world country such as Africa or India could buy A LOT of text books and perhaps even a TV to show educational videos. I think they need the money more than us.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Adventurous, Caring, Inquistive.

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Too many to list! I like all music! Some of my current faves on my ipod are: The Killers, Gas light anthem, Foo fighters, Nirvana, John Mayer, Kesha, Rhianna, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Blink 182, Oasis, Blur, Tame Impala, Django django, Macklemore, Dj Fresh, Skrillex, Swedish house mafia, The Clash, The Beatles, The Ramones, Fleetwood mac, Janis Joplin……. I could go on all day….

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Recently I went sand boarding on Kangaroo Island. Thats the most RECENT fun thing I’ve done. [myimage9]

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

1) To win the lottery so I could afford to travel the world and see EVERYTHING (and I’d give a lot of the money to charity – honest!!). 2)To go back in time and meet Steve Irwin before he died. 3) To swim with whale sharks and manta rays. (I am determined to make this happen!) [myimage10]

What did you want to be after you left school?

A scientist of course!

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

More often than I’d like to admit. Nothing awful. I just couldnt be quiet – EVER! especially when my friends were next to me. -Impossible!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Went to Zanzibar in Africa for two months to research mans impact on the Mangrove forests. It was the best experience of my life. Met some amazing people and seen some amazing things.

Tell us a joke.

How do you make a sausage roll? Push it down a hill.

Sports followed

Rugby League, moto gp, soccer, surfing

Favourite team

liverpool fc, wigan warriors, cowboys