Who am I? Dr Elizabeth New
Where am I? Sydney, NSW
What’s my thing? Chemistry, viola, fighting disease
Why does Dr Elizabeth (Liz) New think she has the best job anyone could have, leading a chemical biology laboratory at the University of Sydney?
“Because you have the freedom to consider the questions you want to answer and then design experiments to do this. It’s amazing,” says Liz, whose research group creates chemical tools for studying factors that cause disease.
“And it’s not one of those jobs where you have to work your way to the top before you can make an impact. In science you can be interacting with amazing people as soon as you start working.”
Liz oversees two postdoctoral researchers and a team of honours and doctoral students. Yet it is little more than a decade since she made her debut on the world scientific stage as a Year 11 student at the 2000 International Chemistry Olympiad in Copenhagen, Denmark.
She was inspired by the scientific problems that people think about in other countries, and by getting a taste of what real research is like.
After secondary school, Liz followed an academic path beginning with a Bachelor of Science at the University of Sydney and postgraduate and postdoctoral studies at Durham University in the UK and the University of California, Berkeley, in the US. Outside the laboratory Liz likes to read widely, “about history, for example”, and play music.
“I have played viola in quartets over the years, including at Durham University,” she says.
“We have this idea that scientists are the ones who perform best in school or have a focused personality. For me, the scientific personality is simply anyone who is curious enough to ask questions.”
Adapted from Australia’s Future – a free ebook profiling some of the brightest stars in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics.