Mia Zeric

Thank you so much for your votes! Can't wait to meet you guys :D

Favourite Thing: Look down a microscope and see tiny microbes! The first time I ever saw a microbe down a microscope was only 5 years ago and to date its still my favorite thing in Science.



1993-1998 Primary School in Pasing, Munich, Germany 1998-1998 Parramatta Public School 1999-2004 Arthur Phillip High School


2005-NOW! University of Sydney Bachelor of Science (Molecular Biotechnology)(Hons)

Work History:

Michel’s Patisserie (I love cake and I make a mean cup of hot chocolate), Living Energies (they sell amazing crystals, I grew up with crystals in my bedroom because my dad was a miner when I was little and he would bring back some shiny crystals),


University of Sydney-School of Molecular Biosciences

Current Job:

I’m now a microbiology demonstrator for 2nd year uni students

Me and my work

Where did you come from, where did you go? Gene flow in grape-smelling SUPERBUGS!

You might feel a little sick, you might go to your local GP and they give you antibiotics to kill off an infection that has been bugging you. Silly germs, I hear you say!  But did you know that the bacteria causing your infection has a few things in common with bacteria growing in  your kitchen sponge? Guess what, the bacteria on the mop that mum uses to clean the floor with has a few things in common that infectious bacteria too! I can tell you right now that what they have in common is this crazy need to swap and trade their DNA as though it was a packet of Pokemon trading cards! We call this horizontal gene transfer!

To investigate horizontal gene transfer, first up we have to get our hands on a lot of clinical isolates called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This bacteria is a big problem in hospitals, its a SUPERBUG. It keeps on living  even when we throw every antibiotic at it. That is scary, and causes many deaths and complications in the hospital. So study how it became a superbug, and find ways to stopping this superbug, we need to grab bacteria related to Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Time to get our hands on some sponges and mops and isolate many different bacteria of those as well. Gross yet cool! (Fun fact: Pseudomonas aeruginosa smells like grapes! deadly but sweet!)



Here comes the epic part. Our work is all about looking at  DNA, in particular, looking at DNA that loves to move about. We refer to this DNA as Mobile genetic elements (MGE for short). To look for this DNA we used an old school technique called Southern Hybridization and basically this is where you spot DNA from all of your isolates onto a positively charged membrane and wash it with more DNA! Looks a little this:


Where you have a spot showing up, well you have a positive result for a Mobile Genetic Element. This is where you get excited because now you visually see the DNA that Superbug Pseudomonas aeruginosa has in common with the tame Pseudomonas living on your sponge (or on the sponge that belongs to your friend! )

You  put your labcoat on one more time and you ask yourself: But how exactly did this DNA move? I know it loves to move, but how or why? To answer this, you design a clever little trap experiment. You make a little plasmid vector, stick it into one or more of these strange yet wonderful Pseudomonas  myimage3

and before you know it , you trapped your little DNA of interest. YOU CAUGHT IT MOVING! But Science is never clear cut. You now ask: How on Earth did it just do that? You and I now do a radioactive isotope course. We purify a protein of interest that is responsible for some of this DNA movement, we call it the Transposase. We order some DNA that we predict will make this protein jump for joy, we label this DNA with radioactive 32Phosporous (that we buy from Perkinelmer) myimage4 and run those two out on a gel called EMSA. (If I have a daughter I might call her EMSA!) That looks a little like so  myimage5:

And before you know it, you have recovered some Pseudomonas from the domestic environment, you also recovered some from critically ill patients at the hospital, you looked at them at a fine molecular level and you say: Hey! Where did you come from, where did you go? I’m looking at Gene flow.

My Typical Day

Pipette, PCR, plate and dunk biscuits in tea! ( I love Arnotts teddy bear biscuits)

What I'd do with the money

Get me some agar and a whole bunch of swabs! What grows in your local school?

I remember being very disappointed when we were told in school that the school didn’t have enough money to get us some material required to plate out bacteria. Most kids are introduced to microbes as germs, as nasties! Most will only get to see microbes via textbooks. But wouldn’t it be cool YOU guys could culture organisms from the soil that grows around YOUR school? Ever wondered what bacteria are sticking around on the soles of your shoes? What if you were given the chance to glance down a microscope and see E. coli for the first time? 😀

$1000 will pay for a whole bunch of equipment like food for the microbes, swabs, ONIONS and mushrooms! I have already asked my friends to come along, and a few of us would spend the day at YOUR school, teaching you what we know about cool and nasty bacteria. We will also help YOU extract DNA from your common onion, so some of the money will be needed to buy tissues! Onions make me cry like a baby! and mushrooms! Did you know mushrooms are like giant microbes? We want to teach you how amazing microbes are in food.

So really guys, what you only heard of before about germs, well we want to teach you some more fun facts about them. I want to give you the chance see these tiny bacteria.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

tall, curious, smiley

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Fav band: Coldplay Fav singer: Beyonce

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I bought Dr Karl Kruszelnicki a mint sundae and the two of us were chilling on the staircase talking about science!

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

1. To take my sister on a trip to Italy. 2. To get a husky puppy. 3. To own a chocolate shop.

What did you want to be after you left school?

A fun and awesome scientist or science teacher like my Biology teacher in High School.

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

yup! My physics teacher told me off for being too chatty! Oops!

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

I purified a protein that other scientists were discouraging me from attempting it, simply because it would be too hard. But I believed that I could and so I did. So the best thing I’ve done as a scientist is to believe in myself. :)

Tell us a joke.

What did sushi A say to sushi B? …… WASABI!

Sports followed

Soccer (but really its called Football!) and Tennis

Favourite team

Western Sydney Wanderers FC