Lachlan Tegart
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Lachlan Tegart

Sneezing Scientist

Medical Scientist
Menzies Institute for Medical Research,
University of Tasmania

Have you ever been looking at a pretty flower and then you sneezed? Or run through a grass field and your eyes got itchy? This isn’t because plants are dangerous or trying to hurt us, it is just a case of mistaken identity. Your body’s defence system sometimes mistakes the pollen as a threat and tells your body to sneeze them out! This is called ‘hay fever’ and I am trying to work out which plants cause it. In particular, I am trying to work out which Tasmanian plants might be responsible.

I realised I wanted to be a scientist when I was in high school in country Victoria. I was fascinated by the things around us that could make us feel sick, whether it was beautiful flowers, weird mushrooms or my grandpa’s cat. At uni I started learning about bacteria and viruses and the cool ways our body reacts to these invaders. Then I decided I wanted to study hay fever and pollen. I had the opportunity to take my research to Tassie last year and I rushed over on the Spirit of Tasmania. I love it here!

In my spare time I like to explore and do photography – but when it is cold I like to sit at home and watch MasterChef. Studying science has led to me working in the forest and the lab and I have done some cool things like growing bacteria on jelly, discovering new species of mushroom, and breeding sea monkeys. Science is the coolest!


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