Bursting with Mitochondrial Energy, Sophia Frentz Joins RealScientists!

IMG_0191This week we’re diverging from the norm, with a PhD student taking over the reins of RealScientists. Sophia Frentz is doing her grad studies at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), through the University of Melbourne, and normally tweets @sofaf.

Spoiler: she has cool hobbies!

Sophia answered the normal intro questions:

Why/How did you end up in science?

I’ve always been interested in how the world works, in whatever form! I was more of a rarity in my undergrad in that I don’t come from a scientific background, but my parents always encouraged curiosity and that led me to science.

Why did you choose your current field/what keeps you there?

I’m in genetics, and the idea of learning about the building blocks of life are what initially drew me here. As it turns out, genetics is not that simple, but the broad understanding of a range of fields my undergrad gave me definitely kept my over-active mind working hard.

I’m doing my PhD in clinical genetics and it’s really the ability to make a difference in someone’s life, as well as solving a mystery, that keeps me here.

Tell us about your work?

I’m investigating mitochondrial complex I deficiencies in mice and human cell lines, with a view to comparing/contrasting model systems and investigating the effects of some different drugs.

Motivation: why should the lay public care about your research/work?

No drugs to treat mitochondrial dysfunction exist yet, and with an incidence rate of 1 in 5000 live births it’d be pretty awesome if we could actually undertake curative or mitigative measures rather than just palliative care. (complex I deficiency, what I’m working on, is the most common cause of mitochondrial dysfunction).

Do you have any interesting external/extracurricular obligations?

Debating eats up my life – and this week is a pretty debating-heavy week for me, so you’ll be hearing a lot about the interplay between the communication skills I learn/have to use at debating and how that helps/hinders everything I try to do in science.

IMG_0129Any interesting hobbies you’d like to share?

Mostly just debating! I’m a lapsed poet, and attended Haiku North America last year to talk about Science and Haiku, as well as a lapsed musician, and a budding chocolatier. I’m currently trying to learn how to sew, but actually playing a lot more of Kim Kardashian Hollywood than I really should.

How would you describe your ideal day off?

Sightseeing, Queen Victoria Markets, more sightseeing, and debating in the evening. Must come with opportunities for coffee, cake, and icecream.

With a hope for science-themed chocolate (and photos-of), Everyone, please welcome Sophia to RealScientists!


Sarah Morgan

I'm a Research Fellow at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. I work in the meld space between compulsory education and tertiary scientific research; we develop teaching modules using the real research stories around us in the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease field. Engagement is the name of the game - creating opportunities for teachers, students and scientists to interact, and enrich learning on all sides. Scicomm is my passion, though I come from a molecular genetics research background.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: