Arachnophobia — the fear of spiders — is one of the most common fears in the world. But is that fear justified? And could deadly spiders hold the key to the next medical break through?

Parasitic worms remain one of the greatest threats to both human and veterinary medicine, especially in the face of rising drug-resistance in veterinary parasites. The key to fighting these parasites could be hidden in spider venoms.

This month at BrisScience, hear from recovered arachnophobe, now venom scientist and spider advocate, Samantha Nixon, from The University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience. Samantha has worked around the world, from outback Australia, to the Antarctic, to the Amazon studying venomous animals. She'll share how she overcame her fear to handle spiders, milk their venoms, and use venoms to develop new medicines against blood-sucking parasites.

Image: Funnel-web spider showing venom. Image credit: Michael Duncan

Watch the recording

Recording of "From arachnophobe to venom scientist" talk (YouTube, 52min)

Meet the presenter

Samantha Nixon is a former arachnophobe turned venom scientist and PhD candidate at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland. Her research harnesses the unique chemistries in venoms to develop new medicines.

She is a passionate advocate for addressing inequality in STEM, education and leadership through science communication and hopes sharing her passion for spiders will help inspire the next generation of Australian scientists. 

Samantha has been recognised with the Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship, the UQ Global Change Scholar Award and Young Science Ambassador Award. Samantha was recently awarded the 2020 Queensland Women in STEM Prize, the 2020 Women in Technology Young Science Achiever Award and the 2020 Green Talent Award from the German Ministry of Education and Research, recognising her as one of the top 25 young leaders in science for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals worldwide.


About BrisScience

BrisScience is a monthly lecture series that brings science out of the labs and to the people, making it accessible to all – from scientists, to scientists-at-heart.

Run by The University of Queensland, BrisScience has been delivering engaging lectures on diverse topics from local and international scientists for over a decade.

BrisScience speakers are leaders in their given fields and deliver dynamic presentations based on cutting-edge research.

The University of Queensland has been running BrisScience since 2005, bringing the best and brightest scientific minds to the people of Brisbane – from early career researchers to Nobel Laureates!

Time6:30pm to 7:30pm (light refreshments 7:30-8pm)
VenueThe Edge, State Library of Queensland, Stanley Place, South Bank
CostFree - Eventbrite ticket required


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