During National Science Week, we caught up with a Marist Sisters’ College Woolwich graduate who has followed in the footsteps of 20th century scientists Einstein and Rosalind Franklin and made a breakthrough discovery of her own.

Meet Dr Linda Thomas.

Dr Thomas developed a passion for asking questions at a young age, never imagining it could lead to a career as a clinical psychologist and mucosal immunologist. Or that she might one day be quoted in her field.

The human body

The human body. Photo: Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash.

“Commencing with the first black box, our brain and our mind, I studied neuroscience after leaving school and, later, the immune system, ending up integrating the two disciples to research the gut-brain axis,” Dr Thomas said, making reference to how the gut and the brain talk to each other.

“As part of my research in the areas of mental illness, dementia, as well as respiratory infection, I discovered a novel (i.e. previously unknown) protein and went on to formulate a cystic fibrosis vaccine in which I held two patents,” Dr Thomas said.

She said she feels privileged “to be able to help people experiencing physical and mental health difficulties, to treat their gut so they can improve their neural development, their capacity to learn and to function better generally.”

“Looking back to those days of early high school, I couldn’t have foreseen that my future would have found me researching and working in this exciting and developing field,” Dr Thomas said.

“However, I am sure that the groundwork was laid in that classroom-school environment.”


Photo: Michael Longmire on Unsplash

For many students, there is that one teacher who holds a special place in their hearts. For Dr Thomas, that person is Sister Marie Delacroix.

“Sister Marie Delacroix not only taught me how to love learning, but also showed me the importance of quiet persistence and service to others,” said Dr Thomas.

Dr Thomas is currently continuing her research on how gut health affects our emotions at the Australian National University, where she is a visiting fellow of the Research School of Epidemiology and Public Health.

“A thriving classroom environment, enthusiastic teachers to help you find your passion, and an education that is values-based – that’s the formula for success in science,” concluded Dr Thomas.

National Science Week

National Science Week is Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology.

Running each year in August, it features more than 1000 events around Australia, including those delivered by universities, schools, research institutions, libraries, museums and science centres.

The Deep Blue: Innovation For The Future Of Our Oceans teaching resource book has lesson plans, cases studies, activity ideas and links to resources for students from Foundation through to Year 10.