Sigrid Petautschnig from the Germ Cell Development and Epigenetics Research Group at Hudson Institute

Sigrid Petautschnig


PhD student

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Why did you choose Hudson Institute and your research group?

I was introduced to my current supervisor, Associate Professor Patrick Western, while I was undertaking a graduate diploma in 2018. I found his research extremely interesting and was really excited to hear that he had a project available that combined my three main areas of interest in science: genetics, neuroscience and reproductive health. When I had my first tour of Hudson Institute, I was also really happy to see that the laboratories were newly furnished and brightly lit, creating a great atmosphere to work in.

What is your research about and what do you hope to achieve?

Exposure of the developing germline to environmental factors, such as diet, drugs and stress, can elicit epigenetic changes and contribute to inherited disease in offspring. My research focusses on an epigenetic regulator (PRC2) which is required in oocytes for growth and development in offspring. The study uses a genetic mouse model to investigate how altered epigenetic programming in the oocyte affects learning capacity, brain development and behaviour in the next generation. The outcomes will provide the first insights into the role of PRC2 for regulating heritable changes in brain development and behaviour. Understanding this and similar epigenetic mechanisms is critical for determining how environmental factors in a parent, such as drug or dietary exposures, may affect learning and behavioural outcomes in offspring.

What is it like being a student at Hudson Institute?

Hudson Institute is the perfect size to facilitate valuable opportunities for students and yet large enough, that it holds experienced and successful researchers across many disciplines. However, the Institute is small enough that you never find yourself lost in an overwhelming sea of researchers. The intimate feeling of Hudson Institute means that you have the opportunity really get to know and learn from those who work around you.