Dr. Chelsie Rohrscheib is now a brain scientist living and working in Australia, but she returned to her Michigan roots on Monday.
Rohrscheib, a 2004 graduate of Fowlerville High School, spoke to the science classes at her alma mater on Monday, telling them about her research work and offering some insights about what it’s like to live in Australia.
“Yes, I see kangaroos all the time,” she said. “Kangaroos in Australia are like deer over here. Once you get outside the city, you see them all the time. They just sort of hang out.”
Rohrscheib told the students that after graduating from Fowlerville, she spent time working at Brighton Animal Hospital and taking community college classes while she figured out what she wanted to do with her life.
She decided to move to Australia to further her education because she wanted an adventure in a culture that wasn’t too radically different from America.
When she enrolled at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, her love for science began to blossom.
“In high school, I was pretty good in English and art, but I was only an average student in science,” she told the students in Fowlerville. “It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized this was something I was actually good at.”
Rohrscheib earned a bachelor’s degree at Griffith in biomedical science, and then earned her master’s degree in molecular science and a Ph.D. in molecular neuroscience from the University of Queensland, which is ranked as one of the top 50 universities in the world.
She now works as a researcher at the world-renowned Queensland Brain Institute, where she uses fruit flies to do research on sleep.
Rohrscheib explained to the Fowlerville students that genetically, fruit flies are very similar to humans, which makes them the ideal creature to use for brain research.
“A lot of people don’t even realize that fruit flies have brains, but they do,” she said.
Rohrscheib said that she works on hundreds of fruit flies every day as part of her research. “My colleagues and I counted it up one day, and we figured out that I’ve worked on millions and millions of fruit flies through the years,” she said.
Rohrscheib also spent a lot of time talking about life in Australia and fielding questions from the students about life Down Under.
“My favorite Australian animal is actually the wombat,” she said. “They look sort of cute and cuddly.”
The science staff at Fowlerville High School wanted Rohrscheib to speak to the students to not only talk about her work as a scientist, but also to show them that students from Fowlerville can achieve their dreams around the world – whatever they might be.
“Don’t give up on your dreams,” Rohrscheib told them. “Don’t think that just because you aren’t good at something now doesn’t mean you can’t do it later in life.”