Senior Research Fellow
Queensland University of Technology
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Sally Wasef is a senior research fellow in paleogenetics. Sally’s primary focus over the past 12 years has been the study of ancient DNA from highly degraded remains from arid conditions like Egypt, Papua New Guinea, SouthEast Asia and Australia.
Traveling back in time has always fascinated us all. People have an insatiable curiosity to know what people were like and how they shaped the world we live in today. Through the new and exciting research of Paleogenetics, I can travel back in time to answer some of these questions. We can find out what ancient humans looked like, lived, moved, their lifestyles, the types of diseases they experienced and environmental changes around them. All of these events leave different readable markers in their genomes and I can read and interpret through studying ancient DNA(aDNA). It is challenging! From the moment you die your body, cells and DNA quickly start to degrade, especially in the tropics. Afterwards DNA becomes almost impossible to detect let alone read in older samples. Only through with my years of experience and the technology available, I am able to piece the past together.
I am using aDNA to help Indigenous communities identify and repatriate the remains of their ancient people that have been kept in museums and other institutes. Many of these remains have no details of where there were from. I can successfully connect those remains to their closest kin through my work.
Currently, I am using advancements in Next-Generation Sequencing and ancient DNA techniques to identify WW Australian Soldiers' remains missing in action.
Sally identifies as culturally and linguistically diverse.