Dr Lisa-Ann Gershwin


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Dr Lisa-Ann Gershwin is an author and commentator and one of the world’s foremost authorities on jellyfish. In 2010, Lisa was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. That didn’t hold Lisa-Ann back. She didn’t finish high school, but went on to obtain her PhD. A remarkable achievement and declaration of her determination to achieve in her chosen field.

.Lisa is a biologist based in Launceston, Tasmania. She was also a candidate in the 2021 Tasmanian state election, running as an independent in the electorate of Clark. Lisa refused to be defined by disability, or the limitations of society.

Dr Lisa-Ann Gershwin’s Opinion

“I’m not what you’d call normal. I have autism but I’m highly functional and successful. I spent 18 months living in Tasmania’s homeless shelter system and now I own my home.”

Lisa does not ask for sympathy, or a pat on the back. She asks that we give thought to what inclusion means in our society and to recognize opportunities when they come our way.

Grade Three

Lisa fell in love with marine biology in the 3rd grade. In 1992, she met her first jellyfish. “The years since have been a vibrant and passionate love affair.”

Lisa returned as a mature-aged student and studied marine biology through the American equivalent of TAFE. In 2005, she earned a PhD from James Cook University in Queensland. Lisa knows how important it is to recognize opportunities and be given a second chance.

Dr Lisa-Ann Gershwin Biologist

Dr Lisa-Ann Gershwin was born and raised in California. She became the Head of Science at the Queen Victoria Museum in Launceston. She followed this with seven years as a Research Scientist at CSIRO.

Lisa has described over 200 species of jellyfish, out of 10,000 different types of jellyfish. She identified a huge ‘snotty’ jellyfish that hasn’t been seen in 100 years. It is one of the world’s most venomous creatures, thriving on climate change. Lisa also developed a system to predict blooms of the hazardous Irukandji jellyfish. Blooms of jellyfish threaten the world’s oceans.

Jellyfish Astonishing Animals

Lisa says, “Jellyfish are an astonishing animal. They have no heart, bones, or eyes and no brain. Yet, they exhibit sophisticated behaviour. That enchants me.”

Jellyfish are not fish, but invertebrates from the phylum Cnidaria. The jellyfish is 98% water compared to the human body, which is 60% water. Scientists consider jellyfish to be three times the age of the first dinosaurs.

Lisa shares information about jellyfish around the world. “Turritopsis nutricula jellyfish are unique as they appear to cheat death. When threatened, they undergo cellular trans-differentiation, as the organism’s cells regrow. The  lion’s mane jellyfish is the largest of the species. Its tentacles stretch up to 120 feet.”

Dr Lisa-Ann Gershwin’s Relative

Dr Lisa-Ann Gershwin is related to composer George Gershwin. You can join Lisa for writing workshops. Lisa has written and co-authored several non-fiction books about jellyfish.

Another notable woman scientist is Marie Currie who stands among the women pioneers who changed the world.

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