Gymnastics NSW coach wows judges at the International Science Fair

When Tahlia Martignago switched her leotard for a lab coat, little did she know she would represent Australia at the biggest global high school science competition. The talented 18-year-old, formerly a women’s artistic gymnast and current coach, has come third in her environmental science category at the International Science and Engineering Fair.

The Y Bankstown coach used her Science Extension subject to explore how carbon dioxide concentrations might affect antibiotic resistance in bacteria. “I think it’s something we need to know,” Tahlia said. “I found some inconclusive results, but there were significant changes in antibiotic resistance when exposed to carbon dioxide, and that’s an avenue for further research as carbon dioxide concentrations continue to increase.”

The judges at the event, held both virtually and in Florida, were so impressed that they also awarded the 18-year-old a scholarship to a research program in Italy in July. “I'm very excited!” she said.

Despite her studies in science at university and the upcoming trip, Tahlia hopes to continue coaching in gymnastics.

“There was an amazing culture for me as a gymnast, growing up with coaches who made it a positive experience,” she said. “They were my role models and I want to be that person for some of the younger kids, and give back what I got.”

Tahlia started in women’s artistic when she was aged seven and stopped competing at 17 after attending multiple state and club competitions. “I love the sport for instilling core values that you need in life,” she said. “Time management, communication, perseverance, determination, all of that. The fact that it’s such a great outlet. It’s a way to get away from school and other stuff like that.”

Congratulations to you Tahlia! We are in awe of your incredible achievement!