Encouragement Award July 2015

ATA Scientific would like to thank all those that participated in our July 2015 Encouragement Award promotion.

This time we received over 130 entries, all of which deserved to win! Responses covered a wide range of topics, from health to the environment, reflecting the challenges facing the world today. After several hours of reading each entry in an attempt to find a winner, we quickly realised that this was not going to be an easy task.

Therefore, we had no choice but to increase the total number of prizes to give away!

Despite our limited resources, we decided to increase the total prize pool to $3000 and awarded 5 prizes instead of 3 – first prize at $1000 and 4 runners up at $500 each. We hope that these awards will give our young talented researchers a helping hand to continue their work in building essential scientific knowledge

Congratulations to our first prize winner, Mr Morteza Aramesh, final year PhD student at the University of Melbourne, School of Physics. Morteza is studying under the supervision of Professor Steven Prawer, Diamond Program Manager at the School of Physics Experimental Condensed Matter Physics (ECMP).

Morteza’s research interests are focused on the fabrication and development of sensors for detection of biomolecules such as cancer biomarkers. This research will be particularly beneficial to those patients who are at risk of the recurrence of some cancers after chemotherapy where early detection is vital.

“Most of my time is spent thinking about new methods for the early detection of cancers with the hope to save many lives”.

Morteza plans to use his award to assist with his overseas travel expenses to attend the NanoBioTech conference in Switzerland in November, where he will present his work. This award comes at a crucial time for Morteza as his PhD nears completion and his scholarship has run out.

Congratulations to our first runner up, Ms Azadeh Mirabedini, PhD Chemistry student at the University of Wollongong. Azadeh works under the supervision of Prof Gordon Wallace, Director of the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute and Dr. Javad Foroughi ARC Research Fellow at University of Wollongong.

Azadeh’s PhD research is focused on developing biocompatible electroactive coaxial fibres with great potential to be used instead of the damaged nerves following an occurrence of a nerve injury. Many challenges exist in developing implantable fibres which simulate the electrical and mechanical properties natural nerves. To determine the usefulness of these fibrillar structures in real conditions, in vivo studies need to be performed. Therefore Azadeh plans to travel Manchester University where specialised state-of-the-art equipment will provide an exceptional opportunity to implant the synthetic polymeric fibres in animal trials. Azadeh plans to use her award to travel to the Diamond and Carbon Materials Conference in Germany in September this year.

“ This travel award will allow me to arrange a visit to Manchester University and will probably be helpful to pursue potential post-doctoral opportunities”.

Congratulations to our second runner up, Mr Thomas Nicholls, PhD student under the supervision of both Assoc. Prof. Michael Gardiner and Dr. Alex Bissember , School of Physical Sciences- Chemistry, University of Tasmania.

Thomas’s PhD research is concerned with the preparation and the study of a range of copper(I) complexes and investigating the applications of these systems as visible light photocatalysts (VLPs) in organic synthesis. The identification of VLPs, which utilise cheap, earth abundant first-row transition metals, is particularly attractive given that currently the most commonly employed metal-based VLPs rely on the reactivity of expensive and toxic heavy metals.

Thomas plans to use his award to assist with his travel expenses to Curtin University in Perth where he plans to use highly specialised instrumentation not yet available at the University of Tasmania.

“ The experience and training I will gain from Dr Massi (Curtin University) and access to key instrumentation will be invaluable to my own research and my research group more generally, as it offers the chance to bring back knowledge and expertise not presently available in this school”.

Congratulations to our third runner up, Dr Linda Armbrecht, recent PhD graduate under the supervision of Dr Leanne Armand, Department of Biological Sciences and Climate Futures, Macquarie University.

Linda’s interests are focused in the field of geobiology and ancient microbial DNA research. She is particularly interested in long-term changes in phytoplankton community structure and phytoplankton adaptations to environmental conditions during times of climate change.

The award will enable Linda to attend the Advanced Bioinformatics workshop for early career researchers, 9-13th November, 2015, at the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, Adelaide. This workshop is an intensive 5 day hands-on training course tutored by international experts, utilising the latest available software for the analysis of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), Genomics and Metagenomics data.

“Receiving an ATA Young Scientist Encouragement Award at this early stage of my scientific career will mean a key step in my professional and academic development”.

Congratulations to our fourth runner up, Ms Yao Lulu Xing, PhD candidate in the Multiple Sclerosis Division at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the University of Melbourne.

“This award will provide the critical first step towards attaining my career goals”.

Lulu is currently finishing up her PhD, which focuses on the role of endogenous neural stem cells in repairing the damage associated with multiple sclerosis (MS). She is interested in understanding the relative contribution of two distinct stem cell populations to myelin repair. She has also developed a novel mouse model, which offers a new approach to study the interactions between these two populations. These studies could have major implications for optimising regenerative strategies in MS patients.,

Lulu plans to use this award to attend the 25th International Society for Neurochemistry (ISN) Biennial Meeting in Cairns, Australia, August 23-27, 2015, in conjunction with the Australasian Neuroscience Society (ANS).

We would like to thank all those that participated. The next Travel Award for 2015 will be posted on our website soon.

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