Travel Award Winners – Aug 2012

ATA Scientific would like to thank all those that participated in the July/Aug issue of our Travel Award promotion.

Congratulations to our first prize winner Mr Joshua Smith, currently studying postgraduate Medicine at the University of Otago.

Joshua plans to complete an Honours year in Biomathematics at the University of Canterbury next year in order to investigate neural connectivity in the brain, and the autocatalytic networks of chemicals that lead to the first self-replicating cell (i.e. the origin of life). His research interests lie with the big questions in science – where do we come from, and what is it about a huge network of interconnected neurons that makes us capable of conscious experience?

“Mathematics is the language with which we study and model the world around us (and worlds distant from us in space or time). So it’s essential to learn to speak that language, in order to get your head around these big problems and make real progress”

Joshua plans to use his award to assist him to attend the New Zealand Phylogenetics Meeting (Doom13) that will be held in the central North Island (Mount Ruapehu) NZ, Feb 3-7, 2013. This will be an excellent opportunity for Joshua to meet some of the leading experts in this field. Phylogenetics is an important area of research, using mathematics to measure the similarities between genetic data from different species in order to generate evolutionary trees.

His supervisor Prof. Mike Steel (Director Biomathematics Research Centre, University of Canterbury) was pleased to hear of the award and expressed much praise for his talented and bright student.

“The conference fee plus accommodation and travel will equate approximately to the value of the award. I think this meeting would be an excellent opportunity for Josh, as many of our other graduate students have started their research careers at this meeting. Josh’s Honours project next year, under my supervision, will likely involve ideas that are related to the main theme of this conference” said Prof Mike Steel.

“Modern science is such a collaborative process: conferences like this are a really exciting opportunity to meet influential researchers in the field and learn about cutting-edge research. So, thanks ATA Scientific!” said Joshua.

Congratulations to our second prize winner Dr Thomas Klaric, based at the University of Adelaide, School of Medicine under his supervisor A/Prof. Simon Koblar, Stroke Research Programme, University of Adelaide.

After recently being awarded his PhD, Thomas is currently working on a number of different projects including a study into the effectiveness of dental pulp stem cell treatment in a mouse model of stroke. He is also continuing work from his PhD which focuses on the activity-dependent transcription factor Npas4 and its role in development and neuroprotection.

“I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go to a few really good conferences… They are also a good place to exchange ideas and network with researchers in your field. But of course they can be very expensive which is why I’m always on the lookout for different travel grants and awards that I can apply for – every little bit helps!” said Thomas.

Thomas plans to use his prize money to attend the Combio2012 conference (23-27 Sept) in Adelaide and also to attend the Australian Health and Medical Research Congress (25-28 Nov) held in Adelaide, and the Australian Neuroscience Society meeting (3-6 Feb 2013) held in Melbourne.

We would like to thank all those that participated. The next Travel Award for Sept/Oct 2012 is now available on our website.

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