Winners of our Young Scientist Study Award Mar 2014

ATA Scientific would like to thank all those that participated in our March 2014 Study Award promotion.

Congratulations to our first prize winner, Miss Marjorie Griffiths, PhD Candidate at Victoria University of Wellington. Marjorie is studying under the supervision of Prof. Kate McGrath and Assoc. Prof. Bill Williams at Massey University. The team is focused on the development of state-of-the art tools to study structure, dynamics and interactions of macromolecular assemblies.

“I have developed a novel method for measuring forces between oil droplets to understand how these forces define bulk sample properties”, described Marjorie.

Using holographic optical tweezers, a focused beam of laser light enables micrometer sized oil droplets to be immobilised and their position controlled in 3-dimensions. Interactions between droplets are visualised and measured as a function of droplet separation. This research aids in understanding how the ensemble of tiny forces defines the organoleptic properties of foods leading to smarter food design.

Marjorie is currently finishing her PhD and plans to use her award to assist with her remaining school fees.

Congratulations to our first runner up, Mr Omar Mendoza Porras, PhD student at the CSIRO and Flinders University. Omar works under the supervision of both Dr Michelle Colgrave and Dr James Harris and is based at the Queensland Bioscience Precinct in Brisbane, Australia.

Omar’s research is focused on applying proteomics to the Australian abalone farming industry. He intends to use his award to attend the Bioinformatics workshop in Brisbane in early May and the Australia Abalone Growers Association (AAGA) meeting this year in Adelaide.Omar explained “As a graduate student money is always welcome for travelling and/or education, therefore seeking funds to cover these expenses is part of my development as a scientist”.

“I decided to enter the competition with a humoristic and fictional story because I believe that sense of humour is an important component of self- development. Moreover, being able to laugh at yourself allows you to find a positive side on life during difficult situations”, said Omar.

Congratulations to our second runner up, Miss Marie-Claire Demers, PhD candidate studying under the supervision of Prof. Andy Davis, School of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong and Dr. Nathan Knott, Department of Primary Industries.

Marie-Claire’s PhD project examines the dynamics of marine invertebrates in a threatened seagrass community. Her aim is to uncover the spatial distribution of sponges and ascidians inhabiting Posidonia australis meadows and to determine the factors driving their distribution. This study is crucial to the conservation and management of threatened species since seagrass specific species might be at risk of extinction in accordance with their host habitat.

“Most people are not aware of the importance of seagrass meadows. Being the marine equivalent of a rainforest, they sustain many species by providing food and shelter while also providing us with clear water, fish stock and healthy coastlines. The ATA Scientific Study Award is an opportunity to communicate my research and to acquire additional data so as to conserve this incredible ecosystem” said Marie-Claire.

The funding provided by this award will contribute to acquiring additional data in Spain to study European Posidonia meadows and facilitate the management and conservation of both seagrass species.

Click here to view the winning articles

We would like to thank all those that participated. The next Travel Award for 2014 will be posted on our website soon.

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