2017 HaBS 3MT Faculty Finalists

1 Aug 2017

PhD students from the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences (HaBS) will compete in the Faculty Final of the Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition on Thursday, 3 August.

An 80,000 word PhD thesis would take nine hours to present, but students in the UQ 3MT® Competition will present their thesis and its significance in dynamic and informative presentations of just three minutes in length. 

The HaBS finalists (profiled below) represent the UQ Schools of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences,  Human Movement and Nutrition SciencesPharmacy, and Psychology.

The winner will progress to the UQ 3MT® Finalhosted by the UQ Graduate School on Wednesday, 13 September at Customs House in the Brisbane CBD, and a chance to win a lucrative research travel grant and $1,000 from UQ Alumni and Friends Association. 

UQ School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Nicola Bell

Nicola BellNicola is currently completing her PhD at UQ, having graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Speech Pathology. The topic of her PhD is literacy development in children with cochlear implants, and her research interests extend more broadly to include language and literacy development in all school-age children.

3MT title: ‘The link between sound and print: How children with cochlear implants learn to read’

Children with cochlear implants often demonstrate difficulties with reading and spelling. Such difficulties are presumed to result from speech sound processing limitations. The current research project investigated literacy development in this population, with reference to models of typical text- and word-level reading development. Electroencephalography (EEG) techniques were also used to explore how speech sounds and word meanings are processed in the brains of these readers. Preliminary analyses have indicated that early readers with cochlear implants performed significantly worse than their typically hearing peers on some behavioural measures of spoken and written language. This may have implications for literacy intervention targets.

Judy Lockhart

Judy LockhartJudy graduated from UQ in 1995 as a Speech Pathologist. Since that time, she has worked in Australia, United Kingdom and United States as a Speech Pathologist with a focus on working with children who have developmental language disorder. Judy completed a Masters of Communication Disorders at Macquarie University. Her research interests include supporting greater access to services through the use of telepractice to improve the functioning of children with developmental language disorders.

3MT title: ‘Assessment of emotional vocabulary’

School-aged children with developmental language disorder are at risk for difficulties that impact them in all spheres of their life. Of importance is the high incidence of mental health, poor educational attainment and social issues that these children face as they grow up. For these children access to face-to-face services is limited with limited knowledge of how current practice might be implemented via a telepractice platform. This thesis has a focus on identification and application of current speech pathology practice in the assessment and treatment of emotional vocabulary using a telepractice platform. 

UQ School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences

Nick McMahon

Nick McMahonNick completed his Bachelor of Science with first class honours at the University of Western Australia. He moved over to The University of Queensland to complete his PhD with Dr Michael Leveritt.

3MT title: ‘You don’t win friends with salad, but you may win gold’

Nick’s thesis is a systematic program of research aimed at understanding how best to use dietary nitrate supplements in a safe and effective manner for the enhancement of exercise performance. The project will contribute a great deal to answering some of the questions raised from the findings of a recent systematic review and meta-analysis. From the studies reviewed, pre-trial or habitual intake of dietary nitrate was not assessed. The team has developed a tool that will accurately measure dietary nitrate intake. This will enable manipulation of a participant’s pre-trial consumption to help understand if nitrate-rich food consumption is a potential moderator variable, impacting the performance outcome in trials.

Shari O'Brien

Shari O'BrienShari completed her undergraduate studies at UQ in 2013. After working as both a research assistant and Accredited Exercise Physiologist in a community clinic she has transitioned into full-time research, pursuing a PhD in biomechanics and motor control. Her interests lie in motor rehabilitation and cerebral palsy muscle.
3MT title: ‘Learning to improve foot control in Cerebral Palsy’
Cerebral Palsy is a neurological condition which affects development of the neuromuscular system and results in poor muscle control and coordination during movement. Rehabilitation often focuses on addressing secondary adaptations to muscle including spasticity and reduced muscle volume (strength). While these improvements are beneficial to functional activities like walking, there is little understanding of both the role of the nervous system in impairment and how well it can learn to improve joint control. A motor learning intervention which isolates the ankle musculature will be used to investigate learning capacity and the transferability of targeted training to functional tasks.

UQ School of Pharmacy

Alice Bong 

Alice BongAlice graduated with first class honours from the UQ Bachelor of Pharmacy programme in 2011. She worked for two years as a community pharmacist before returning to pursue research. She is now in the third year of her PhD looking at ways to target calcium signalling pathways to improve breast cancer treatment.
3MT title: ‘Killing breast cancer cells with a two punch attack’

Prognosis for basal breast cancer patients remains unfavourable, partly due to limited effectiveness of current treatments and high relapse rates. Improved understanding of pathways influencing treatment response can unravel opportunities to improve treatment efficacy. Altered calcium signalling is associated with cancer cell behaviours such as uncontrolled growth and evasion of cell death. As such, regulators of calcium signalling represent an avenue to enhance the effectiveness of anti-cancer treatments. Currently, there are limited studies assessing this potential, especially in basal breast cancer. Alice’s project investigates the potential of calcium regulators to enhance anti-cancer treatment efficacy in basal breast cancer cells.

Centaine Snoswell 

Centaine SnoswellCentaine is a practicing Clinical Pharmacist with a Masters in Public Health who is undertaking a PhD in Applied Health Economics at the University of Queensland. Her PhD research focuses on the economic analysis of an innovative dermatology-telehealth initiative called teledermoscopy. 

3MT title: ‘The cost of a skin-selfie’

Australia has a high skin cancer rate and due to the country’s size health services aren’t equally available. Teledermoscopy enables people who couldn’t easily go to see a dermatologist to have photos taken of suspected skin cancers which are then sent to a dermatologist for review. This research looks specifically at the economic evaluation of teledermoscopy. Cost-effectiveness and acceptability information can be used to inform policy and ensure that health resources are allocated efficiently.

UQ School of Psychology

Melissa Brinums 

Melissa BrinumsMelissa is a PhD candidate studying Psychology at UQ. Melissa’s research interests lie broadly in the field of developmental psychology, with a particular focus on the development of future thinking in young children and its implications for learning, academic achievement, and expertise.

3MT title: ‘When do children practise for the future?’

Melissa’s PhD explores the early development of future-directed learning; that is, children’s capacity to spontaneously (without adult guidance) seek out information or practise skills they foresee they will need in the future. Her PhD aims to determine the age at which children start to practise skills or seek information in anticipation of the future, examine the factors that underlie the development of this capacity, and identify ways to foster and support young children’s self-regulated learning.

Hayley McMahon

Hayley McMahonHayley is in the final year of her PhD in Psychology, with research interests in couple relationships, young people and technology. She also works as a clinical psychologist in the community with adolescents and young adults.

3MT title: ‘Does sexting lead to love?’

Technology has created a variety of novel dating and sexual behaviours, such as sexting, which involves the sending of sexual text, photograph or video messages via a digital technology. Sexting has been labelled both a risky behaviour that warrants concern, and a tool for helping couples have a happier relationship. With these conflicting narratives, my research focuses on understanding the role of sexting within young adults’ dating and couple relationships. Specifically, my research investigates the application of evolutionary theory and social frameworks to understanding men and women’s responses to sexting.