Three students, including one investigating breast cancer development and progression, have been awarded an inaugural Vice-Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Research Higher Degree Candidates at the University of Newcastle.
University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nicholas Saunders, said the awards were introduced this year to encourage outstanding undergraduate students to undertake a research higher degree at the University of Newcastle.
"The awards recognise to up to three outstanding students each year who are embarking on postgraduate studies. The recipients were selected from the highest ranked group of scholars on their academic merit and achievements at the University of Newcastle," he said.
"The University is renowned for research and discovery and has some of the best research higher degree candidates in Australia. The contribution of these three scholars, and indeed all of our research higher degree candidates, is invaluable."
PhD candidate Lauren Cottrell's project involves investigating the role that a gene, called PP2A, plays in breast cancer. PP2A, and the protein it encodes, changes in many breast cancer cells but it is not known how the change controls cancer growth. Her research may lead to better treatments for breast cancer patients and improved rates of survival.
Jason Kulk's postgraduate research involves the development of a robust, walking biped robot with characteristics that reflect human movement. Currently, biped robots, or two-legged robots, have an unnatural movement. His research hopes to produce a robot with a naturally stable gait, similar to that of humans.
Why people perform so poorly at a task psychologists call 'absolute identification' is the subject of PhD researcher, Christopher Donkin. The research looks at the cues and mental processes the brain uses during particular tasks. The research aims to uncover how memory works and the potential limitations of memory, and its impact on brain function.
Dean of Graduate Studies, Professor Scott Holmes, said students were critical in building the University's research capacity.
"The work of these three students is an example of the significant research opportunities offered by the University of Newcastle," he said.
The candidates receiving the Vice Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Higher Degree Research Candidates receive an Australian Postgraduate Award Scholarship from the Australian Government plus an additional $10,000 supplementation per annum.
Photo opportunity: 3pm, Monday 26 March 2007, Purdue Room, The University of Newcastle.