Summer scholarship students star
With a high standard of presentations among finalists in this year’s Summer Research Scholarship awards, Pro-Dean Professor Ben Freedman ended the afternoon awarding an additional prize and praising students for the quality of their efforts.
Dominic Balasuriya won the Dean’s Prize - and pocketed a cheque for $1000 - for his project which looked at the importance of the protein, alpha-actinin-3, in bone cells and tissues. Professor Freedman then awarded joint second prizes ($500 each) to Sophie Shu Yi Han and Elicia Rodas, saying both projects were of such a standard that it was difficult to separate them.
Sophie’s research sought to better understand the action of IGFPB-3 (Insulin-like Growth Factor Binding Protein-3), a protein which influences growth in many normal and malignant cell types. Elicia studied the capacity of a synthetic antioxidant, bisphenol, to protect kidney epithelial cells from myoglobin toxicity.
Now in its fourth year, the Summer Research Scholarship program is based on a scheme developed by the ANZAC Research Institute. The scholarships were established by the Faculty of Medicine with the hope that introducing young science students to top level researchers and exposing them to the latest developments, will lead to greater enthusiasm and interest in health and medical research as a future career.
The program has won a number of awards, including a Carrick Australian Award for University Teaching in 2007 and the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Support of the Student Experience in 2005.
This year, 60 students were offered summer placements. Most had completed either second or third year of their undergraduate degree. Areas of research included cancer, cardiovascular disease, endocrinology and diabetes, immunology, genetics and public health.
Pictured: Finalists in the 2008 Summer Research Scholarships, with Pro Dean Professor Ben Freedman.