Endeavouring to expand horizons of knowledge
25 November 2009
Driven by goals as diverse as a better understanding the human jaw, reducing stillbirths, and making sense of corruption, three University of Sydney postgraduate students are Asia-bound, after winning scholarships through the Prime Minister's Australia Asia Endeavour Awards.
The inaugural awards, presented by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Canberra, aim to build deep and enduring educational and professional linkages between Australia and Asia by sending Australian students into the region.
Through scholarships worth up to $63,500, students spend two years in an Asian country, both to undertake research towards their Australian degree, as well as to participate in internships and work placements.
One of the University's award winners, Alex Wiranski, is off to Sedai to study at Tohoku University's Graduate School of Dentistry. Alexander recently completed a Masters research degree through the University's Dentistry faculty and he is continuing with a PHD.
Alexander says his Masters research showed that he could train an individual to use their jaw muscles differently to perform a jaw task. He now wants to better understand jaw muscle activity and function so that he can work on treatments for people suffering jaw pain and dysfunction.
"With its world-renowned, high-quality science and technology sector, along with our established research and academic collaborations at Tohoku University's Graduate school of Dentistry, I hope to be introduced to potential Japanese business and industry partners in order to investigate the possibility of developing a diagnostic tool capable of measuring the activity of key jaw muscles during normal function and in people with jaw problems," Alex said.
"The outputs and results of this diagnostic tool could then be applied to assist clinicians prescribe appropriate treatment modalities, including exercise programmes."
Dr Jane Hirst, a University of Sydney Masters of Public Health (Hons) student, who is enrolled for a PhD in 2010, will use her award to study in Vietnam at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Ho Chi Minh City, and its affiliated teaching hospital Tu Du, Vietnam's largest maternity hospital.
She hopes to undertake an internship with the United Nations Population Fund in Hanoi and with the World Health Organisation Department of Making Pregnancy Safer in Manila.
Dr Hirst aims to develop an intervention package for pregnant women that can be designed, delivered and evaluated in at least two different settings in Vietnam. She also hopes to learn about how large multinational trials are conducted throughout Asia, and how to approach and represent ethnic minority groups.
"Stillbirth is a major global health problem with rates of stillbirth across Asia unacceptably high," she said.
"My Masters of Public Health (Hons) dissertation has been examining the epidemiology of stillbirth in South Vietnam and has identified several potential interventions that may be appropriate for a trial."
Doctorate of Philosophy student Wayne Palmer will travel to Indonesia for his Australia Asia Endeavour Award scholarship.
Wayne, whose PHD project examines the state's relationship to illegality will explore the role that the state plays in promoting different illegal practices during the pre-departure phase of Indonesia's formal labour export program.
Wayne hopes his field work in Indonesia will help to explain why Indonesian state agencies tolerate and even sponsor illegal acts in some areas and not others.
To be eligible for the Australia-Asia Endeavour Awards students must be nominated by their university to the Federal Government.
More information about the awards is available online.
Contact: Sarah Stock
Phone: 02 9114 0748 or mob 0419 278 715