Flinders student off to Oxford

emma-lawrance-1Budding Flinders neuroscientist Emma Lawrance (pictured) has just won a prestigious Clarendon Scholarship to study at one of the world’s best universities.

The Flinders University science graduate is the only person in Australia to gain entry into the one-year 2012 masters in neuroscience, beginning in September, at Oxford University.

Worth more than $45,000, the Clarendon Fund offers in excess of 100 scholarships to academically excellent local and international students, with tuition fees, flights and a generous grant for living expenses funded by the UK university.

A distinguishing feature of the Clarendon Scholarship is that its scholars are selected from leaders in their field based on their academic track record and ability to contribute to their area of study.

Ms Lawrance said she was undoubtedly “excited” to win the scholarship given the substantial number of applicants from around the world, and was looking forward to applying her background in chemistry and physics to the realm of neuroscience.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to learn from leaders in your field and gain international experience in an environment where you’re constantly learning and being challenged,” Ms Lawrance said.

“Neuroscience is a rapidly growing field and we’re gaining insights from across disciplines so the scholarship will allow me to make a contribution to that knowledge and hopefully I can come back to Australia and be a leader too,” she said.

“It’s very exciting and I’m grateful that I had a lot of support from both my family and the lecturers here at Flinders who wrote references for me and helped with my application.”

While she does not yet know the details of the two lab-based projects involved in her 12-month placement, Ms Lawrance said she was particularly interested in researching the “higher order processes” of the brain, and the maths and physics behind cognitive function.

“Understanding how we use our minds is fascinating and I’m really excited to be a part of that research.”

When she is not studying, Ms Lawrance works as a project officer at the Flinders Centre for Science Education in the 21st Century (Science 21) and as a science communications officer in the Faculty of Science and Engineering – a job that allows her to share her love of science.

“I’m really passionate about science communication – Oxford has a lot of people who are leaders in their field but good communicators as well and I’m hoping I can use those same skills throughout my career, whether it’s in mental health advocacy or environmental issues.”

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