Awards reward excellence in doctoral theses

Focusing on such critical issues as obesity, diabetes, and malnutrition affecting older hospitalised patients, a dozen outstanding Flinders University students have been awarded Vice-Chancellor’s Prizes for Doctoral Thesis Excellence and reveal an impressive new array of research talent emerging within the university.

The 12 winners, who completed their theses in 2018, were presented their awards by Flinders University Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robert Saint, and Dean of Graduate Research Professor Tara Brabazon, at a special ceremony at Flinders University on Thursday May 16 2019.

“For those receiving a prize or award, this is a landmark occasion in your lives. A well-deserved recognition and a milestone in your careers, or those ahead of you, as future leaders,” Professor Saint said.

He acknowledged that a Doctoral Thesis Excellence prize rewarded courage in following a passion and exploring new ways of thinking.

“Your research builds and develops the knowledge and capabilities that enhance not only our University, but society as a whole.”

Dr Yogesh Sharma, whose study into the benefits of early nutritional intervention to curb malnutrition in older general hospital patients, says receiving the Vice-Chancellor’s award is gratifying and recognises that the culmination of his PhD studies is likely to make a positive difference to the community.

Dr Yogesh Sharma receives his award from Professor Robert Saint

The awards, for PhD students recommended by their external thesis examiners, supervisors and the University Higher Degrees by Research committee, not only acknowledge excellence in research but also innovation.

Dr Tiffany Knight’s thesis about an actor’s status in independent theatre was exceptional for part of her examination being performed in front of a live audience, on the set of where she presented an acclaimed theatre show during the 2017 Adelaide Fringe. Conducted in an indoor swimming pool at the Treasury Hotel in King William Street, Adelaide, audience members in the front row were invited to put their feet in the water while Tiffany performed in the pool. Dr Knight teaches at Flinders University while pursuing her acting career, including as part of the latest State Theatre Company of SA production of Hydra.

Dr Tiffany Knight receives her award

The Vice-Chancellor’s awards also represent the culmination of great personal journeys for many students. Himal Kandel is an international student who has come from a remote, poverty-stricken village in Nepal and achieved great outcomes in his optometry studies at the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

After completing his master in public health for eye care at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, he commenced a global search for a PhD opportunity, leading him to Flinders University’s world-class research developing patient-reported outcome measures in ophthalmology.

“I aim to be a world-renowned researcher carrying out projects to measure the impact of eye diseases and improve outcomes of ophthalmic interventions,” Dr Kandel, winner of last year’s SA International Student of the Year, said about his research.

Dr Ali Gumillya Baker, a researcher and senior lecturer within the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, is the first Indigenous student to win this award. It builds on her impressive public profile, which includes national performance work with First Nations Unbound Collective.

As part of the awards ceremony, Professor Saint presented the winner of the annual Prize for Excellence in Higher Degree by Research Supervision to Dr Melanie Takarangi, who is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology, from the College of Education, Psychology and Social Work.

Professor Saint thanked the supervisors present for their commitment to their students and to Flinders.

“The skill and dedication of our HDR student supervisors is integral to the success of these students. It’s important we recognise that our research supervisors are vital not only for their expertise, but also in mentoring and motivating, especially when things don’t quite go to plan.”

The full list of Doctoral Thesis Excellence awards:

Dr Shee Chee for “Structural and Functional Characterisation of the A6 – A11 Dicarba Insulin Analogues”, supervised by Professor Briony Forbes (College of Medicine and Public Health).

Dr Tom Walsh for “Obesity and foot pain, Studies of non-mechanical and mechanical mechanisms”, supervised by Professor Michael Shanahan (College of Medicine and Public Health).

Dr Himal Kandel for “Development of Item Banks to Measure Refractive Error-specific Quality-of-Life Parameters”, supervised by Dr Paul Constable (College of Nursing and Health Sciences).

Dr Yogesh Sharma for “Malnutrition in Older General Medical Inpatients: Identification, Prevalence and Benefits of Early Nutritional Intervention” supervised by Professor Michelle Miller (College of Nursing and Health Sciences).

Dr Daniel Carragher for “Social Perception in Group Scenes: Social context modulates perceptions of facial attractiveness”, supervised by Professor Mike Nicholls (College of Education, Psychology and Social Work).

Dr Michele Jarldorn for “Radically rethinking imprisonment: A Photovoice exploration of life in and after prison in South Australia”, supervised by Dr Heather Brook (College of Education, Psychology and Social Work).

Dr Ali Gumillya Baker for “Sovereign Acts: Methodologies of the Lived and Spoken”, supervised by Associate Professor Steve Hemming (College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences).

Dr Tiffany Knight for “Creative Artefact: 19 weeks. Exegesis: ‘Just the Actor’: A Practice-Led Research Investigation into the Actor’s Status in Contemporary Independent Theatre”, supervised by Professor Tara Brabazon (College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences).

Dr Kate Berniz for “La lucha: to dialogue, The Struggle: to dialogue”, supervised by Associate Professor Ben Wadham (College of Education, Psychology and Social Work).

Dr Gaylene Denford-Wood for “The mindfulness of seminaria: A heuristic inquiry with teachers and leaders uncovers a poetry path to wellbeing”, supervised by Dr Leigh Burrows (College of Education, Psychology and Social Work).

Dr Petra Mosmann for “Archives of the Australian Second Wave: History and Feminism after the Archival Turn”, supervised by Associate Professor Catherine Kevin (College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences).

Dr Thomas Daniels for “The singular spectral shift function for relatively trace class perturbations”, supervised by Nurulla Azamov (College of Science and Engineering).

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