Research Edge

April 2016 - Issue 9
Nurse researcher awarded Ian Davey prize

Nurse researcher awarded Ian Davey prize

An annual award for UniSA’s most outstanding research thesis has been awarded to a student whose research has led to changes to international guidelines about infusion therapy for the benefit of patients across the world.

Dr Rebecca Sharp from the School of Nursing and Midwifery was awarded the $5000 Ian Davey Research Thesis Prize for her PhD research about vascular access devices - that is tubes inserted into the veins of patients to deliver treatment such as stem cells and chemotherapy.

Dr Sharp explains that while these devices allow many patients to complete their required treatment, they may increase the risk of adverse events such as blood clots; causing discomfort, interrupting treatment and may be associated with increased morbidity and mortality.

“There has been no evidence to guide clinicians regarding safe vein sizes to use to minimise blood flow interruption and hence the risk of blood clots,” Dr Sharp says.

“During my PhD I was working with nurses at the Royal Adelaide Hospital to measure vein diameter and followed patients to see if they developed blood clots.

“We found that clinicians shouldn’t take up more than 45 per cent of the vein with the device.

“My results have now been published by the Infusion Nurses Society in the international guidelines for infusion therapy.

“These practice standards are followed by clinicians throughout the world – it is such an honour for my work to be included in the standards alongside very experienced researchers; and it is satisfying to provide this evidence and potentially reduce adverse events for patients requiring infusion therapy.

“I am also very honoured for my research to be acknowledged with the Ian Davey award. The project was a team effort, including my supervisors and clinicians from the Royal Adelaide Hospital.”

The Ian Davey Research Thesis Prize fund supports a prize to acknowledge the most outstanding research thesis by a UniSA research degree student leading to a PhD. The award aims to encourage the recipient to travel overseas and undertake research.

Dr Sharp plans to travel to a conference overseas to present her work, which you can find out more about here.

This article was originally published in the April 2016 edition of UniSA News

Developing future leaders in an extreme environment

Developing future leaders in an extreme environment

Ms Briony Ankor, a PhD candidate in the School of Natural and Built Environments has been selected to participate in Homeward Bound 2016: a global leadership and strategic program for women in science.

Homeward Bound aims to promote more women to become strong leaders and role models across the globe. The program is concerned with global sustainability and this is the focus of its scientific content. It is the beginning of a 10 year project to bring together 1000 women in science from around the world to help shape the planet’s and society’s future through collaborative thinking, strong decision making and informed policy development.

Briony is one of only two South Australians involved in this world first initiative. She and Dr Karen Hawke from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) will join a group of 78 female scientists to participate in projects and leadership training throughout 2016, culminating in an expedition to Antarctica in December.

Antarctica has been chosen as the backdrop to the program as it is a key indicator of global climate change and can provide critical information about the planet’s health and the effects of human activities on it. A large part of the expedition will focus on science, learning about current research undertaken in Antarctica and its impacts on global policy and decision making.

Using scientific evidence to inform policy and decision making is something very familiar to Briony.

“My research project is on the use of satellite based remote sensing to inform environmental policy. Remote sensing is a valuable tool in the monitoring of the environment and land cover or land use changes due to the frequent and unobtrusive nature of satellite imaging.”

“I am undertaking a number of case studies to investigate the possibilities of increasing the use of remote sensing in policy development, monitoring, and evaluation.”

“Remote sensing has the potential to provide so much information about our environment and the landscape, but key indicators and reliable evidence needs to be produced in such a way that it can be utilised by decision makers. I hope to contribute to the push to make scientific information more useful to the broader community.”

She is very excited to be involved in a project like Homeward Bound.

“We will be travelling on board the M/V Ushuaia and participating in numerous landings to experience, explore, and camp overnight. We will be visiting polar researchers and learning about the projects being undertaken and the environmental indicators that polar science can provide.”

“Homeward Bound has a strong focus on the sustainability of our planet and as a PhD student in geospatial science and environmental monitoring I am very excited for the difference Homeward Bound will make in the world.”

“It will provide me with excellent networking opportunities with other female scientists of high regard from around the world. Small working groups are participating in projects throughout 2016, and culminating on the expedition in December.”

“I will present my own research to the whole group during the journey and in return I will learn of their research and the environmental concerns in their home countries.”

“It will give me a unique chance to gather a global perspective on environmental concerns from the participants as well as from the research undertaken at Antarctica.”

While Homeward Bound is an amazing opportunity, it is primarily self-funded by the participants themselves and extensive fundraising is required - around $27,000.

“I have recently been honoured to receive the Jane Gillooly Memorial Award as a significant contribution ($9720) to this cause. With other contributions and personal fundraising I have currently raised just over half of the required funding.”

Visit Briony’s website where you can learn more about her, Homeward Bound and can make a donation towards her involvement.

A new approach to measuring air pollution

A new approach to measuring air pollution

Understanding air pollution has becoming a particularly topical issue for those of us who live in or near busy cities or pollution emitting industries.

Current methods for estimating the risk from air pollution does not correctly simulate the way we breathe and the fate of pollutants in biological systems. Ms Farzana Kastury, a PhD candidate in the Future Industries Institute has been investigating a new approach to measure how these pollutants affect human health.

“My research centres around assessing the risk of heavy metals and microbes in dust from contaminated soil.”

“I am trying to simulate an inhalation scenario in-vitro and determine the amount of heavy metals that become dissolved in simulated lung fluids and may potentially enter the blood circulation, a process known as inhalation bioaccessibility.”

“From my review of the literature, it quickly became apparent that this is a relatively young field compared to exposure assessment for the ingestion pathway.”

“As a result, there is currently no unified protocol that has been adopted by the scientific or regulatory community.”

“My main objective at this stage is to assess the influence of different physico-chemical and methodological parameters on metal bioaccessibility in contaminated dust and develop a robust protocol.”

“If adopted by toxicologists around the world, this protocol will greatly reduce the variability in data reported, and exposure assessment via inhalation bioaccessibility data from around the world will become easier to compare and be more meaningful.”

Farzana’s next project is to characterize the microbial community in the heavy metal contaminated dust and investigate if the presence of heavy metals in dust is related to the presence of metal resistance genes in microbes.

Recipient of a 2015 Vice Chancellor and President’s Scholarship, Farzana says the $10,000 award has been vital towards funding analysis of her data. The majority of metal content analysis is done by ICP-MS, which is an expensive process.

She plans to present her results at a Society of Toxicology and Environmental Chemistry (SATEC) conference early next year; which will be a great platform to communicate her findings and open up opportunities for collaboration. Farzana hopes to use the scholarship to partially fund her conference expenses.

A passion for protecting the environment laid the foundation for Farzana’s journey to becoming a researcher.

“During my undergraduate degree at the University of New South Wales I became very interested in how environmental contaminants negatively impact the health of humans and the ecosystem.”

“Associate Professor Albert Juhasz at UniSA acted as my co-supervisor during my Honours project at UNSW. During this experience I learned a lot more about toxicology and under his guidance I became interested in risk assessment methods.”

“My PhD topic emerged as a new field which I thought would be brilliant to devote myself to for a few years and moved to SA in 2015.

“This year, I am also working part time as a tutor in a first year biology course at the Mawson Lakes campus. I am quickly realizing that it is very refreshing and rewarding to work with students as well as peers.”

“In the future, I see myself as an academic (preferably in Adelaide) and carrying out vital environmental toxicology research in microbial heavy metal and antibiotic resistance.”

Epidural during labour: making informed decisions

Epidural during labour: making informed decisions

Dr Elizabeth Newnham has been working in midwifery for more than 10 years, including as a lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery. She recently completed her PhD, looking at the various influences of women in their choice to use an epidural during labour.

As a practicing midwife I have become concerned about the increasing uptake of epidural analgesia during childbirth. In particular, I am concerned that women are not always well informed, particularly about the fact that having an epidural moves them out of the category of ‘low-risk’ labour and increases the risk of other interventions.

An epidural is regarded as a relatively safe option for women but it also involves having an IV drip and more frequent monitoring, often restricting movement.

Research into epidurals has been conflicting, in part because it is hard to separate it out from the other interventions often associated with it.

A recent survey of women in the United States found that women who experienced both induction of labour and an epidural had an unplanned caesarean section rate of 31 per cent.

Those who experienced either induction of labour or an epidural, but not both, had caesarean rates of 20 per cent. For those first-time mothers who had neither intervention, the unplanned caesarean section rate was 5 per cent.

These results do not mean that the induction or epidural caused the caesarean section, but signifies that they are co-related.

The most recent systematic review shows an increase in caesarean section for foetal distress when epidural analgesia is used, but no increase in the overall caesarean section rate. However, women who have an epidural are 1.4 times more likely to have an instrumental birth.

There are also less obvious complications such as interruptions in the production of oxytocin, the primary labour and bonding hormone, and decreased breastfeeding rates.

Labour and birth is a unique and individual experience and a woman has the right to choose whatever she thinks is best for her and her baby.

Pain relief should be available to women, but it is also really important that women are well-informed about their pain relief options and that there are more options available for women to support them during birth.

My research, conducted in a large maternity hospital, found that hospital culture did not necessarily support low-tech strategies such as the use of water very well – while high-tech practices were common and more acceptable, leading to what is sometimes termed the ‘cascade of intervention’.

My findings showed that many women had still not really made up their minds about what they would do in labour because it is such an unknown, and they were extremely reliant on the support they would receive in labour from the midwife.

For many women, this support is actually more significant than the pain of labour, where some degree of pain is expected and requests for pain relief can signify loneliness or vulnerability. The midwives in this study were aware of the need to provide choices for women, but were often restricted by the institutional focus on risk and throughput.

These findings add to the growing body of international research pointing to the need, as a society, to rethink where birth occurs. To me, it seems that large acute hospital services that focus on risk and throughput are not the ideal setting for birth.

It was far easier for women to access an epidural in this setting than it was for them to hop in a bath. Smaller units that recognise individual needs and the rhythms of labour may be better suited to promote physiological birth.

Midwifery-led units also offer women less risk of intervention, less pre-term birth and greater satisfaction with no increase in adverse outcomes.

Especially in light of health budget shortfalls, I would urge policy makers to consider that moving birth out of acute-care institutions is a 21st century reality that should be implemented – with timely transfer mechanisms in place should they be necessary.

To pregnant women, I would say – carefully investigate your options of care and the statistics that accompany them. Ask lots of questions to your health care providers. Access a midwifery model of care if possible, and if not, go into labour knowing what your options are, well supported by a partner or friend.

Article written by Dr Elizabeth Newnham and originally published in March 2016 edition of UniSA News

Register now for Three Minute Thesis workshops

Thinking about taking part in this year’s Three Minute Thesis® (3MT) competition?

3MT is a fantastic opportunity to develop your research communication skills, it offers great cash prizes, plus a chance to compete at the Asia-Pacific 3MT Competition in Brisbane on 30 September 2016. Heats will be held in the divisions prior to the University’s Grand Final during August.

Last year’s 3MT UniSA Grand Final was won by Mahmoud Bassal, a PhD student with the School of Pharmacy & Medical Sciences with his presentation ‘The Cancer Conundrum’. He also won the People's Choice award.

To Mahmoud it’s essential to communicate your research in a format like 3MT.

“There’s so much incredible research at this university which is brilliant but because some of it is just so complicated it can be difficult to explain it to other people. When that happens it’s a missed opportunity and that is something which the three minute thesis tackles.

“It’s an opportunity to translate back to more people the research you are involved in so they can understand what it is you are doing and the significance of what you are doing.”

Other previous participants say 3MT is extremely helpful in developing your abstract and clarifying your thesis argument. It offers you the opportunity to further refine your communication skills, which could be particularly useful if you’re required to defend your thesis in the future. Also being able to communicate research to a non-specialist audience helps to boost your transferable skills and could broaden your employment prospects.

To help prepare for the competition, from May to June, we are offering a series of three workshops on various campuses:

• Workshop 1: Take part in the 3MT
• Workshop 2: Perfect your 3MT entry
• Workshop 3: Practice session

These workshops will help you find the major story in your research and to prepare a 400 word script. From the script you'll be able to develop your presentation and practise voice projection, posture and enunciation – critical skills for communicating your research.

Registrations and more information are available here – make sure you register for all three workshops.

Good luck!

Prestigious Scholarships Seminar

UniSA will shortly be hosting a seminar about prestigious scholarships for research degree students, including the Rhodes, Cambridge Australia, General Sir John Monash, Fulbright, Menzies and UniSA scholarship programs.

The seminar will highlight current scholarships, identify the countries where you could study, and give you advice on how to develop and submit a strong application. There will also be the opportunity to network with other students, academics and representatives from the scholarship organisations.

Please note that these scholarships are generally only available to Australian Citizens or holders of Permanent Residency in Australia.

More information on prestigious scholarships is available via the High achiever scholarships webpage.

When: 9am – 11:30am, Monday 2 May 2016

Where: Bradley Forum, Level 5, Hawke Building, City West campus

Joel Fuller is a PhD student in the School of Health Sciences and a 2015 Fulbright South Australia Postgraduate Scholarship recipient. He is investigating whether running stride can predict injury risk and he is using his scholarship to travel to the University of Massachusetts. Learn more about his research.

The Fulbright Commission will provide a State level information session on their scholarships at Flinders University on Thursday 2 June 2016 from 11:30am-12:15pm. Further details are available here.

Endeavour Scholarships: up to $130,500 for overseas research

Applications are now open for the 2017 round of Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships.

These prestigious awards provide travel funding, living allowance, tuition fees and insurance towards research at overseas organisations. They are open to domestic applicants.

Key opportunities are:

• Endeavour Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship (for female applicants) – 1 to 2 years overseas, valued at up to $130,500
• Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship – up to 2 years overseas, valued at up to $69,500
• Endeavour Research Fellowship – 4 to 6 months overseas, valued at up to $24,500
• Endeavour Research Fellowship for Indigenous Australians – 4 to 6 months overseas, valued at up to $24,500

The application process involves setting up a clearly articulated research opportunity at an overseas host organisation. Your host organisation could be a university, research centre, government agency, not for profit agency or private business.

If you are interested, have a chat to your supervisor and also visit the Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships webpage for more information. The deadline for applications is 30 June 2016.

Ms Tahnee Dening, a PhD student in the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences won a 2016 Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship. She will be travelling to Denmark later this year to further her research into smart oil based drug formulations – read more here.

International Travel Grants: up to $5,000 for travel and living expenses

Are you in your second or early third year of candidacy (or equivalent for part-time)? Are you planning an overseas visit between January and June 2017 to enhance your research experience and improve your thesis? Start your application now to win one of the International Travel Grants.

These grants provide funding towards:

• gaining industry or academic experience at world-class institutions or industry partners
• overseas field trips for the purpose of data collection that enhances the thesis (e.g. produces a paper as a result)
• presenting a refereed conference paper
• collaborating for the purpose of research partnerships, such as co-authoring a refereed journal article.

Later this year four UniSA PhD candidates will use their travel grants to enhance their research overseas:

Louise Lavrencic will collaborate with world-class researchers at the University of Cambridge, UK who study brain imaging in older adults. Her visit will focus on carrying out Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) data processing and analysis, using current best practice.

Jessica Jackson will also travel to the UK to undertake research at the University of Manchester; internationally renowned for its work in tissue regeneration, particularly tendon healing. She is extending her research project into human tendon healing and will present her research at an international conference on wound healing and tissue repair in Florence, Italy.

Sleiman Farah will visit the University de Lleida in Spain to work with leading researchers in developing an electrical and thermal energy storage system as a way to achieve zero energy homes.

Joanne Kaeding will visit the University of British Columbia, Canada and the University of North Carolina, United States to develop collaborative research in the emerging area of public library access for special needs children and families. She will also present her research findings at a national library conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The deadline for 2017 travel applications is 30 June 2016.

Full eligibility criteria and instructions on how to apply can be found on the Research degree International Travel Grants webpage.

Online Reviews of Progress and Thesis Management

On 31st March 2016 reviews of progress and submission and examination of the thesis for research degree students became online processes.

Reviews of Progress

• Students can submit their Reviews of Progress online. Before they log onto their student portal and complete the Review of Progress they need to meet with their supervisors, and REPL (or equivalent) if required, to discuss their progress.

• Online Reviews of Progress are completed via the Student Reviews tile within the myResearch page of the Student Portal

• Students will receive an email advising them when their review is due. The initial email to students will be sent approximately 2 months prior to the Review of Progress due date. The Reviews of Progress will not be available in their portal until the student has received the initial email

• Students can also upload supporting documentation, including study plans or other documents that may be required at a School level

Thesis Management

• All theses submitted for examination must be completed via the Thesis Management tile within the myResearch page of the Student Portal

Note: Students who submitted their thesis for examination before 31 March 2016 will need to continue the examination process using the existing hard copy forms available on the Thesis Management webpage, unless otherwise advised by Graduate Research. If anyone is unsure whether to use the online process or the existing forms please contact

• Students are now able to provide an ‘intent to submit’ date up until thesis submission. This is not a mandatory requirement but it is recommended as a reminder for students and supervisors to begin discussion around the examination process and timelines

• Online tracking of thesis examination is available via the Thesis Management tile within the myResearch page of the Student Portal

• Hard copy thesis submission for both examination, re-examination and completion is no longer required, unless requested by the examiner(s) or School/Division

Further information, including user guides and checklists are available on the Reviews of Progress and Thesis Management webpages.

Graduate Research are also available to answer any queries regarding these new online processes:

• for Reviews of Progress contact

• for Thesis Management contact

Manage your research data efficiently

Data management includes all activities that relate to data except the direct use of data itself. This includes how data is organised, stored, backed up, shared, and accessed.

Taking the time, at the beginning of your research, to put in place clear, considered, easy to follow data management procedures is critical. Ultimately this will improve efficiency, protection, quality and exposure of your data.

The Library has created a Research Data Management Guide to help you understand how the University is supporting its researchers around data management.

It contains information on:

• Finding and re-using data;
• Creating a data management plan;
• Data storage;
• Data analysis; and
• Sharing data.

For further information on research data management contact the Academic Library Services team responsible for your Division.

New insights into developing research degree supervisors

It may come as a surprise to many research degree students (and possibly to some of their supervisors) that doctoral education and research degrees more broadly are themselves topics for research. In fact, quite a number of doctorates have been awarded to people investigating aspects of PhDs and doctoral education in general.

As part of this international community of doctoral education researchers, members of the UniSA Teaching Innovation Unit’s Research Education team undertake research in the area of doctoral education and publish their results in international journals.

One of their more recent articles by Professor Alistair McCulloch and Dr Cassandra Loeser was published in late February 2016 in the top Australian journal Higher Education Research & Development. The article examined the issue of whether professional development for research degree supervisors had a subsequent impact on participants.

While many higher education quality regimes and many individual institutions across the globe mandate professional development for research degree supervisors (as does UniSA), prior to this article no robust research into the activity’s medium-long term impact had been published. This is due in large part to the difficulty in making the evidential link between a single activity (such as a one-day workshop) and an individual’s retained learning and later behaviour.

McCulloch and Loeser studied the medium to long-term impact of Supervising@UniSA, UniSA’s compulsory research degree supervisor induction program and found that ‘the (full-day) workshop leads to the acquisition of understanding and knowledge (about doctoral education) and, for the majority of attendees, also has an impact on supervisory practice.’ In light of their findings, the authors believe that UniSA’s long-standing supervisor development program contributes to the University’s reputation as an institution where high quality supervision is the norm.

The next Supervising@UniSA workshops take place in August and November 2016 – you can register here

2016 Augusta Zadow Awards: $10k on offer

Augusta Zadow was an advocate for women's rights in the workplace and became South Australia's 'First Lady Inspector of Factories' in 1895. She was a woman ahead of her time, with many of the working conditions women enjoy today attributable to her.

In recognition of her work, SafeWork SA presents two $10,000 awards for projects that will further improve work health and safety for women at work: be that a practical solution, research or further education.

Visit SafeWork SA to find out more.

Applications close Friday 24 June 2016

Emily Johnston

Quick facts

> Don’t forget to register for 3MT workshops in May
> The Prestigious Scholarship seminar is being held on 2 May
> Reviews of Progress and submitting your thesis for examination are now online
> Submit your photos to the 2016 Images of Research competition
> Watch the Talking Papers to learn about UniSA’s leading researchers

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