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Cochlear implant research a winner

by Kelly Stone

3MT competition finalist L-R: Gabriele Fitzgerald, Paul Joyce, Natasha Wilson, Demi Gao, Prof Phil Weinstein head of Graduate Research Centre, Alex Cavallaro, Julian Major, Erin McGillick, Zachary Anesbury, Krishnaveni Venkidusamy.3MT competition finalist L-R: Gabriele Fitzgerald, Paul Joyce, Natasha Wilson, Demi Gao, Prof Phil Weinstein head of Graduate Research Centre, Alex Cavallaro, Julian Major, Erin McGillick, Zachary Anesbury
and Krishnaveni Venkidusamy.

PhD student Demi Gao (pictured below) has summed up her research into improving the performance of cochlear implants in three succinct minutes to become the University’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition winner.

Demi, who is doing her PhD at the Institute for Telecommunications Research, is using mathematical techniques to predict the best possible performance of cochlear implants from a theoretical perspective.

Prof Phil Weinstein congratulates 3MT winner Demi Gao.Demi told the 3MT competition audience at Mawson Lakes campus that cochlear implants are biomedical neural prosthesis that restore or provide hearing to people who suffer from hearing loss.

“In order to provide better hearing experiences for cochlear implant recipients, significant improvements are required in cochlear implant design,” she says.

“My research will help guide approaches to improving future designs of cochlear implants. Although my work is from a very theoretical perspective and still in the very early stages, it has the potential to help with people’s lives in the future.”

After moving to Australia from China just one year ago, Demi impressed the judges with her compelling three-minute presentation.

Demi says she is enjoying studying at UniSA, especially in ITR’s Computational and Theoretical Neuroscience Laboratory, and is delighted to have won the 3MT competition. She will now go on to compete in the Trans-Tasman 3MT competition in Sydney on October 18.

“In ITR, I have a passionate and patient supervisor, a very comfortable working environment and wonderful co-students,” she says.

“I am extremely happy about winning the 3MT competition. I lacked confidence about it at first because English is not my first language and I haven’t been in Australia for long.

“Winning this competition gives me not only the chance to compete in the Trans-Tasman final, but also the confidence to do so.”

Paul Joyce from the Ian Wark Research Institute was the People’s Choice winner with his research into developing smarter medicines. Paul says medicines have a greater therapeutic effect when administered with fatty foods and he is investigating how this can be used to advantage in optimising drug performance.

Other finalists were Zachary Anesbury and Julian Major from the School of Marketing, Gabriele Fitzgerald from the School of Art, Architecture and Design, Alex Cavallaro from the School of Engineering, Krishnaveni Venkidusamy from the Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation, Erin McGillick from the Sansom Institute and Natasha Wilson from the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences.

Zach, who is analysing online shopping behaviour, provided an insight into how shoppers behave while shopping in an online supermarket, while Julian investigated the attention-grabbing potential of distinctive assets such as colours, slogans and symbols to evoke the brand name.

Gabriele is researching Green Community Hubs and spoke about transferring best practice in energy use and waste reduction in community organisations to the home and work place. Alex summed up his research designing self-cleaning surface coatings to kill infectious organisms to prevent deadly superbug infections.

Krishnaveni’s research aims to clean up petroleum-contaminated sites, especially from groundwater, while generating electricity in the process. Erin is researching how to improve breathing outcomes for babies born small, while Natasha’s presentation examined how predators interact with invasive cane toads.

Dean of Graduate Studies Professor Phil Weinstein congratulated all the finalists in the 3MT competition.

“The 3MT competition was a great showcase of the research being carried out by the University’s up-and-coming research stars of the future,” Prof Weinstein said.

“Communicating research is an important skill for anyone considering a career in research and these finalists have all done an exceptional job."

The 3MT competition is held across the University and is open to all higher degree students. Judges for the 2013 competition were University Council member Eric Granger, Emeritus Professor Mary Barton, Bellberry Ltd CEO Imelda Lynch, and Tindo Solar Managing Director Adrian Ferraretto.

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