UNSW Science Postgraduate Research students shine in communication competition

Three research students studying crayweed on Sydney’s coastline, the effects of diet on sperm and semen traits, and the objectification of women, have each won $3000 prizes in the 2018 UNSW Science Postgraduate Research Competition.

Six runners-up also received $2000 and $1000 for their research on pattern-matching skills in forensic science, the rising incidence of whooping cough, and a possible new treatment for anxiety in adolescents.

More than 100 students participated in the competition in which they were judged on the quality of an abstract and a poster outlining their research project and findings.

Their third and possibly most difficult task was to give a one-minute long presentation summarising their work in front of a large audience in Leighton Hall in the Scientia Building at UNSW. Judging criteria included communication style, clarity and audience engagement.

Science broadcaster and presenter of The Science Show on ABC Radio National, Robyn Williams, was a celebrity judge of the event and plans to highlight the research of some of the students on his program. Other judges included leading researchers from UNSW Science and other UNSW faculties.

 

 Dean of Science, Professor Emma Johnston AO and Robyn Williams

 

In congratulating students for their engaging presentations, Robyn said there were many benefits in them learning to communicate their science well, including understanding their own work better. 

Learning to speak well was a vital skill for any job, he said, giving particular praise to the students entering the competition who did not have English as their first language.

The six winners and runners-up will use their prize money to travel to international conferences or go on research visits. The winners will also represent the Faculty at the UNSW Three Minute Thesis Competition on Monday 17 September. 

There were seven main categories: Climate, Environment and Sustainability; Energy and Materials Technology; Communication, Information Technology; Cutting-edge Discovery; Health, Lifestyle and Ageing; Industry-Linked Research; Science and Society. 

The 2018 winners are:

  • Georgina Wood (School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences) in Climate, Environment and Sustainability category
    Title: Restoration and Future-Proofing of Sydney’s Underwater Forests
  • Erin Macartney (School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences) in Health, Lifestyle, Ageing category
    Title: You are What You Eat: Effects of Diet on Sperm and Semen Traits
  • Dax Kellie (School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences) in Energy, Materials Technology category
    Title: First Impression or Suppression? Appearances, Perceptions, and the Objectification of Women

The 2018 runners-up are:

  • Hamish Craig (School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences) in Energy, Materials Technology category
    Title: Unravelling the Secrets of Silk: Advanced Chemical Anyalysis Reveals New Discoveries in Spider Silk Molecular Structure
  • Rosemary Steinberg (School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences) in Climate, Environment and Sustainability category
    Title: Raising Coral – A Harbour Restoration Journey
  • Lana Ly (School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences) in Health, Lifestyle, Ageing category
    Title: Fighting Blood Diseases with Pokemon  
  • Emily Vohralik (School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences) in Health, Lifestyle, Ageing category
    Title: Engineering the Immune System to Fight Obesity 
  • John Turnbull (School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences) in Science and Society category
    Title: Do All Marine Reserves Work? Red Herring in Marine Protection
  • Tanya Wayne (School of Psychology) in Science and Society category
    Title: Is that You? Identifying People From Voice Samples

People’s Choice Award:

  • Wilson Handoko (School of Materials Science and Engineering) in Climate, Environment, Sustainability category
    Title: Waste-based and Graphene Coatings for Surface Modification of Steel to Enhance Corrosion Resistance Properties