Gathering evidence of the effects of plastic chemicals on human health is the next project for Dr Bhedita Seewoo. She recently completed her PhD and is now a research analyst at the Minderoo Foundation.

Dr Seewoo has been acknowledged for the quality of her work during her PhD as part of the Brain Plasticity Research group at the Perron Institute and The University of Western Australia. In recognition of an outstanding thesis, Dr Seewoo received an honourable mention from the Board of the Graduate Research School Dean’s List at UWA.

Dr Seewoo’s thesis was passed with no corrections. In the examiner’s report, one examiner stated, “This thesis is one of the most impressive that I have ever read”, and in the viva voce (oral examination) report, the other examiner stated that Dr Seewoo’s thesis “is the most exceptional I have assessed in my scientific career”.

For her PhD, Dr Seewoo investigated the use of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), a non-invasive brain stimulation technique. Although approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for medication-resistant depression, the mechanisms underlying its therapeutic effects are not fully understood.

Dr Seewoo’s thesis characterised the effects of low-intensity rTMS on brain function, chemistry and structure using MRI in preclinical models of depression. The findings showed the effectiveness of low-intensity rTMS in preclinical models and facilitate the development of optimal stimulation protocols to improve the efficacy of rTMS as a therapeutic tool.

The Brain Plasticity Research group, led by Associate Professor Jenny Rodger, continues to investigate these and other protocols with healthy participants and patients with depression at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

Dr Seewoo’s supervisors were A/Professor Rodger, Dr Kirk Feindel and Dr Sarah Etherington.

“When I started my PhD, my goal was to publish at least 10 ten first-author articles by completion,” Dr Seewoo said. “In the end, I published ten first-author publications during my PhD, three publications with collaborators at the Mayo Clinic in the United States, and two publications from my work at the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis at UWA.

“I couldn’t have achieved this without the support of an incredible group of people around me, especially Jenny and Kirk. I also wish to acknowledge my mentor Dr Jim Cummins for his continued support and exceptional guidance.

“I’m also grateful to Andrew and Nicola Forrest for the Forrest Research Foundation Scholarship.

“As well as my husband and family, I wish to thank my colleagues Jessica Moretti and Lauren Hennessy (also in the Brain Plasticity Research group) for believing in me, helping me through the tough times and celebrating my wins.

“I hope the borders open up soon and my sisters and parents can attend my graduation in July. Doing a PhD away from family is difficult, and it became even more challenging with the pandemic and border closures. So I wish all international students in similar situations the best.”

Now at Minderoo, Dr Seewoo is part of a team led by Emerita Professor Sarah Dunlop, Minderoo Foundation’s Director, Plastics and Human Health, and previous member of the Perron Institute Research Advisory Committee.

Congratulations, Dr Seewoo!


In 2020, Dr Seewoo won the Perron Institute Best Paper Competition. Read more here…