For the third time this year, PhD student Emily King (Brain Plasticity Research group at UWA and Perron Institute) has been officially recognised for her achievements.

In July, Emily was awarded for the best student oral presentation at the Australian Brain Stimulation Society conference. This followed her success earlier this year in winning the Perron Institute Three Minute Thesis competition, later presenting her talk at the Institute’s Symposium.

Last month, Emily accepted the Geoffrey Blee Neuroscience Honours Prize as the student scoring the highest course weighted average mark in completing Honours in Neuroscience at UWA.

Emily’s thesis explored the use of non-invasive magnetic brain stimulation to drive plasticity of the ‘gate’ of neuronal activity, referred to as the axon initial segment (AIS).

“The preliminary results of my Honours thesis provide the first evidence that AIS plasticity can be driven with repetitive magnetic stimulation, and suggest a translatable method of manipulating AIS plasticity in health and disease,” Emily said.

Emily’s Honours supervisors were Dr Alex Tang, Associate Professor Jenny Rodger (head of Brain Plasticity Research), Dr Jamie Beros, Dr Darren Clarke and Dr Eugenia Poh. Dr Tang, a postdoctoral researcher in the Brain Plasticity Research group, won the Geoffrey Blee prize in 2012.

Emily said she was proud to receive her award. “Winning the Geoffrey Blee award reflects not only my hard work, but also the effort and time my supervisors have invested to take me to this point.

“It’s a great way to end the incredible experience I had as an Honours student in the Brain Plasticity lab,” she said. “I’m grateful to be able to continue my work as a PhD student and potentially to develop future treatments for people.”

Part of Emily’s PhD project is supported by a Neurotrauma Research Program grant titled ‘Targeting the axon initial segment for the treatment of stroke’. The Chief Investigator is Dr Tang, Emily is an Associate Investigator along with A/Professor Rodger, Professor John Reynolds (University of Otago), Dr Hakuei Fujiyama (Murdoch University) and Dr Jamie Beros (postdoctoral researcher in the Brain Plasticity Research group).

This project will use a new protocol for non-invasive brain stimulation to treat the damage caused to brain cells after stroke.

Congratulations, Emily!