18 March 2021

Recognising our gifted postgraduate students

The valued contribution made by our postgraduate students was recognised recently at our inaugural student awards breakfast at The University Club, UWA.

This well attended event, with television personality Tina Altieri in the MC role, was an opportunity to announce the winners of the best paper competition, the recent Three Minute Thesis competition and recipients of the Byron Kakulas Prestige Scholarships.

This best paper competition identifies the top three most original and impactful scientific papers published by Perron Institute students in 2020. Winners were announced by distinguished neuroscientist Emeritus Professor Alan Harvey, who has recently retired as a Director of the Perron Institute Board and the Chair of the Research Advisory Committee.

The first-place winner was Julia Pytte (Motor Neurone Disease Genetics and Therapeutics Research group) for her paper in Neurology Genetics on disease-modifying effects of a structural variant in familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

In second place was Oliver Li (Motor Neurone Disease Genetics and Therapeutics Research group) for his paper in Molecular Therapy – Nucleic Acids on mapping functional domains in the dystrophin protein. The judges also gave a special commendation to Oliver for a second paper, a review in the journal Molecular Research Reviews on progress on the molecular pathogenesis and therapeutics for Parkinson’s disease.

Third place went to Niall Keegan (Molecular Therapies group) for his review in the Journal of Neuromuscular Diseases on pseudogenes in the dystrophin gene.

This year’s judges were Professors Mel Ziman, Rod Dilley and Minghao Zheng.

Another way to share research findings and potential future discoveries is the Three Minute Thesis competition. It began at the University of Queensland twelve years ago and has spread around the world. The aim is for students to present their technical and scientific projects to a lay audience in an engaging way. This year’s winners presented their talks again for the breakfast guests and received a certificate and a prize.

Three Minute Thesis winners:

  • 1st Place: Emily King
  • 2nd Place: Frances Theunissen
  • 3rd Place: Di Huang

Three students were recognised with commendations and were presented with a certificate. They are: Kristin Ham, Jessica Johnson and Annie Sutherland.

Details of the 3MT competition are at this link.

3MT winner, Emily King and fellow neuroplasticity researcher Abbey Figliomeni are this year’s recipients of the Perron Institute’s Byron Kakulas Prestige Scholarships. Emeritus Professor Byron Kakulas AO was at the breakfast to make these presentations.

Congratulations to all the winners and participants, and thanks to all involved.

Best paper winners L-R: Julia Pytte, Niall Keegan and Dr Oliver Li.

Kakulas Scholarship recipients L-R: Emily King and Abbey Figliomeni, Em Prof Byron Kakulas (centre).