News

Symposium brings students together again

Burnet Institute

15 September, 2022

Image: Honours student Claudia Shen presents her research at the 2022 Student Symposium.

Burnet Institute honours, masters and PhD students came together to showcase their work at the recent 2022 Student Symposium.

From malaria to postnatal care, COVID-19, to safe injecting facilities, the day showcased the breadth and depth of Burnet research.

And being able to run the Symposium as a hybrid event this year offered the best of both worlds, said Burnet Institute 2022 Student Representative (Life Sciences) Brianna Jesaveluk.

“It was a great opportunity to get the student group all together in one place, we’ve been missing that aspect for a couple of years,” she said.

“And it’s great to be able to offer it on Zoom as well, so we can have that flexibility for people who can’t here in person.”

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Masters and PhD students presented a Three Minute Thesis (3MT), which requires candidates to explain their research engagingly in the space of three minutes, and understood by an informed, non-specialist audience.

Honours students presented a 10-minute overview of their work in preparation for their final assessment.

For Mary Malek, presenting for the first time about her honours project on health care providers’ experiences of providing abortion care at 20 weeks, was an initially nerve-racking but ultimately beneficial experience.

“I thought it was a really valuable way to practice communicating my work,” she said.

“I had all these other wonderful presentations to take in and see all the wonderful work other students were doing too.

“Also meeting other people in the Institute as well and doing a bit of networking. I thought it was a really great day.”

The Symposium also featured presentations by two guest speakers, the University of Melbourne’s Associate Professor Jen Martin on ‘How to give a better science talk’, and doctor, lawyer, disability advocate and researcher Dr Dinesh Palipana on ‘The choice to do the hard things’.

Award winners announced at the 2022 Student Symposium (left to right) Chiara Drago, Timothy Ho, Katelyn Stanhope, Lachlan Faktor, Mary Malek and Shan Huang.
Image: Award winners announced at the 2022 Student Symposium (left to right) Chiara Drago, Timothy Ho, Katelyn Stanhope, Lachlan Faktor, Mary Malek and Shan Huang.

Student Symposium award winners were:

  • Best Honours Presentation: Lachlan Faktor (Defining quality of maternal and newborn care from the perspectives of stakeholders in PNG)
  • Best Three Minute Thesis Presentation: Shan Huang (Digital Height Devices to measure stunting in children for low resource settings)
  • People’s Choice Honours Presentation: Chiara Drago (The PvAMA1 protein as a potential vaccine target for malaria)
  • People’s Choice Three Minute Thesis Presentation: Timothy Ho (Identifying Strategies to Generate Potent and Long-Lasting Immunity in Malaria Vaccines)

Special support for Honours students

A new prize category was also presented at the Symposium – the inaugural Honours Professional Development Awards.

“This prize was established after student committees noticed over the years that there was a gap in the opportunities available to honours students in terms of professional development activities,” Ms Jesaveluk said.

“There isn’t really an avenue for them to gain funding towards presenting their research at conferences, and often honours students do stay on in the following years as research assistants or as early PhDs,” she said.

“Having that gap funded allows them to get the opportunity to attend conferences, to present their actual honours work.”

The prize awards funding for the winners to use towards conference attendance or professional development activities.

Honours Professional Development award winners were:

  • Honours Professional Development Award (Life Sciences): Katelyn Stanhope
  • Honours Professional Development Award (Public Health): Mary Malek

Reflecting on the day, Brendan Harney, 2022 Student Representative (Public Health), said the symposium achieved its goals of giving students the opportunity to learn about and gain confidence in presenting their research, as well as reflect on why they are doing their research.

“The symposium certainly reinvigorated the student body, being able to spend a full day together, hear from our Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb, and witness the encouragement and support from the rest of the Institute,” he said.


Image: Symposium co-hosts and 2022 Student Representatives Brendan Harney and Brianna Jesaveluk.

“Thinking about what our speaker Dinesh Palipana shared, sometimes there are easy options in life, but the hard options are good because they’re the ones that are likely to create more impact. And that’s exactly what we’re all doing at Burnet – creating and translating knowledge from our research, so all people have the opportunity to have better health.”

The Symposium was sponsored by the Monash Graduate Association, Capstone Editing, New England Biolabs and MP Biomedicals.

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