Engendering a culture of student led research

As a leading force in health sciences research we hold ourselves to exceptionally high standards. After all, our world class reputation for research excellence was hard won and has never been taken for granted.

However, if you thought that this research was conducted only by our leading academics and paid research staff, then you would be quite wrong. That is because our postgraduate students are involved and in some cases leading research projects of international significance.

One strategy through which we encourage and celebrate the calibre of our students’ research is the University-wide Three Minute Thesis competition, which gives our research fellows and students a platform to demonstrate the value of their work in summary.

Rokhsaneh Tehrany’s research work into digitised lung sounds, which can be interpreted to give a potentially life-saving diagnosis, greatly impressed judges during the Health Sciences heat of the 3MT competition, earning her a place in the final.

Her digital stethoscope model tracks a patient’s breathing patterns when they talk. This research niche has the potential to revolutionise the way service users are assessed for respiratory conditions. That is because it introduces an element of computerised analysis that mitigates the likelihood of human error in interpreting evidence.

The people’s choice award went to Sophia Hulbert, who demonstrated the beneficial effects of ballroom dancing for sufferers of Parkinson’s disease, which placed particular emphasis on regaining the ability to turn.

In addition to the 3MT programme we run an annual Postgraduate Research Conference, which is designed to give our doctoral research students the opportunity to disseminate their research findings and receive feedback from a judging panel.

The 2014 event was attended by more than one hundred people and featured detailed poster presentations from doctoral students representing each of our research groups. These are Cancer, Palliative and End of Life Care, Innovative and Essential Care, and Rehabilitation and Health Technologies.

In terms of prizes, best oral presentation was awarded to Gillian Crawford, for her study of families’ and healthcare professionals’ experiences of managing incidental information in genomic investigations. Meanwhile the title of best poster presentation was awarded to Sarah Bailey for her feasibility study of a coping intervention for women with recurrent miscarriage.

Michelle Cowen and Allison Saltrese were runners-up in the best oral presentation category, and Shabana Malik and Annabel Rule runners-up for their posters.

Across both of these events we have shown evidence of expertise, innovation and commitment to the ideology of continued research for improved services. It gives me great pleasure to congratulate all of you who took part. I have no doubt that I will be reading about your excellent work again in the very near future.

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