HMRI-affiliated researchers, Dr Rebecca Lim and Dr Hayley Scott, have each been awarded a Women in Research Fellowship thanks to the University of Newcastle Research Advantage.
The Fellowships were developed to provide a strategic pathway to facilitate an increased percentage of women in senior academic positions. The recipients were been awarded on the strength of their research achievements and their 2018 Research Plan.
Professor Deb Hodgson, PVC Research and Innovation, was thrilled by the calibre of applicants for the WIR Fellowships. “We know that we have a bounty of talent among women in research at UON, so we really wanted to give them the opportunity to soar with this strategic funding.”
“It was tough whittling down the long list of applicants, but the finalists’ strong research plans helped us make a final decision,” Professor Hodgson said.
The Fellowships were awarded at a launch event at NeW Space on Thursday 26th October 2017.
Congratulations Dr Lim and Dr Scott!
Rebecca’s main research focuses on the often-overlooked sense of balance. We take for granted how exquisitely well our sense of balance works, most of the time. It’s when we feel dizzy, lightheaded, and unbalanced that we suddenly realise how important this sense is for our normal, everyday activities. To understand how we maintain our balance, Rebecca uses a number of anatomical and physiological techniques to examine the relationship between the structure and function of the important cells and neurons of the balance system. By understanding of how these specialised cells work Rebecca hopes to devise therapies that replace damaged or diseased cells and develop rehabilitation strategies to minimise the effects of balance dysfunction.
With the award of a Women in Research Fellowship, Rebecca has a number of goals she would like to achieve during 2018. First, she will examine balance function in diabetic patient groups which tend to have an increased risk of falls. The overall aim is to determine how balance is affected by diabetes and where the problem originates. Rebecca has preliminary evidence that suggests it may occur in the inner ear balance organs. A second aim is to advance an emerging collaboration with the Centre for Organic Electronics (COE). In collaboration with COE colleagues, she will develop an interface between organic electronics and nerve cells to replace or repair cells of the nervous system that have been injured or diseased.
Hayley’s research explores the impact of obesity, exercise and nutrition in promoting or impeding inflammation and, ultimately, the effect this has on the pathogenesis of respiratory diseases. With a primary research goal of conducting high quality research that is directly translatable into clinical practice, Hayley’s dietetic qualifications afford her the unique position to devise and conduct this type of research.
The Women in Research Fellowship will provide Hayley with research support to complete a first-in-world study examining the impact of exercise intensity on asthma outcomes, which will be used to inform exercise guidelines for people with asthma. It will also fund her attendance at the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand conference in March 2018, to present and network with researchers in her field.