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Alumni scholarship helps research take flight

Friday 11 August 2017 3:49pm


Receiving an alumnus-funded scholarship to study in Germany will allow her research to take flight, and enhance future research capabilities in New Zealand, says recipient Millie Johnston.

The second-year Department of Psychology PhD candidate, who studies avian brain function, recently received an Elman Poole Travelling Scholarship to attend Ruhr University, Bochum.

"My PhD project examines avian brain regions involved in working memory, focusing specifically on the nidopallium caudolaterale; a region homologous to the primate prefrontal cortex. So far, my research has been limited to single-unit electrophysiology.”

Learning about new high-density recordings that use multi-channel electrophysiology from Dr Jonas Rose at Ruhr University will “greatly improve our ability to measure and understand the neurological processes required for learning and memory,” she says.

“This will be invaluable not only for the completion of my PhD, but also for my academic career and personal development.

“The Elman Poole Travelling Scholarship has given me a once-in-a-life time opportunity to increase my skill set and learn from the best. I hope to use this experience to establish high-density recordings at the University of Otago."

High-density recording allows researchers to record from multiple cells at one time and gain a deeper understanding of how information is coded at the individual neuron level, and across populations of neurons both within and between different brain areas, she says.

Dr Rose also has links to Otago; he completed post-doctorate study at the University with Professor Michael Colombo between August 2009 and March 2010 via the German Academic Exchange Service-funded DAAD scheme.

Click here to read about other scholarships funded by Dr Elman Poole and his family.