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Friday 25 November 2016 1:11pm


Congratulations to Laura Boddington (left) and Papi Gustafson (right) who have both had their doctoral theses placed on the Health Sciences Divisional List of Exceptional Theses. The list comprises only those doctoral candidates whose research is assessed by examiners as being of an exceptional standard in every respect – research content, originality, quality of expression and accuracy of presentation – and amongst the top 10% of theses examined.

Laura and Papi successfully defended their theses at recent oral examinations. The Convenors of Examiners both commented on the level of knowledge displayed by Laura and Papi, and their ability to defend and critique their own work.

Laura's thesis, Effects of electrical theta burst stimulation on interhemispheric inhibition and functional recovery after stroke, examines the behavioural and electrophysiological effects of applying electrical theta-burst stimulation to the brain after a stroke in order to modulate functional recovery. The examiners were impressed by her ability to conduct very challenging experiments, and thought her critique and analysis of the data relative to existing literature was at a level of maturity beyond that expected of a doctoral candidate. The Convenor of Examiners even commented that Laura's performance in the oral exam was a pleasure to witness!

Laura was awarded the Presidential Award for the overall best basic science poster at the meeting of the American Society of Neurorehabilitation in 2015, and the “Best Go-Tech Presentation” at the inaugural 'Stroke Rehab: From No-tech to Go-tech' conference in Christchurch. Laura's research was supervised by Associate Professor John Reynolds.

Papi's thesis, The role of prolactin in suppressing the maternal stress axis, looks at how the anterior pituitary hormone prolactin acts within the maternal brain to suppress stress-regulatory neurons and thus limit activation of the maternal stress response. The examiners were impressed with the high standard of Papi's thesis and her level of dialogue throughout the oral exam. One examiner commented that “the thesis presents a major piece of original research which represents a significant and valuable contribution to knowledge in the field”. The Convenor of Examiners was also impressed, and noted that Papi demonstrated a depth of understanding of the topic rarely found in a PhD student.

Papi received the New Zealand Society of Endocrinology MediRay student speaker prize at the Queenstown Research Week conference held in 2015. Her research was supervised by Associate Professor Stephen Bunn and Professor Dave Grattan.

Laura and Papi join a growing list of doctoral candidates supervised in this Department who have had their theses placed on the Health Sciences List of Exceptional Theses. The most recent were …

Dr Simon Fisher
Action discovery in the basal ganglia through reinforcement of spike timing-dependent plasticity.
(Primary Supervisor: Assoc Prof John Reynolds)

Dr Anna Gosling (Department of Biochemistry)
Pacific people, metabolic disease and evolutionary processes.
(Supervisors: Prof Tony Merriman and Prof Lisa Matisoo-Smith)

Dr Joon Kim
Functional analyses of the neuropeptide FF receptor system using GJ14, a potent and selective antagonist.
(Primary Supervisor: Assoc Prof Greg Anderson)

Dr Monica Tromp
Lapita plants, people and pigs.
(Primary Supervisor: Assoc Prof Hallie Buckley)

Visit the Division of Health Sciences list of exceptional theses.

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