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Monday 12 April 2021 11:39am

For one of the newest recipients of a Health Sciences Career Development Postdoctoral Fellowship, it's not so much a welcome but a welcome back. Dr Sabarinath Prasad recently completed his PhD with the SJWRI in our Craniofacial Research programme, and is now rejoining us as a postdoctoral fellow with support from the University of Otago's Division of Health Sciences Career Development Programme.

Mauro Farella Sabarinath Prasad 650pxDr Sabarinath Prasad (right) with mentor Professor Mauro Farella

Sabari's research interests are in the development of wearable devices for investigating conditions related to jaw function and mechanics, such as chewing. With a background in orthodontics, Sabari moved to New Zealand five years ago to pursue his doctoral studies with the SJWRI.

“The dual prospects of learning more about masticatory muscle physiology from the world's leading expert, in a world-renowned university, are what attracted me to Otago,” Sabari says.

Sabari's PhD project involved developing wireless devices to measure muscle activity in real time via surface electromyography. In his postdoctoral fellowship, he plans to continue working with his lead PhD supervisor Professor Mauro Farella, on prototyping and validating 'smart' wearable devices to track jaw motion in a range of normal and clinically-related conditions.

One of his favourite moments from his postgraduate experience, aside from seeing the fruits of his labour culminate in the award of his PhD in 2020, was when he was encouraged to enter the SJWRI's Three Minute Thesis competition in his first year in 2017 – and proceeded to win not only the SJWRI 3MT competition, but to win through the Health Sciences heats of the University of Otago 3MT Competition, and make it to the final.

Sabarinath VP Richard CannonProfessor Richard Cannon congratulates Sabari on winning the 2017 SJWRI 3MT competition

For the success of his PhD, Sabari credits the exceptional level of support extended during his doctoral studies by his supervisors, Professor Farella and Professor Richard Cannon of the SJWRI, and the Department of Zoology's Associate Professor Mike Paulin.

Away from the lab bench, Sabari enjoys cooking, travel and solving crosswords and puzzles with his daughter. As for his career ambitions beyond his postdoctoral fellowship, he's hoping to further his career in academia, dedicating his time between clinical orthodontic practice, research and teaching.

Congratulations to Sabari and Professor Farella for the award of this Health Sciences Career Development Postdoctoral Fellowship, and thanks to the Division of Health Sciences for supporting the work of our early career researchers.

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