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CNE PhD Prize for research on the reward of motherhood

Friday 27 November 2020 3:26pm

Judith Swart and Dave Grattan 2020 CNE PhD prizeThe 2020 edition of the annual CNE PhD Prize saw 4 contestants compete for the trophy. In the end, Judith Swart from Rosie Brown’s lab came in first with her research on the reward mechanisms in the brains of mothers.

Every year PhD students from the Centre for Neuroendocrinology compete for the prestigious ‘CNE PhD Prize’. This year the competition was particularly tight and all students gave talks of remarkable quality. This became particularly evident when the judging committee convened and realised that every judge had another student as their favourite! Only a ranking of all competitors and summation of their scores allowed to identify a clear winner – Judith Swart.

Judith’s research focusses on how the maternal hormone prolactin can influence motivation and reward in mothers when they care for their offspring. She was able to show that certain types of motivation are only present in recent mothers and could show that certain subtypes of neurons may be involved in this behaviour.

Another highlight of the event was the 2020 Centre for Neuroendocrinology Lecture by Prof Julian Paton (University of Auckland). Julian’s work centres around how organs sense blood flow and oxygen levels and how changes in sensitivity can cause imbalances in the autonomous nervous system and disease.