07 September 2023

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UniSA's 2023 3MT winners

From the leatherworkers of Italy to the techies of Silicon Valley, societies have long observed the value of physically clustering businesses to build industries. Shared resources help to start new businesses and industries, infusing an air of vibrancy and kick starting a cycle of innovation. 

But is simply co-locating business all it takes for new industries to flourish?

This question is being answered by University of South Australia PhD student Kathryn Anderson, from UniSA Business, who is this year’s winner of the UniSA Three Minute Thesis (3MT®). Anderson won a $3,000 research grant in the UniSA final on 5 September for her inspiring talk, and will represent the University at the Asia-Pacific semi-final later this month.

Anderson reviewed archival documents, and interviewed entrepreneurs, CEOs and policy makers to deconstruct the secrets of success for innovation districts, summarising her research in her presentation titled: Does place matter for entrepreneurship and innovation?

“Technology allows us to collaborate at distance, but there is a human side to entrepreneurship that needs a place. Simply putting the ingredients in place is not enough,” she says.

“For innovation districts to really work, they must create layered opportunities to connect capabilities onsite, and connect strategies to economic priorities.  

“They require ongoing facilitated effort – they are not set and forget.

“My research shows that innovation districts change the space of a city, and focus attention and resources, but they also weave new stories. In these ways, they help us to build the economies of the future.”

Rachel Lever, from UniSA Education Futures, was runner up, receiving a $1,000 research grant for her presentation titled Harmful sexual behaviours displayed by children: Police responses and diversions.

Lever, a police officer herself, quoted the startling statistic that children under 18 inflict the highest proportions of child sexual abuse.

“The tragedy is that children displaying these harmful sexual behaviours often come from backgrounds of abuse and neglect,” she explained. “Police are frequently the first point of contact for children engaging in these behaviours, and police can often use discretion as to how they handle these situations.

“My research shows that how police respond in these situations plays a significant role in the outcomes for these kids.

“I’m investigating how police attitudes, knowledge and resources influence their responses and their ability to divert these children away from the justice system and into therapeutic based interventions, that are best known to address these behaviours.” 

The People’s Choice prize, also a $1,000 research grant, was awarded to Sindhrani Dars from UniSA Allied Health and Human Performance, for her presentation titled: Step it up – how people use podiatry services after chemotherapy.

Dars is investigating podiatry interventions in treating the debilitating neuropathy that often follows cancer treatment.

“Chemotherapy kills cancer cells but also affects skin, hair, nails and importantly, the nerves - leading to a condition called chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. This mainly affects the legs and impacts around 50% of cancer survivors.

“Sufferers live with severe nerve pain, electric shock like symptoms, or may lose feeling in their legs or feet, which can lead to serious injuries and amputations. 

“There is no cure, but symptoms can be managed which anecdotally podiatrists have been doing for years. Research shows these interventions reduce falls and amputations, however they are not incorporated in neuropathy treatment guidelines.   

“I am comparing podiatry services used before and after chemotherapy, with the goal of incorporating preventative podiatry care during cancer treatment.”

The three winners were among seven finalists who presented their work.

Acting Dean of Graduate Studies, Associate Professor Sally Plush, says the presentations were outstanding.

“The diversity of research from this year’s 3MT® finalists is so inspiring. The convincing presentations on topics that are important to society were wonderful to watch; they reflected themes of community and industry collaboration that are central to UniSA research and critical to outcomes that make an impact,” Assoc Prof Plush says.

“I congratulate all of our finalists and wish Kathryn all the best for the Asia-Pacific semi-final.”

The 3MT® UniSA final was co-presented by The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre and streamed online. It was hosted by last year’s UniSA 3MT® winner, SA journalist and historian Lainie Anderson, and included a warm welcome from renowned Kaurna and Narrunga educator, Jack Buckskin. The judging panel comprised the Hon John Hill, Deputy Chancellor of UniSA; Dr Laura Hodgson, City of Adelaide; Professor David Waugh, Pro Vice Chancellor Health and Medical Research and Engagement; and Clare Peddie, former Advertiser science reporter now with The Conversation.

A video recording of the event will be available on the Hawke Centre website shortly: https://www.unisa.edu.au/connect/hawke-centre/events-and-exhibitions/events/2023/2023_3mt_grandfinal/

The 3MT® is an international competition celebrating research undertaken by PhD candidates. Competitors must present their research using non-technical language, with just one slide, in just three minutes. 

Media contact for interviews:  Megan Andrews  mobile:  +61 434 819 275  email:  megan.andrews@unisa.edu.au

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