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Mollie Holman medals awarded

8 June 2005

The most outstanding theses from last year's Monash PhD students have been recognised with the awarding of the annual Mollie Holman doctoral medals.

Dr Greg Sheard, whose PhD thesis earned him the Faculty of Engineering Kenneth Hunt medal and the Mollie Holman medal.

The Mollie Holman Medal for Excellence is awarded in each faculty to the PhD candidate judged to have presented the best thesis of the year.

The award takes its name from Emeritus Professor Mollie Holman, who held a personal chair as professor of physiology at Monash from 1970 until her retirement in 1996.

It was created to honour Professor Holman's significant contributions to science and education.

This year's recipients were:

Art and Design -- Dr Albert Chen for his thesis 'Art and social dislocation: a Chinese diasporic condition'. Through sculpture, Dr Chen's research investigated Orientalism in terms of self-insertion, an Orientalist practice that reconstructs 'others' in the form of self. The research concluded that self-insertion operates in subtle ways and is difficult to detect.

Arts -- Dr Coral Dow for her thesis 'Tatungalung country: an environmental history of the Gippsland Lakes'. In her history of the Gippsland Lakes, Dr Dow investigated the interaction of nature and culture, how to give agency to land and water and how to write a history of the water, birds, plants and fish of the Gippsland Lakes. Her thesis was concerned with how nature and humans have responded to environmental change.

Business and Economics -- Dr Paresh Narayan for his thesis 'An econometric model of tourism demand and a computable general equilibrium analysis of the impact of tourism: the case of the Fiji Islands'. Dr Narayan built computational models that identified the impact of policy changes, such as migration intake in Fiji, on the Fijian economy.

Engineering -- Dr Greg Sheard for his thesis 'The stability and characteristics of the flow around rings'. Using advanced computational fluid dynamics modelling, Dr Sheard studied the behaviour of liquids and gases as they flowed around objects such as overhead cables, undersea pipelines and submarine vessels and structures. His findings have applications for ocean engineering, automotive and aerospace engineering.

Information Technology -- Dr Iman Poernomo for his thesis 'Variations on a theme of Curry and Howard: the Curry-Howard isomorphism and the proofs-as-programs paradigm adapted to imperative and structured program synthesis'. Dr Poernomo generated 'correct' computer programs, such as those required for pacemakers or nuclear weapon control, from mathematical proofs -- a process known as proofs-as-programs. He incorporated information from diverse sources, such as the state of the computer or the specification given for the program, in developing his technique.

Law -- Dr Elizabeth Adeney for her thesis 'The moral rights of authors: evolution and transmigration of a doctrine'. Dr Adeney examined the historical development of moral rights in continental Europe, Canada and the UK, the inclusion of these rights in the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the incorporation of moral rights into the legislation of common law countries, especially the UK, Australia, the US and Canada.

Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences -- Dr Jared Purton, for his thesis 'The influence of glucocorticoids and other factors in T-cell development and selection'. An important component of a healthy immune system is the proper selection and growth of specific cells called T cells in an organ of the body called the thymus. Dr Purton looked at the possible causes of autoimmune diseases such as juvenile-onset diabetes. These diseases arise through the aberrant generation in the thymus of 'rogue' T cells that attack our own tissue. Dr Purton focused his studies on factors that control the development of thymic T cells and that normally prevent the production of rogue T cells. He dispelled the commonly held belief that corticosteroids regulate T cell development.

Monash University Accident Research Centre -- Dr Shauna Sherker for her thesis 'Out on a limb: risk factors for arm fracture in children who fall from playground equipment'. Dr Sherker studied more than 700 playground falls resulting in arm injuries as part of a wider NHMRC investigation of playground safety. Her results indicated safety standards should be reviewed.

Science -- Dr John Buckland for his thesis 'Mean curvature flow with free boundary on smooth hypersurfaces'. Mean curvature flow is a mathematical process that deforms curved surfaces in such a way that the area of the surface decreases as quickly as possible. Surfaces evolving by mean curvature flow, therefore, tend to morph into 'optimal shapes' such as soap bubbles. Understanding the precise mathematical properties of such objects has applications for discovering the locations of black holes in space.

No awards were given in the Education faculty or the Victorian College of Pharmacy for 2004.