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The University of Queensland's (UQ) Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) researcher Amanda Pearce is set to compete in the finals of the Three Minute Thesis competition next month.
Miss Pearce, formerly of Dalby, won UQ's Combined Institute Final of the competition hosted by UQ's Diamantina Institute for Cancer, Immunology and Metabolic Medicine on August 17.
She will represent AIBN in the UQ final on September 18.
The Three Minute Thesis competition challenges students to strip away the jargon and explain their research in a compelling way to a general audience within three minutes.
Miss Pearce was also named the People's Choice, with an explanation of her research in polymer chemistry.
"When I explain my research, I want to broaden people's horizons and help find out about research," Miss Pearce said.
"It is easy to underestimate Australia's research; people should know that cutting-edge research is conducted in this country."
Miss Pearce of Chapel Hill said her PhD research project involved developing a polymer system that could be used for diagnosing and treating prostate cancer.
"Using hyperbranched polymers allows me to do three things: detect prostate cancer cells, introduce an imaging agent that will show up tumours in MRI scans and deliver chemotherapy medicines to kill tumours without targeting healthy cells," she said.
Even members of Miss Pearce's family found it difficult to understand her research project and were surprised that it involved opportunities for collaboration and international travel.
Research attracted her because it involved creative and independent thinking and problem-solving rather than just following instructions and sticking with rigid existing methods.
"Once you study science at a higher level, opportunities present themselves for you to take control of your career and I think initial exposure to science is the barrier to people entry to the field," Miss Pearce said.
Miss Pearce, who now studies with Professor Andrew Whitaker and Dr Kris Thurecht at AIBN, was inspired by her high school teacher to take up studies in the field.
"My science teacher, Paul Martin, inspired me when I was at Dalby State High School," she said.
"His passion for science was definitely an influence on my choice to study the same field."
Now she follows in her teacher's footsteps, encouraging others to value science as part of the Three Minute Thesis competition.
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