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SCU postgrad students to present at research conference


Jessica Huxley
15 June 2016
Southern Cross University researcher Sally Gregory is taking her diving research to new depths.

The 58-year-old thrill seeker and current PhD student is using data to explore how much diving is worth to the Australian economy and says it’s surprising who spends the big bucks along the East Coast.

“My early research has found that during domestic dive trips, mature aged female divers spend an average of $396 per day, sometimes twice or three times more than international tourists in certain areas,” she said.

“Yet there has never been a study into the preferences and motivations of the older diver until now.”

Sally will be among 44 postgraduate students presenting their findings at the third Southern Cross University Postgraduate Research and Practice Conference in Coffs Harbour on June 16 and 17 where students, including some from the SCU’s National Marine Science Centre, will share ideas and collaborations across two presentation streams at the Opal Cove Resort.

Local student Sophie Pryor will delve into the influences of trawling on fish in the Solitary Islands Marine Park, while other presentations range from forest degradation, sea slugs, Australian identity, DNA evidence, studies in the midwifery and chiropractic fields, how children in tourist centres negotiate their own sense of identity and belonging, through to the influence of gender and costumes in Marvel super hero films.

Project officer of the organising body Southern Cross Postgraduate Association Craig Wilson said the conference was “the biggest show of the year” for postgraduate and honours students of SCU, which has grown from 12 presentations two years ago to 44 this week.

“This reaches students across our campuses and online with people flying in from all over the country to take part.

“It isn’t just for students who are researchers but also those who are doing coursework and want to engage with their peers. One group is giving an exciting presentation on how to connect with other PhD students, create a study group and help each other on the journey.

“We have students who are researching possible human rights violations in law and justice in Burma through to others who are challenging basic science, allied health care practice, education, social and justice, bringing together the best and brightest talent Southern Cross University has to offer.”

Mr Wilson said it often wasn’t until PhD candidates spoke at the conference, that they realised the value of their work.

“PhD students are star-trekking in the frontiers of the knowledge universe and sometimes they get bouts of ‘imposter syndrome’ before they realise what they have is gold,” Mr Wilson said.

“Because they are the first in their field to research something, sometimes they feel as though they don’t have anyone to hold onto, that’s why it’s important for postgrads to get together and know they are supported by other postgrads.

“These students will continue presenting research throughout their careers, when they hit the one-year PhD confirmation point, then at conferences so this is good practice to get them over any public speaking anxiety, because presenting in itself is an art form.”

Other topics covered at the conference include issues of disproportionate Indigenous incarceration, climate change resilience, safety of humanitarian workers in conflict zones, family wellbeing, mangrove gas transfers, classroom technology, gambling, the social repercussions of organ donation decisions and how to optimally use sensitive research among many others.

Media opportunities: Friday, June 17 at the Opal Cove Resort, Coffs Harbour.