A PhD psychology student who is investigating why boys develop language at a slower rate than girls will represent The University of Western Australia in the 2012 Trans-Tasman Three Minute Thesis challenge.
Lauren Hollier, of Nedlands, won the finals title against 14 other students from UWA who competed to deliver the most compelling, comprehensive and easy to understand presentation of their thesis.
Ms Hollier's winning presentation was titled: "Boys, girls and language: is testosterone the key?" Her research focuses on the effect of prenatal exposure to testosterone and how this might impact language development.
"So far I've found that higher levels of testosterone in blood taken from the umbilical cord at birth, predict less vocabulary for two-year-old boys. The next step in my research is to examine aspects of brain development to determine what may underlie the relationship between testosterone and language development," Ms Hollier said.
Lauren is co-supervised by Professor Murray Maybery, Head of School, School of Psychology and Dr Andrew Whitehouse, Adjunct Research Fellow, School of Psychology and Research Associate Professor, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research.
The runner-up was Lakshini Weerasekera, from the UWA School of Medicine and Pharmacology, Centre for Diabetes Research, with her presentation titled: "Three blind mice: the story of diabetic eye disease."
The People's Choice award went to Crystal Abidin, from UWA's School of Social Sciences, whose research looks at "Living on the internet.com - why do it? Who cares?"
The Three Minute Thesis competition is open to Masters and Doctoral students and is judged on three criteria:
- Communication style: was the thesis topic and its significance communicated in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience
- Comprehension: did the presentation help the audience understand the research
- Engagement: did the oration make the audience want to know more.
Lauren has been a Peer Assisted Learning study group leader in Psychology where she has helped first-year students with their studies and in the transition from high school to university life.
She has also been active in science outreach workshops, such as the UWA Science Experience. Lauren won $3,000 to further her research and will represent UWA in the Trans-Tasman 3 Minute Thesis finals at the University of Queensland on 11 October.