A PhD student who is developing a tool to help doctors increase their chances of ensuring breast cancer doesn't return after surgery has overwhelmingly won the Trans-Tasman Three Minute Thesis competition at the University of Western Sydney.
Forty-four universities participated in the Three Minute Thesis Final held on the Parramatta campus on Friday 18 October. Kelsey Kennedy from The University of Western Australia ended the day as both the Overall and People's Choice Winner after she wowed the judges with her research into a new surgical implement for operations to remove breast cancer.
Lily Chang from the University of Auckland was selected as the runner up for her thesis investigating whether eye examinations could provide an early diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease.
Ms Kennedy, from the UWA Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, impressed the crowd of over 200 people in the audience and online via a live stream with her presentation that could spur new advances in breast cancer treatments.
"The main way that surgeons currently find tumour boundaries is by feeling, but breast tumours are complex and have tentacle like structures that grow out into the tissue, meaning the extensions of cancer can be too small to detect by touch alone," she told the audience.
"We've taken a microscope that can see and feel these small extensions of cancer and put it inside a needle, so surgeons are able see if there's any cancer in a particular area."
"With that information in the hands of a surgeon we just might be able to make breast cancer surgery more effective the first time around."
Last year's winner, Tim Paris from the UWS MARCS Institute, paid tribute to Ms Kennedy for winning the competition.
"Winning the Three Minute Thesis competition was a remarkable experience, and I wish Ms Kennedy all the very best for her promising research career," Mr Paris says.
"Pursuing a PhD is a long and arduous process, so to have experts in the research community reaffirm your work while you are still researching is very rewarding."
UWA will now host the Trans-Tasman Three Minute Thesis challenge in 2014.