Monday, 25 July 2011

Captivating the audience and judges with his talk on shark embryos, PhD student Ryan Kempster claimed both first prize and the people’s choice award in UWA’s Three Minute Thesis competition.

Ryan is a marine neurobiologist at The UWA Oceans Institute and School of Animal Biology. He described how sharks developing in egg cases use their seventh sense – called electroreception – to detect when predators are lurking nearby, and to ‘play dead’ accordingly.

For his presentation, titled ‘Survival of the Stillest: Predator Avoidance Strategies of Shark Embryos,’ Ryan is to receive research or travel grants of $3000 and $500, for the first prize and people’s choice award respectively. Last year he also took out the competition’s runner-up prize of $1000.

Ryan says the competitors this year were particularly impressive. “Last year was the first time UWA held the competition, so everyone didn’t really know what to expect or how to go about their talk,” he says. “But this year it was a lot tougher – everybody came prepared.”

Ryan will now represent UWA in the Three Minute Thesis national final on 29 September, to be held in the Octagon Theatre. Finalists from 30 universities will be competing for the first prize of a $5000 research or travel grant.


Ryan Kempster (right) and Dean of Graduate Research Winthrop Professor Alan Dench. (Photo: Krys Haq)

Media references

Christine Shervington (UWA Oceans Institute) (+61 8) 6488 8014


Awards and Prizes
Oceans Institute