Friday, 30 September 2011

Congratulations to Ryan Kempster, who made it into the final round of the international Three Minute Thesis competition held at the Octagon Theatre at UWA on 29 September.

Ryan is a marine neurobiologist at The UWA Oceans Institute and School of Animal Biology studying the sensory biology of sharks.

In the Three Minute Thesis competition - or 3MT as it's known - PhD candidates have to talk about their research in an engaging way in only three minutes, in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Ryan spoke on ‘Survival of the stillest: predator avoidance strategies of shark embryos'.

The talk focused on how shark embryos that develop in an egg sack outside their mother's body can avoid being eaten by would-be predators by detecting the minute electrical fields of the predators.

Ryan is undertaking a four-year research program at UWA to further understand the role of electroreception - the sensitive electrical signals sharks use to detect prey and predators - in the feeding behaviour of elasmobranchs (fish with cartilage skeletons).

Such work is useful is determining how sharks respond to other electrical fields, such as those being developed for shark repellent devices.

Earlier in the year, Ryan won the UWA heat of Three Minute Thesis competition.

In the 3MT semi-finals on 29 September, Ryan competed against 42 other researchers from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji and won his way to become one of the Top 11 speakers competing in the final.

The eventual winner was Matthew Thompson, of the University of Queensland, who spoke about his research involving more accurate fingerprinting techniques.

Runner up was Suzie Ferie, of the University of Sydney, whose research focuses on determining the nutritional needs of patients in intensive care.

Media references

Tony Malkovic (+61 4) 11 103 398

Ryan Kempster (+61 8) 6488 7507


Awards and Prizes — Events — Research
Oceans Institute