Wednesday, 9 December 2015

SPHPM PhD student Kate Young flying high after international research trip

This week our latest SPHPM blog profile features PhD student Kate Young from the Jean Hailes Research Unit. She has recently returned from an overseas trip where she undertook a research residency at the University of Michigan, met with other endometriosis experts and public health researchers and presented her work at Dartmouth College.

Kate is undertaking her PhD on “Understanding women’s experiences of endometriosis and of condition-specific health care”, supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) postgraduate scholarship and an Ian Scott Scholarship in Mental Health from Australian Rotary Health.

Q. Where did you go and why?
A. I spent six weeks in Ireland, America and Canada on both a professional and personal holiday. My first stop was Ireland where I visited family, and briefly dropped in to Trinity College (Dublin) to work on my thesis and meet with Professor Shane Allwright, an epidemiologist whose work has resulted in major changes to public health policy in Ireland.

I then visited and presented my work to The Preference Laboratory at the Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Dartmouth College as an invited international guest speaker. Following this I completed an invited two week research residency at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, University of Michigan where I was hosted by Professor Julia Seng. Finally, I stopped by the Niagara Falls and Hawaii on the way home for some relaxation before tackling the final year of my PhD.

Q. How did this trip relate to your PhD project?
A. My research looks at women’s experiences of endometriosis, a condition which currently has no cure or effective long-term treatment. Researchers and clinicians around the world are looking for ways to address the known burden of endometriosis on the women who live with the condition and the health care systems that support them.

While America, Brazil, France and Italy are arguably leading the way in this endeavour, researchers in Australia have much to contribute. Throughout my candidature I have been approached to collaborate with researchers from several American universities so when the opportunity arose to meet with some of them in person it was too good to resist. Doing so has greatly enhanced my PhD research by providing a global context for my work and facilitating the dissemination of my research at the international level.

Q. What were the highlights of the trip?

A. Presenting my work to the Preference Laboratory (Dartmouth College) and the School of Nursing (University of Michigan), and hearing the unique feedback of different audiences was a professionally enriching experience.

During my research residency I particularly enjoyed meeting Dr Yasamin Kusunoki and hearing about her unique data collection methods for understanding women’s experiences of unintended pregnancy. As well as meeting with William Lopez, a fellow PhD candidate skilled in the use of qualitative research methods in public health. Personal highlights included visiting the Niagara Falls and hiking the Koko Crater Trail in Hawaii.

Q. Did you notice any differences in the institutions you visited?
A. I was surprised by the many differences in the academic scene between America and Australia. For example, compared to most American institutions, the typical Monash PhD program is shorter and encourages more independent, critical research activity; this is an aspect which I feel is very valuable in my chosen field. I also found the strong alumni community in America (and the funding it provides to the university) an interesting phenomenon.

Q. Any other interesting facts or discoveries along the way?

A. American coffee is awful.

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