Standing on shoulders of giants

Feet on mirror

From the philosophy of chiropractic thought and the neuro-mechanical demands of surfboard paddling to the health literacy and spirituality of cancer patients and innovations in orthotics and footwear design for diabetes sufferers, the enormous range of student research underway in the School of Health and Human Sciences was on show at the Gold Coast campus last week.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, the theme of the School’s sixth annual Higher Degrees Research Symposium, encouraged students to think about the theoretical traditions their research builds on, and what it might contribute to these canons of thought.

“The idea of the symposium is to create a safe learning environment where the students can take advantage of having their peers, supervisors and mentors present,” said Dr Joanne Bradbury, the Symposium convenor and School Director, Higher Degrees Research Training in the School of Health and Human Sciences.

“It’s great training for the students in how to communicate their research and the significance of it, and to practise articulating the theoretical frameworks of their thesis, which can be quite challenging.”

The symposium was held over two days with more than 60 participants each day. Higher Degrees by Research students were involved in 25 presentations and Q&A panels.

One of these was PhD candidate and practising pedorthist Sayed Ahmed, who was recently nominated as a ‘Top 100 healthcare leader’ by US-based International Forum on Advancements in Healthcare (IFAH) thanks to his research on footwear innovation to reduce and prevent ulcers in diabetic patients, which he presented at the Symposium. Although based in Sydney, Sayed said he chose Southern Cross for his PhD because it is the only university in Australia teaching pedorthics, where he could find supervisors with the specific expertise he needed to guide his research.

Sayed’s IFAH award is based on criteria such as significant innovations in business, global impact in healthcare, spirit of innovation and market demand. He is the only health professional from Australia who was selected this year.

Also present at the conference was PhD candidate Dennis Richards, a former chiropractor who is studying vitalism and value in chiropractic. Even though Southern Cross does not offer a chiropractic program, Dennis – like several other chiropractic researchers at the symposium – chose the University because of its culture of enquiry and free thinking. “There is a culture here where I can ask these kinds of questions,” he said.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants was a theme devised to coincide with Southern Cross University’s 25th anniversary. This milestone is an opportunity to acknowledge the many researchers who have paved the way over the past two-and-a-half decades at the University, reflected in a formidable performance in the latest Excellence in Research for Australia rankings.

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