Liggins Institute celebrates spring graduation

The Liggins Institute’s latest graduands have advanced scientific understanding in diverse health science topics, from a pioneering programme for obesity in children and teens, to gestational diabetes, to nutrition and aging.

Professor Mark Vickers with Heimata Herman and Alvina Pauuvale

The Institute is celebrating the graduation of 13 more students. The sun was out on Friday 16 November as whānau, friends, colleagues and collaborators gathered to mark the culmination of years of hard work and the outstanding research that was its fruit.

Institute Director Professor Frank Bloomfield says the extremely high quality of postgraduate research and supervision in the Institute is reflected by the fact that two of the spring graduands, Dr Yvonne Anderson and Dr Ruth Martis, were among the University of Auckland’s top five percent of doctoral students named on the 2018 Dean’s List, which is reserved for theses of exceptional quality in every respect.

Another graduand, Dr Stephanie Segovia, is already co-author on 20 publications arising from work on early nutrition and obesity programming that she was involved in during her PhD, which is outstanding for a researcher at this level.

“We’re thrilled with all the students’ achievements,” says Professor Mark Vickers, Associate Director - Academic. “Postgraduate students are the lifeblood of the Institute – and it’s our responsibility to train the next generation of scientists to uphold the very highest standards.”

The graduands were:
BBiomedSc (Hons)
Helen Ker (supervised by Dr Tatjana Buklija)
“Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance: facts and controversies”

Master of Health Science with Honours
Heimata Herman (supervised by Dr Jacquie Bay)
“Enablers and Barriers of Health-related Behaviours among Rarotongan Adolescents”

Alvina Pauuvale (supervised by Dr Jacquie Bay)
“Health-related Attitudes, Perceptions and Practices of Young people: A Case Comparison between Tamaki College and Tonga High School”

Diana Osavlyuk (supervised by Dr Anna Ponnampalam)
“Endometrial Injury and Receptivity”

Master of Biomedical Science
Clara Han (supervised by Professor David Cameron-Smith)
“The Impact of Age on Acute Bioavailability of Minerals from a Multivitamin and Mineral Supplement”

Alex Chan (supervised by Professor David Cameron-Smith)
“Comparing the Post-Exercise Anabolic Response to Dairy Protein Fractions with Different Amino Acid Profiles”

Yvonne Anderson (supervised by Professor Paul Hofman)
“Whānau Pakari: a multi-disciplinary intervention for children and adolescents with weight issues”

Randall D’Souza (supervised by Professor David Cameron-Smith and Dr Cameron Mitchell)
“The role of muscle and circulatory microRNAs as regulators and biomarkers of muscle function”

Ruth Martis (supervised by Professor Caroline Crowther)
“Optimal treatments and experiences for women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM): improving health for mothers and babies”

Jasmine Plows (supervised by Professor Phil Baker)
“Interventions Pre-conception and During Pregnancy to Improve Glucose Tolerance and Prevent Gestational Diabetes”

Stephanie Segovia (supervised by Professor Mark Vickers and Dr Clare Reynolds)
“Early life nutrition, altered inflammatory responsiveness and the path to programmed obesity and metabolic dysfunction”

Melinda Thomas (supervised by Professor Phil Baker)
“Use of metabolomic markers for the prediction of spontaneous preterm birth”

Nina Zheng (supervised by Professor David Cameron-Smith)
“Adaptations of amino acid transporters and sestrins to exercise, nutrition and ageing”