From bringing eye care to the remotest parts of the world to improving the nutritional health of older people, the winners in the postgraduate coursework category are dedicated to enhancing health in the global community. We invited them to share their stories.
Winner: Himal Kandel from Nepal
Inspired to provide eye care to his village
After seeing the lack of eye care in his remote Nepalese village, Himal set out to pursue a career in optometry and research driven by a passion for public eye health. Since then, his academic journey has crossed several continents, and he has won many grants, awards and scholarships along the way. During his time in Adelaide, Himal has published 18 research papers in reputable journals, taking his total number to 30. He has also presented at 14 international conferences. After graduation, Himal intends to continue his research and hopes to one day return to his village to open an eye hospital.
What inspired you to study and research in optometry and vision science?
I came from one of the remotest parts of Nepal and witnessed people from my village having to walk for two days to visit an eye care centre. This inspired me to seek a career in optometry, and I worked hard to be accepted into the only optometry school in Nepal which takes just six students per year.
As I went through my studies, I realised most of the vision impairments in my village were caused by refractive errors, which can be easily corrected by a simple pair of glasses. I became determined to help make these simple solutions more readily available to people living in remote places like my village.
Why did you choose Adelaide to pursue your PhD?
I chose to come to Adelaide because I wanted to work with Professor Konrad Pesudovs, who was the Foundation Chair of Optometry and Vision Science at Flinders University at the time. After completing my bachelor’s degree in Kathmandu and my master’s degree in London, I was looking for a research opportunity in public health that could make a significant impact on many people around the world.
I was pleased to receive an Australian Government Research Training Program scholarship which enabled me to come and join the Flinders team who I knew were doing the best research and using the latest technologies.
What does winning this award mean to you?
It means a lot to me. I have won several scholarships and awards in my career, but I think this one is the highest recognition and the biggest thing on my CV. It’s the last student award I will receive, and I am honoured to be receiving an award that is endorsed by the Governor of South Australia.
How would you describe your Adelaide experience so far?
My time in Adelaide has been the best time of my life! Within a short period of time, I have accomplished numerous achievements – both academically and non-academically. I am confident that the world-class mentoring, knowledge and skills I obtained here will lead me towards my goals.
Highly Commended: Caroline Giezenaar from the Netherlands
Graduating earlier this year, Caroline completed a thesis aiming to increase protein intake in older individuals to prevent and manage undernutrition. From a young age, she has been interested in food and the human body, which resulted in her deciding to study nutrition.
In addition to receiving a Dean’s commendation for her research, Caroline has also published over 10 peer-reviewed scientific papers and presented 21 conference abstracts globally. When she isn’t studying, Caroline is busy volunteering with different social groups. She says her time studying in Adelaide has been life-changing, calling the city unique, comfortable, convenient and safe.