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Overseas Institutional Visit (OIV): Emma Sutton

Emma is on the Psychology Pathway at the University of Birmingham. Her research topic is titled “Understanding the inflammatory mechanisms behind the impact of cognitive training on healthy ageing”.

Emma received OIV funding from the ESRC to visit Australia for six weeks in 2022. She spent three weeks at James Cook University (JCU) in Townsville, Queensland, and three weeks at the University of Sydney (USYD).

While at JCU, Emma was able to interact with academics from different departments. She spent time with both Clinical Psychologists and Psychology academics and observed research of postgraduate and PhD students. She observed and helped with the facilitation of a Masters-level course, guiding students on how to implement clinical assessments for cognitive decline. Emma gave a presentation about her own research to academics from the College, reporting her preliminary findings.

Emma participated in regular visits to the Good Shepherd care facility in Townsville – a care home that JCU collaborates with. She was able to observe and facilitate high intensity resistance training with patients with Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, frailty and more. Emma comments that:

“It was so inspiring to see the translational impact of high intensity exercise on older adults with these disorders.”

While at USYD, Emma got involved with a variety of things. She helped with the teaching of a sports workshop for young indigenous rugby players, and visited places such as the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, where research investigates the effects of exercise during chemotherapy treatment. She also spent time at the Centre for Strong Medicine, a clinic where older adults with chronic conditions visit to receive tailored and often one-to-one exercise programmes. Emma met academics in both Exercise and Sport Sciences and Psychology, and in particular enjoyed meeting collaborators on a new research project investigating whether music participation can prevent cognitive decline in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.

She gave two presentations at USYD, one to members of the School of Health Sciences, and one to the Healthy Brain Ageing group who are based in the Brain and Mind Centre in Psychology. Emma comments:

“Being able to present to different research groups and disciplines was so helpful as I got different viewpoints from researchers, and I have come away with plenty of ideas for future analysis.”

About her OIV overall, Emma reflects:

“Chatting to researchers outside of my discipline was a fantastic way of getting new viewpoints and ideas for beyond my PhD. I spent six weeks networking with academics, and now have international connections with researchers who are leading in their fields. As a result of the trip, in particular after observing the translational research with exercise and older adults, I am keen to look into a future postdoctoral position. I was so inspired by the real-world applications of the research taking place at both JCU and USYD and will be keeping an eye out for similar, translational research opportunities a bit closer to home for when my PhD finishes.”

Fri 17 Feb 2023, 11:07

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