Gisborne woman wins Waikato 3MT

Emily Grout takes University of Waikato’s Three Minute Thesis competition for her research in equine health.

Emily Grout takes University of Waikato’s Three Minute Thesis competition for her research in equine health.

EQUINE RESEARCH AWARD: Gisborne woman and University of Waikato masters student Emily Grout with her award for winning the Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) for a presentation called ‘Don’t horse around with cultures’. The presentation was based on her research that will improve the diagnosis and treatment of horses. Ms Grout started her BSc in 2013 at the University of Waikato, majoring in biological sciences and is currently undertaking her MSc (Research) majoring in genetics. Picture supplied

GISBORNE’S Emily Grout has won the University of Waikato’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) for a presentation based on her research to improve the diagnosis, management and treatment of horses.

She said winning this award was exciting because it showed she could break down her research and communicate to the general public, an important skill to have as a scientist.

“I was really surprised to win because the other research topics were so broad and interesting and there was a lot of really tough competition from the other entrants,” she said.

Her presentation called ‘Don’t horse around with cultures’ was based on research that involves using a molecular method called "polymerase chain reaction" (PCR) to detect disease-causing bacteria. This is then compared to the traditional diagnostic technique of microbiological culture, which requires growing the bacteria over a few days.

“PCR is now widely used as a diagnostic tool in clinical settings, especially in human medicine, but has limited use in veterinary settings,” she said.

“I’m attempting to prove that if PCR detection was possible, diagnoses could be carried out in a matter of hours, allowing faster treatments with the appropriate drugs. This is especially relevant as the traditional culture can take up to a week, and by that time the animal has either recovered or the infection has worsened.”

A challenge to condense research

She said she found it challenging to condense her research to three minutes for the competition, to explain what she was doing, how she was doing it and why, without being too scientific.

“I spent almost a month refining and editing my presentation until I reached a version I was happy with, one that included all the information but was clear enough that my mum could understand it.”

She chose this masters project because it was interesting and she loved the challenge associated with diagnostic work, she said.

“You can see there’s a problem and you choose a particular technique to solve it. I also like the fact this project could be expanded to develop different diagnostic systems or be applied to other animals.”

The New Zealand Equine Research Foundation and equine vets from the Waikato have supported the research. The vets sent in samples from sick horses, from which she extracted microbial DNA with PCR to identify which pathogens were present.

“I’d then relay the result to the relevant vet in a matter of hours, allowing confirmation of diagnosis and immediate treatment guidance.”

She said the equine industry would benefit from this research.

“My whole project is driven by the fact that New Zealand equine industry is so profitable and it’s a shame to see suffering and sometimes deaths occurring from infections which can easily be treated once the organisms causing infection have been identified and the correct treatment applied.”

Her win in the 3MT means she will compete in the national inter-university 3MT challenge in Wellington in August.

GISBORNE’S Emily Grout has won the University of Waikato’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) for a presentation based on her research to improve the diagnosis, management and treatment of horses.

She said winning this award was exciting because it showed she could break down her research and communicate to the general public, an important skill to have as a scientist.

“I was really surprised to win because the other research topics were so broad and interesting and there was a lot of really tough competition from the other entrants,” she said.

Her presentation called ‘Don’t horse around with cultures’ was based on research that involves using a molecular method called "polymerase chain reaction" (PCR) to detect disease-causing bacteria. This is then compared to the traditional diagnostic technique of microbiological culture, which requires growing the bacteria over a few days.

“PCR is now widely used as a diagnostic tool in clinical settings, especially in human medicine, but has limited use in veterinary settings,” she said.

“I’m attempting to prove that if PCR detection was possible, diagnoses could be carried out in a matter of hours, allowing faster treatments with the appropriate drugs. This is especially relevant as the traditional culture can take up to a week, and by that time the animal has either recovered or the infection has worsened.”

A challenge to condense research

She said she found it challenging to condense her research to three minutes for the competition, to explain what she was doing, how she was doing it and why, without being too scientific.

“I spent almost a month refining and editing my presentation until I reached a version I was happy with, one that included all the information but was clear enough that my mum could understand it.”

She chose this masters project because it was interesting and she loved the challenge associated with diagnostic work, she said.

“You can see there’s a problem and you choose a particular technique to solve it. I also like the fact this project could be expanded to develop different diagnostic systems or be applied to other animals.”

The New Zealand Equine Research Foundation and equine vets from the Waikato have supported the research. The vets sent in samples from sick horses, from which she extracted microbial DNA with PCR to identify which pathogens were present.

“I’d then relay the result to the relevant vet in a matter of hours, allowing confirmation of diagnosis and immediate treatment guidance.”

She said the equine industry would benefit from this research.

“My whole project is driven by the fact that New Zealand equine industry is so profitable and it’s a shame to see suffering and sometimes deaths occurring from infections which can easily be treated once the organisms causing infection have been identified and the correct treatment applied.”

Her win in the 3MT means she will compete in the national inter-university 3MT challenge in Wellington in August.

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