Last night, 17-year-old Shiya Huang of Willetton Senior High School was chosen to represent Scitech and Australia at the 2017 Science Centre World Summit in Tokyo, Japan, for her project created as part of the World Biotech Tour, held recently at Scitech.
Presenting her work in front of an audience of 110 fellow high school students and three judges, Shiya’s project focused on ‘The structure-function correlation of the human retina in health and disease’.
Speaking for 10 minutes, Shiya described how her research investigated the correlation between retinal structure and function in the human eye, in relation to two diseases (scotoma and distortion) which are the first symptoms of macular disease, one of the most common cause of irreversible blindness in Australia. Also, for patients with retinal toxicity, a side effect of using the drug HCQ (Hydroxychloroquine), prescribed for the treatment of conditions including rheumatoid arthritis.
Shiya’s mentor Danuta Bukowska, an early career research fellow from the University of Western Australia, based at the Lions Eye Institute in Perth, provided relevant guidance and inspiration, based on her work constructing extremely sensitive tools for doctors to study and learn how retinal cells function and what changes occur in the progression of disease.
Alan Brien, Scitech CEO said: “The projects created by our seven outstanding Ambassadors for the World Biotech Tour are incredibly impressive. Every one of them showed insight, ability and ambition to learn and grow their skills in the environment created for them by their Mentors and Scitech staff. It has been a truly inspiring experience taking part in the World Biotech Tour, as it links the important work Scitech already does with our international science centre colleagues.”
“This initiative is just one in many that Scitech proudly presents to provide opportunities for Western Australians to learn and engage with Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths in practical environments that offer meaningful pathways to innovative STEM careers.”
Shiya’s clear vision, understanding of the subject and ability to describe her project in easily understood terms impressed the judging panel, made up of Associate Professor Kevin Pfleger, Laboratory Head of Molecular Endocrinology and Pharmacology at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, Dr. Miriam Sullivan, Associate Lecturer with the School of Biology at University of Western Australia and Craig Bloxsome, Scitech General Manager.
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The World Biotech Tour is a three-year program where twelve international science centres and museums are selected to showcase biotechnology in everyday life and career pathways. Multiple activities and events celebrate biotech’s contribution to the fields of health, medicine, agriculture and energy.