30 September 2015
A German backpacker who fell in love with Australia and studied at the University of the Sunshine Coast for eight years will graduate on Thursday 1 October with her third degree – a PhD – and USC’s top student award, the Chancellor’s Medal.
The medal is presented to a graduating student who has made an outstanding contribution to USC or the wider community while achieving a high academic level.
Buderim’s Corinna Bürgin-Maunder will also be graduating with a passion for health research and an intention to study paediatric medicine.
Her parents have arrived from Germany to join her husband in the audience at the 10am ceremony at the USC Sports Stadium at Sippy Downs.
“I’m honoured and humbled by this medal,” said Dr Bürgin-Maunder, whose thesis examined the cardiovascular benefits of omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oils).
Her work involved studies on cell cultures, mice, and people with mild hypertension.
“My PhD in Cardiovascular Pharmacology developed a method of detecting a protein in human plasma and investigated whether omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects,” she said.
“It was promising. Further research by my supervisor Dr Fraser Russell may include clinical trials on whether fish oils can help patients with inflammatory vascular disease.”
Dr Bürgin-Maunder, who was the student representative on the leadership team of USC’s Inflammation and Healing Research Cluster, said she received great support and opportunities at USC, including special research projects and tutoring work.
“It was a lot of fun too,” said the 29-year-old who now has a Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Science), Honours in Science, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Science.
In 2012, Dr Bürgin-Maunder received an Australian Postgraduate Award and a Rotary scholarship towards her work, which then involved gathering umbilical cords from consenting birthing mothers at Nambour General Hospital to extract cells at USC’s Science laboratories.
She has participated in numerous USC committees and events and engaged with the wider community as a guest speaker in her field.
Her community contributions included painting a preschool in Cape Town on Nelson Mandela Day 2014, helping charities and three years as the student representative on the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists’ Cardiovascular Special Interest Group.
— Julie Schomberg