Awards: La Trobe tops pharmacy student competition five years in a row

Posted on September 5, 2011

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Prescription for success: 

Sarah Carminati is congratulated by Dean of Science, Technology and Engineering, Professor Brian McGaw.

La Trobe student Sarah Carminati has taken out the Victorian ‘Pharmacy Student of the Year’ award, the fifth straight win in a row for the University – and the sixth in the past eight years.

Originally from Townsville, Queensland, Ms Carminati said choosing La Trobe for her studies was an easy decision.

‘La Trobe University has an excellent reputation for high-quality pharmacy graduates and I’ve enjoyed living and studying in Bendigo,’ she said.

An honours student under the supervision of Pharmacy Department head Dr Michael Angove, Ms Carminati said she was ‘extremely happy and honoured’  not only to represent herself in the competition, but also La Trobe University Bendigo.’

Dr Angove said the Student of the Year competition is judged on communication, clinical knowledge and counselling skills in pharmacy practice.  Students face real-life pharmacy scenarios and assess patient health care needs in the presence of judges and an audience.

‘The win makes us by far the most successful Pharmacy School in Australia in a competition run by the pharmacy profession,’ Dr Angove said.   ‘The fact that our students keep winning and performing at very high level is a great testament to the high quality of our course and of our graduates.’

‘Much of the credit for the course must go to pharmacy lecturer, Joy Spark and Emeritus Professor, Kenn Raymond, who have worked hard to establish a curriculum that is quite different from other courses and produces students who are clearly very impressive to the professional organisations within pharmacy.’

Nightingale Medal for courage and devotion

Andrew Cameron, a Bachelor of Nursing graduate, has received one of the world’s highest nursing honours, the Florence Nightingale Medal.

Awarded by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the medal recognizes exceptional courage and devotion to victims of armed conflict or natural disaster, as well as exemplary service in public health or nursing education.

After completing his studies at La Trobe in 1991, Mr Cameron became involved with the New Zealand Red Cross and for the past seven years has helped victims of war in Kenya, Sudan, Iraq, Afganistan, Yemen and South Ossetia, formerly part of the Soviet Union.

Mr Cameron, shown here at work in South Ossetia, was also honoured as Australian Nurse of the Year in 2004, for exceptional contributions in improving care for remote-area patients.

Low carbon footprint’ technology wins industry award

La Trobe University’s Centre for Technology Infusion has won the State’s Sustainability and Green Information Technology Innovation prize in the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) awards.

It received the award for its Home Energy Management System incorporated last year into Australia’s first Zero Emission House by the CSIRO and two leading home builders, Henley and Delfin Lend Lease.

Dean of Science, Technology and Engineering, Professor Brian McGaw, said with the new carbon tax and the rising costs of energy and water, the La Trobe system helps householders track and adjust their consumption patterns, thereby reducing their energy use and carbon footprint.

The system monitors energy and water use, and supply. Linked to an on-site weather station it can also factor in local weather conditions.

Director of the Centre for Technology Infusion, Professor Jugdutt (Jack) Singh, said the award highlights the University’s commitment to translate high-impact research into tangible benefits for the community.

Zero Emission House research team Professor Singh, right, and Mr Desai with Mr Sriram Prakasaman, rear, at the launch of the Zero Emission House last year.

‘Our system brings together various components into a single, tightly integrated solution to help realise an effective “Smart Grid”.’

Chief researcher Dr Aniruddha (Ani) Desai said it integrates new and existing technologies for home automation and energy management. Using a touch-screen it displays information and projections about all energy and water use in the house.

‘It can also be accessed remotely via the internet or mobile phones and is capable of sending email or SMS alerts,’ said Dr Desai. ‘For example, any heaters or lights left on can be turned off from your office or while you are on holidays.’

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Tim Brown, said the system was trialled in University buildings for two years as part of La Trobe’s energy reduction strategy before it was selected for Australia’s first Zero Emission House.

Support for trial to save lives at rail crossings

The Centre for Technology Infusion has also been awarded more than a million dollars for the trial phase next year of its highly innovative Intelligent Transport System to cut deaths and vehicle crashes at level crossings.

The system allows trains to communicate with cars at crossings, extending driver ‘vision’ up to one kilometre in all directions in an effort to cut rail crossing accidents. Nationally such accidents claim 37 lives a year, and cost an estimated 100 million dollars.

The new technology will be trialled in 100 vehicles including trains, cars, buses and trucks – the largest known rail crossing safety study of its kind in the world.

Professor Singh says the new funding comes from Department of Transport, State Government of Victoria and industry partners.

The rail crossing project is a partnership between La Trobe University, the Australian Automotive Co-operative Research Centre, the Victorian Department of Transport, Queensland University of Technology and other groups.

Click here for more details about the rail crossing research