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Grads 2019: Pursuing the unknown leads to University medal

Andy Visser

25 March 2019. A passion for learning, staying focused and setting goals leads to success and Amanda Denniss’ journey to her PhD in Cardiac Physiology is the perfect illustration of this.

Ms Denniss graduated with a First Class Bachelor of Applied Science Honours degree and was awarded the University Medal for her outstanding results at the most recent round of University of Canberra graduations.

An invite has since been extended to Ms Denniss to present her work at the upcoming Gordon Research Conference on Excitation-Contraction Coupling in Italy. As a premier conference in her area of research, it is rare for a first-year PhD student to be invited to attend.

Ms Denniss completed her Bachelor of Nutrition in 2016 and subsequently went on to complete her Honours in Cardiac Physiology in 2018.

Ms Denniss was employed as an economist before she decided to study further and enrol in her second undergraduate degree in Nutrition over eight years ago, heavily pregnant with her second child. As a mother, wife, daughter and mature age student, she has structured her life around her studies and more recently her love for Applied Science.

“Studying the second time around has been easier because I knew that I had to be organised. Children, illnesses and life in general cannot be factored around timetables or due dates,” said Ms Denniss.

“My son has grown up with me studying and often asks me when I am going to get a job. I guess I will answer that question one of these days and hopefully before he starts university,” said Ms Denniss.

Ms Denniss is currently a PhD student in Cardiac Physiology at UC’s Faculty of Science and Technology.

“I have always been interested in human physiology and throughout my Nutrition degree I was really drawn to the science underlying physiological changes. The tipping point for me was one of the Work Integrated Learning units that I completed in my final year which centred on research and I loved it,” said Ms Denniss.

“It’s the attraction of what we don’t know and the realisation that the hard work and dedication of researchers leads to life-changing breakthroughs.”

“I have a particular interest in heart failure as it is a condition that affects so many people; and there remains so much to uncover so that we can better target therapeutics.

“It was the unanswered questions that I found very attractive and drew me to apply for my PhD,” she said.

Having received a Commonwealth Government-funded scholarship, Ms Denniss can now focus on her PhD and potentially pursue further research to find solutions to those unanswered questions.