A plan to use hydrogel dressings infused with traditional First Nations bush remedies to treat chronic wounds in remote communities has won University of Southern Queensland’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) research competition.
A range of innovative research ideas were on display at the challenge with 17 doctoral candidates communicating their research in just three minutes.
Dinuki Seneviratne’s presentation attracted top marks from the judging panel.
“Chronic wound care is an area of great concern when it comes to First Nations’ health in our country,” Ms Seneviratne said.
“Imagine not being able to go for a walk simply due to a chronic wound that gets worse and worse over time. You might wonder ‘why wounds such as this can’t be treated?’
“Currently available and newly developed wound dressings are either too expensive, too technical or require medical expertise that communities living in rural and remote regions cannot access.
“My PhD will develop and test cost effective, sustainable and potentially biodegradable hydrogel wound dressings that can be used by anybody no matter where they are.”
Ms Seneviratne explained she intends to use aloe vera, alginate and plum peel to make a hydrogel with the ability to change colour to indicate healing status.
“Plum peel contain high levels of anthocyanins, which is the purple pigment that is present in lots of fruits and vegetables,” she said.
"These can be used as pH indicators to show the status of the wound, as in is it getting better or worse, as a colour change.
“The idea being that the hydrogel would turn blue due to sensing a high pH seen in chronic wounds.”
Topics from other presenters, included: using drones and infrared to help farmers fight crop disease; feeding the world’s growing population with healthy soil; understanding the experiences of first year teachers with special needs students; and more.
Hannah Churton was awarded second place for her submission on policy frameworks for converting food waste into valuable products.
Khaled Mohammed Saifullah was awarded People’s Choice Award for their submission on the topic ‘A microneedle integrated biosensor for the detection of troponin in interstitial fluid for early diagnosis of Acute Myocardial Infarction’.
Dinuki Seneviratne will now go on to compete in the wider Asia-Pacific 3MT Competition.
The Three Minute Thesis competition celebrates research conducted by doctoral students. It was developed by The University of Queensland to cultivate students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills.
Videos of the 2022 3MT presentations are available.