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Philippa Sharman wins Dean's Award for PhD thesis

CBTID research student Philippa Sharman became the first PhD student from the QTHA Research Laboratory in Cairns to receive a PhD from JCU (in March, 2014).
Philippa Sharman wins Dean's Award for PhD thesis

Philippa Sharman with Rob Walker, both were past PhD students in the Smith laboratory

Philippa was supervised by Professor Nick Smith, Professor Alex Loukas and Dr Kate Miller from CBTID. Philippa received a Dean’s Award for Research Higher Degree Excellence for her PhD Thesis, “Identification of enzymes potentially involved in the formation of the oocyst wall of coccidian parasites”. Dean’s Awards are made based on the reports from thesis examiners, the international recognition of their work, the impact of their research and their publications and other outputs. 

Philippa’s PhD explored the biology of coccidian parasites. Coccidia are protozoan parasites that have huge economic and health impacts on humans and their domestic animals – they are amongst the most prevalent infectious diseases on the planet. A defining feature of Coccidia is the oocyst; it is excreted in the faeces ofinfected hosts and enables long term parasite survival in the environment until ingestion by the next host. The oocyst wall is a remarkable structure that is resistant to environmental changes, including large alterations in temperature and humidity, and also to chemical attack and disinfectants. Without this robust, resilient wall, these parasites would not survive, let alone be as successful as they are. Philippa discovered enzymes that may catalyse generation of chemical bonds crucial for formation of oocyst walls. These enzymes are currently under intensive research as targets for novel controlstrategies, especially vaccines. This could have profound effects in agriculture and human health as the world’s population is predicted to approach 9 billion by 2050 and the need for affordable, chemical-free, and disease-free food becomes of paramount importance for rich and poor alike.