6 August 1998

Chair of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Professor Vicki Sara will be guest speaker at one of two University of Queensland graduation ceremonies at Mayne Hall, St Lucia on Friday, August 7.

Professor Sara will address students from the Biological and Chemical Sciences, Engineering, Physical Sciences and Architecture and Health Sciences Faculties at 6pm.

Guest speaker at the 8pm ceremony is the Chief Executive Officer for Queensland Sugar Corporation Dr David Rutledge. He will address students from the Business, Economics and Law, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Veterinary Science Faculties.

Professor Sara was appointed ARC chair in September 1997 and acting chair of the National Board of Employment, Education and Training in 1998.

She is also a member of the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council, the CSIRO Board and the Anglo-Australia Telescope Board.

Prior to her appointment as ARC chair, Professor Sara was Dean of Science at the Queensland University of Technology and worked at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden where she isolated the growth hormone responsible for foetal brain development. Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 is now used as a therapeutic for growth and metabolic disorders.

Professor Sara worked in Sweden for 17 years, heading the Karolinska Institute's Endocrine Pathology Research Laboratory. She was awarded the Rolf Luft medal in 1993 for excellence in endocrine research by the Karolinska Institute in recognition of her work and also received the Sir John Eccles Award from the NHMRC in 1994.

Other ceremony highlights include the following:

o Dr Marc Elmouttie will be awarded a PhD for a thesis that studied Circinus, a spiral galaxy like our own Milky Way galaxy, located about 12 million light years away. The galaxy was discovered in 1977. In a collaborative study with Australian and German scientists, Dr Elmouttie discovered the presence of a jet of material expelled to great distances from the centre of the Circinus galaxy. The material - charged particles moving in magnetic fields - was identified by comparing optical and radio telescope images captured at observatories in two continents. Dr Elmouttie made the discovery about the mystery material with scientists from the Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF) in Sydney and one of the world's leading centres in radio astronomy, the Max Planck Institute fur Radioastronomie in Bonn, Germany. His Australian Postgraduate Award-funded study was supervised by Dr Keith Jones of the University of Queensland Physics Department and Dr Raymond Haynes of the Australia Telescope National Facility. For further information contact Dr Elmouttie, telephone 07 3365 3424, home 07 3371 1459.

o One of the most mature of mature students at the University, Dr Margaret Spencer, has gained her PhD from the Tropical Health Program at the age of 82. She earned glowing reports from her examiners - and had no corrections to make - for her thesis on the early development of health services in Papua New Guinea between 1870 and 1939. Dr Spencer and her husband were employed by the Public Health Department in PNG for many years both before and after the country's independence in 1975. Dr Spencer worked as an entomologist studying malaria-carrying mosquitoes, while her husband was a medical officer specialising in malariology. Dr Spencer, who lives at Tenterfield in New South Wales, graduated from the University of Sydney with a Master of Science in 1939 and spent some years as a university lecturer during which time she married. When she started the PhD in 1994 she made light of her years. "Age alone should not be a bar to study," she said then . "If your health is good, and the opportunity is there, the only thing to stop you is yourself." Dr Spencer can be contacted on 02 6736 1602.

o Medical practitioner Dr Joanne Wolter be awarded a PhD for her thesis on treatment methods for cystic fibrosis supervised by Medicine Department Associate Professor Joseph McCormack. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition causing chronic lung infection. One in 25 people are carriers of the gene causing cystic fibrosis and both parents must carry the gene to have a one in four chance of their child being affected. Dr Wolter's thesis found home intravenous treatment of cystic fibrosis with antibiotics was a safe alternative in selected cases. Some of the 31 patients she studied over two years had reported a decrease in their quality of life with home treatment. "Some said they felt more tired and less in control with home treatments," she said. A larger study will now be done into this area. The second part of her study examined the effects of low concentrations of antibiotics on pseudomonas aeruginosa - the bacteria which infects cystic fibrosis patients. Dr Wolter also developed a better laboratory testing system for the bacteria in sputum from cystic fibrosis patients. Finally, her study found that cystic fibrosis patients had consistently high levels of cytokines, which control inflammation in their sputum. A Carina-based GP, Dr Wolter said her interest in researching cystic fibrosis developed when she worked with Dr Simon Bowler at the Mater Hospital's Cystic Fibrosis Unit. She said research offered a good contrast to working as a GP. For more information, contact Dr Wolter (telephone 07 3840 8111 (and page her), 07 3840 8916 or 07 3398 8800).

For more information, contact Graduations Officer Karen Welsh (telephone 07 3365 2898).