18 December 2003

Dr Evan Munns — the first Aboriginal Bachelor of Dentistry graduate from The University of Queensland — said he planned to work among Indigenous communities.

Dr Munns, who graduated at a ceremony in the UQ Centre on Friday, December 19, also said he was happy to be seen as a role model for his people.

“If my efforts encourage other Aboriginal people to not only begin university studies but more importantly to finish them, then I’m happy to be seen as a role model,” he said.

On hand to see Dr Munns graduate was his wife Robyn; his parents, Lawrence and Elvena; and mother-in-law Ruth Williams.

His graduation ceremony at 3pm also featured graduates from the Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy while a later, Health Sciences Faculty graduation at 6pm featured graduates from the Schools of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences; Human Movement Studies; and Population Health.

Another graduate of interest at the earlier ceremony was Dr George Forgan-Smith, who combined his medical studies with being among the first members of the acclaimed group “The Ten Tenors”.

Guest speaker at the ceremony was Dr Chev Kidson, who also received an honorary doctorate of science in recognition of his contribution to the development of science in Queensland as well as internationally. Previously Professor of Medical Biochemistry and Head of Department in Biochemistry at UQ, Dr Kidson is currently a Professor with the Faculty of Tropical Medicine at Bangkok’s Mahidol University.

Graduates of interest at the 6pm ceremony included the following.

• Lecturer with UQ’s School of Population Health Dr Julie Dean completed her thesis on the psycho-social processes used by some environmental organisations — how they communicated and developed relationships with others beyond their immediate groups. Her findings included the view held by some organisational leaders that the people involved in their groups were still unfairly stereotyped as “greenies”. Caring for the environment needed to be a mainstream concern and such stereotypes could often be broken down through face-to-face meetings over a “cup of tea”, they said. While completing her thesis, Dr Dean continued her work as a community based psychologist in the alcohol and drug field. “This was where I met my principal thesis supervisor Associate Professor Robert Bush. At the time he was running a series of workshops examining ways different community and government groups worked together to reduce harm from drinking and drug-use. This ‘big picture’ approach to social change particularly inspired my thesis,” she said. “I am passionate about the role community organisations play in promoting a sense of well-being and sustainable futures. In order to make a personal contribution, I have worked for several community organisations including the Karuna Hospice Service; a ‘hospice at home’ service supporting terminally ill people and their families.”

• Dr Deborah Falla aims to rid people of pains in the neck — literally! For her PhD thesis with theSchools of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Neck Pain Research Unit, she evaluated neck muscle function in patients with whiplash and non-traumatic neck pain to quantify the nature of the impairment in these muscles. A series of studies were conducted which investigated muscle fatigue, patterns of muscle activation and neuromotor control of the neck muscles in patients with chronic neck pain. “My results demonstrated the complex, multi-faceted nature of neck muscle impairment and will lead to an improved understanding and direction for physiotherapy of this condition,” Dr Falla said. Her study was done in collaboration with the Laboratory of Neuromuscular System Engineering and Motor Rehabilitation in Torino, Italy.

Media contacts: Lynda Flower, UQ Communications, (telephone 07 3365 2339, email l.flower@uq.edu.au); or Shirley Glaister at UQ Communications (telephone 07 3720 8508, email s.glaister@uq.edu.au).