Inaugural THRI Fulbright Scholar wraps up term at Western

Nikita Roy is a US Postgraduate Fulbright Scholar who has been posted at Western Sydney University’s Campbelltown campus since mid-January 2019. She is supervised by Dr. Genevieve Steiner from NICM Health Research Institute and THRI. Nikita’s research project focuses on understanding the relationship between a naturally-occurring genetic polymorphism the affects neuroplasticity and brain activity, as measured by EEG. Nikita is an aspiring physician who will be attending the Icahn School of Medicine in New York City upon her return to the United States in August.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship educational exchange program hosted by the United States. Scholars are eligible for funding to teach English, obtain graduate-level study, or conduct research. Nikita’s research is co-sponsored by Western Sydney University. The aim of the Fulbright Program is to promote mutual understanding and spread knowledge and cultural appreciation worldwide.

Since her arrival in Australia, Nikita has been immersing herself in the culture and wildlife, and travelling both domestically and internationally. She has been exploring Sydney, and has also travelled to Melbourne, Brisbane, Byron Bay, and Canberra. In Canberra, Nikita presented her research alongside around 100 other Fulbright Scholars, from both the US and Australia. She has also ventured to New Zealand during her time here.

Nikita has gained valuable skills in communication with research trial participants that will aid her as a physician in the future. She has also expanded her skills in statistical analysis of large datasets in SPSS. In addition to her work with Western Sydney University, Nikita is a “Reach the World” volunteer. Reach the World is an international not-for-profit organisation that links global travellers to primary school students in the US. Nikita shares her adventures with a classroom of students back in the States weekly.

This experience has been pivotal for Nikita as she graduates from her university and transitions into formal medical training and adulthood. She is grateful to the Fulbright Program and to NICM, THRI, and Western Sydney University for their support and generous accommodation. In her future as a healthcare practitioner, Nikita envisions herself continuing to advocate for early identification of disease through imaging, as well as maintaining a link between the healthcare landscapes of the US and Australia.

Dr. Genevieve Steiner and her team have immensely enjoyed having Nikita as part of the NICM Clinical Research Laboratory.  Nikita brings enthusiasm, passion, energy, positivity, compassion, and curiosity to her work, and will no doubt make an excellent clinician-scientist.  Nikita is well-liked by the lab’s research participants with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and she has also joined geriatrician and former Clinical Dean of the Macarthur Clinical School, Dr. Mark Hohenberg, on his rounds to local residential aged care facilities in order to understand the full impact of dementia and cognitive decline in the community.

During her visit, Nikita has learnt a broad range of technical, research, and clinical skills including venepuncture, EEG, diagnosing and screening for MCI and dementia in older people, neuropsychological testing, and of course, statistics!  She has progressed her research projects well, and is the process of writing up the results for her empirical study, and is about half way through her systematic review, both which will be submitted for publication in Q1 neuroscience journals.

Everyone has enjoyed having Nikita visit and work at Western Sydney University as much as Nikita has enjoyed being here.  We wish Nikita all the best for the remainder of her Fulbright scholarship and for her future studies in medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York City, and hope that she comes back to visit us in the future!