Postgraduate autism researcher shortlisted for national award

A postgraduate student whose research focuses on team working in the diagnosis of autism is in the running for a major award.

Nicole Parish, in the final year of a Clinical Psychology Doctorate at Plymouth University, is one of six PhD students vying to win the Vitae Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Held at the annual Vitae Researcher Development International Conference in Manchester, the competition challenges doctoral candidates to present a compelling spoken presentation on their research topic and its significance in just three minutes.

Nicole’s doctoral thesis is centred around the collaborative work necessary in accurately diagnosing cases of autism, and as part of her studies she has spent time working within health settings across the Plymouth area.

She has also taken part in numerous external events, including presenting at a conference in Amsterdam, and jumped at the chance to take on this new challenge.

Nicole said:

“I am really passionate about sharing knowledge and ideas about clinical psychology in an interesting and engaging way and this competition has certainly helped me do that. Having such a short time in which to explain quite complicated theories has been a challenge, but it has helped me focus more closely on the key elements of my work. Studying at Plymouth University has really encouraged me to take a critical look at all aspects of my practice, and this presentation will be a great way to showcase my work to a distinguished audience.”

The annual Vitae Researcher Development International Conference, taking place on September 8 and 9 at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, is the largest dedicated event bringing together those with a strategic and practical role in developing researchers.

The judges' choice winner – to be decided on the night – will receive a £3,000 grant, sponsored by Research Councils UK and National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), to spend on public engagement activity.

In order to reach the national finals, Nicole first had to condense her research into a three minute presentation and then make it through three rounds of competition at Plymouth, and the national heats which involved students from around 50 other universities.

Rebecca Holtom, Clinical Tutor in the School of Psychology at Plymouth University, said:

“We are all very proud of Nicole’s achievements so far, and wish her every success in the competition final. Completing a doctorate in clinical psychology is incredibly hard work, combining working in the University with placements in the community. But Nicole is a great example of someone who continues to seek out experiences which complement her practice and have the potential to benefit her future.”