Sally Hinton - PhD Graduation

30th December 2013
Finally after six years of sacrifice and study my PhD was awarded. Graduation took place through the Central Queensland University Brisbane campus and was held at the Convention Centre at Southbank in Brisbane on Tuesday 10th December. This was just lovely as my family and friends could attend and cheer me on (and they did!). I was made to feel very special on the day, being the only PhD graduate was surprising but made for quite an occassion! I was introduced by Professor Horsley and was capped (bonnet placed on my head) by Acting Chancellor, Mr Ware who also handed me my testamur. There was lots of pomp and ceremony which I surprisingly thoroughly enjoyed on the day! I usually sidestep personal attention but this was a very special day with my only regret being that Mum and Dad were not there - I know they would have been proud. Parents teach us so much - Mum taught us about love and caring for others and of course laughter - our house was always full of smiles, laughter and giggles - a bit of Irish heritage I believe. Her cup was always half full and she never spoke ill of anyone - a beautiful kind and gentle lady! As a child growing up in the 60's and 70's in Papua New Guinea, Dad taught me many things and I guess he inadvertantly introduced me to the scientific world, at age 8 I was knew the scientific (latin) names of most of the common seashells we found as he was a world expert on cone shell classification writing 3 scientific books on the subject. How many other children earn their pocket money by collecting poisonous cone shells to be sent to Australia for research. I was not the slightest bit interested in venom research at the time but my first Barbie Doll (purchased on the proceeds of venom research) was paramount in my small girl world! Dad also took all his own photographs that illustrated his publications - I can still recall following him around helping (he may have called it something else!) stick the shells into place with our plasticine. I guess again I learn't by default all about ASA ratings, apertures, speed and the importance of light in photography. Dad never spoke to us as children, he always treated us as mini-adults, so we grasped what we could from him as best we could as we went along! To Mum and Dad this thesis is for you - in your memory - thank you!

I started my research Masters in 2007 at CQU, Rockhampton as an external student part-time (I had to work full-time). In 2009 I was upgraded to a PhD on recommendation from my Principal Supervisor. In summary my research was looking at toxin producing blue-green algae in the Tweed catchment raw waters. During my research I found some startling new characheristics of one particular toxin and the species that produced it which is of both national and international significance. I was supported by the Tweed Shire Council Water Unit and in particular the Tweed Laboratory Centre where I have worked for 15 years. The research was directly related to my daily work and has expanded my knowledge in this area extensively. I presented my research at International Algal Conferences in both New Zealand (2008) and Italy (2011) as well as Nationally (Melbourne 2010). Two peer reviewed publications have resulted (2009 and 2011) with a couple more in the pipeline - these are available on the "Publications" page of this website.

It has been an amazing learning experience and the knowledge and tools I have gained are precious indeed! My CQU supervisors (Associate Professor Larelle Fabbro and Dr Susan Kinnear) were brilliant, obviously in areas academic but on a personal level they encouraged and supported way beyond my expectations and I would like to think they will always remain my friends through the years to come!