Giving internships a great image

An innovative internship program is giving graduate students the opportunity to use their skills in an industry setting.


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Dr Christian Daish has learned that an internship can be out of this world.

The PhD graduate was part of the Australian Postgraduate Research Intern (APR.Intern) program and undertook a six-month stint working with Dr Xavier Hadoux and Associate Professor Peter van Wijngaarden who are developing a simple eye test to detect Alzheimer’s disease.

A biomedical engineer, he used advanced computational approaches to investigate image registration and advance the use of the study’s hyperspectral camera.

Dr Daish, who has recently taken a product development position at a Melbourne biotech company, says the internship was a wonderful opportunity to showcase his expertise while learning new skills. Being paid was also ‘a life saver’.

“For the students it’s fantastic, because they’re getting paid and gaining experience. It taught me some technical skills that I hadn’t previously had, for example in machine learning (AI),” he says.

“As a biomedical engineer it was great to see the clinical application of research.”

A helping hand


The internship was funded by prolific inventor Dr Steve Frisken, who donated his share of the 2018 Australian Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation to the team.

Dr Frisken is CEO of Melbourne company Cylite, which creates next-generation imaging and metrology systems for ophthalmic and related markets.

The physics buff was impressed by the project, which uses similar technology to some of his work, and the team’s determination.

“The research that they’re doing is at the cutting edge,” Dr Frisken says. “We’re certainly looking very keenly at the potential positive human impact. It’s a very good use of money as well.”

Industry setting


The not-for-profit APR.Intern program connects PhD students with innovative organisations and pays them to research in an industry setting.

Dr Daish was the CERA team’s first intern. Dr Frisken’s donation also funded astrophysics PhD graduate intern Dr Suk Yee Yong. Thanks to Dr Frisken’s generosity, the team may be able to recruit a third intern.

Dr Hadoux says it’s a win-win as interns have good knowledge in their field, so make a worthy contribution while improving their experience, research skills and employment prospects.

“It’s amazing,” he says. “They’re really bright. Having them is super, super helpful.”

CERA would also like to thank Justin Mabbutt from APR.Intern for facilitating this internship.

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