Doctoral student Malinee Neelamegam awarded fellowship in Australia

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Malinee Neelamegam’s passion to understand the preservation of cognition in the aging process has led her to pursue a fellowship in Australia.

The PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics has been chosen to take part in the Endeavour Research Fellowship at the Centre of Research on Aging at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, the capital of Australia.

The six-month long fellowship will start Nov. 2016 and conclude May 2017.

Malinee Neelamegam, MPH, planting a tree at the Tualatin National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. (Photo courtesy of Neelamegam).

Malinee Neelamegam, MPH, planting a tree at the Tualatin National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. (Photo courtesy of Neelamegam).

“The Endeavour fellowship is a prestigious and competitive fellowship by the government of Australia. Beyond the opportunities that the fellowship offers, as a doctoral student, it was an honor to be recognized for my scholastic efforts,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of the network of scholars and researchers that are part of the Endeavor scholarship and fellowship team. I believe this will be an asset as I move forward in my academic career.”

Neelamegam’s PhD research examines the progression of mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease, looking at risk factors and potential preventative measures.

As a fellow, she will work with the cohort studies on dementia currently conducted by the Center of Research on Aging.

She said she plans to examine the risk factors of dementia.

“As a doctoral student, it’s an immense opportunity to work with dementia researchers globally. I am hoping to deepen my knowledge in epidemiology methods in dementia research. I also look forward to sitting in for some biostatistics and epidemiology classes at ANU and to attend research workshops and conferences with my fellowship advisor in ANU,” she said.

As an epidemiologist, Neelamegam said she looks forward to the fellowship providing her a better understanding of the implementation of large cohort prospective studies and the challenges faced when taking on large projects.

“I first heard about the fellowship in 2011 from my mentors in the Ministry of Health Malaysia,” she said. “When the application cycle opened last year, I consulted my academic advisor to discuss the feasibility of pursuing the fellowship as part of my doctoral studies here at USF. We researched potential host institutes that best align with my research proposal together and approached the Center of Research on Aging at ANU for their support of my fellowship application.”

Neelamegam is no stranger to fellowships.

In 2015, she was awarded the American Association of University Women International Fellowship, and she originally enrolled at USF as a Fulbright Scholar to pursue her MPH in epidemiology and global health.

Fulbright Scholar Malinee Neelamegam

Fulbright Scholar Malinee Neelamegam

“I chose to continue my PhD in epidemiology at USF to work with my advisors. The supportive environment at my department has allowed me to pursue multiple opportunities while completing my doctoral studies. I truly appreciate the time, the patience and the support my professors continue to give me and that has allowed me to grow as an epidemiologist,” she said.

She is also a graduate teaching assistant and member of the Public Health Student Association and Florida Public Health Association.

Neelamegam expects to graduate in May 2019 and hopes to continue with a post-doc position in neuro-epidemiology as she transitions into academia.

She said she is both honored and excited about the prospects offered through her future fellowship.

“I am immensely honored to receive the prestigious Endeavour fellowship. In my doctoral studies journey, I often battle self-doubt and the typical ‘imposter syndrome’ that early career researchers feel,” she said. “The fellowship, for me, assures me that I am on the right track and to persevere and keep going.”

Story by Anna Mayor, USF College of Public Health

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