Thursday 11 May 2017

Alumni Nate Swain’s Three Minute Thesis

Nathaniel (Nate) Swain comes from a long line of Ivanarians. Sister Emma ’03, father Peter ’75 and grandfather the late Allan Swain ’41.

But this story is about Nate.

School Captain in his graduating year at the Plenty Campus in 2007, Nate went on to Melbourne Uni to study Japanese. He quickly discovered that his passion was not for the language itself but for the science of language and communication so he quickly changed his major to Linguistics. After graduation he was stumped as to how he might be able to apply his passion to a profession, it was then that he came across Speech Pathology. He immediately enrolled to do his Masters.

“I could see enormous benefits of having experts in communication and language address these sorts of problems”.

The problems that Nate is referring to are developmental language disorders, hidden disabilities that impair an individual’s ability to comprehend language or to express themselves through speech, affecting 10-15% of the population.

After working as a speech pathologist for a year, Nate became a PhD candidate and a National Health and Research Council (NHMRC) postgrad scholar. His thesis centres on language disorders in young offenders, whose disabilities can contribute to their disengagement from society, and also prevent them engaging in rehabilitation interventions such as behavioural therapy and counselling.

His research looked at ways that a speech pathologist could go in and directly try to make a difference in the communication skills of some of the boys in the youth justice system. All in all his results showed that he could make a meaningful difference, with the boys and teachers responding positively. Nate hopes that policy-makers and youth justice professionals take notice. In aid of this he shared his findings by entering the University’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

He won and flew to Brisbane for the Asia-Pacific contest, where he was placed runner-up.

“3MT tends to work well for projects where researchers demonstrate how it will affect the public, like medical researchers saving lives, or engineers producing efficient solar cells. I felt very proud to win. I saw it as a sign that my research resonated with people and that its impact was understood”

Ivanhoe Grammar School is proud of you too Nate and proud of the work you have achieved.