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Swansea Alzheimer’s Research Student Awarded Doctorate in Recognition of Pioneering Work

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Pioneering Alzheimer’s research student Amy Jenkins added another “award” to her impressive CV when she received her PhD Psychology degree at Swansea University’s Summer Degree and Award Congregation today (Monday 24 July).

During her 3-year PhD studentship in the Psychology Department at Swansea University, Amy has been working on early identification of dementia risk factors. Her research looked into identifying the characteristics of Subjective Cognitive Impairment (SCI) which is of huge importance as the numbers of older adults increases.

In 2014 Amy, aged 32 from Port Talbot, was presented with the “Best Young Researcher” prize at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.

Student Ambassador Amy was also named as the regional final winner of the science communication competition FameLab 2016. FameLab aims to find and support the UK’s most talented new science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) communicators. By taking part in the competition Amy raised the profile of SCI and dementia, and the importance of research to help improve awareness and research into this area.

Amy’s ability to carry-out excellent independent research has also been recognised by her award last year of a two-year personal research fellowship by the BRACE-Alzheimer’s research charity. BRACE is a registered charity that funds research into Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The £100k+ funding awarded to Amy will enable her to continue her PhD work on a project titled “Characterising Subjective Cognitive Impairment”.

The objective of Amy’s project is to increase our understanding of changes in a wide range of brain processes that may help to explain why some individuals experience subjective changes in their memory and cognition, and whether such changes may be indicative of possible further cognitive decline. Such information will improve our understanding of how this disorder can affect everyday life, especially how such impairment may affect our ability to interact with our surroundings.

Upon receiving her degree Amy said:

“I am so proud to be receiving my Doctorate today. It feels like a dream considering 14 years ago I was searching my options for a degree position through clearing. It has made me realise that you can turn your life around if you work hard enough and find something you’re passionate about.

“Swansea University has helped me to achieve so many things. My supervisors Professor Andrea Tales and Dr Jeremy Tree have been incredibly supportive. Without their expert assistance and guidance I would not have been able to achieve all the things I have. In addition to receiving the BRACE-Alzheimer’s research fellowship they encouraged me to put forward numerous papers which have been published in high impact journals, design posters which have received conference awards and give presentations at various conferences.

“I am looking forward to working with them on the BRACE funded project which I hope will help in the understanding of SCI and the development of intervention strategies to prevent further decline. Also, to help us understand the relationship between aging, SCI and dementia”.