Monash physicist awarded prestigious PhD thesis medal for innovative brain imaging

Dr Linda Croton.

Congratulations to Monash University scientist Dr Linda Croton who has been awarded the 2020 ANSTO Australian Synchrotron Stephen Wilkins Thesis Medal.

Dr Croton, a Research Fellow in the School of Physics and Astronomy at Monash University, was awarded the medal for her outstanding work using synchrotron-based X-ray phase contrast CT for in situ brain imaging.

The Stephen Wilkins Thesis Medal is awarded annually to a PhD student at an Australian or New Zealand University who is judged to have completed the most outstanding thesis of the past two years and whose work was undertaken at and acknowledges the Australian Synchrotron, or the Australian National Beamline Facility (ANBF).

Professor Wilkins, who held an Adjunct Professorial position at the School of Physics and Astronomy, was a stalwart of the Australian Synchrotron and was influential on several beamlines. He passed away in 2013.

Dr Croton used the X-ray technique to visualise and discern soft tissues in the brain in situ that are particularly challenging to capture in an X-ray image because of proximity to the skull.

Her PhD was supervised by Associate Professor Marcus Kitchen, Dr Kaye Morgan, and Professor David Paganin, are all from the School of Physics and Astronomy and they all rated the thesis very highly. They praised the work because of its implications for both pre-clinical imaging and future neuro-imaging.

Dr Croton’s research has important applications in the life and biological sciences where an ability to image soft tissue without staining is of immediate application.

Her PhD examiners noted that she had pushed the field of phase contrast imaging ahead with her accomplishments that included determining the most appropriate phase contrast X-ray imaging (PCXI) method to visualise soft tissue in brain, achieving a world-first imaging of the brain in situ at the micron scale—delineating the boundaries of white and grey matter,and the development of a new calibration method to manage visual artefacts (image noise from non-uniform detector response).

While completing her PhD, Dr Croton spent more than 1500 hours on the Imaging and Medical beamlines at the Australian Synchrotron and the Spring-8 Synchrotron in Japan and published seven journal articles relating to the investigations.

Dr Croton collaborated with the Hudson Institute of Medical Research and synchrotron scientists at Spring-8 on her studies. A total of 23 applicants applied for the highly competitive Stephen Wilkins Thesis Medal.

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