Helsinki and London via Scotland, LA and Australia
Travel was going to be a rewarding experience for Deakin University’s Dr Alison Carver when she became one of the inaugural winners of the Neil Archbold Memorial Travel Scholarship and Medal, but hardly a new one.
Originally from Scotland, she met her husband - “an Aussie” - while backpacking in Los Angeles.
That eventually brought her to Australia, where she worked for 13 years in the airline industry before the failure of Ansett led her to take up a job at Deakin.
“I was employed as a data manager in the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, managing all their reams of data, and I became interested in what they were doing,” Dr Carver said.
“I had an honours degree in mathematics from Glasgow University and a Masters from Strathclyde University in Information Technology, but I’ve always had an interest in exercise through my involvement in triathlon.
“So I asked if I could do a PhD part-time while still working and they said yes.”
So Dr Carver began her work looking at the link between neighbourhood safety and children’s physical activity, in particular using Geographical Information Systems (GIS).
That led to the publication of a paper in the prestigious Journal of Urban Health in the United States.
“That is the journal of the New York of Academy of Medicine, so that it was exciting to have my research recognised in this way,” she said.
“It was also my entry for the Neil Archbold Travel Award.”
Dr Carver won her award for the best peer-reviewed journal article by a postgraduate student in Social Science and Humanities at Deakin.
“That was very much icing on the cake for me,” she said.
“I guess it’s extra special to win it in its inaugural year, too.”
Dr Carver used the award’s $2500 to travel to Helsinki and to London.
“I first met Dr Marketta Kyttä at a conference in Melbourne where I discovered we were working in the same areas and I was especially interested in the Internet-based GIS software she had developed,” she said.
“This award allowed me to visit her at the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies at the Helsinki University of Technology.
“I spent three days with her there getting a real insight into the work of her small team.
“I then travelled to London where it was a real honour to meet Dr Mayer Hillman at the Policies Studies Institute.
“He was the lead author in 1990 of a seminal study called One False Move.
“This reported on the declines in English school children’s independent mobility.
“Any research paper you read today on children’s independent mobility or active transport cites this study.
“He is 78 and still active and it was great to be able to spend some time with him.”
Dr Carver will graduate next month where she will not only receive her doctorate, but also her Neil Archbold Memorial Medal from Linda Archbold, Neil’s wife.
“Graduating is something I am really looking forward to, and also meeting members of the Archbold family,” she said.
“I am grateful to them for the opportunities this award gave me and to Deakin University for sponsoring it.
As well as spending time with renowned researchers, I laid some foundations for future research.
“I’d also like to thank my supervisors, Professor David Crawford, Dr Anna Timperio and Dr Kylie Hesketh, especially for saying yes when I first proposed doing my PhD and then for supporting me through it.
“When I look back at all the things that happened
to bring me to Deakin, and what’s
happened since, I suppose been an a long and interesting journey,
One that’s a long way from over.