Bianca Brijnath, an Indian student pursuing her doctorate at Monash University here, has won a spot in the prestigious Lancet medical journal for an essay that highlights the link between education and health.
Brijnath, a medical anthropology student, was one of eight students worldwide to be recognised in the Young Voices in Research essay competition.
Her essay 'Pens and Needles' was selected from 415 submissions, and will be published by the Lancet in an anthology at the end of 2009, a media release said Monday.
The essay shows the link between education and health, and stresses the importance of equipping the poor with the right tools.
Brijnath said: "Last year, I was visiting a few villages around Rajasthan on a camel safari. When we stopped for lunch, a few children gathered round us, wanting to play."
"They got really excited when I pulled out my notebook and pen. They took turns writing their names and drawing, and when it was time to leave, all they wanted was for me to leave them my pen!
"It blew my mind. This happened over and over, in different villages. I was amazed at how fascinated they were by a pen, an object that is so familiar to all of us," she said.
Brijnath has been invited to the Global Forum for Health Research to be held in Havanna, Cuba.
"I will have the chance to meet with people who are making strides improving health and education, and reducing poverty across the world," she was quoted as saying.
"And as I've never been to Cuba, I am really looking forward to getting a feel for the local culture and the people."
Brijnath is working on her PhD that investigates how families in India care for a relative with dementia.
It touches on the causes of dementia, caregivers' experiences, and the stigma attached to the disease. She hopes that her research will result in the Indian government providing better services for people with dementia.
"I hope to complete my PhD in 2010, and then continue in academia. I also want to return to India at some point, and teach for a while."