Meet our Public Health students

Students in the Department of Psychology, Counselling and Therapy are preparing to make a difference in the Australian health sector

Sowmya Malamardi

PhD candidate, Sowmya Malamardi (pictured), is investigating what factors are contributing to the rise in childhood asthma in South Asia.

“After I completed my master’s degree in public health I worked for many years in various public, private and international health organisations, including the United Nations, EY and The Global Fund” says Sowmya.

“It was during this time that I found an interest in health research so I decided to embark on a PhD.”

Sowmya, who is soon to submit, looks back on her PhD experience as being “amazing”.

“La Trobe is such an esteemed institute in Australia and I was excited to join the School of Psychology and Public Health. The support provided to graduate research students is incredible, and the learning and student engagement programs have helped me reach my full potential as a researcher,” she says. The JSSAHER, Mysore India and La Trobe scholarship, enabled my research studies.

Sowmya’s PhD research examines how poor air quality affects the respiratory health of children in South Asian countries.

“Asthma is the second most prevalent chronic respiratory disease among children and it has been well-established that outdoor air pollution affects respiratory health. Understanding asthma and its related factors across different geographical locations and characteristics of South Asian countries, however, is yet to be studied and that is what my PhD research is focused on.”

“I hope that my findings will increase our understanding of how South Asian environments and the level of air pollution impacts childhood asthma, and will help to inform policies to tackle this growing problem.”

Setho Hadisuyatmana 1475514

Setho Hadisuyatmana is a PhD candidate investigating ways to improve the health of men affected by type 2 diabetes.

“I am a community nursing lecturer at La Trobe’s partner university in Indonesia, the Universitas Airlangga. Through my experience nursing and as an educator, I saw the need to further understand how health could be managed to have a positive impact on communities of the future,” says Setho.

“I wanted to build a bridge between scientific research and implementation, and I saw undertaking a PhD at La Trobe as a way to achieve this.”

Setho’s PhD is examining the additional health issues that can arise as a result of type 2 diabetes, such as erectile dysfunction and heart problems.

“It is common for men with type 2 diabetes to develop erectile dysfunction. Unfortunately, erectile dysfunction often gets ‘glossed over’ during health appointments and therefore goes unaddressed,” explains Setho.

“Erectile dysfunction is an important issue to address, however, because it’s associated with high levels of stress, anger and increased incidence of domestic violence. Additionally, myocardial ischemia and heart failure are also likely to be silently progressing in these men, resulting in higher rates of premature deaths.”

“We hope that the findings of our research will reveal why these conditions occur as a result of type 2 diabetes and inform interventions to help improve the lives of this population.”