In early December 2015, the ANU welcomed 22 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island high school students as part of the ANU Indigenous Youth Camp Yalbalinga, which in the Wiradjuri language means ‘to learn’. The Yalbalinga program is a two day program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to visit the ANU and see what life and study is like at a university.
This year a number of students had the opportunity to attend a session organised by the ANU Medical School at The John Curtin School of Medical Research, led by Dr Riccardo Natoli (Department of Neuroscience, Retinal Development and Aging) and members Professor Provis and Dr Valter laboratories. Students were introduced to the simple anatomy of the eye (specifically the retina), what is a retinal degeneration, what causes a retinal degeneration, what it would be like to have a retinal degeneration and also a hands-on analysis of histological stained retina.
The students were engaged and fascinated with the concept of visual disorders with one commenting that ‘…photoreceptors are fascinating…. I had never considered that I could see down the microscope the different cells types that allow me to see’. The session was voted one of the favourites session of the students this year.
Dr Natoli has been involved in a number of sessions over the last few years and strongly supports the program. ‘Studying the eye is a great scientific discipline for many reasons and can easily capture the attention of students mind due to the relatability of the subject matter. To be able to capture a student’s mind in a short session which might influence future career ambitions is fantastic to be a part of. It is my understanding that students who have previously attended our sessions at The John Curtin School are now studying at ANU. What a great program to be part of’.
Members of The John Curtin School of Medical Research who helped make the day possible were: Nilisha Fernando, Joshua Chu-Tan, Tanja Racic, Haihan Jiao and Riccardo Natoli