Bionics Institute research assistant Shreyasi Datta has been awarded the prestigious Len Stevens Scholarship by the University of Melbourne.

This scholarship supports gifted graduate Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology students to undertake a project outside of their course and extend their learning.

Ms Datta said she was thrilled to receive the scholarship.

“I was so pleased to hear that my scholarship application was successful. I’ve been working with Dr Merhnaz Shoushtarian and her research team to develop a way to measure tinnitus severity by recording evoked brain responses through non-invasive brain imaging.

“My scholarship application outlined that we’d like to see if we can also quantify stress and depression from data collected from wearable devices along with brain imaging using AI, as stress and depression are often related to tinnitus.”

Valued at almost $9000, the scholarship will enable Ms Datta purchase a wearable device and expand the scope of the tinnitus project as well as write a research article for a leading journal and undertake a course on artificial intelligence in healthcare.

“The scholarship means that I can buy a wearable wrist monitor for our research, and we can collect several physiological vitals and perform multi-modal analysis to refine our objective measures of stress in tinnitus.” 

Affecting about 1 in 5 Australians, tinnitus can severely affect a person’s quality of life. Ms Datta is hopeful that work being done by the Bionics Institute will lead to positive outcomes for those suffering from the condition. 

The tinnitus research being done by the Bionics Institute is really clinically significant because right now there isn’t an objective measurement of tinnitus or tinnitus-related stress – it’s more subjective and is based on what a patient tells us they’re experiencing.

“This is a great opportunity to contribute to that research. A lot of people will benefit from the work being done at the Institute and it has gained the interest of the medical community”, she added.

Ms Datta is currently completing her PhD at the University of Melbourne, investigating how wearable sensors can be used to measure and evaluate movement deterioration in stroke patients.