Engaging Conversations Over Lunch: Interactions with Dr Jill McMahon

Posted on April 07, 2023

The Department of Physiology had the privilege of hosting Dr Jill McMahon, an Assistant Professor in the Division of Human Anatomy at Michigan State University (MSU), during her research visit facilitated by the Department of Anatomy at the University of Pretoria. The engagement provided a valuable platform for academic discussions and potential collaboration among researchers from different institutions.

Dr McMahon's visit included a special gathering with the female members of our department at the charming Goddess Café. The informal lunch was an opportunity for camaraderie and knowledge exchange, fostering meaningful connections and exploring prospects for cooperative endeavours.

The lunch was a notable occasion, bringing together esteemed female researchers, including Mrs Maryna Botha, Prof. Janette Bester, Dr Nonto Gumede, Ms Lindo Kunene, Ms Sumari Marais, Dr Thandi Mhlanga, Ms T Lebelo, Dr Michelle Visagie, and Prof. Paola Wood. Each of these researchers shared their impressions and insights about the experience.

Mrs Maryna Botha expressed gratitude for the luncheon, highlighting its resourcefulness and its role in fostering discussions between the University of Pretoria and Michigan State University. Prof. Janette Bester, on the other hand, found common ground with Dr McMahon in the field of tissue perfusion, paving the way for potential international collaboration. Prof. Bester noted Dr McMahon's encouragement to explore the Alliance for African Partnership funding program to facilitate future joint research efforts.

Dr Nonto Gumede seized the opportunity to discuss potential collaborative projects, focusing on the impact of obesogenic diets on bone health. She described how chronic consumption of such diets during adolescence might affect bone mass and structure, emphasizing the importance of investigating this relationship.

Ms Lindo Kunene expressed her interest in Dr McMahon's and Dr Nkhensani Mogale's research, even though her current research areas revolved around obesity, non-communicable diseases, and physical activity. She expressed hope for future collaboration that could integrate physical activity/exercise into their protocols.

The luncheon also showcased the existing collaboration between the University of Pretoria and MSU. Dr Thandi Mhlanga highlighted Dr McMahon's expertise in microvascular functioning while learning about the Alliance for African Partnership program. D. Mhlanga expressed her intent to explore potential collaborations and funding opportunities through this program.

Ms T Lebelo found the discussion enlightening, particularly in terms of postdoctoral opportunities and potential partnerships between the two universities. The Alliance for African Partnership program stood out as a crucial initiative for advancing emerging female researchers and establishing their positions in the field.

Dr Michelle Visagie described the luncheon as a wonderful experience, where participants delved into the applications of ultrasound and MRI for seated positions. The exchange of ideas also encompassed other research interests at MSU, opening doors for potential future endeavours.

Prof. Paola Wood, expressing her excitement, shared her interest in collaborative research on soft tissue changes during sitting. She appreciated the insights into the practical applications of ultrasound and the African Alliance Partnership (AAP) program, which facilitated Dr Mogale's year-long postdoctoral fellowship at MSU. Prof. Wood eagerly expressed her willingness to support Dr Mogale's upcoming pilot study.

In conclusion, the luncheon with Dr Jill McMahon served as a catalyst for international collaboration, knowledge sharing, and the exploration of joint research opportunities. The event showcased the importance of forging connections between researchers from diverse backgrounds and institutions, ultimately driving forward advancements in the field of physiology.

- Author Department of Physiology

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