Rhianne is a third-year doctoral candidate in A/Prof. Michael Bowen’s laboratory at the University of Sydney, investigating new medications for opioid addiction. She obtained her Bachelor’s in Psychology, with Honours in Neuroscience at The University of Sydney in 2018. Between her Honours and PhD, she worked as Research Assistant at the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics.
Rhianne has spent the last four years using animal models to explore the use of cannabinoids for the development of physical dependence to opioids. Given the growing use of cannabinoids by people suffering from chronic pain and opioid use disorders, in addition to the panacea-like view of cannabinoids without quality scientific evidence, this research is critical. Her findings provide crucial information about the contexts and aspects of opioid addiction for which particular cannabinoids may be beneficial, or indeed, detrimental.
Now, Rhianne is using animal models to explore the efficacy of a novel compound to treat the motivational and reward deficits associated with opioid addiction. She is also working closely with a biotech company to bring this novel compound into clinical trials for opioid addiction.
Beyond the lab, Rhianne lectures and tutors in a range of undergraduate psychology courses. She enjoys science communication, having won travel awards to present her research at international conferences and speaker awards for her presentations. Rhianne is heavily involved in student leadership activities, being the School of Psychology Student Representative, a member of the Postgraduate Education Committee, a Postgraduate Student Ambassador, the co-chair of the Sydney Postgraduate Psychology Conference and a member of the Academic Board.
Rhianne is the recipient of the Graduate Women NSW Tempe Mann Travelling Scholarship and the Campbell Perry International Research Scholarship for which she will use the collective funds to travel to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee for an extended laboratory visit in 2022.
Rhianne is passionate about neuroscience and seeks to apply her knowledge in a pharmaceutical role to improve the treatment of those suffering from psychiatric illnesses.