Alumni Profiles

Benny Freeman Distinguished Chair

Home InstitutionThe University of Texas at Austin
Host InstitutionCommonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
Award NameFulbright Distinguished Chair in Science, Technology and Innovation (Sponsored by CSIRO)
DisciplineManufacturing in Membrane Materials
Award Year2016

Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Science, Technology and Innovation (Sponsored by CSIRO)

Benny Freeman is the Richard B. Curran Centennial Chair in Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Chemical Engineering. He earned a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley in 1988. In 1988 and 1989, he served as a NATO Postdoctoral Fellow at the Ecole Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la Ville de Paris (ESPCI), Laboratoire Physico-Chimie Structurale et Macromoléculaire in Paris, France. Dr. Freeman’s research is in polymer science and engineering specifically in mass transport of small molecules in solid polymers. His laboratory focuses on gas and liquid separations using polymer and polymer-based membranes, developing and characterizing new materials for hydrogen separation, natural gas purification, carbon capture, water/ion separation, desalination, and fouling resistant membranes. His research is described in 395 publications and 22 patents/patent applications. He has co-edited 5 books on these topics.

He has won numerous awards, including the PMSE Distinguished Service Award (2016), Fellow of the Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Division of ACS (2014), AIChE Clarence (Larry) G. Gerhold Award (2013), Joe J. King Professional Engineering Achievement Award from The University of Texas (2013), Society of Plastics Engineers International Award (2013), Roy W. Tess Award in Coatings from the PMSE Division of ACS (2012), the ACS Award in Applied Polymer Science (2009), AIChE Institute Award for Excellence in Industrial Gases Technology (2008), and the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program Project of the Year (2001). He is a Fellow of the AAAS, AIChE, ACS, and the PMSE and IECR Divisions of ACS. He has served as chair of the PMSE Division of the ACS, chair of the Gordon Research Conference on Membranes: Materials and Processes, President of the North American Membrane Society, chair of the Membranes Area of the Separations Division of the AIChE, and chair of the Separations Division of AIChE.

Benny’s interests in new materials design for separations important for clean water, clean energy, and manufacturing process intensification aligns synergistically with the world-leading materials science and characterization research at CSIRO. He will work closely with colleagues at CSIRO, the University of Melbourne and other institutions across Australia to lay the groundwork for a long and productive, bilateral collaboration to develop, characterize and understand, at a fundamental level, disruptive, over the horizon, separations membranes for applications such as air separations, desalination, high value materials recovery from waste (e.g., waste to energy), toxic materials separation from waste and recycle/recovery of critical and strategic materials and metals. Benny has a strong interest in seeing results from fundamental research reduced to practice, which is also a topic of common interest with his Australian colleagues.

On a personal front, Benny is intensely interested in exploring the historical and cultural heritage of Australia, discovering the extraordinary natural beauty of Australia and sailing with current and new-found friends and colleagues.

John Pluske Distinguished Chair

Home InstitutionThe University of Western Australia
Host InstitutionKansas State University
Award NameFulbright-Kansas State University Distinguished Chair in Agriculture and Life Sciences
DisciplineAgriculture (Swine Nutrition)
Award Year2014

“I am excited by the prospect of participating in bilateral learning, appreciation and understanding”.

Professor John Pluske is a Professor in the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences at Murdoch University and a graduate of The University of Western Australia, earning both a Bachelor of Science (Agriculture) and Doctor of Philosophy from that institution. He will study at Kansas State University, Kansas, from August 2014 to January 2015, focusing on antibiotic resistant populations of selected bacteria in the gut of swine associated with the use of alternative antimicrobial feed additives.

John Pluske graduated with both a Bachelor of Science (Agriculture) and a Doctor of Philosophy from The University of Western Australia. He will study at Kansas State University, Kansas, from August 2014 to January 2015, focussing on antibiotic resistant populations of selected bacteria in the gut of swine associated with the use of alternative antimicrobial feed additives. This research will allow for informed decision making in relation to prudent use of these alternatives on antimicrobial resistance and provide a platform for future research.

“I will benefit enormously from interactions with staff in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry and the College of Veterinary Medicine that will equip me with new skills and techniques for translation into the Australian pig industry. I am excited by the prospect of participating in bilateral learning, appreciation and understanding not only in my specific field of research, but also from the wider perspective of agricultural and rural issues that affect societies in both the U.S.A and Australia.”

Ellen Douglas Senior Scholars

Home InstitutionUniversity of Massachusetts – Boston
Host InstitutionCSIRO
Award NameSenior Scholarship
Award Year2013

“One of the major reasons for human overuse of water is that conventional economic analyses do not assign a value to the freshwater itself; we use the water for free, typically only paying for the cost of developing and transporting it to where we need it.”

Associate Professor Ellen Douglas, Associate Professor with the University of Massachusetts—Boston has won a Fulbright Senior Scholarship to come to Australia for six months in August to work with the CSIRO on establishing the value of freshwater.

“Quantifying the value of freshwater ecosystems and incorporating that value into water management models will be the focus of my Fulbright research,” Professor Douglas said.

“The U.S. is facing many of the same water-related challenges but Australia is leading the way in meeting them, and my research with CSIRO will be directly translatable and transferable to water management in my home state and country.”

Ellen will work with the Australian CSIRO and combine her quantitative expertise in hydrologic modeling with methods for ecosystem valuation to advance sustainable water use practices. Concrete outcomes will include peer-reviewed publications and presentations at national and international conferences.

Ellen has a BS in hydrology, University of New Hampshire; MS civil engineering, University of New Hampshire and a PhD water resources engineering, Tufts University. She has won awards and prizes including Outstanding Environmental Education Leadership, Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions; Outstanding Graduate Researcher In Engineering, Tufts University; US EPA Science To Achieve Results (STAR) Graduate Fellowship; and a Tufts Watershed Center Fellowship. Her interests include.

Melvin Christopher Jenks Senior Scholars

Home InstitutionSouthern Methodist University
Host InstitutionThe University of Melbourne
Award NameSenior Scholarship
DisciplineLaw – International Law
Award Year2014

Chris teaches and writes on the law of armed conflict. He is the co-author of a law of armed conflict textbook, co-editor of a forthcoming war crimes casebook, and served as a peer reviewer of the Talinn Manual on the international law applicable to cyber warfare.

He has published articles on drones, child soldiers, extraordinary rendition, law of war detention, targeting and government contractors. He has also spoken on those same topics at universities and institutes in Africa, Asia, Europe and Central and South America. Chris recently served as a consultant to the Office of the Secretary of Defense on U.S. military security sector reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Prior to joining the SMU faculty, Chris served for over 20 years in the military. After graduating from West Point, he was commissioned as an Infantry officer in the U.S. Army. Chris served as a rifle platoon leader, executive officer and in battalion and brigade staff positions in the U.S., Europe, and in deployments to Kuwait and Bosnia.

Following graduation from law school, Chris transitioned to the U.S. Army JAG Corps and was assigned as the primary international and operational law advisor near the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. During this assignment, he defended Status of Forces Agreement rights of American soldiers during South Korean interrogations and trials in high profile and politically sensitive criminal cases.

Following his return to the U.S. in 2003, Chris served as the lead prosecutor in the Army’s first counterterrorism case, a fully contested, classified court-martial of a soldier attempting to aid Al Qaeda. He coordinated the investigative efforts of 30 law enforcement agents from four separate federal agencies on three continents and the Department of Justice’s Counterterrorism section nominated him for the John Marshall award for interagency cooperation.

In 2004, he deployed to Mosul, Iraq and served as chief legal advisor to a unit of over 4000 soldiers. There he provided targeting advice for the employment of artillery, close air support and direct fire weapons during enemy engagements in a city of two million people. Chris also advised investigations and served as prosecutor for crimes against the civilian population, detainee abuse, and fratricide.

Before moving to Dallas, Chris was most recently stationed in Washington D.C., holding numerous positions, including attorney adviser at the Department of State and his most recent position as chief of the International Law Branch of the Office of The Judge Advocate General in the Pentagon.

While at the Department of State, Chris served at the U.S. mission to the United Nations in New York City and represented the U.S. during negotiations on cultural and humanitarian resolutions pending before the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly

As the Army’s international law branch chief, he oversaw the foreign exercise of criminal jurisdiction over US service members, represented the Department of Defence at status of forces agreement negotiations and served as the legal advisor to the U.S. Military Observers Group, which provides military officers to United Nations Missions around the world.

Chris’ goal in working with the Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law is to identify criminal responsibility norms which will help further both the discussion and reconciliation of emerging technologies and accountability under the law of armed conflict.

Mark Tompkins Senior Scholars

Home InstitutionUniversity of Georgia
Host InstitutionCSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory
Award NameSenior Scholarship
Award Year2012

“Over 70 percent of newly emerging infectious diseases affecting humans originated from animals, and zoonotic diseases linked to infection, with SARS-coronavirus, avian influenza, Nipah and Hendra viruses having the potential to explode into global epidemics with severe consequences.”

Professor S. Mark Tompkins, Associate Professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s department of infectious diseases, The University of Georgia, will spend six months at CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL). Through his Fulbright, Tompkins will collaborate with investigators at the AAHL to identify drugs effective across virus types with the goal to develop a “penicillin for viruses.”

“Hendra and Nipah viruses continue to spill over from wild animals, causing disease and death in humans and animals,” Tompkins said.

“These and other emerging infectious diseases pose a public health threat for which there are no vaccines or drugs. Therefore, there is an urgent requirement for the development of new antiviral therapies.”

“Investigators at AAHL have unique facilities and expertise with Nipah and Hendra viruses, while I have experience with genome screening for identification of antiviral targets. We share a strong interest in this collaborative effort and the goal of improving human and animal health.”

Tompkins said that his time spent at AAHL will establish a collaboration that will work beyond the project to find new ways of combating these infectious diseases.

Tompkins has a BS (Microbiology), from the University of Illinois, and a PhD (Immunology), from Emory University. He has won various awards and prizes including a Gramm Travel Fellowship from the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, Chicago; an ORISE Fellowship, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, ORAU; and a National Institutes of Health Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE). His main research interests include understanding the immune response to respiratory virus infection and developing novel vaccines and treatments for use against emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Projects include novel detection methods for infection, identification of biomarkers for disease, RNA-mediated regulation of disease, and development of human therapeutic antibodies, among others. Outside of the lab, Tompkins enjoys many outdoor activities with his family, including gardening, cooking, fishing, and golf. He is also a new fan of the AFL.


Michelle Circelli Professional Scholars

Home InstitutionNational Centre for Vocational Education Research (South Australia)
Host InstitutionCalifornian Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office
Award NameProfessional Scholarship in Vocation Education and Training (sponsored by the Australian Government, Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education)
DisciplineEducation – Adult Basic Education
Award Year2013

“It is a matter of national concern that the 2006 international Adult Literacy and Life Skills survey (ALLS) found that almost half of Australia’s adult population has literacy and numeracy skills below the minimum level required to adequately function on a day-to-day basis in an advanced economy.”

Ms Michelle Circelli, Senior Research Officer, National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) in South Australia, is the 2013 winner of the Fulbright Professional Scholar in Vocational Education and Training sponsored by the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE). Michelle will undertake research into measuring success of adult literacy and numeracy education programs in the U.S. with the Californian Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and the Office of Vocational and Adult Education in Washington D.C, for 3-4 months.

“Both national and international research demonstrates the relationship between higher adult literacy and numeracy skills and positive outcomes for individuals as well as communities and the economy,” Michelle said.

“The importance of this relationship is recognised by the federal government with recent increases in funding for programs and services.”

“This renewed recognition and increasing investment is welcomed but, unlike in the US, little is known in Australia about the returns on this investment for funders and providers, or outcomes for learners.”

Michelle’s research will shed light on how the success of a learner and a program can be measured and how this information is used for continuous improvement.

Michelle has BSc (Hons) in psychology from the University of Adelaide and an MSocSc (Applied Social Research) from the University of South Australia. She has been a joint winner of the 2003 Excellence in Policing Awards for research on improving policing for women, has published widely and, before joining NCVER  built a career in research at the Australasian Centre for Policing Research and University of South Australia. Michelle is a member of reference groups for the Australian Industry Group ‘Building Employer Commitment to Workplace Literacy’ and Australian Bureau of Statistics Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies.

Tracy Logan Professional Scholars

Home InstitutionU.S. Department of Energy
Host InstitutionThe University of Sydney
Award NameProfessional Scholarship in Climate Change and Clean Energy
Award Year2013

“Australia’s goal of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020 is a climate change mitigation strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that is critically dependent upon electric infrastructure to transport renewable energy from the point of generation to consumers.”

Ms Tracy Logan, Program AnalystEnergy Project Manager with the U.S. Department of Energy, has won a Fulbright Professional Scholarship in Climate Change and Clean Energy, sponsored by the Australian and U.S. Governments. Through her Fulbright Tracy will come to Australia for four months to undertake research at the University of Sydney working on the development of a clean energy policy around the movement of energy.

“Without the ability to reliably transmit renewable energy to demand centres, the most abundant resources will not be developed and Australia will not meet its goal of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020,” Tracy said.

Tracy’s project involves developing a policy approach to increasing incentives for the planning and financing of electric infrastructure. It is her intention that this will facilitate the expanding renewable energy market and lay the groundwork for future initiatives that require a comprehensive, interconnected electric grid.

Just as in the U.S., “Currently, there is no policy to incentivize electric grid upgrades. Without upgrading the grid, Australia’s vast renewable resources will remain untapped since developers can’t move the renewable energy to market,” Tracy said.

“My project seeks to bridge this crucial gap through a policy resulting in market-based incentives for private investment in the electric infrastructure required for Australia to meet their renewable energy goal. This will then become a model for other countries with similar electric utility regulatory landscapes, such as the U.S.”

Tracy has a BA in economics, summa cum laude from the University of Nevada; and a JD from the University of San Diego School of Law. Her accomplishments include identifying a new approach to facilitate cost-effective Federal renewable projects for Civilian Agencies; published comparative law legal article on carbon capture and sequestration entitled, Carbon Down Under—Lessons From Australia; and she was a Class of 2009 is a Presidential Management Fellows Program graduate, a flagship leadership development program for advanced degree candidates. Tracy is an experienced martial artist and in her free time she enjoys baking, SCUBA diving and hiking.

Dr Sally Ursula Jane Salmon Professional Scholars

Home InstitutionThe University of Western Australia
Host InstitutionSchool of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University
Award NameFulbright Professional Scholarship in Nuclear Science and Technology, Sponsored by The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)
DisciplineNuclear Science
Award Year2016

Ursula’s research is into providing quantitative, scientific bases for environmental management decisions, particularly regarding issues of water quality and water resource sustainability. Ursula started on this path through studying Chemical Engineering at the University of Sydney. After a final year exchange in Sweden, Ursula entered into postgraduate studies in a multidisciplinary Swedish research program on the environmental impact of mining. In 2004 Ursula returned to Australia to take up a postdoctoral project on the acidic lakes that can form after open cut mining. Since this time, Ursula has worked on a range of research and contract projects, usually in close collaboration with industry and government stakeholders, and in all cases with the aim to quantify how surface waters, groundwater, and/or soils will evolve, under either continued current conditions or changed external forcing.

Since mid-2012, Ursula has worked on incorporating environmental isotopes into regional groundwater models for water resource assessment. The large and inaccessible nature of aquifer systems means that they are difficult to characterize; this in turn introduces uncertainty into flow models. Environmental isotopes that decay or accumulate over time, such as radiocarbon (14C), are widely used as tracers of groundwater “age”. Ursula has been working on ways to incorporate the isotopic tracers directly into groundwater models. If successful, this will result in improved groundwater model predictions and resource management tools. Furthermore, as the age-ranges that environmental isotopes are valid for can be tens or hundreds of millennia, the same tools allow investigation into what climatic conditions must have been in the past in order to create the isotopic concentrations that exist today.

Ursula will work with Prof. Steven Gorelick and colleagues at Stanford to incorporate additional environmental tracers into a modelling framework that has already been developed, in order to make the method more robust. This modelling tool will then be used to produce an analysis of paleoclimate, over the last 40,000 years or more, using data from a relatively data-rich Australian case study site. The time at Stanford and visits to other institutions will link Ursula to forerunners in the relevant fields in America, and facilitate continuation of collaboration on this and other topics upon her return to Australia.

Shelby Bieritz Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionRice University, Texas Heart Institute
Host InstitutionGriffith University
Award NamePostgraduate Scholarship
Award Year2014

Cardiovascular disease, which leads to heart failure, is the most deadly condition in both Australia and the U.S. The disease killed 45,600 Australians in 2011, which accounted for 31% of all deaths in the country. In the United States, 24% of deaths were attributed to the disease, amounting to 597,689 people in total. Shelby’s current research efforts focus on the development of a minimally invasive cardiac assist device for heart failure patients. The goal of the cardiac assist device is to unload a diseased heart, or to assume a fraction of the pumping capability, in order to allow a patient’s native heart to recover or to provide a bridge to transplant without performing a traumatic open heart surgery. Due to the small size of the assist device, it may also be used to provide total cardiac support for infants and small children in need of a heart transplant. Shelby is collaborating with Rice University and the Texas Heart Institute to design and implement the pump in a pre-clinical model during my doctoral studies, and will use the Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship to design a bearing system for the device. Shelby received her Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical engineering at Texas A&M University, where she worked on a wide range of research projects, including a blood pressure cuff for orangutans and a pneumatic cardiac assist device for adult use. The culmination of Shelby’s undergraduate research and study abroad experience in Germany led her to explore a troublesome question: why have engineers devoted over four decades to developing a wide range of cardiac assist devices for adults, while very few circulatory support options have been made available for pediatric use? Improvements are needed in both the longevity of survival and the quality of life of children who need cardiac support. This is a neglected patient group due to its small size and lack of capital interest, but congenital heart conditions remain the most common birth defect worldwide. The lack of a fully implantable, long-term assist for young children was and still is astounding, thus Shelby’s dream of creating pediatric cardiac assist devices was born. In addition to Shelby’s academic studies, Shelby works as a cardiovascular pathology technician at the Texas Heart Institute, where she uses various imaging modalities to aid in the pre-clinical analysis of mechanical cardiac interventions, from stents to total artificial hearts. Apart from Shelby’s academic pursuits, she enjoys sand volleyball, slam poetry, and camping.

While at Griffith University in Australia, Shelby aims to use the Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship to optimize a spiral groove bearing for rotary blood pumps that will reduce hemolysis while generating substantive force to suspend a rotor. Additionally, Shelby wants to apply this bearing type to a minimally invasive cardiac support device when she returns to the U.S. Through this project, Shelby hopes to generate a collaborative effort between Australian and U.S. biomedical innovators to combat the devastating effects of heart disease, while familiarizing herself with differences in the clinical management of heart failure patients between U.S. and Australian healthcare providers. With its Smart State Initiative, Queensland is advancing its post-coal economy into an era of knowledge economics, focused on innovation and translational research efforts. This provides the perfect environment to broaden the impact of Shelby’s research by establishing international collaborations between institutes in Queensland and the United States. With the common struggle of heart disease, joint developments in assist technology are absolutely necessary to improve patient outcomes. Collaborations between teams will remove the hindrance of unshared knowledge, increase engineers’ capabilities, and provide a diverse array of design approaches.

Rachel Heenan Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionThe University of Melbourne
Host InstitutionHarvard University
Award NamePostgraduate Scholarship
DisciplinePublic Health (Global Health)
Award Year2015

Rachel is a young physician pursuing a career in paediatric infectious diseases, at the intersection of clinical practice, health policy and research.

Rachel has a demonstrable commitment to global health, with a strong analytical background gained through her postgraduate studies in tropical medicine in East Africa, policy work in HIV-Hepatitis co-infection with the World Health Organization, and cost of illness research in the Pacific Islands.

She aspires to translate her experiences into leadership in improving the health of children in marginalised and disadvantaged communities, especially for Indigenous Australians.

Rachel would like to study for a Master of Public Health (MPH) with a Global Health concentration.

She believes that society as a whole benefits from equality of opportunity for all. This is especially true for children, who form society’s future, but who are also most vulnerable to the effects of inequality. Rachel wants to focus her career on those children who are victims of structural violence and as a result are the most disadvantaged members of the community.

The causal web of public health challenges is complex, spanning political, social and economic determinants of health. An antibiotic does not rebuild the immune system of a malnourished child, does not prevent contagion in conditions of poor sanitation infrastructure, and does not address the cultural change required to modify risky health behaviours. And a medication simply does not exist when current markets do not incentivize research and development of treatments for diseases that disproportionately affect the poor. The MPH degree will equip her with the academic framework for understanding these multifactorial challenges, and the practical knowledge to lead efforts to address them.

A broad foundation of academic and professional experience has informed Rachel’s desire to leverage clinical experience in the pursuit of public health. She has seen first-hand the impact of socioeconomic determinants of health in her practise: from working as a junior doctor in centres of excellence such as the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, to treating children with severe scabies infestations in conditions of appalling disadvantage in remote central Australia, to the chaotic environment of a medical relief mission during the Pakistan floods. Rachel gained an appreciation of system-level challenges from the bench to bedside during her time studying tropical medicine in East Africa and in developing viral hepatitis treatment guidelines for resource-constrained settings while at the World Health Organization. Rachel’s more recent work quantifying the economic burden of rheumatic heart disease on our Pacific Island neighbours has given her an understanding of the scale of our challenge.

Rachel expects that a combined career of clinical work and research will allow her to contribute technical expertise to public policy. Ultimately this MPH, with its focus on transnational health issues, will allow Rachel to better understand the challenges facing patients in the communities she serves, and to build innovative systems-based approaches to improving their health as vulnerable populations both within and outside of Australia.

During Rachel’s time in the US, she hopes to build on the existing research collaboration between her home institution and the Harvard School of Public Health, in the Department of Global Health and Population. Over the last two years the collaborating partners have jointly studied the cost of illness (ie: the economic burden) of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Fiji, with findings disseminated at the World Congress in Cardiology. RHD is a chronic condition (caused by an infection) that disproportionately affects the world’s most vulnerable populations. Australia’s Indigenous children have one of the highest rates of RHD in the world. The Fulbright scholarship allows Rachel the opportunity to further a cooperative endeavour to fight this disease.

Craig William McCormack Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionThe University of Western Australia
Host InstitutionSasakawa International Center for Space Architecture, University of Houston
Award NameFulbright Western Australia Postgraduate Scholarship
DisciplineArchitecture (Space Architecture)
Award Year2016

Craig is a PhD candidate at The University of Western Australia (UWA), in Perth, Australia. He holds an Australian Postgraduate Award, allowing him to research the discipline of Space Architecture and how the built environment in outer space is situated within and impacts the terrestrial discipline of architecture. Craig received an NVQ Level IV in Music from The London Music School in 1999, a Bachelor of Arts (Art) from the Curtin University of Technology in 2006, a Bachelor of Environmental Design from UWA in 2009, and a Masters of Architecture with High Distinction from UWA in 2011. As well as teaching and lecturing at UWA for the past six years Craig is also a director of felix. laboratories, a multi-disciplinary architecture and design practice that, as part of Felix, Giles, Anderson & Goad, were creative directors of the Australian Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. The exhibition, Augmented Australia 1914-2014, utilised augmented reality technology to realise significant, yet unbuilt contemporary and historical Australian architecture.

When not teaching and researching at university or designing within felix., Craig enjoys the outdoors leading an active lifestyle, and is an avid runner and climber. Widely travelled, he has climbed Mont Blanc and Mount Kilimanjaro in recent years. He believes that as an academic and a designer it is important to be active and involved in the world in order to design for it and write about it. Recently Craig has taken up the sport of motorcycle racing where he intends to qualify for his race license in the near future and add a little adrenaline to his weekends.

For his Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship, Craig will conduct research at the University of Houston, in the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture. The project will examine the feedback loop between the space industry and popular culture, such as film, through a study of relevant institutional and private archives, to articulate the cultural role that space exploration has played upon modern culture, and reciprocally, the impact that ideas stemming from popular culture as the ‘imagining’ of a future, or multiple futures has had upon programs of scientific research into manned exploration of space, and which has spawned new fields of research, such as ‘space architecture’. Combining archival, primary, and contemporary research through an ambitious theoretical framework, Craig intends to conceptualise the ‘space project’ within Western culture’s tradition of utopian thought.

Daniel McNamara Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionAustralian National University
Host InstitutionSchool of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
Award NameFulbright Postgraduate Scholarship
DisciplineComputer Science
Award Year2016

Daniel is a PhD candidate in the Research School of Computer Science at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. He is an external student based in the Machine Learning Research Group at Data61, the digital innovation unit of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Daniel’s research focuses on the development of algorithms that can learn from and make predictions about data. In particular, he investigates methods for learning representations of data that can be used to demonstrably improve prediction performance. The success of machine learning algorithms is highly dependent on the features they receive as inputs, which have traditionally been handcrafted by human experts. However, cutting edge techniques allow the algorithm to learn such features itself from raw data, similar to the way that humans learn more abstract representations of complex sensory inputs. This has led to state-of-the-art results in applications such as natural language processing and computer vision. Daniel’s research focuses on the theoretical foundations behind such methods in order to better understand and improve upon them.

Daniel has authored academic publications from previous research projects in data mining and the digital humanities. He completed his Honours year in Computer Science at ANU, for which he received a University Medal. He holds a Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne, which included receiving the Google Computer Science Prize. He also has experience in the intelligent use of data in professional contexts, including at the online analytics platform Kaggle, the management consulting firm Nous Group, and the Australian Labor Party. He is the founder of the website, an open democracy project allowing individuals and businesses to visualise government spending on commercial tenders.

Daniel will be spending several months at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh. During his stay he will be hosted by A/Prof Maria-Florina Balcan and will be based in the Machine Learning Department within the School of Computer Science. CMU sits in the elite tier of universities worldwide for computer science, and is particularly known for its strength in fundamental theoretical research in machine learning. Daniel is looking forward to the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with CMU academics and students. Following his return to Australia, he will use the skills gained from the visit within academia and industry.

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