Alumni Profiles

Professor Moeness Amin Distinguished Chair

Moeness Amin
Home InstitutionCenter for Advanced Communications, College of Engineering, Villanova University
Host InstitutionNational Security and ISR Division (NSID), Defence Science and Technology Group
Award NameFulbright Distinguished Chair in Advanced Science and Technology
DisciplineRadar and Signal Processing
Award Year2017

Moeness is the Director of the Center for Advanced Communications at Villanova University, Pennsylvania, USA. His research spans the area of signal analysis and processing with applications to wireless communications, radar, sonar, satellite navigations, healthcare, and ultrasound. His current research focus is radar signal processing, including urban radar, Over-the-Horizon radar, automotive radar, passive radar, ground penetrating radar, and radar for indoor monitoring. Dr. Amin is the recipient of the German 2016 Humboldt Prize and the British 2016 IET Achievement Medal. He also received Technical Achievement Awards from the IEEE Signal Processing Society and the European Association for Signal Processing.

During his five-month visit to DST Group, Australia, Prof. Amin will work on the problem of co-existence between radar and communications systems where both services operate concurrently within the same frequency bandwidth. In collaboration with his host, he will develop algorithms enabling dual system functionality using the same platform.

Nicholas Wyman Professional Scholars

Home InstitutionThe Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation
Host InstitutionThe Urban Institute, Washington DC
Award NameFulbright Professional Scholarship in Vocational Education and Training, Sponsored by the Australian Government, Department of Education and Training
DisciplineVocational Education and Training
Award Year2016

Nicholas Wyman is a workforce development and apprenticeship expert, speaker, and author who applies real-world solutions to the challenges companies face in finding skilled employees. He is the CEO of the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation.  A hands-on leader, Nicholas has spent two decades developing skills-building, mentorship and apprenticeship programs that close the gap between education and careers. Nicholas works in partnership with schools, industry, community organizations and government to cultivate alternative pathways to employment and continual skills development. Nicholas is a regular media commentator on workforce development and his articles appear in Forbes and Huffington Post. Nicholas is a Winston-Churchill Memorial Fellow and has completed research on school to work transition and social status of skilled careers encompassing Germany, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands and the UK, while comparing and contrasting with factors in the USA and Australia. His book, JOB U explores how companies often struggle to find people with the skills to do the work they need. The book was published in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada.  Nicholas also co-founded the Skilling Australia Foundation. A third-generation writer, Nicholas began his own career by learning a trade. He has an MBA, and studied at Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government.

Nicholas Wyman is a workforce development and skills expert, author, speaker, and CEO of the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation and the Skilling Australia Foundation. Nicholas is a leader in developing skills-building, mentorship and apprenticeship programs that close the gap between education and careers.  A third-generation writer, Nicholas began his own career by learning a trade. He is a regular contributor to Forbes and Huffington Post writing about job skills and training in the 21st-century workplace. He has an MBA and studied at Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government and was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2012.

Developed economies have for a generation battled endemic skills gaps and high youth unemployment. Apprenticeship, once seen as a leading solution is now in decline in both Australia and the United States. Through collaborative field research, an opportunity exists to re-design aspects of the aging apprenticeship model toward meeting the demands of 21st century workplaces. The project will be of interest to policymakers, business leaders and stakeholders seeking to address skills gaps and elevate vocational training career pathways.

Rose Ahlefeldt Postdoctoral Scholars

Home InstitutionAustralian National University
Host InstitutionMontana State University
Award NamePostdoctoral Scholarship
DisciplinePhysics and Astronomy (Condensed Matter Physics)
Award Year2014

With support from the Fulbright Victoria Scholarship Fund, established in 2008 by contributions from the Victorian Government and all Victorian universities.

Dean Freestone is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Neural Engineering and Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Melbourne. He will work with Professor Liam Paninski at the Department of Statistics, Columbia University. Dean’s interests lie in reverse engineering the brain which he sees as one of the greatest challenges faced by scientists today.

His research will address this grand challenge by developing a framework for creating large-scale, subject-specific, mathematical brain models. The techniques that will be developed are similar to those used in meteorology, where weather observations and physical laws are combined to create models of the environment.

The new framework will integrate subject-specific electrical recordings with mathematical descriptions of the cortical circuits. Subject-specific models will act like a blueprint an individual’s neural circuits, enabling the application of control engineering methods to treat neurological disorders

Andrew Hutchinson Postdoctoral Scholars

Home InstitutionUniversity of Technology Sydney
Host InstitutionYale University
Award NamePostdoctoral Scholarship
DisciplineMedical Sciences (Immunology)
Award Year2014

“It would be great to see this work develop into therapies that could be used to treat autoimmune disease.”

Andrew Hutchinson is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney with research interests in biotechnology and molecular immunology. He will work at Yale School of Medicine, Connecticut with host supervisor Professor Askenase, a world-renowned immunologist, from July 2014 to July 2015.

His focus will be on therapies for immune-mediated disorders; specifically the development of antigen-specific suppressor exosomes (ASSEs), which can suppress the response of the immune system.

Currently, ASSEs can only be purified from blood and obtaining large enough quantities to be used at a therapeutic level is almost impossible. His research will focus on developing ASSE mimics that can be produced synthetically.

“The ‘holy grail’ of research in this field is to work out how to ‘switch off’ the immune system and prevent the pathogenesis of disease. Long term, it would be great to see this work develop into therapies that could be used to treat autoimmune disease.”

Dr Simon O’Rourke Postdoctoral Scholars

Inspector Simon ORourke PhD
Home InstitutionWestern Australia Police
Host InstitutionCrisis Leadership Program, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Award NameFulbright Western Australia Postdoctoral Scholarship
DisciplinePublic Administration
Award Year2017

Simon is a Police Inspector currently assigned to the Counter Terrorism and Emergency Response Command at Western Australia Police. His current role is to develop and prepare senior Police Commanders for the challenges they will face during a major police operation, where they will be required to make critical decisions in a highly complex and fluid environment. His Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholarship will see him attend the Harvard Kennedy School as a visiting Fellow, at the Program on Crisis Leadership.

Simon’s Fulbright project at Harvard University presents a unique opportunity for police to engage with a practitioner focused and internationally renowned centre of excellence in the field of Crisis Leadership. This partnership will identify ways to enhance the professional development of senior police officers, who will fulfil the role of Police Commander during a major incident, including terrorism.

Dr Flavia Di Pietro Postdoctoral Scholars

Dr Flavia Di Pietro
Home InstitutionThe University of Sydney
Host InstitutionCincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Award NameFulbright New South Wales Postdoctoral Scholarship
DisciplineMedical Science
Award Year2017

Flavia is a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Early Career Research Fellow, working in the Neural Imaging Laboratory at the Sydney Medical School. Using technologies like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Flavia investigates the critical role of the brain in chronic pain, and how the ever-changing and plastic nature of the brain influences our perception of pain.  Chronic pain is poorly understood and places a huge burden not only on the individual, but on healthcare systems and economies around the world. Flavia’s research has made a significant contribution to the understanding of pain and potential avenues for treatment.

Flavia’s Fulbright Scholarship will take her to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where she will work with Professor Robert Coghill on testing a novel and non-invasive treatment for chronic widespread pain in children and adolescents.

Lashi Bandara Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionAustralian National University
Host InstitutionStanford University, University of Missouri
Award Name2011 Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship
Award Year2011

“Differential geometry – the study of objects of arbitrary dimensions with curvature – has emerged as a fundamental tool in understanding many phenomena including econometrics, computer vision and even the universe itself. The coupling of tools from two other mathematical areas known as harmonic analysis and operator theory into geometry will further enhance and broaden the scope of its applications.”

Lashi Bandara, a PhD candidate at the Australian National University in Canberra will have the opportunity to spend twelve months at Stanford and the University of Missouri through a Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship. In the U.S., Lashi will further his current PhD studies in mathematics combining differential geometry and harmonic analysis. Lashi’s PhD research involves generalising the Kato Square Root problem to a new setting. The classical Kato Square Root problem was first conjectured by Tosio Kato from UC Berkeley in the 1960s. The problem was resolved in 2002. Lashi’s PhD supervisor, Alan McIntosh, was one of the six mathematicians to resolve the problem.

The combination of ideas from experts at the two host universities will help Lashi to develop new insights into his PhD research—Stanford University contains a large research group in geometric analysis and the University of Missouri has a prominent group of specialists in harmonic analysis.
This will also facilitate his contribution to the field of mathematics through the introduction of ideas from each of these institutions to each other.

Lashi has a BSc (First Class Honours) and BCompSc from Monash University in Victoria. He has received prizes and awards including the Pure Maths Prize: School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University, 2006, Honours Scholarship: School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University, 2006, and was on the Deans List Fellowship Award: Faculty of Science, Monash University, for three years. His other interests include deep sky astronomy, chasing solar eclipses, photographing wildlife, art, history and bushwalking.

The prestigious Fulbright program is the largest educational scholarship of its kind, created by U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright and the U.S. Government in 1946. Aimed at promoting mutual understanding through educational exchange, it operates between the U.S. and 155 countries. In Australia, the scholarships are funded by the Australian and U.S. Governments and corporate partners and administered by the Australian-American Fulbright Commission in Canberra. Lashi is one of 26 talented Australians to be recognised as a Fulbright Scholar in 2011.

Jennifer DeBerardinis Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionSmith College
Host InstitutionUniversity of Sydney, University of Melbourne
Award Name2011 Fulbright Postgraduate Scholar
DisciplineBiology, Philosophy, Smith College
Award Year2011

“For science to provide insight about the real world requires the belief that our best scientific theories capture the way nature actually operates.”

Ms Jennifer DeBerardinis, who has just graduated with a BA from Smith College, Massachusetts, has won a Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship to go to the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne to further her research into philosophy of science.

Ms DeBerardinis will extend a philosophical model that was developed in Australia to answer questions she has about how we come to understand the world through science. Her work will focus on a philosophical area called dialetheism, which is a view that suggests contradictions can be true. Dialetheism holds the hope of helping to explain how scientists can maintain contradictory theories without believing that the world is full of real contradictions.

“While we commonly think of science as an “either-or” discipline, in which evidence in the form of data points to one conclusion or another, but data rarely point us in one conclusive direction, and conflicting theories abound,” Jennifer said.

Through her research into microbes known as ciliates in the U.S., Jennifer found herself with a problem. Ciliates defy traditional wisdom in the field of genetics by not conforming to the inheritance patterns commonly understood by geneticists. Spurred by this challenge to traditional scientific wisdom, Jennifer became very interested in contradictory scientific theories and how they relate to our intuitive conceptions of true and false

“Given that scientific theories aim to uncover the way the world actually operates and some theories are contradictory, we are left to believe that the universe is an inconsistent place: a disheartening conclusion. Thankfully, dialetheism may be able to help us explain inconsistent theories without believing in an inconsistent world,” Jennifer said.

Jennifer has a BA in Biology and Philosophy from Smith College, Massachusetts. She has won various awards and prizes including a student fellowship with the National Association of Science Writers, an Amgen Scholarship, University of California San Francisco and a STRIDE Scholarship, Smith College. She has conducted research in evolutionary biology (Smith College), molecular biology (University of California San Francisco), and bioengineering (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). In addition to her studies, she has experience as a science journalist. In this capacity, she has written press releases about science research for the University of Massachusetts News Office and press releases for Smith College News Office, as well as writing for local newspapers. In her spare time she enjoys drawing, reading, and travelling.

Steven Limpert Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionArizona State University
Host InstitutionThe University of New South Wales
Award NameFulbright Alumni and Climate Change Postgraduate Scholarship
DisciplineElectrical Engineering
Award Year2012

“Because the expense of power from renewable energy technologies is a primary inhibitor to their greater use, research into ways to reduce the cost of power through improved device performance is of the utmost importance.”

Mr Steven Limpert, a recent graduate in electrical engineering from Arizona State University, is the 2012 Fulbright Postgraduate Alumni Scholar, and also is the inaugural winner of the 2012 Fulbright U.S. Climate Change Scholarship.

Through his Fulbright, Steven will spend a year at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), undertaking work towards a PhD at the UNSW School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering where he will conduct research in the area of high efficiency, hot carrier, and nanostructured solar cells.

“At UNSW, I will work experimentally to verify data I obtained from novel simulations of solar cells at the Arizona State University Solar Power Laboratory,” Steven said.

In the simulations he conducted at the ASU Solar Power Laboratory, Steven studied a variety of energy loss mechanisms in solar cells such as surface recombination and carrier thermalisation. Surface recombination occurs in a solar cell when an electron and a hole recombine at the perimeter of the crystal lattice and become no longer capable of providing their energy to a load. Carrier thermalisation is a process in which electrons and holes lose energy to heat, decreasing the energy which they are able to provide to a load.

“A large body of work exists describing the effects of recombination at the front, back and in the interior of solar cells, but the literature largely neglects the effect of recombination at the edges of solar cells. Previously, edge recombination may have been considered a negligible loss mechanism, but the results of my simulations showed that high edge recombination rates can have a large detrimental effect on the performance of certain types of solar cells,” Steven said.

A conclusion of the study was that if losses due to edge recombination are controlled, higher energy conversion efficiencies can be achieved.

“If higher energy conversion efficiencies are achieved, the same materials can provide greater power output, thus effectively reducing the price of the power obtained from the device.”

In addition to his BS in electrical engineering from Arizona State University, Steven has been the recipient of several scholarships and awards including a Travel Study Grant from the Circumnavigators Club Foundation and a Dean’s Fellowship from Arizona State University. He is also a part-time professional musician, and plays the trumpet. 

Stephen McAnearney Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionUniversity of Western Australia
Host InstitutionColumbia University
Award Name2011 Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship
DisciplineElectrical Engineering
Award Year2011

“Innovation and entrepreneurial drive within technology organizations has helped shape the world we live in. With a strong history of innovation and a continued commitment to this focus, the United States provides a positive environment in which to explore the elements necessary for successful and meaningful innovation. I hope to build on this experience and contribute to Australia’s leadership as an innovator in the biotech and healthcare industries.”

Stephen McAnearney, a recent graduate of the University of Western Australia has won a Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship to go to Columbia University in New York. Stephen is planning to undertake a Master’s degree in Management Science and Engineering focusing on entrepreneurship and innovation in high tech organizations, specifically within the healthcare and biotech industries.

“The program is designed to be broad based with the option to take courses in various departments including the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Business School, the School of International and Public Affairs and the Law School. This emphasizes a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to healthcare and technology innovation” Stephen said. Stephen hopes to explore the interaction between the healthcare industry and the emerging Web 2.0 technologies such as social and digital media organizations, cloud computing and high-speed internet services and the potential of these new technologies in improving clinical outcomes.

“Australia already has a history of innovation within the biotech industry and is now prioritizing the opportunities provided by the internet and other technologies at the Federal level. It is a crucial time to investigate the interaction between the healthcare industry and these technologies within the entrepreneurial context. This would help develop new products, services and organizations which provide meaningful and lasting improvements to patient outcomes and the wider community” Stephen said. Stephen has recently completed a BSc and BEng with First Class Honours at the University of Western Australia. He received various awards and scholarships including the Engineers Australia Sir Russell Dumas Medal for the top ranked final year student in the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics and the Convocation, UWA Graduates Association Prize for the most significant contribution to the Faculty. He also undertook a semester abroad at University College London and an internship at Harvard Medical School. While at UWA, he co-founded a student volunteer group, Engineering Happiness, dedicated to providing fun, science based programs for children in hospital and primary school students around Western Australia.

Dominick Ng Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionUniversity of Sydney
Host InstitutionUniversity of Sydney
Award NameUniversity of California, Berkeley
DisciplineComputing & Human Languages
Award Year2012

“The world is undergoing an information explosion, and many people struggle to find what they need amongst the noise. We need smarter tools to manage, search, and manipulate information – tools that can comprehend language as humans speak it.”

Mr Dominick Ng, a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, has won a Fulbright Scholarship to spend eight months at UC Berkeley furthering his research in computational natural language processing.

“We are drowning in data, and soon it will be practically impossible to manage our information without computational tools that can understand human language,” Dominick said.

“Accurately identifying the syntactic structure of language is vital: syntax tells us that “Alice loves Bob” is different to “Bob loves Alice”. Software tools called parsers are used to automatically identify this structure, but they make several unrealistic assumptions about language. The aim of my project is to make parsers read more like humans do, and dramatically improve their accuracy.”

Dominick said that state-of-the-art parsers are fully correct on less than half of the sentences they process, severely impairing their usefulness.

“One problem with parsers is that they consider sentences independently of one another, rather than using the context that a human would. When a new sentence is considered, the information gained from prior ones is discarded – even though this isn’t how humans read text. Through my Fulbright project I will develop a new approach to parsing that retains and uses this lost context,” Dominick said.

“This parser will better resemble the way humans interpret language, and overcome the accuracy problems that plague the field. The algorithms I will develop will have broad applicability across existing parsers, and lead to faster and more accurate information search.”

Dominick has a B.I.T. (Hons I) from the University of Sydney. His awards and prizes include the University Medal (2010); the University of Sydney Academic Merit Prize (2010); the Allan Bromley Prize for Best Honours Thesis (2010); the Google Australia Prize for Excellence in Computer Science (2009), the Capital Markets CRC High Achiever’s Scholarship (2009), and the G.S. Caird Scholarship in Computer Science (2008). In his spare time he enjoys reading, swimming, squash, computer programming and teaching, and amateur photography.

Kelly Tsang Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionMonash University
Host InstitutionMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Award Name2011 Fulbright Postgraduate Scholar in Science and Engineering sponsored by BHP Billiton
Award Year2011

“Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine hold the key to revolutionising treatments of injuries and disabling illnesses.”

Kelly Tsang, a PhD candidate supported by the CRC for Polymers and working across Monash University and CSIRO has won the 2011 Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship in Science and Engineering sponsored by BHP Billiton. The Fulbright Scholarship in Science and Engineering was established with BHP Billiton in 2000.

Through his Fulbright, Kelly will spend twelve months at leading US institutes including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Wellman Centre for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.  He aims to extend his PhD research in the area of tissue engineering, which combines materials science and engineering with stem cell technology with the aim of reconstructing biological tissue.

“In this field I am developing a three dimensional, synthetic platform that can be used to build up complex tissues from individual cells,” Kelly said. His work will use a special material that he has devised, a gel like substance that is able to be broken down by light (photo-degradable). “Recent studies have demonstrated that a number of de-cellularised tissues can be re-seeded with stem cells, which then grow into functional tissue again after re-transplantation. These studies suggest that it is also possible to construct synthetic scaffold materials which display appropriate signals and which, after seeding with suitable cells, can yield functional tissues.”

The use of photodegradable polymers is expected in particular to address the need for materials that allow the precise spatial and temporal direction of cells in three dimensions. “The Fulbright scholarship will grant me access to top tier laboratories, expertise and facilities to help demonstrate that these sophisticated photo-degradable hydrogel systems can be used to guide and control cells.”  He hopes to return to Australia with increased knowledge, contacts and to build long term collaboration in the area.

Kelly has a BSc/BEng (First Class Honours) from Monash University. He has been awarded 1st Prize and People’s choice award, 3 Minute Thesis Speaking Competition, Faculty of Engineering, Monash University; CRC for Polymers Prize, for best Australian final year Engineering Research Thesis in the field of polymers; Dean’s List Fellowship, Faculty of Science for three years, the Rotary Youth Leadership Award and the Doug Smith Memorial Award.  In his spare time he enjoys music/choral/song composition and performance, and looks forward to Broadway visits which will help inspire new compositions in his own musical.

The prestigious Fulbright program is the largest educational scholarship of its kind, created by U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright and the U.S. Government in 1946. Aimed at promoting mutual understanding through educational exchange, it operates between the U.S. and 155 countries. In Australia, the scholarships are funded by the Australian and U.S. Governments and corporate partners and administered by the Australian-American Fulbright Commission in Canberra. Kelly is one of 26 talented Australians to be recognised as a Fulbright Scholar in 2011.


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