Alumni Profiles

Burdett Loomis Distinguished Chair

Home InstitutionUniversity of Kansas
Host InstitutionFlinders University
Award NameFulbright-Flinders University Distinguished Chair in American Political Science (sponsored by Flinders University)
DisciplinePolitical Science
Award Year2012

“Whether in Washington, D.C., Brussels, or Canberra, lobbying has become a growth industry over the past 20-30 years. The lobbying communities of national capitals (and of many state/provincial ones, too) have grown larger and more varied, not only in the number of clients served but also in the variety of services offered.”

Professor Burdett Loomis, Professor with the Department of Political Science at the University of Kansas, has been awarded one of two Fulbright Flinders University Distinguished Chairs in American Political Science. Burdett will come to Flinders University in Adelaide for five months to work on a project researching lobbying and its impact in Australia, which will provide a basis for comparative work.

“My research project for the Fulbright Chair tenure will first seek to understand the overall scope and nature of the Australian lobbying industry; this will include how the national government and the individual states/territories seek to regulate lobbying. The second, related research strand will address how lobbying affects agendas and policy outcomes,” Burdett said.

“President Obama has attacked the Washington lobbyists, seeking to place limitations on their interactions with government and their recruitment to it. Still, even in the United States, where this growth first emerged and has developed in the most sophisticated ways, we do not completely understand the scope of lobbying, to say nothing of its manifestations and impacts.”

“I will use a multi-dimensional approach (available data, interviews, surveys) to construct a detailed picture of the Australian sector of organized interests and their attendant lobbying. The differences between the American separation-of-powers government and the Australian parliamentary system will likely yield notable differences in how groups and lobbyists are arrayed to affect public policies.”

Burdett has an MA and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has been a Hall Center for the Humanities Fellow; a Fulbright Senior Specialist; and has won a Kemper Foundation Teaching Award and been an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow. He has held many high-level administrative roles including being Director of Administrative Communication, Office of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius; and he has also taught politics and published extensively, with more than 30 books in various editions. He is a founding co-editor of the new journal, Interest Groups & Advocacy. His interests include research on legislatures and interest group, and he teaches a cours on politics and literature. In addition, Burdett has lectured widely for the U.S. State Deparment in Asia and South America, most recently in Indonesia in 2012.

Elsa B. Kania Senior Scholars

Elsa Babette Kania
Home InstitutionCenter for a New American Security
Host InstitutionAustralian Strategic Policy Institute
Award NameFulbright Specialist
DisciplineDefence Science and Technology
Award Year2017
Elsa B. Kania is an Adjunct Fellow with the Center for a New American Security’s Technology and National Security Program. She focuses on Chinese defense innovation in emerging technologies in support of the Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Initiative. Her research interests include Chinese military modernization, information warfare, and defense science and technology. Elsa is an independent analyst, consultant, and co-founder of the China Cyber and Intelligence Studies Institute (CCISI). She is also a 2018 Fulbright Specialist with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre. Elsa works in support of the China Aerospace Studies Institute (CASI) through its Associates Program, and she is a consulting analyst with Pointe Bello and a policy advisor for the non-profit Technology for Global Security. Elsa has been named an official “Mad Scientist” by the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command.
Elsa is a graduate of Harvard College (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), where her thesis on the evolution of the PLA’s strategic thinking on information warfare was awarded the James Gordon Bennett Prize. Her prior professional experience includes the Department of Defense, the Long Term Strategy Group, FireEye, Inc., and the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. While at Harvard, she worked as a research assistant at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Elsa was a Boren Scholar in Beijing, China, and she is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

Mari Ostendorf Senior Scholars

Home InstitutionUniversity of Washington
Host InstitutionMacquarie University
Award NameSenior Scholarship
Award Year2012

“As storage capacity and communication bandwidth increase, there is a rapid growth of spoken material available online, including videos as well as news broadcasts.”

Professor and Associate Dean of the Engineering Department at the University of Washington – Seattle, Mari Ostendorf, has won a Fulbright Senior Scholarship to spend eight months at Macquarie University working on language processing for electronic applications.

“Since automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology has improved substantially over the past decade, it is now possible to use ASR to transcribe and more easily access these ‘spoken documents,’” Mari said.

“With this growth comes a need for information management, applying language technology such as summarization, translation and information extraction to spoken documents as we do for text.”

“It is well known that human listeners leverage what we call prosodic cues to disambiguate spoken language. These include timing, pitch and energy modulation related to emphasis and segmentation. Prosodic cues are also known to be critically important to the quality of automatic speech synthesis systems and have long been part of such systems.”

Researchers still lack a good model of variation in prosodic features, where variation is due to both phonetic and phonological contexts as well as speaker, register and affect or emotion differences.

Mari’s research will build on an existing collaboration between herself and her host, Professor Mark Johnson. The project will address two technical challenges in integrating prosody and parsing: linking the continuously varying prosodic cues with symbolic syntactic cues via posteriors of symbolic prosodic events, and developing adaptive models that account for prosody/syntax variation as a function of register and fluency of speech.

Mari has a BS, MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. She has won various awards and prizes including an IEEE Hewlett-Packard/Harriett B. Rigas Award, being an Elected Fellow of IEEE and the International Speech Communication Association and a University of Washington (UW) College of Engineering Faculty Research Innovator Award. She is currently serving as the IEEE Signal Processing Society Vice President of Publications. Her research interests include dynamic statistical models of speech and language, computational models of prosody at the interface of speech and language, and social aspects of language.


Dr Wayne D Pennington Senior Scholars

Home InstitutionMichigan Technological University
Host InstitutionDepartment of Exploration Geophysics, Western Australia School of Mines, Curtin University
Award NameFulbright Scholar Award in Resources and Energy Funded by Curtin University
Award Year2019

Wayne Pennington is a Dean and Professor Emeritus and a Research Professor of Geophysical Engineering at Michigan Technological University.  His area of expertise is geophysics, particularly seismology as related to hazards and to oil and gas exploration and development.  His career has spanned academics, industry, and (for one year as a Jefferson Science Fellow) government service.  He has also served professional societies as the President of the American Geoscience Institute and as Vice President for the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. He retired from his position as Dean of Engineering in the summer of 2018, to spend time in research and international collaboration. Wayne will spend four months at Curtin refining geophysical methods of observing and quantifying the depletion of oil and gas fields and the filling of CO2-sequestration reservoirs, combining observations from existing sites with theoretical predictions and laboratory measurements.

Scott Stephens Senior Scholars

Home InstitutionUniversity of California – Berkeley
Host InstitutionUniversity of Western Australia
Award NameSenior Scholarship
DisciplineEnvironmental Science
Award Year2013

“Wildfires continue to cause great destruction in the US and Australia and changing climates will make a very serious situation worse. Whether it is the 2009 Black Saturday Fire in Victoria or the 2012 Whitewater Fire in New Mexico, wildfires continue to challenge natural resource managers, politicians, and the public.”

Prof Scott Stephens, Professor with the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at University of California—Berkeley has won a Fulbright Senior Scholarship to come to the University of Western Australia for six months. He will work on the mitigation of large bush or wildfires.

“For over a century fire has been thought of as an arch-enemy with billions of dollars expended to eliminate it,” Scott said. “This policy has not worked because even though 96-99% of all ignitions can be suppressed when they are very small, the fires that get away burn huge areas and can damage natural resources, structures, and kill people.”

Scott says that instead of trying to eliminate fire from landscapes where it is ecologically critical a more appropriate goal would be to learn how humans can live with fire.

“One place in the world that has attempted to follow such a strategy is southwestern (SW) Western Australia. In contrast to SW Western Australia, the US continues to focus on the elimination of fire in most areas even though several recent US federal policies (National Fire Plan, Ten Year Comprehensive Strategy, Healthy Forest Restoration Act) have all attempted to diversify fire management to get away from only fire suppression,” Scott said.

This area has one largest fire management programs in the world and the largest in a Mediterranean climate. His project will analyze key characteristics of this novel program to take the knowledge back to the U.S. to see if it could be adopted there. In addition he will assist in the teacing of a gradute fire ecology class at the University of Western Australia.

Scott has a BS in electrical engineering and an MS in Biomedical Engineering from the California State University, Sacramento and a PhD in fire science from UC Berkeley. He has delivered testimony before the US House of Representatives on fires and forest and water protection. He has also been presented with an Undergraduate Teaching Excellence award from the ESPM Department. In his free time he enjoys hiking, backpacking and rebuilding old vehicles including a World War II military jeep.

Professor Deborah Widiss Senior Scholars

Deborah Widiss
Home InstitutionMaurer School of Law, Indiana University
Host InstitutionCentre for Employment and Labour Relations Law, Melbourne Law School
Award NameFulbright Senior Scholarship
Award Year2017

Deborah is a Professor of Law and Ira C. Batman Faculty Fellow at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. Her recent research has focused on pregnancy discrimination, same-sex marriage, and the intersection between domestic violence and employment. Her work has appeared in leading law reviews, and she has received several awards for her scholarship. She has also been consulted as an expert on these subjects by numerous media outlets, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. More information on her professional background and links to her publications are available here.

As a Fulbright scholar, Deborah will be studying Australia’s support for workers who are also juggling family responsibilities. Her research will focus on Australia’s recently-enacted paid parental leave scheme and other legal supports, such as paid time off to care for family members and a right to request a flexible working schedule, that are unavailable in the United States. Deborah plans to use semi-structured interviews with stakeholders to learn about Australia’s legal reforms in this area and consider the lessons they may hold for policy makers and researchers in the United States.

Deborah will be traveling to Australia with her husband and two children. They are all really looking forward to the adventure.

Vinita Godinho Professional Scholars

Home InstitutionGood Shepherd Microfinance
Host InstitutionCenter for Financial Inclusion, Washington, DC
Award NameFulbright Professional Coral Sea Scholarship (Business/Industry)
DisciplineFinancial Services
Award Year2019

Vinita is the General Manager of Advisory Services at Good Shepherd Microfinance, Australia’s largest microfinance provider which aims to enable economic well-being for people on low incomes, especially women and girls. She will use her Fulbright Professional Coral Sea Scholarship to spend three months at the Center for Financial Inclusion in Washington DC, working with their researchers and partners to explore behaviourally-informed financial solutions for those on low incomes, in particular how to motivate families to save more and borrow less.

Vinita also plans to share her learnings about the unique challenges of financial services provision in remote Australia, particularly amongst Indigenous communities, and foster ongoing partnerships with both academics and practitioners. Her Fulbright Scholarship will therefore facilitate the ongoing sharing of best-practice approaches to financial inclusion and capability-building, between the United States and the Asia-Pacific region.

Dr Gwilym Croucher Postdoctoral Scholars

Dr Gwylim Croucher
Home InstitutionUniversity of Melbourne
Host InstitutionUniversity of California, Berkeley
Award NameFulbright Victoria Postdoctoral Scholarship
Award Year2017

Gwilym is Senior Lecturer in the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education and Principal Policy Adviser in the University of Melbourne’s Chancellery. While based at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley, Gwilym will examine an emerging dilemma for governments and universities in supporting research. University based research efforts are crucial to solving global challenges, from climate change to improving human health. Increasingly complex problems require long-term and multidisciplinary research approaches.  However, ensuring ongoing support and funds is a significant challenge for universities and governments.

Gwilym’s Fulbright project will engage policy makers and university leaders, as well as colleagues at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy and at UC Davis, to develop new options for system design, university strategy and government policy to help provide greater surety for research systems in California and Australia, and the outcomes they facilitate.

Timothy Blomfield Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionUniversity of Sydney
Host InstitutionHarvard University / Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Award NameFulbright Future Scholarship Funded by The Kinghorn Foundation
DisciplineBusiness / Public Policy 
Award Year2019

Studying economics at the University of Sydney, Tim became fascinated with the complexity of our global economic system and the two things that make it so exciting – humans and technology. Tim set out to understand our economy better as a macroeconomic forecaster at the Australian Treasury, before his curiosity for human psychology and neuroscience led him to a role with the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA) at the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet.

Tim published BETA’s work with energy consumers in the Behavioral Economics Guide 2018 and his research nudging consumers to make smarter energy decisions has sparked a passion for combining behavioural science and technology to solve some of the biggest challenges facing our global society. As a Fulbright Future Scholar, Tim will study a combined Masters of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and Masters of Business Administration at MIT Sloan. Tim’s focus will be on how companies and governments can work together to leverage new tech and a solid understanding of human behaviour to deal with some of the biggest risks to Australia’s future, like how we adapt to climate change and future-proof our workforce in the age of artificial intelligence.

Iain Henry Postgraduate Students

Iain Henry
Home InstitutionAustralian National University
Host InstitutionPrinceton University
Award NamePostgraduate Scholarship
DisciplineInternational Relations
Award Year2013

“Despite Australia’s close relationship with the United States, few Australians in the foreign policy and defence fields have studied America’s alliances in Asia under the supervision of American experts.”

Iain is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre.  His PhD dissertation examined how states assess the reliability of their allies, with a particular focus on America’s alliances in Asia. His research interests include Asian security, the Cold War in Asia, diplomatic history and Australian strategic policy.

In 2014, Iain was a visiting Fulbright Scholar at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Dr Giri Krishnan Postgraduate Students

Giri Krishnan
Home InstitutionDepartment of Otolaryngology, The University of Adelaide
Host InstitutionDepartment of Otolaryngology, Stanford University
Award NameFulbright South Australia Scholarship
DisciplineHead and Neck Surgery
Award Year2018

Giri is an Ear, Nose and Throat, Head and Neck Surgical trainee. He completed his medical degree at the University of Adelaide in 2013 and a Master of Clinical Science at the Joanna Briggs Institute in 2017. He is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Adelaide, as part of a surgeon-scientist training program, investigating the application of novel nanoparticles to advance diagnosis and treatment of patients with head and neck cancer.

As part of his Fulbright scholarship, Giri will work in the Rosenthal Laboratory at Stanford evaluating the use of advanced magnetic nanotracers for molecular imaging to identify microscopic metastatic cancer deposits in a mouse head and neck cancer xenograft model. He will also be involved in clinical trials studying the use of fluorescent probes for real-time optical imaging during head and neck surgery.

Athina Manakas Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionBiochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology Cluster, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, The University of Sydney
Host InstitutionDepartment of Immunology and Microbiology, The Scripps Research Institute, Florida
Award NameFulbright Future Scholarship Funded by The Kinghorn Foundation
Award Year2019

Athina is a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney. Her research involves antibody engineering to develop novel reagents to recruit a patient’s own immune system to specifically target and kill cancer cells.

A Fulbright Future Scholarship will allow Athina to work with Associate Professor Christoph Rader at the Scripps Research Institute to develop these novel engineered antibody derivatives against Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL). Athina’s project will involve the design and development of antibody derivatives to target CLL cells, and to test their ability to specifically kill cancerous cells. Through her Fulbright Scholarship, Athina will establish a collaboration between The Scripps Research Institute and The University of Sydney for the development of novel immunotherapeutics for cancer therapy. Athina will bring this expertise in antibody engineering and development back to her laboratory in Sydney.

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