Alumni Profiles

Professor Johan Wiklund PhD Distinguished Chair

Johan Wikilund
Home InstitutionWhitman School of Management, Syracuse University
Host InstitutionRMIT University
Award NameFulbright Distinguished Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Award Year2017

Johan is the Al Berg Chair and Professor of Entrepreneurship at Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University. His research interests include entrepreneurship and mental health as well as the entry, performance, and exit of entrepreneurial firms. He is considered a leading authority in entrepreneurship research with over 60 articles appearing in leading entrepreneurship and management journals and over 18,000 citations. He is incoming Editor-in-Chief for Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, and previously editor for Journal of Business Venturing and Small Business Economics. A prolific advisor of Ph.D. students, he received the Academy of Management Entrepreneurship Division Mentor Award in 2011.

While at RMIT, Johan will examine the link between symptoms of mental disorders and entrepreneurial practices and outcomes. More specifically, he will focus on ADHD, bipolar, and dyslexia symptoms on the one hand, and entrepreneurial orientation, leadership style, strategies, and success/failure on the other.

Dr Belinda Russon Professional Scholars

Dr Belinda Russon
Home InstitutionTranby National Indigenous Adult Education & Training
Host InstitutionThe Nelson A. Rockefeller Center, Dartmouth College
Award NameDr Belinda Russon Fulbright Professional Scholarship in Vocational Education & Training, Sponsored by the Australian Government, Department of Education & Training
Award Year2017

Belinda is a passionate adult education activist and is the CEO of Australia’s oldest indigenous education provider, Tranby.

Belinda’s Fulbright Professional Scholarship in Vocational Education and Training (VET) will examine the positive emotional, cultural and social factors associated with Indigenous learners in the VET sector, which contribute to resilience, self-motivation and academic success. Belinda will collaborate with Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and will evaluate the proven success of U.S. College leadership and mentoring programs. Findings from her research, will be used to engage and retain indigenous students across the Australian VET sector leading to higher graduation rates. Belinda seeks to promote the positive benefits of VET education and the inarguable impact that the acquisition of job-related and technical skills have on the lives of Indigenous learners and their communities. Her Fulbright Scholarship is a means to start a dialogue on the value of adult education and to create further opportunities for Indigenous adults in Australia.

Renxun Chen Postdoctoral Scholars

Home InstitutionThe University of New South Wales
Host InstitutionRutgers University
Award NamePostdoctoral Scholarship
DisciplineChemistry (Surface Chemistry)
Award Year2015

Renxun obtained his bachelor degree in Nanotechnology with honours from the University of New South Wales. He continued at UNSW where he completed his PhD under the supervision of Prof Naresh Kumar and Prof Mark Willcox with the support of the National Health and Medical Research Council Dora Lush Postgraduate Scholarship.  In his current role as a postdoctoral fellow as well as in his PhD, Renxun has been working in a cross-disciplinary field encompassing chemistry, material science and microbiology, to develop new antimicrobial coatings to prevent infections on medical devices and implants using novel antimicrobials. His research specifically focuses on the development of antimicrobial chemical coatings on biomaterial surfaces for biomedical devices and implants. The use of biomedical devices and implants such as catheters, stents and contact lenses has resulted in enormous improvements in the quality of life and patient survival rates. However, the development of infection on these devices and implants results in high patient morbidity and mortality, as well as enormous associated medical costs to the community. It was estimated that more than 50% of hospital-acquired infections are biomaterial related. By grafting antimicrobial agents such as novel antimicrobial peptides (synthetic peptide “melimine” and its analogues) and quorum sensing inhibitors such as dihydropyrrolones (DHPs), Renxun has shown that biomaterial infections can be prevented and/or treated. Melimine and DHPs are both Australian inventions and are being developed by Prof Kumar and Prof Willcox in UNSW. These new antimicrobials have unique proposed mechanisms of action which does not readily induce resistance in microbes. This is a significant advantage in their future development.

The results from these projects have been published in high impact journals in the field such as Biomaterials, Biofouling and Acta Biomaterialia. The potent ability of tethered melimine to prevent microbial adhesion and colonisation on biomaterial surfaces were demonstrated. Furthermore, the structure-activity relationship for effective tethering of antimicrobial peptides was found, whereby the cationic portion of antimicrobial peptides has to be exposed to the bacteria for optimal activity. Renxun also demonstrated the link between attachment chemistry, and final activity for peptide-coated surfaces. The significance of these papers is demonstrated by the 28 citations so far. Furthermore, Renxun also demonstrated the use of “click” chemistry to covalently attach DHPs, quorums sensing inhibitors, which acts as an antimicrobial without killing bacteria, onto surfaces. He demonstrated this unique mechanism of action through the use of fluorescence staining and GFP-mutants strains of bacteria.

Building on the work of Prof Kathryn Uhrich’s group at Rutgers University, Renxun’s Fulbright project aims to develop a new dual action drug-releasing polymer that not only prevents the increasingly hard-to-treat microbial infections, but also promotes wound healing and reduces inflammatory response. It is envisaged that this new therapy will become the gold-standard for infection prevention and wound management and revolutionise the biomedical devices industry. The potential outcome of this project is significant for the community as bacterial infection is a growing problem that is worsening due to lack of new treatments and emerging antibiotic resistance.

Andrea Gordon Postdoctoral Scholars

Home InstitutionUniversity of South Australia
Host InstitutionJohns Hopkins University
Award NamePostdoctoral Scholarship
DisciplineMedical Sciences – Opioid maintenance during pregnancy
Award Year2013

“Dependence on illicit opioids, such as heroin, during pregnancy has increased 5-fold since 2000. Consequently associated health care costs have also risen.”

Dr Andrea Gordon, Research Fellow at the University of South Australia has won a Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholarship to go to John Hopkins University for nine months. Through her scholarship she will further her research into treatment options using methadone and buprenorphine for pregnant women who are dependent on opioids.

“My initial interest to commence research in the area of substance use was sparked during my undergraduate science degree when the mechanism of how somebody dies from a heroin overdose was explained, and for the first time I could directly relate science to problems faced in society. I then became particularly interested in the additional specific issues that women and their potential offspring in this population face,” Andrea said.

“In the US, pregnant substance using women and their infants receive care during and after pregnancy through comprehensive multidisciplinary treatment facilities shown to reduce health care cost and improve outcomes. Australia does not currently have such facilities,” Andrea said.

“By attending the Centre for Addiction and Pregnancy in Baltimore to observe the operations of a multidisciplinary treatment facility to manage substance use in pregnancy, this will improve my knowledge to aid in establishing such critically needed facilities in Australia.”

Andrea has a BSc and a PhD in medical sciences from the University of Adelaide. She has also conducted the only national, and one of few international, clinical trials prospectively assessing methadone and buprenorphine use for dependence on illicit opioids, such as heroin, during pregnancy. She has also received several grants and scholarships and has published widely. Her interests include scuba diving (particularly cave diving), exercising (gym, netball, running, mountain biking, trail walking), reading and cooking.

Dr Simon Graham Postdoctoral Scholars

Home InstitutionThe University of Melbourne
Host InstitutionCenter for HIV Educational Studies & Training (CHEST), Hunter College of the City University of New York
Award NameFulbright Indigenous Postdoctoral Scholarship
DisciplinePublic Health
Award Year2016

Simon is a McKenzie postdoctoral fellow and Poche associate at the University of Melbourne. In 2008, he completed a Master of Applied Epidemiology at the Australian National University and in 2014, a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in epidemiology and sexually transmissible infections from the University of New South Wales.

His PhD evaluated a clinical sexual health and viral hepatitis intervention with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in New South Wales known as SHIMMER. The intervention tripled sexual health and hepatitis testing, improved the management of these infections and established a systematic approach to testing, treatment and management. This included identifying asymptomatic infections and providing prompt treatment or management to reduce the incidence of adverse outcomes from these infections.

For his Fulbright postdoctoral fellowship, Simon will be based at the Center for HIV Educational Studies & Training (CHEST) at Hunter College, City University of New York. His research will focus on developing community based sexual health strategies that could be used with clinic based approaches to decrease rates of sexually transmissible infections particularly for young people. The research aims to use social media and mobile phone applications to support young people to take control of their health and to make informed sexual health decisions that will lower their risk of infection.

Previously, Simon spent a number of years in Thailand and Vietnam working for non-government organizations. His role included, training large multinational company employees about the risks of sexual infections and support for employees living with HIV. He worked with executive board members to improve the human resources policies relating to employment and job promotion for people living with HIV. This role also involved assisting families affected by HIV in poor areas of Bangkok to access medical services and treatment.

Simon aims to broaden his approaches to sexual health and young people through working with American colleagues who have developed innovative ways to engage with and empower young people from a range of cultural backgrounds to decrease their risk of sexually transmissible infections.

Danielle Moreau Postdoctoral Scholars

Home InstitutionUniversity of Adelaide
Host InstitutionVirginia Polytechnic Institute
Award NameSouth Australia State Postdoctoral Scholarship
DisciplineEngineering – Mechanical Engineering
Award Year2013

“Our modern, noisy, world is the most advanced in history. Yet, the technologies that let us thrive are also ruining our enjoyment of life itself.”

Dr Danielle Moreau, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Adelaide is this year’s Fulbright South Australia Scholar, sponsored by the South Australian Government and the universities in the state. Through her Fulbright, Danielle will go to Virginia Polytechnic Institute for three months to study airfoil noise generation.

“A near ubiquitous component in modern technology responsible for unwanted noise is the airfoil. It is one of engineering’s great challenges to understand and control airfoil noise for the betterment of society,” Danielle said.

Airfoil noise is produced when fluid flow interacts with the airfoil (wing, rotor blade or fin) surface and this is the major source of noise for fans, aircraft, wind turbines and submarines. It is one of engineering’s great challenges to understand and control the noise from airfoils and airfoil-like shapes.

“I will investigate, via testing in the world-class aeroacoustic facilities at Virginia Tech, how fluid flow interacts with an airfoil to produce sound. By connecting the details of airfoil flow to noise generation, this project will facilitate the development of quiet aircraft, wind turbines and submarines, reducing noise in our communities and improving human health and quality of life.”

Danielle has BEng and a PhD from the University of Adelaide. She has won the University Doctoral Research Medal, PhD thesis commendation from the Dean of Graduate Studies and been invited to present seminars at Stanford University and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado. Her interests include travel, reading and the arts.

Dr Brendan Quinn Postdoctoral Scholars

Home InstitutionBurnet Institute and Monash University
Host InstitutionCenter for Behavioral & Addiction Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
Award NameFulbright Postdoctoral Scholarship
DisciplinePublic Health (Epidemiology)
Award Year2016

Brendan is an epidemiologist based within the Burnet Institute’s Centre for Population Health in Melbourne, Australia. He is a public health specialist and continues to augment his knowledge and skills in the area of licit and illicit drug trends, justice health issues and infectious diseases in Australia and internationally via work on multidisciplinary research projects. Specifically, following two years with Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre’s Epidemiology department (2006-2008), in 2010 he established Melbourne’s first community-recruited prospective cohort of methamphetamine users for his primary PhD project (completed with Monash University’s Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine). This study investigated the epidemiology of methamphetamine use in Melbourne and barriers and enablers to treatment utilisation among methamphetamine users. In 2015, Brendan was the primary supervisor of a Monash University Honours student who followed-up his PhD cohort of methamphetamine users. This makes it the longest prospective study of methamphetamine use conducted in Australia. Consequently, Dr Quinn is an emerging Australian authority on methamphetamine-related issues and continues to research and provide expert commentary on this area.

In recent years Brendan’s involvement in various projects, including consultancies for the World Health Organization, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Save the Children and United Nations Children’s Fund, has facilitated the expansion of his professional interests to areas such as HIV, viral hepatitis and gender-based violence. For example, in early 2015, Brendan assisted in designing baseline research to evaluate an intervention for increasing HIV testing and treatment uptake among marginalized, at-risk youth in Bandung, Indonesia, including men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, female sex workers and transgender individuals. He continues to collaborate on diverse projects with Australian and international researchers.

The incidence of methamphetamine-related harms affecting Australian individuals, families and communities continues to rise. In consideration of this, Brendan will travel to the United States to learn from, and work alongside, Dr Stephen Shoptaw, a world-renowned researcher of methamphetamine and other substance use issues. Dr Shoptaw’s team at the Center for Behavioral & Addiction Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, is conducting innovative research on methamphetamine, including novel prevention and treatment responses, unlike any current studies in Australia. The experience will augment Brendan’s knowledge, skills and experience of researching drug and alcohol issues and countering related harms, to inform necessary translational studies and evidence-based policy and preventative measures for defining and appropriately addressing the significant issue of methamphetamine use in Australia.

Hyab Mehari Abraha Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionMonash University
Host InstitutionThe University of Chicago, Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy
Award NameFulbright Future Scholarship Funded by The Kinghorn Foundation
DisciplineBiomedical Science
Award Year2019

Hyab is undertaking a PhD at the Moving Morphology and Functional Mechanics Laboratory, led by Dr Olga Panagiotopoulou at Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute. Hyab’s project examines the effects of lower jaw fracture repair techniques on the mechanics of chewing. Lower jaw (mandibular) fractures account for a significant proportion of overall facial injuries, both in Australia and worldwide. To successfully optimize mandibular fixations, and to minimize postoperative complications, surgeons require a clear understanding of how these interventions affect the biomechanics of the jaw. To date, this area remains under-researched, and it represents a considerable opportunity for developing data-driven, scientifically validated techniques that lead to more positive patient outcomes.

During her Fulbright Fellowship, Hyab will be working at the Ross Lab, in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago. Using Professor Ross’ world-renowned expertise and his lab’s excellent facilities, Hyab will analyse the 3D motion and strain dynamics of the mandible during chewing. The data she collects will be used to create validated, subject-specific computer models that can then be used to analyse the effects of surgical interventions on jaw biomechanics. Her findings will be a key milestone in refining our understanding of surgical treatment for jaw fracture and may lead to significant improvements in terms of both treatment cost-effectiveness and patient outcomes.

Hannah Fluhler Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionBall State University 
Host InstitutionGenome Stability Unit, St. Vincent’s Institute for Medical Research
Award NameFulbright Future Scholarship (Funded by the Kinghorn Foundation)
DisciplineBiomedical Science
Award Year2020

Hannah is a registered nurse who is passionate about providing the best care to the most vulnerable members of our communities. Previous clinical research experience and her time spent providing respite care for children with a rare, genetic blood disorder called Fanconi anemia (FA) led to her interest in the vital medical research that gives people with FA longer lives, faster diagnoses, and improved treatment methods. FA is a rare disorder that leads to loss of vital blood cells and a predisposition to develop cancers decades earlier than the general population.  

Hannah will spend her postgraduate Fulbright Scholarship in the Genome Stability Unit at St. Vincent’s Institute for Medical Research, screening for new detection tools that can identify a marker of FA. Findings will be used to develop a quick diagnostic blood test, that could be used in FA but also for assessing efficacy of certain treatments in all types of cancer. 

Amanda Franklin Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionUniversity of Melbourne
Host InstitutionTufts University
Award NameFulbright Postgraduate Scholarship
Award Year2012

“Throughout the animal kingdom, there are many fascinating and intriguing animal behaviours. The most enthralling are those behaviours involved in sexual reproduction.”

Ms Amanda Franklin, a recent Masters graduate in science from the University of Melbourne, has been awarded one of the coveted International Fulbright Science and Technology Awards. These accolades are the most prestigious and valuable awards offered by the U.S. Government. The IS&T Awards cover full tuition, stipend and living expenses for three years to undertake a PhD in the U.S. They are offered to only about 40 people worldwide.

Through her Fulbright Amanda will undertake a PhD in animal behavior, in particular communication and reproductive behaviors in mantis shrimp.

“Visual displays during courtship and male-male competition are common and can include elaborate courtship displays by male birds of paradise to aggressive, intimidating displays by frill-necked lizards. The individuals performing these behaviours do so in an attempt to maximise their fecundity and pass on their genes to the next generation,” Amanda said.

“My ideal career would be to become a successful animal behaviour researcher. After completing a PhD, I would like to begin a Post Doctorate. I am very interested in the evolution of mating strategies and how this can relate to endangered species survival and also to sustainable fishing practices.”.

She said that mantis shrimp are ideal for her study because they have the most complex visual system in the animal kingdom. During courtship and aggressive displays, they appear to flash colored patches on their bodies to one another. However, even though mantis shrimp have such incredible eyesight, there is surprisingly little research into these interactions and the role of visual signals.

Amanda has MSc in Animal Behaviour from The University of Melbourne and a BSc in Zoology/Marine Biology from the University of Melbourne. She has won awards and prizes including a National Master of Science Scholarship and student awards from the Victorian Marine Science Consortium and Australasian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour. She also has a Certificate III in Tourism Guiding from the William Angliss Institute of TAFE. She was a presenter on a community radio station’s (3CR) marine radio program, “Out of the Blue” and has been a volunteer with the Harnas Wildlife Foundation volunteer program in Namibia, Africa. In her spare time she enjoys snorkelling, travelling, photography and learning French.


Matthew Norris Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionFlinders University
Host InstitutionPrinceton University
Award NamePostgraduate Scholarship (WG Walker)
Award Year2013

“There is an ongoing need to discover new pharmaceutical agents, medicines and vaccines to combat the ever increasing number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and cancerous cell lines that threaten human health on a global scale.”

Mr Matthew D. Norris, a PhD candidate at Flinders University in Adelaide, is the 2013 winner of the Fulbright Australian Alumni (WG Walker) Scholarship which is funded through donations by Fulbright Alumni and is awarded to the highest ranked Postgraduate Scholar each year. Through his Scholarship, Matthew will go to Princeton University for 12 months to further his research into the synthetic preparation of rare and highly complex natural medicines.

“The need for new pharmaceutical agents has driven the chemical search to remote biological ecosystems with a rich diversity of organisms that have been found to produce a plethora of highly complex and unique organic (carbon-based) molecules,” Matthew said.

“Interestingly, many of these naturally occurring compounds, often with bizarre and somewhat mysterious structures, show promising attributes as potent antibacterial and anticancer medicines.”

These natural products are only produced in trace quantities and hence, their preparation by synthetic means is required to enable further research and development in the pharmaceutical industry, Matthew says.

“Owing to the unusual architecture of many natural drug candidates, their construction is typically too difficult, ineffective or costly using methods currently established in modern synthetic chemistry. The primary motivation of my research is to develop new methods of synthesis in which chemists can rapidly access highly complex structures in a cost-effective manner from simple, cheap starting materials.”

Matthew has a BSc (Hons) Chemistry from Flinders University. Matthew was the recipient of the MF & MH Joyner Scholarship in Science, Flinders University Medal, The Malcolm Thompson Prize for Research in Organic Chemistry, Royal Australian Chemical Institute SA Branch Prize and The Max Clark Prize in Science and Engineering. Outside of his research he enjoys university teaching and playing the guitar.

Joanna Vincent Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionUniversity of Western Australia
Host InstitutionYale University
Award NameWestern Australia State Postgraduate Scholarship
Award Year2014

“I am motivated and committed to making a beneficial difference to U.S. and Australian employment law frameworks.”

Joanna Vincent is a Law and Arts Honours graduate from the University of Western Australia and associate to Chief Justice French AC of the High Court of Australia. She has a strong interest in employment and constitutional law, piqued through her work at the Employment Law Centre of WA and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WA).

Joanna will study a Master of Laws at Yale University from August 2014 where she will focus on Western Australia’s anti-discrimination laws, and how state and federal governments can work more effectively to address workplace discrimination.

“The United States experience is particularly instructive in Australia, due to the shared feature of federalism and vision to combat discrimination. I am motivated and committed to making a beneficial difference to U.S. and Australian employment law frameworks, I aspire to contribute to the law through comparative research and instill in law students an excitement and eagerness to explore the social justice contribution that law can make.”

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