Alumni Profiles

Dr Rob DeSalle Distinguished Chair

Home InstitutionAmerican Museum of Natural History
Host InstitutionAustralian National University
Award NameFulbright 70th Anniversary Distinguished Chair
DisciplineEvolutionary Biology
Award Year2019

Dr. DeSalle works in molecular systematics, microbial evolution, and genomics. His current research concerns the development of bioinformatic tools to handle large-scale genomics problems using phylogenetic systematic approaches. Dr. DeSalle has worked closely with colleagues from Cold Spring Harbor Labs, New York University, and the New York Botanical Garden on seed plant genomics and development of tools to establish gene family membership on a genome- wide scale. His group also focuses on microbial genomics, taxonomy, and systematics. In particular, they approach tree-of-life questions concerning microbial life using whole genome information. He also dabbles in Drosophila systematics. Dr DeSalle will spend the fellowship working with ANU scientists to develop theory to analyze microbial communities and microbial relationships. He will also be working with Questacon developing exhibition contact related to microbial life on this planet

Malcolm Feeley Distinguished Chair

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

“Over the past thirty years, the movement for privatisation of prisons has made substantial gains in the US, Great Britain, and Australia. As of 2010, over thirty states in the US have at least one private prison and many more privately operated jails; Great Britain has at least eleven private prisons; and Australia has at least seven.”

Professor Malcolm Feeley, Professor in law in the University of California, Berkeley has been awarded one of two Fulbright Flinders University Distinguished Chairs in American Political Science. Malcolm will come to Australia for five months to undertake research into privatisation in the criminal justice system in Australia as part of a comparative study he is undertaking of the subject in the US, England and Australia.

“I am engaged in a policy history of the role of entrepreneurs in developing the modern criminal justice system in the United States, England, and Australia,” Malcolm said.

“I am particularly interested in the role of private contractors in operating prisons and private police. I have examined private contractors in supplying police services and running jails and prisons in the United States (and to a lesser extent England and the Continent), and the next obvious place to look is Australia—New South Wales is reported to have the highest proportion of prison inmates held in private prisons than any other single jurisdiction in the world.”

Malcolm has a BA in Political Science and English from Austin College Texas; an MA in Political Science and Sociology of Law from the University of Minnesota; and a PhD in Political Science, University of Minnesota. He has an eminent teaching career and has published widely. He has received many awards including being appointed as a Russell Sage Foundation Fellow; and the Silver Gavel Award, American Bar Association. He has had a term as President American Law and Society Association. He has also been awarded numerous fellowships and grants.

Howard Schweber Distinguished Chair

Home InstitutionUniversity of Winconsin-Madison
Host InstitutionFlinders University
Award Name2011 Fulbright Flinders University Distinguished Chair in American Political Science
DisciplinePolitical Science
Award Year2011

“The way people conceive of their government as representative speaks volumes about the way people conceive of themselves as democratic citizens and the working understandings of democracy that inform popular understandings of governmental legitimacy.”

Howard Schweber, a Professor with the Department of Political Science and Legal Studies at the University of Winconsin-Madison is the inaugural Fulbright Flinders University Distinguished Chair. The Australian Distinguished Chair in American Political Science was established in 2005, and is hosted in 2011-2015 by Flinders University.

Through his Fulbright, Professor Schweber will spend five months at Flinders University examining the ways in which foundational concepts of representative government have shaped the development of Australian constitutional and political culture.

Professor Schweber’s past research has focused on the conceptual underpinnings of American constitutionalism, and liberal democracy in general, and he has written books on the subject.

“There is a considerable body of work that compares different constitutional ideas across political cultures; my hope is to further that comparative understanding by drawing connections to differences in underlying conceptions of a basic democratic concept,” Professor Schweber said.

Professor Schweber said that Australia provides an exceptionally interesting case for comparative treatment because of its history of maintaining a constitutional system rooted in a combination of elements of British and American systems.

Professor Schweber is eager to take advantage of the archival resources, attitudinal information, and collaborative efforts that being in Australia will make possible. At the end of his project he plans to produce published work analysing the answers to these inquiries in comparative perspective.

Howard Schweber has a BA in Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania, a JD from the University of Washington, an MS in History from the University of Chicago, and a PhD in Government from Cornell University. His forthcoming book is his fourth (others are studies of American legal history and the First Amendment). He will be accompanied in Australia by his wife and daughter, while another son will remain in the United States to pursue graduate studies.

Professor Patricia Aufderheide Senior Scholars

Home InstitutionAmerican University
Host InstitutionQueensland University of Technology (QUT)
Award NameFulbright Senior Scholarship
DisciplineCommunication in Communication Policy
Award Year2016

Patricia Aufderheide is University Professor in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C. She is the co-author with Peter Jaszi of Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright (University of Chicago Press, July 2011), and author of, among others, Documentary Film: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2007), The Daily Planet (University of Minnesota Press, 2000), and of Communications Policy in the Public Interest (Guilford Press, 1999). She has been a John Simon Guggenheim fellow and has served as a juror at the Sundance Film Festival among others.

She has received numerous journalism and scholarly awards, including the Preservation and Scholarship award in 2006 from the International Documentary Association, a career achievement award in 2008 from the International Digital Media and Arts Association, the Woman of Vision Award from Women in Film and Video (DC) in 2010 and the George Stoney Documentary Award from the University Film and Video Association in 2015. Aufderheide serves on the board of directors of Kartemquin Films, a leading independent social documentary production company, and on the editorial boards of a variety of publications, including Communication Law and Policy and In These Times newspaper. She serves on the board of directors of the Independent Television Service, a public TV service that produces innovative television programming for underserved audiences.

During her Fulbright program, Aufderheide hopes to share knowledge and learn from Australian scholars, media makers, industry leaders, arts management executives, and policy makers. She is interested particularly in the intersection of copyright understanding and creative decision-making in the arts; in the social impact of film and video; and in media ethics. Australian experience in making media under today’s copyright policies is of great value in understanding global challenges in copyright reform.

Dr Joshua S. Mylne Professional Scholars

Josh Mylne
Home InstitutionThe University of Western Australia (UWA)
Host InstitutionDept. of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology & Biophysics, BioTechnology Institute, University of Minnesota
Award NameFulbright Professional Scholarship
Award Year2018

Joshua is a plant biochemist who has worked broadly in genetic engineering (PhD Botany, University of Queensland 2002), developmental genetics and epigenetics at the John Innes Centre in the UK (2001-2005) and biochemistry at the IMB, a biomedical institute at UQ (2006-2012). He held successive ARC QEII and Future Fellowships (2008-2016), was a Goldacre medal winner and Feinberg Foundation Visiting Fellow to the Weizmann. His lab, founded in 2013 at UWA, studies protein evolution, biosynthesis and has embarked on a new program in herbicide discovery. He is now tenured in the School of Molecular Sciences where the majors of genetics, chemistry and biochemistry are housed: the ideal environment for plant chemical biology.

Joshua will acquire skills to understand plant enzymes and their catalysis at the atomic level to improve biotechnological tools and develop much needed
new herbicides.

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.

Michelle Evans Postdoctoral Scholars

Home InstitutionMelbourne Business School
Host InstitutionUniversity of California, University of Alaska, University of Hawai’i at Manoa
Award NamePostdoctoral Indigenous Scholarship (sponsored by the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education)
DisciplineBusiness Administration – Indigenous Leadership & Arts
Award Year2013

“Indigenous arts leadership is not a list of individual qualities. We cannot understand what individual leaders do without deeply understanding the context – social, cultural, political, historical, economic – of the work and mapping the spaces or ‘territories’ across which they are trying to have impact.”

Dr. Michelle Evans, Research Fellow at the Melbourne Business School has won the Fulbright Indigenous Scholarship sponsored by Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE) to go to the University of Alaska, University of California and University of Hawaii over a six-month period. Through her scholarship she will replicate her doctoral research, a pioneering study that investigated the phenomenon of Indigenous leadership in the arts.

Her research will investigate whether the practices and experiences of First Alaskans, Native American and Native Hawaiian artists and arts manager’s overlap with the ‘territories of Indigenous arts leadership’ identified in her Australian based research.

“I will explore the experiences of North American Indigenous artists, arts managers and leaders to reveal the distinctive contexts across which they work and the practices they use to provide leadership to their communities, other artists and the wider American community,” Michelle said.

“On the basis of in-depth interviews with 30 diverse Indigenous American artists and leaders (Native Hawaiian, Native Americans and First Alaskans), the research aims to compare and contrast the leadership contexts and practices Indigenous Americans traverse and employ to provide leadership, often in the face of ongoing institutionalised racism.”

Michelle has Bachelor of Comm, Charles Sturt University; Grad Dip and MCA, The University of Melbourne; and a Ph.D. in Management, Melbourne Business School. Michelle won the inaugural University of Melbourne Diversity and Inclusion Award for her individual leadership and has been appointed Visiting Fellow to the University of Victoria (Canada) 2012/3. ); and is directing the new MURRA Aboriginal Business Master Class program, bringing Aboriginal business owners into the Melbourne Business School. Michelle was the founding head of the Wilin Centre at the Victorian College of the Arts 2003-2010 where she was awarded the Wurreker Award for Best Indigenous Centre at a Higher Education Institution 2007. She has previously been a finalist in the Women Chiefs of Enterprise International Business Awards 2004. Her interests include Indigenous Australian contemporary art, reading and walking her two dogs, Lewis and Pearl.

Tune in to YouTube and hear all about Michelle Evans. We thank SBS’s Living Black program for permission to link to this video.

Daniel Viete Postdoctoral Scholars

Home InstitutionMonash University
Host InstitutionUniversity of California – Santa Barbara
Award NameVictoria State Postdoctoral Scholarship
DisciplineGeology – Tectonics
Award Year2013

“In recent years, large offshore earthquakes have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths. The availability of sophisticated techniques to identify the risk of a large earthquake could have significantly reduced the death toll in each case.”

Dr Daniel Viete, a postdoctoral fellow at Monash University is the winner of the 2013 Fulbright Victoria Scholarship, sponsored by the Victorian Government and Victorian universities. Daniel will go to the University of California – Santa Barbara to study geology, and in particular the geology of deep earthquakes. His work will focus on ‘subduction zones’, which occur at tectonically-active ocean–continent boundaries, and provide a location for most of the world’s large earthquakes.

“Large earthquakes that occur at depth within subduction zones have been responsible for hundreds of thousands of human deaths. However, subduction zones remain one of the most poorly understood components of the Earth system,” Daniel said.

Daniel’s project will test the hypothesis that metamorphism (changes in the minerals that comprise a rock) can result from modifications in temperature and pressure conditions triggered by large earthquakes.

“Such earthquake-induced metamorphism would cause changes in the physical properties of the ruptured rocks, leaving a signature of earthquake activity that could be identified using remote geophysical methods. Confirmation of the hypothesis could assist development of new geophysical tools for assessment of earthquake risk,” Daniel said.

Daniel’s study will contribute to understanding of the links between earthquake activity and metamorphism in subduction zones.

“Knowledge of these links can be used to inform the development of methods to detect regions of subducted slabs (on the basis of their geophysical properties) that may present a threat to human society from large earthquakes.”

Daniel has BSc and BEng from Monash University and a PhD from ANU. He has won awards including a Young Author of the Year Award, from Journal of the Geological Society, and Outstanding Student Paper Award, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco. His interests include playing baseball and golf, studying the natural world and volunteering with community and environmental organizations.

Natasha Wiggins Postdoctoral Scholars

Home InstitutionUniversity of Tasmania
Host InstitutionUniversity of Tasmania
Award NameBoise State University, Idaho and Washington State University
DisciplineBiological Sciences
Award Year2011

“Sustainable wildlife management strategies in Tasmania need to be based on ecological and behavioural data regarding the interactive processes that involve priority species. This will help us to understand the likely responses of individuals and groups to management efforts.”

Dr Natasha Wiggins, a postdoctoral researcher with the University of Tasmania, is the winner of the 2011 Fulbright Tasmania Scholarship. This scholarship is sponsored by the Tasmanian government and the University of Tasmania and is awarded to an applicant to undertake research in the United States on a topic or issue of importance to the state.

Through her Fulbright, Natasha will investigate the relationship between the pygmy rabbit and its key food source, sagebrush. Her research aims to advance our understanding of how mammalian herbivores, such as the pygmy rabbit, select their food.

“The proposed research will offer crucial insights into the eucalypt herbivore systems in Australia and expand our knowledge of what factors drive herbivore feeding decisions,” Natasha said. “This information is of particular importance in areas where herbivores and humans are directly competing for the same resources.” “Diet availability is considered the overarching driver of herbivore foraging decisions, but recent advances in plant-herbivore ecology suggest that diet quality should also be factored into foraging decisions.”

Natasha will investigate the influence of diet quality, availability and temperature-dependent tolerance to plant chemistry between pygmy rabbits and sagebrush. Her research will provide important insights into how herbivores respond to seasonal differences in diet quality and availability, and the influence that temperature may play in altering herbivore responses to plant chemistry. Natasha’s research will provide a greater insight into eucalypt-herbivore systems in Australia.

Natasha has a BSc and a PhD (Biological Sciences) from the University of Tasmania. She has also received awards and funding including the Winifred Violet Scott Trust; Research funding for sustainable wildlife management from the TCFA: Alternatives to 1080 Program; and the Claudio Alcorso Foundation Environment Prize. In her spare time she enjoys bush walking and hiking, and community involvement in programs which promote wildlife education.

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. Natasha is one of 26 talented Australians to be recognised as a Fulbright Scholar in 2011.


Lily van Eeden Postgraduate Students

Lily van Eeden
Home InstitutionFaculty of Science, The University of Sydney
Host InstitutionThe University of Washington
Award NameFulbright New South Wales Scholarship
DisciplineHuman-Wildlife Conflict
Award Year2018

Lily investigates the human dimensions of wildlife management. For her PhD research, she focuses on the conflict between livestock production and one of Australia’s largest predators, the dingo. The Australian agriculture industry invests millions of dollars annually in dingo control, despite little evidence that current management methods are effective at reducing livestock loss and limited understanding of the consequences of these practices for ecosystems. Lily seeks to discover what shapes our dingo management strategies and how they can be improved for the benefit of farmers and the environment.

For her Fulbright Scholarship, Lily will collaborate with researchers in the University of Washington’s Predator Ecology Lab. Her research there will compare the Australian and American contexts, providing an opportunity for Australia to learn from the experiences of ranchers who live alongside large predators including wolves, mountain lions, and bears.

Sadie Heckenberg Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionMonash University and University of South Australia
Host InstitutionUniversity of Hawai’i
Award NameIndigenous Postgraduate Scholarship
DisciplineArts (Indigenous Oral History)
Award Year2014

“I am truly excited to be able to study with some of the best minds in the Indigenous Oral History field.”

Sadie Heckenberg is currently undertaking a PhD specialising in Indigenous Oral History, including research undertaken at Monash University and the David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research at the University of South Australia. She will study at the University of Hawaii Manoa, Honolulu, from August 2014 at the Centre for Oral History.

This research aims to address the ever-growing need to protect Indigenous spoken cultural knowledge. By developing her knowledge of Indigenous epistemologies of the Pacific, she will in turn, build the depth and strength of research to bring back into the Wiradjuri community (NSW).

“I am truly excited to be able to study with some of the best minds in the Indigenous Oral History field. The Hawaiian knowledge systems have been nurtured and maintained by wise Eldership reflected not only through the achievements of Hawaiian academic research but in society itself.”

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.

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