Alumni Profiles

Ellen Douglas Senior Scholars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michelle Circelli Professional Scholars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vinay Rane Professional Scholars

Home InstitutionRoyal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital
Host InstitutionNew York State University
Award NameProfessional Scholarship
DisciplinePublic/Global Health (Obstetric Medicine)
Award Year2014

“Medicine has revealed to me just how similar all of us who occupy this small planet actually are.”

Dr Vinay S. Rane is a forensic physician, lawyer and obstetric doctor based in Queensland. He will study at the New York Department of Health, New York State University at Albany and the School of Public Health at Harvard University in 2014-15.

He will investigate the provision of obstetric services to disadvantaged women’s groups. He has completed concurrent degrees in medicine, surgery, forensic science, twin bachelor and masters law programs and a post graduate degree in Legal Ethics at Monash University before graduating with a Masters in Health Management from Griffith University.

He went on to gain fellowships with the Australian College Legal Medicine and the Faculty of Forensic Medicine with the Royal College of Physicians in London while completing a Churchill Fellowship in forensic medicine and women’s health.

“Medicine and especially obstetrics has revealed to me just how similar all of us who occupy this small planet actually are. We all have so much more in common, than that which divides us. Correspondingly, many of the current challenges facing health care delivery in Australia have already been felt by our American colleagues. By examining interventions that American centres have undertaken, we can improve health outcomes in Australia.”

William Feeney Postdoctoral Scholars

Home InstitutionThe University of Queensland
Host InstitutionUniversity of Delaware and University of California, Berkeley
Award NamePostdoctoral Scholarship
DisciplineEnvironmental Sciences (Evolutionary Biology)
Award Year2015

William Feeney is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland. He completed his PhD at the Australian National University, and held an Endeavour Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Cambridge. His research focuses on the ecology and evolution of competitive interactions between species, and how these interactions affect biological diversity. He will work with Dr Danielle Dixson at the School of Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology, from January 2016 to October 2016.

His research will focus on mutualistic interactions between coral reef fishes. In particular, he will investigate whether interspecies mutualisms predict resilience to a changing environment.

“While competitive interactions are relatively well studied, and tend to generate biological diversity, mutualistic interactions are generally less well studied, but seem to conserve diversity. Coral reefs are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and this project will investigate whether mutualistic interactions will help the involved species cope with their changing environment.”

Whilst at the Georgia Institute of Technology William will study if mutualistic interactions between species confer resilience or vulnerability in a changing environment, which continues on from his work at the University of Queensland.

Mark McHenry Postdoctoral Scholars

Home InstitutionMurdoch University
Host InstitutionSandia National Laboratories
Award NameSandia National Laboratories
DisciplineClimate Change Mitigation Technologies
Award Year2012

“Increasing freshwater and energy demands and corresponding decreases in supply quantity and quality is stimulating cross-disciplinary investment in the energy-water nexus.”

Dr Mark McHenry, researching climate change mitigation technologies at Murdoch University, is the winner of the 2012 Fulbright WA Scholarship. The W.A. scholarship is supported through a fund established by donations from the W.A. government, W.A. based universities, companies, foundations and individuals.

Through his Fulbright Mark will carry out a project on waste energy, carbon, and water systems for inland industrial process mitigation with Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for six months.

“My project seeks to critically review and model new waste energy, carbon and water intensive technologies that can be retrofitted to inland industrial facilities,” Mark said.

The project scope is narrowed to three new technologies that have a high potential to co-produce agricultural/aquacultural production inputs for inland regions: microalgal biofuels, thermal desalination, and solution mining. This work quantifies physical ‘energy and material flow’ data for ‘retrofitting’ new technologies for reduced net emissions, fresh water consumption, and energy waste from inland industrial processes, including electricity generators.

Mark has a BSc and PhD in physics from Murdoch University. He has won various awards and prizes including a Postdoctoral Endeavour Award Fellowship from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, and a Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in 2007. He is also a founding member of the Rural Research and Development Council, and has published extensively. He is involved with various non-governmental organisations, and undertakes specialist research regarding renewable energy, carbon sequestration, and rural activities, technologies, and policies.


Dr Ashley Kras Postgraduate Students

Ashley Kras
Home InstitutionRoyal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital
Host InstitutionHarvard Medical School
Award NameFulbright Postgraduate Scholarship
DisciplineHealth Informatics
Award Year2018

Ashley is a final year ophthalmology (eye) specialist surgical trainee. Ashley believes that our healthcare sector is too slowly adapting to modern technology progress, which is rapidly revolutionising other industries. After experiencing day to day systemic inefficiencies and underutilised data repositories, Ashley collaborated on cutting edge e-health projects with government and industry at the Australian Digital Health Agency and IBM respectively.

With the Fulbright scholarship, Ashley will advance his understanding of the potential for intelligent informatics insights to drive new discoveries, help clinicians make more informed decisions, improve access to care and build a more sustainable healthcare system. Ashley plans to learn from world leaders, who are bridging the divides between computer science and clinical research, and bring the knowledge and networks back to further Australia’s digital health journey.

Matthew McCrary Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionThe University of Michigan
Host InstitutionThe University of Sydney
Award NamePostgraduate Scholarship
Award Year2013

“Sydney, specifically, has the longest standing tradition in the field of Performing Arts Medicine (PAM), beginning with the opening of the Sydney Musician’s Clinic in 1979, the world’s first medical clinic devoted entirely to the needs of musicians.”

Mr James Matthew “Matt” McCrary, a recent exercise science and drumset performance graduate from the University of Michigan, has won a Fulbright Scholarship to complete a 1-year Master’s by Research project at the University of Sydney Medical School’s Elite Music Performance Laboratory. He will spearhead a project investigating the utility of core muscle activation in preventing upper extremity pain and injury in instrumental musicians.

“Instrumental musicians, as a result of the duration, repetition, and tension involved in their practice and performance, undergo athlete-level physical stress on a daily basis,” Matt said.

“For a variety of reasons, however, athlete-level care for the physical needs of musicians is uncommon, despite substantial published research on the prevalence of upper extremity pain in musicians of varied ages, nationalities, and instruments.

This disconnect forms the basis of my hypothesis: since musicians and elite athletes place comparable levels of strain on their bodies, activity-specific physical preparations for musicians (“warm-ups”) should yield similar preventative benefits to those of athletes.”

Matt has a B.S. in Kinesiology and a B.F.A. in Jazz Studies from the University of Michigan, where he was awarded the Edwin & Mary Meader Jazz Scholarship, University Honors, and the distinctions of James B. Angell Scholar and Lloyd Hall Scholar. In the year since his graduation, Matt has gained valuable, relevant experience for his Fulbright project through full-time work as both a musician at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and a researcher at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. His interests outside of music and medicine include playing and watching sports (especially (soccer/”football”), and fitness/nutrition.

Callum McDiarmid Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionDepartment of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University
Host InstitutionThe Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Award NameFulbright Future Scholarship Funded by The Kinghorn Foundation
DisciplineEvolutionary Biology
Award Year2019

Callum earned a Bachelor of Science (Advanced) with 1st Class honours from the University of Sydney in 2016. He subsequently worked on bird and reptile research projects in Australia and North America, and is now a postgraduate student at Macquarie University in Sydney. His current research uses the two subspecies of a small Australian finch as a model to study speciation, a central component of evolutionary biology.

During his Fulbright program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Callum will build on his work studying the behaviour and reproduction of these finches by learning and employing powerful next-generation sequencing techniques to address the genomic basis of divergence and hybridisation in this system. On his return to Australia, Callum hopes to share these new skills and perspectives with fellow scientists to advance evolutionary biology research in the genomics era.

Nish Perera Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionAustralian National University
Host InstitutionColumbia Law School
Award NameFulbright Postgraduate Scholarship
Award Year2019

Nish earned a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws with 1st Class honours from the Australian National University, where she was a National Merit Scholar. Subsequently, she volunteered at Asylum Access providing legal representation to asylum seekers through UNHCR, worked as an Associate to the Hon Penfold J at the ACT Supreme court, and is currently a Legal Officer in the Office of International Law in the Attorney-General’s Department. She also volunteers her time with Canberra Community Law and the Australian Red Cross.

With research interests in migration and refugee law and policy, Nish hopes to use her Fulbright scholarship to pursue a Masters of Laws, specialising in international law, refugee law and institutional theory. She hopes that her study and research can be used to contribute to institutional responses to the refugee and migration flows of the future.

Victoria Reynolds Postgraduate Students

Victoria Reynolds
Home InstitutionSchool of Biological Sciences/CSIRO Land & Water Flagship, The University of Queensland
Host InstitutionEnvironmental Science Department, Emory University
Award NameFulbright Postgraduate Scholarship
DisciplineBiological Science
Award Year2017

Tori is a PhD student with the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland with a joint affiliation with CSIRO.

For her Fulbright Scholarship, Tori will be working in the Environmental Science Department of Emory University helping to develop a standardised protocol for quantifying insect-collected pollen using DNA meta-barcoding techniques. The outcomes of this project will increase understanding of plant-pollinator interactions, with particular applications for the complex mosaic agricultural landscapes that dominate most of the planet today. This in turn will help decipher how pollinators are foraging in agro-ecosystems around the world. This is a key area of research for the future of agricultural production and biodiversity conservation. Tori will also spend her time in the US developing a research network of American and Australian scientists at the forefront of insect pollination research, through collaborative research and academic enquiry.

Tracey Steinrucken Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionWestern Sydney University and CSIRO Biosecurity Flagship
Host InstitutionUniversity of California Berkeley
Award NameQueensland State Postgraduate Scholarship
DisciplineBiology (Plant pathology and ecology)
Award Year2015

Tracey is a plant ecologist with a particular interest in invasive plant pathology and molecular biology. Invasive plants have profound economic, environmental and social impacts around the world. Innovative methods to control these weeds are continuously sought to reduce herbicide use and avoid expensive manual removal. Tracey’s research focuses on Parkinsonia aculeata, an invasive thorny tree that was originally introduced from Central America as a garden tree or hedge. Currently covering over 1 million hectares of northern Australia, Parkinsonia impacts heavily on the beef and pastoral industries and native biodiversity.  Over the last decade, farmers and scientists have noticed a phenomenon known as “dieback” or “decline” in some populations. Dieback has reduced the size of these invasive populations, sometimes achieving levels of control that would be impossible or at least very expensive to achieve manually. However the cause of dieback remains unknown and this is where Tracey’s research comes in.

Already making great progress in her PhD, Tracey has narrowed down the cause of Parkinsonia dieback.  By combining field studies with laboratory and molecular methods, she was excited to reveal that there is a significant difference between the microbial communities in dieback-affected Parkinsonia compared to healthy plants in the same area: this is the first step to identifying a potential biological control tool to supplement current management strategies.  Her creative approach to communicating her results saw her representing her university at the Trans-Tasman Three-Minute Thesis competition this year in Perth.

Tracey is a global citizen.  After growing up in South Africa, migrating to Australia, working at a summer-camp in Truckee, CA and studying in Australia and Sweden, she considers travel to be one of her favourite pastimes. Tracey has graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Science from Deakin University in Melbourne and a Master’s in Science from Lund University in Sweden. She did her Honours in Applied Science at RMIT University with a scholarship from the Victoria Department of Environment and Primary Industries.

Tracey found invasion ecology and plant pathology fascinating so she decided to do a PhD along the same lines, enrolling at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University. She is now based in Brisbane with the CSIRO Biosecurity Flagship for the duration of her PhD, and has a research grant from Meat and Livestock Australia. In addition to her research, Tracey is a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology tutor at the University of Queensland.

Tracey is a keen sportswoman, loves wildlife and the outdoors.  She plays soccer and softball for local teams, is a rugby fan, and regularly goes camping, four-wheel driving and hiking. She is a wildlife rehabilitation volunteer, looking after injured and sick native snakes prior to their release.

During her time in the States, Tracey hopes to visit local Parkinsonia field sites in the southern states and California to determine if dieback occurs in North or South American populations or in closely-related species. Working with the Forest Pathology and Mycology Lab at UC Berkeley will allow her access to world-renowned knowledge and experience, particularly in the field of diagnostics. She will investigate dieback in other invasive plant populations in the US to compare the epidemiology and pathology of similar diseases, which will allow for insights into Parkinsonia decline in Australia.

Whilst in the US, she is keen to get involved in Women in Science programs at UC Berkeley, play soccer for a local team and enhance her communication skills by attending and presenting seminars. She also can’t wait to explore the spectacular National Parks in California.

Dr William Yan Postgraduate Students

Home InstitutionDepartment of Ophthalmology, The University of Melbourne
Host InstitutionStanford University
Award NameFulbright Future Scholarship Funded by The Kinghorn Foundation
Award Year2019

William is a surgical trainee and postgraduate researcher with an interest in ophthalmology, digital health and blindness prevention. After completing his Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery at Monash University, he studied ophthalmic epidemiology at the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) exploring the impact of socioeconomic factors on the quality and distribution of eye care services worldwide. William is an advocate for technology-driven approaches to increasing healthcare access and sustainability and has collaborated with companies such as Google to develop disease-screening tools for patients and clinicians.

As a Fulbright Future Scholar, William will complete a Fellowship in Ophthalmic Innovation at the Stanford Byers Eye Institute to advance his understanding in translational research and technology development. In addition, he will pursue studies in clinical bioinformatics with a view to supporting the application, efficiency and impact of health data analytics that will complement informed clinical decision-making in Australia.

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