Monash graduates awarded 2020 Westpac Future Leaders Scholarships

Kealan Pugsley and Georgina Lau from the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences are among 15 young Australians who are being recognised for their research in addressing global challenges.

Today the Westpac Scholars Trust announced its 2020 Westpac Future Leaders Scholars, pledging a total of $1.8 million in scholarships. Each recipient will receive up to $120,000, covering their postgraduate studies, a nine-month bespoke leadership development program and the opportunity to study abroad.

Through recent technological innovations, scientists have been able to identify specific genes driving the onset of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which affects almost one in 70 children globally. Kealan Pugsley plans to use gene-editing technology to investigate how these genes impact brain development.

“I will be working with a team of researchers to characterise how these newly identified genetic drivers of ASD can alter neurological development using CRISPR – the most innovative gene-editing technology within the field – and the downstream effect these have on cognitive function among kids affected by ASD,” says Kealan.Headshot of Georgina Lau and Kealan Pugsley

“The Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship goes above and beyond financial support to provide the opportunity to truly develop myself as a leader both within my field, but also within a dynamic, interdisciplinary global workforce.”

Georgina Lau’s research aims to better understand the influence of alcohol and drugs on the risk of serious injury and develop interventions to mitigate the burden of preventable injuries in Australia.

“Having a Westpac Future Leaders scholarship will enable me to engage in a PhD experience which is unique to my research, while also providing me with an opportunity to collaborate with global networks through the Westpac 100 Scholars Network,” says Georgina.

“This scholarship will give me the flexibility and funding to carry out research that I am passionate about, as well as an opportunity to apply my research into real-world solutions and positively inform policy-making decisions.”

The Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship is offered in partnership with The University of Adelaide, The Australian National University, The University of Melbourne, Monash University, The University of Queensland, The University of Sydney, University of New South Wales, The University of Tasmania and the University of Western Australia.

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