Sydney academics and alumni named 2021 Fulbright Scholars

From biomedical engineering to river science, academics and alumni of the University of Sydney have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships.

This year, 13 prestigious Fulbright Scholarships have been awarded to members of the University of Sydney community and notable alumni.

The Australian-American Fulbright Commission scholarships are awarded to foster educational exchange and understanding between the United States and Australia.

Fulbright Scholar Awards

Two professors in the Faculty of Engineering’s School of Biomedical Engineering have been awarded Fulbright Scholar Awards to undertake research at a university in the United States.

Professor Hala Zreiqat AM

Professor Zreiqat is a well-regarded biomedical engineer.

Professor Hala Zreiqat AM is a celebrated biomedical engineering researcher at the University’s School of Biomedical Engineering. As the Director of the Australian Research Centre for Innovative BioEngineering and the Head of the Biomaterials Tissue Engineering Research Unit, Professor Zreqiat is a trailblazer in the field of biomaterials and tissue engineering.

“The Fulbright Commission is proud to support Professor Zreiqat’s research. Translating medical research into devices and treatments that impact lives is one of the main focal points of the Fulbright Future Scholarship, and we’re looking forward to seeing Professor Zreiqat’s collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology bear fruit. Additionally, it was wonderful to hear of her election into the Australian Academy of Science last month — yet another accolade to add to an already distinguished career in science.

“We were pleased to see such an exceptional number of high-quality Fulbright Scholarship applications coming from University of Sydney faculty and alumni in 2020. Equally promising is the high number of U.S. Fulbright applicants who are now choosing Sydney as the destination for their research projects. This is a testament to the growing Australian-American collaborative research network that Fulbright has been fostering for over 70 years.”

As a Fulbright Scholar, Hala will spend time at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the laboratory of Professor Robert Langer, a globally recognised pioneer, leader and entrepreneur in the biomedical sciences. She will learn strategies for commercialising and translating medical research into life changing products.  These learnings will inform the commercialisation of regenerative medicine research in Australia.

“I am honoured to have been named a 2021 Fulbright Scholar, and thank my colleagues, past and present, for their extraordinary work,” said Professor Zreiqat.

Professor Antonio Tricoli

Professor Tricoli recently joined the University’s Faculty of Engineering.

Having recently joined the University of Sydney, Professor Tricoli is Professor of Materials Science in the School of Biomedical Engineering, where he leads the Nanotechnology Research Laboratory. His research focuses on understanding light-matter interactions over multi-scale interfaces for the design of innovative materials and devices with application in personalized medicine and renewable energy.

He is a founding member and co-chair of the inaugural 2017 ANU Grand Challenge strategic research program “Our Health in Our Hands”, which brings together a large multidisciplinary team of scientists from HASS and STEM disciplines aiming at developing transformative technologies to better manage our health.

He is the author of more than 100 scientific publications, including book chapters and journal articles. He is recipient of the 2010 HILTI Prize for the most innovative PhD thesis of ETH Zurich, the 2012 Future Engineering Research Leadership Fellowship of the Australian National University, a 2015 Westpac Research Fellowships, a 2016 Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Award and a 2020 ARC Future Fellowship.

Antonio will spend his Fulbright Scholarship with the group of Prof Jennifer L. M. Rupp at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he will explore the use of neuromorphic design principles for the engineering of future miniaturized biomedical diagnostic technologies.

Fulbright Postdoctoral and Postgraduate Scholarships

Dr Morón Polanco’s research focuses on understanding the dynamics of sedimentary systems, including ocean-land interactions, river network evolution and tectonic and climatic interactions.

One University of Sydney researcher has been awarded a Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholarship for her work in sedimentry systems.

Dr Sara Morón Polanco is an Earth-Scientist whose research focuses on understanding how and why rivers evolve through time and space. For her Fulbright program, she will work with Prof. Mike Gurnis at Caltech.

Ten University of Sydney alumni from a variety of disciplines, including cardiac medicine, music, law, engineering, eye health and disability support have also been awarded Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarships.

Professor Diane Fatkin (BSc (Medical) ’79 MBBS ’84)
Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Sydney
Professor (conjoint), St Vincent’s Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW
Honorary Medical Officer, Cardiology, St Vincent’s Hospital. 

Diane’s research is focused on understanding the genetic underpinnings of inherited heart muscle and rhythm disorders. Diane will use the scholarship to undertake a sabbatical study visit to the Seidman Laboratory at Harvard Medical School in Boston. She plans to gain experience in cutting-edge techniques for studying heart function at the molecular level. These innovative research tools promise to provide unprecedented insights into causes of genetic heart disease, opening new opportunities for disease treatment and prevention.

Professor Iain Suthers (BSc ’81)
School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales
Chair, NSW – Integrated Marine Observing System
Researcher, Sydney Institute of Marine Science

Iain is a biological oceanographer, examining how the ecology of plankton influences the survival of the early life stages of fish (i.e. their eggs and larvae). He is passionate about the sustainable use of the oceans and of our fisheries, as the oceans warm and the global population surges on past 7.6 billion people. For his Fulbright, Iain will focus on the century-old problem in fisheries science of trying to forecast the annual supply of young fish to fisheries and is keen to learn how the U.S. has decommissioned oil and gas platforms to enhance fisheries production.

Professor Tim White (BMus ’87)
Co-ordinator of Classical Music and Senior Lecturer in Music, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), Edith Cowan University

Tim was Principal Percussionist of the WA Symphony Orchestra for 28 years and is passionate about contemporary percussion performance practice and education. As a Fulbright Scholar, Tim will spend three months at the University of California at San Diego. He will collaborate with the leading international scholar/ practitioner Professor Steven Schick and with UCSD’s red fish blue fish percussion ensemble in an exploration of the roles of expressivity, gesture, and theatricality in percussion performance.

Dr Aaron Pereira (ME (Wireless Engineering) ’10)
Research Fellow, THz Group, University of Adelaide

Aaron’s research investigates emerging semiconductor technologies for space applications. He has been collaborating with researchers from US and Europe to develop high efficiency sensors and communications systems for use in hostile environments. As a Fulbright scholar, Aaron will pursue research at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where he will explore next generation of sensors to detect subsurface water on Moon, Mars, and other planetary bodies.

Mr James Barrett (BSc (Advanced) ’14)
Solicitor, Herbert Smith Freehills

James is dedicated to the pursuit of justice, particularly as it affects young, socioeconomically disadvantaged, and Indigenous Australians. James’ formative experiences in the law and social justice have included his time at the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory and as an Aurora Native Title Intern. He pursued his passion for legal theory and constitutional law as Senior Associate to Justice Edelman of the High Court of Australia. James also enjoys teaching and has taught law at the Australian National University. As a Fulbright Scholar, he will pursue a Master of Laws at Harvard Law School.

Mr Michael Gvozdenovic (BEc ’16 LLB(HON) ‘18)
Associate, Clifford Chance
Sessional Academic, Sydney Law School, The University of Sydney

Michael is a lawyer with a particular interest in competition and antitrust law, which are designed to maintain Australia’s competitive markets and improve Australia’s welfare. Michael is presently an Associate at an international law firm and is a Sessional Academic at Sydney Law School. He will use his Fulbright Scholarship to pursue a Master of Laws at Columbia Law School. Michael hopes that by understanding how the U.S. regulates, enforces, and adapts to developments in antitrust law, including specifically in relation to digital platforms (such as Google and Facebook), he can better contribute to this burgeoning area in Australia.

Eric Huang (BEng (HONS) ’18)
PSI Masters Student, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

After graduating with a University Medal from the University of Sydney, Eric worked as an engineer and data scientist designing structures and developing innovative tools on railways such as Sydney Metro and Auckland CRL.  Through the Fulbright Future Scholarship, he will pursue a PhD in physics at the University of Maryland. He hopes to help build and understand technologies that directly exploit the quantum nature of our universe, such as quantum computers. If such devices prove both scalable and error-resistant,

they can outperform our fastest supercomputers in solving certain complex problems at scale, some of which will alleviate our most pressing challenges.

Phillipa (Pippa) Mott (BA ’12)
Curator, Museum of Old and New Art

Over the course of a seven-year career with the curatorial team at the Museum of Old and New Art, Pippa has utilised her skills in curation and audience engagement to develop and present a range of museum exhibitions, festival projects and commissioned artworks. She enjoys creating scenarios where old and new, art and science coalesce. As a Fulbright Scholar, Pippa will commence a Master of Arts in Art History at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. At the same time, she will examine curatorial theory and museology through the Marica and Jan Vilcek Curatorial Program. Pippa aims to gain a greater perspective on the ethical and socio-political dimensions of curatorship, particularly with regard to representation, accessibility, and sustainability.

Hannah Orban (BA(Languages)(Honours) ’18)
Project Policy Adviser, NSW Department of Education

Hannah is committed to improving the lives of people with disability in Australia and the United States through shaping public policy to overcome disabling attitudes. After graduating from the University of Sydney, Hannah joined the NSW Government Graduate Program and currently works on initiatives for students with disability at the NSW Department of Education. As a Fulbright scholar, Hannah is studying public policy at the University of Michigan. She is excited to use this opportunity to deepen her understanding of effective policy and legislative options to improve the socioeconomic outcomes of people with disability. Through policy, Hannah’s goal is to progress towards a more egalitarian society for people with disability in Australia and the United States.

Dr Louis Stevenson (MM (Ophthalmic Science) ’19)
Ophthalmology Trainee, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital

Having worked across remote Western Australia with Lions Outback Vision, a mobile outreach ophthalmology service, he has seen the significant inequalities that exist in healthcare across Australia. He will use his Fulbright Scholarship to study a Master of Public Health with a special focus on health economics. By incorporating these skills with his existing research interests, Louis will strive to optimise the delivery of health services in Australia to achieve a more equitable and sustainable system.

American Fulbright Scholarships

The University of Sydney will host six Fulbright Scholarship recipients from the United States in 2022, including Fulbright Scholar Award recipients Professor Adam Seth Litwin from Cornell University and Dr Lindsay Squeglia from the University of South Carolina.

Professor Litwin will work with the University of Sydney Business School to research a monograph examining the ways employers leverage labour market power and new technologies to displace downside economic risk.

Dr Squeglia’s Fulbright award provides the opportunity for her to work with University of Sydney researchers to improve health outcomes globally for youth struggling with substance use problems.

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