Graduate, Veteran & Arts Scholarship Recipients


Since 2002, the American Australian Association’s (AAA) scholarship and grant programs have been providing support to the next generation of Americans and Australians to undertake transformational study, research and artistic development in the country of the other. To date, the AAA has awarded over 900 Graduate, Veteran and Art scholarships and grants worth over US $12.5 million.

The AAA is delighted to announce the selection and award of the following scholarship recipients.

2020 Australia to USA Graduate Education Scholars

Graduate Education Scholar

Kassandra Karpathakis‘ vision for the future of public health is to use technology appropriately and proportionally to deliver services and policy. She wants to ensure public health approaches incorporate human-centred design utilizing technology only when necessary based on people’s needs. She wants to undertake further research into how digital health technology can be developed, measured and promoted to quantitatively and qualitatively improve health outcomes.

David Charles Nason Journalism Scholar

Tessa Sullivan is undertaking a Master of Liberal Arts, Journalism Degree at Harvard University. A multi-linguist, Tessa also holds Bachelor of Arts/Science and Master of Laws qualifications from Monash University and the Australian National University. Tessa’s goal is to become an investigative journalist covering personal human feature stories and contemporary global issues. She wants to give a voice to ordinary people with extraordinary stories, as well as expose prevalent world concerns.

AAA – NGC Wildfire Research Scholar

Shamindra Shrotriya is a third year PhD student in the Department of Statistics at Carnegie Mellon University specializing in spatiotemporal modeling. His work, advised by Prof. Alex Reinhart, focuses on accurate predictive inference of the four key wildfire risk components, namely wildfire occurrence, duration, acres burned, and exposure risk. He is developing new statistical methodology and open-source software to model these dependent risk components as a sequential “wildfire risk pipeline”. His goal is to provide estimates with associated uncertainty of each risk component at a national (US) scale to enable decision-making by different stakeholders including fire management services and actuaries.

AAA – Aurora Indigenous Education Scholars

Marijke Bassani plans to undertake a PhD in Law covering Race, Gender and Sexuality, split between the University of California, Berkeley and University of Hawaii.  Her study will look at questions of Indigeneity, sexuality, gender and the law, with a focus on Indigenous Australians (over 18+) who identify as LGBTQI+. The invisibility of this Indigenous minority within the community and legal system, including consequences associated with sharpening their visibility, will be analyzed through an international human rights lens. Comparative Native American and Hawaiian LGBTQI+ experiences of Indigeneity, sexuality, gender and the law will enable Marijke to better interpret Indigenous Australian LGBTQI+ experiences, and advance her research goal of improving the social, legal and cultural outcomes of Indigenous LGBTQI+ peoples within Australia, the United States and abroad. 

Sasha Purcell’s goal is to advocate for the rights of Indigenous people to ensure a just and equitable future for Indigenous communities.  To accomplish this, Sasha plans to undertake a Master of Laws program in Human Rights at University of California, Berkeley or New York University.  On completion of her LLM, she plans to return to Australia to complete a PhD that draws on her research and investigates the link between incremental climate change and patterns of domestic and family violence (gendered violence) in the Torres Strait. Her long term plan is to work within the United Nations, particularly the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People, where she hopes to advocate at the UN and to ultimately become an expert called upon by the UN and other international mechanisms to provide advice on Indigenous human rights. 

2020 Australia to USA Veterans’ Fund Scholars

Private Robert Kerslake, a 16-year veteran of the Australian Army, plans to study gunsmithing in the US, where specialized courses leading to this qualification are available.  His US study will also enable him to gain valuable practical hands-on skills working with the vast array of weaponry available in the US.  On return to Australia, he hopes to use his skills to work on movie and TV sets as a theatrical armorer and get into an industry that he is passionate about.  This opportunity will also help to him reintegrate back into the workforce post medical discharge from the Army.  Longer term, Private Kerslake would like to develop this industry in Australia by establishing and running his own business, which would employ and train veterans in this niche field. 

Squadron Leader Christopher Lowe, a 13-year veteran of the Australian Airforce, plans to undertake a PhD in astronautics in the US.  His independent research will investigate and look at solutions to overcoming the technical challenges (both robotic and human), related to deep space exploration.  His goal is to work with space-based hardware to achieve tangible scientific and exploration progress which will help contribute to the continued exploration of the solar system, including the NASA Moon to Mars initiative that aims to return humans to the Moon and subsequently on to Mars, both missions that Australia will have an important role in.  Upon completion of his PhD, Chris hopes to be able to contribute the knowledge and experience gained from studying and working in the US to a career within the CSIRO or newly developed Australian space sector.

Lieutenant Amanda MacKinnell, a 16-year veteran of the Royal Australian Navy, is looking to undertake a Master of Regional Security & Defense Studies in the US and parlay this into a Doctor of Philosophy.  Her study will model and predict the need for a sovereign level of capability in specific areas as outlined in the 2016 Australian Defence White Paper and look at how these are affected by international defense primes, economics and regional security. In particular, Amanda will consider the dual role China plays in being a potential adversary as well as Australia’s major trade partner as well as demand for Australian-centric supply chains in the light of emerging threats such as climate chain and pandemics.

AAA – Lendlease Veterans’ Scholar

Corporal Robert MacDonald, a 15-year veteran of the Airforce is interested in pursuing a Master of Human Computer Interface at Georgia Tech. His study will focus on the field of attention and automaticity, that is, how people interact simultaneously with different audio-stimuli while making decisions in real time and in a high intensity environments, such as during war deployment with computer technology, as utilized by radar and control technology.  His study in the US will develop the practical skills and theoretical understandings for Robert to become a leader in the design, implementation, and evaluation of the next generation of human-computer interfaces.

2020 Australia to USA Arts Scholars

AAA – AFNGA AusArt Scholar

Kai Wasikowski’s artistic practice utilises photography, readymade materials and multimedia to address feelings of anxiety and dissonance brought upon by rapid environmental and technological change. Weaving documentary photography, environmental histories and speculative narratives, Kai’s process draws upon the friction between signifiers of nature and technology drawn from his formative childhood years. Through sublimating these themes of ecological crisis and its human implications, Kai’s work reckons with the similarity between technical and natural processes in our contemporary world.

AAA – Australian Fashion Foundation (AUSFF) Scholars

Kim Clark is a highly creative Melbourne based fashion designer with international experience.  Having recently completed her Masters of Fashion Design and Bachelor of Arts, Fashion Design & Technology at RMIT in Melbourne, Kim is looking to further expand her international experience in New York.  Her past work as an independent fashion designer in Manila and Melbourne, has seen her work featured in many fashion and lifestyle magazines in France, Canada, USA and Philippines.  She has a talent for conceptualizing and delivering projects that are not only relevant, but also based on visualization of future trends in the global context.

Domenic Roylance is seeking a New York fashion internship at Carfrae Consulting, having recently graduated with a Bachelor of Fashion Design and Textiles (with Honors) from the University of Technology, Sydney. Domenic’s unique undergraduate and graduate collection garments have been featured in Vogue Australia (Jul 2019 & Feb 2020) print editions, and online at i-D magazine and BLACK magazine.  In New York, he wants to continue exploring new aspects of garment production and to develop his creative skills within a studio environment, by learning about the business of fashion from international designers.  His past work experience in the fashion industry has included internships at eminent labels such as Zimmerman, Dion Lee, Ellery and Lover, as well as GQ Magazine.

About the AAA:

Established in 1948, the American Australian Association is the leading privately funded non-profit organization dedicated to deepening and strengthening cooperation and understanding between the institutions and people of the United States and Australia. Our mission supports events and activities which focus our engagement and philanthropy around four core pillars: Business and Innovation, Education, Veterans and the Arts.