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2021 AAA Scholarship Recipients (USA to AUS)

Congratulations to our 2021 USA to Australia Graduate, Veteran & Arts Scholarship Recipients

The American Australian Association is delighted to announce the selection and award of the following scholarship recipients. Meet our scholars and find out more about their career aspirations below.

Graduate Education Fund Scholarship Program

Graduate Education Fund Scholarship Recipients (USA to AUS)

Colleen Feuerborn will be commencing her master’s in Astronomy and Astrophysics at Australian National University, specializing in planetary science. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Geology and a minor in Astronomy from the University of Colorado at Boulder. While there she was on the Dean’s list for multiple semesters indicating that she had obtained a GPA above 3.75.

Colleen is passionate about sharing her love for astronomy. She participated in the learning assistant program, during her bachelor’s degree, helping to teach first-year astronomy labs. In addition, she helped as a grader for multiple other undergraduate astronomy courses. In the future, she plans to continue her studies and obtain a Ph.D. and go on to become a professor so she can further spread her passion for astronomy.

Michael Halwes is a PhD student currently studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Melbourne as part of the Collins BioMicrosystems Laboratory. He completed his B.Sc in Bioengineering summa cum laude from the University of Louisville before obtaining his M.Sc in Biomedical Engineering with distinction from RWTH Aachen University in Aachen, Germany. Michael’s current research centers on developing novel microfluidic models for investigating neurodegenerative diseases, specifically Alzheimer’s Disease. Traditional cell culture methods drastically oversimplify the way the neural microenvironment depends on the three-dimensional arrangement of neurons and their helper cells. These oversimplifications complicate efforts to study new pharmaceuticals or study the way diseases develop over long periods. Michael’s research efforts will deal with developing 3D lab-on-a-chip models that will enable large-scale, reproducible investigation of the blood-brain barrier, a structure present in the brain’s vasculature which plays a key role in maintaining physiological conditions in neural tissue.

Lutfi Huq graduated from Cornell University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts from the College of Arts & Sciences where he studied biology, mathematics and computer science. Since 2013, he has conducted research internships at Stanford Medical School, Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health in the fields of Human Microbiome & Cancer Immunotherapy research. As a AAA-Graduate Education Scholar, Lutfi will investigate tissue resident T cells, their developmental pathways and their use in novel cell-based treatments against cancer and infection at the University of Melbourne in the laboratory of Dr. Laura Mackay. After his completion of the AAA scholarship, Lutfi plans to train in both science and medicine in order to become a physician scientist who helps develop patient and disease specific therapeutics by conducting bench-to-bedside research in the fields of Immunology, Oncology and Gastroenterology at an academic medical institution.

Malcolm Johnson is a PhD candidate in Geography and Environment at the University of Tasmania researching the (mis)alignment of people’s perceptions of climate risk and projections of future risk in Southern Tasmania. Dedicated to exploring the connections between people, place, and environment, he has contributed to climate change planning across the US and the globe. Before commencing his degree, he served as the National Coral Reef Management Fellow for the Northern Marianas working on watershed management and Coastal Resource Management Volunteer in the Philippines concentrating on marine protected areas. He obtained his master’s degree in International Environmental Policy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies with a focus on ocean and coastal resource management. His research seeks to challenge our existing ways of thinking about, discussing, and planning for climate change to improve adaptation plans for communities, both human and non-human.

At a young age, Catherine Parr was diagnosed with a rare chronic ear disease that resulted in lifelong hearing loss.  After years of surgeries and countless hospital visits, she knew she wanted to spend her career helping others receive the high-quality health care they need and deserve.  In May 2021, she graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied economics with a concentration in health care management.  She learned the ropes of tackling health care problems with a business mindset, but she found that she lacked the knowledge and skills to communicate ideas in a way that would inspire change at an individual level.  In February 2022, she will start her Master of Health Communication at the University of Sydney, where she looks forward to learning how to be a more well-rounded advocate for positive change in the health care industry.

Ashley Potter completed her Master’s in marine science and is currently in the third year of her PhD at Monash University studying the ecology and evolution of marine species. She has held several research positions during her academic career which include lab manager, research technician and demonstrator. Ashley has also been the recipient of several awards which have allowed her to pursue a science career and reach a broader audience through conferences and outreach. Her current research focuses on the macroevolutionary patterns of sperm form (morphology) and function (physiology) across the tree of life. As an AAA scholarship recipient, she hopes to understand the consequences of climate change on the links between the parental environment and offspring fitness. More specifically, Ashley aims to understand how the environment a father experiences during his lifetime can affect the traits of his sperm and thus the traits of his offspring.

Ryan Schoenbaum is a PhD student in the School of Geography, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Melbourne. His research aims to advance methods in conservation planning to account for processes that connect terrestrial and marine ecosystems in the context of climate change. The project promotes the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef by integrating multiple objectives (water quality, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration) into a spatial optimization framework. The collaborative nature of his research links efforts from a variety of institutions and stakeholders to guide management actions that maximize mutual benefit across land and sea realms.

Ryan holds a BS in Aquatic Biology from UC Santa Barbara and a MS in Marine and Watershed Science from CSU Monterey Bay. He was the 2018 CSU-COAST intern for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and has experience in resource management through partnerships with the Bureau of Land Management.

Katie Sievers is a marine ecologist specialising in fish ecology and spatial sciences. She has just completed a PhD at James Cook University, Australia where she explored the effects of non-reef habitats on coral reef fishes in the Philippines to understand how reef fish are impacted by their surrounding environment. She is specifically interested in integrating her research with collaborators to better inform management practices such as marine reserves. Katie is now working on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia to understand how juvenile fishes are affected by a changing reef environment. To better predict what our reef may look like in the future, it is necessary to understand the underlying mechanisms by which fishes adapt and respond to damaged reefs. Katie will use fish collections, stable isotope analysis, and 3D photogrammetry of coral reefs to directly relate fish condition and growth to specific habitats features

Taylor Whitman grew up fascinated by the temperate ocean of California. As her interest matured, she attended the University of Hawai’i and completed a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology. Her passion for tropical marine research led her to complete a Master’s of Science in Marine Biology and Ecology at James Cook University, Australia. There, she isolated biochemicals from coralline algae to induce coral settlement at the Australian Institute of Marine Science. This research resulted in a first-author publication that improved our understanding of coral-settlement dynamics. Taylor continues her research as a PhD candidate with the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program. Her research goal is to provide scalable approaches to restore reefs by understanding drivers of successful coral recruitment (settlement and growth to 1-yr). With this, she will be developing techniques to spawn and settle coral young and transplant them to reefs on seeding devices engineered to enhance survival.

Vanessa Zepeda was born in Phoenix, Arizona. She moved to Hawai‘i for her bachelor’s degree in marine biology and masters degree in Conservation Biology and Environmental Science at the University of Hawai‘i. Her master’s program allowed her to focus on her passion for astrobiology. She secured two internships with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where she studied biomarkers preserved in rocks and meteorites. During these internships she secured a PhD opportunity in Brisbane, Australia at the Queensland University of Technology. She is a junior scientist on the Mars Perseverance Rover mission and her research focuses on geochemistry and paleobiology of hydrothermal systems on the early Earth. She aims to investigate biomarkers preserved in ancient Earth systems to better differentiate true evidence of past life from false positives. This will help identify evidence of past life on Mars when rocks are returned to Earth by NASA’s Mars Sample Return mission.

Veterans’ Fund Scholarship Recipients (USA to AUS)

Misael Garcia is applying for a Master of Counselling. While studying for a Master of Theological Studies, his interest to become a clinical counselor and be able to help those who are hurt emotionally grew stronger. The value of a Master of Counselling, along with his Master of Theological Studies, will help him not only to become a licensed counselor, but also a chaplain. Misael’s first goal after completing the Master of Counselling is to become a licensed counselor in the U.S.A and in Australia, along with being a chaplain. His second goal involves Ph.D. studies and becoming a professor.

Jeremy Morales is third-generation military on both sides of his family. He is a first-generation college graduate and a talented multi-instrument musician. Jeremy’s goal is to help with the Marine and Coastal environment in respect to global warming. The University of Western Australia is one of the best places that he can contribute and learn. They are a research University and are constantly pursuing new projects that he hopes to be involved in. Jeremy is interested in seeing how they manage the different industry that potentially effect marine and coastal environment

Wilson Ospina served in the US Navy from 2002 to 2011. He had the privilege to be a Navy Medical Corpsman. Wilson worked with the US Marine Infantry and US Army Infantry on the front lines of the initial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan post 9/11. He medically retired from the US Navy in 2011 after suffering a traumatic brain injury due to multiple indirect IED blasts. Wilson’s overarching goal is to prepare himself in the arena of Public Health with an emphasis on community of Veterans both in the US and their allies overseas. Wilson aims to further his development and intellectual growth in Sociology/Global Studies in Australia. After completing further study, Wilson intends to use his experience and education to step into the private sector and implement meaningful work with impactful NGO’s to further support Veteran communities.

Arts Fund Scholarship Recipients (AUS to USA)

Jennifer Hou is an Australian pianist who champions contemporary classical music, and piano repertory that embraces cross-cultural musical borrowing. She has performed at the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Town Hall, NSW Parliament House, and live on FineMusic 102.5 as the Young Virtuoso Award State Winner (2017). Jennifer made her concerto debut with the North Sydney Symphony Orchestra (2018). She is an alumni of the Rebecca Penneys Piano Festival (2021).
Jennifer completed dual Bachelors in Music and Law at the University of New South Wales (2019). She was the recipient of a BBM Youth Music Scholarship (2018).

Jennifer is currently undertaking artistic development through a Masters program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She studies with Corey McVicar and Jon Nakamatsu and is the department assistant. Jennifer is generously supported by the Phyllis C.Wattis Foundation, the PPCA Performers’ Trust Foundation, and the American Australian Association Arts Fund.

Jessie Hughes is an internationally-recognised Australian new media artist, technologist and screenwriter, her works having exhibited most notably at Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, Cannes, and the Tate Modern. Hughes has designed new media solutions for tech-giants such as Oculus, Facebook, and Adobe, and has been featured in over 100+ media articles in radio, newspaper and TV. She is a John Monash Scholar, Winston Churchill Fellow, Impact Australia Screenwriter, Lord Mayor’s Young & Emerging Artist Fellow and Technarte Artist-in-Residence. For her 2022 AAA Arts program, Jessie will be attending Sundance Film Festival & SXSW, followed by residing as a Creative Technologist at LA-based venture studio, Josephmark, exploring the future of narrative across new creative technologies, while bringing her adult-animated mermaid series to the US market.

Australian classical guitarist Miles Johnston believes that musical performances create an environment offering a shared experience. Equally committed to his work as a soloist and chamber musician, Miles crisscrosses the standard classical guitar canon with music from Australia, Spain, the Americas, and jazz-influenced works. Miles’ accolades include first prize at both the Adelaide International Guitar Festival solo competition, and Melbourne Recital Centre’s ‘Great Romantics’ multi-instrument competition. Along with his brother Ziggy, they have gained a reputation as two of Australia’s finest young concert artists. Their guitar duo, the “Johnston Brothers”, has seen them perform across Australia and New Zealand in concerts and private functions. Equally passionate about community engagement, they have performed for health care facilities and community centres across Melbourne and Manhattan. As a recent graduate of The Juilliard School (MM ’21), Miles is currently based in New York City as he continues a regular schedule of performances.

After graduating high school at sixteen, Victoria Lu completed her Bachelor of Arts (Media & Communications) at the University of Sydney. Victoria has previously worked in public relations in Sydney, as a business consultant for Australia’s former Ambassador to China in Beijing, in advertising in New York City, and in hospitality in London before returning to Sydney where she found her calling in screenwriting.

Since 2020, Victoria has been a freelance writer. She has contributed to A Rational Fear, winner of the Best Comedy Podcast at the 2020 Australian Podcast Awards. Her short script, In Dandenong was also selected for development with ABC Fresh funding. As a writer’s assistant and researcher, she has worked alongside leading Australian storytellers such as Tony Ayres and Justine Flynn.

In 2021, Victoria joined the AFI Conservatory as a Screenwriting Fellow where she is supported by Screen Australia and the American Australian Associations Arts Fund.

Chloë Marshall is a singer, dancer and actor from Sydney, Australia who has been training in the performing arts since she was three years old. She has just completed her Diploma of Musical Theatre at Brent Street Studios.

She is an experienced stage and television performer (credits including Home and Away, The Voice Kids Australia, Todd Mckenney Sings Peter Allen, NSW Premier’s Concert and numerous other live performances).

Chloë is thrilled to be able to use the generous AAA arts grant for an internship in New York City with Broadway performer and Associate Choreographer of “Mrs. Doubtfire” Broadway and new musical “Almost Famous”, Michaeljon Slinger.

Chloë will have the unprecedented opportunity to shadow Michaeljon throughout the rehearsal process of a Broadway show whilst also taking class at New York’s finest performing arts studios.

Brisbane-born mezzo-soprano Xenia Puskarz Thomas is a Kovner Fellow at The Juilliard School, New York completing her masters under Professor Edith Wiens. Ms. Puskarz Thomas was awarded a Bachelor of Music in 2018 from the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University with first class honours, and the University Medal for Academic Achievement. She was also the recipient of the Melba Opera Trust’s 2019 Amelia Joscelyne Scholarship, and the prestigious Opera Foundation for young Australians’ 2018 Lady Fairfax New York Scholarship. Recent engagements include; : “Aristeo” in the Juilliard’s new production of Luigi Rossi’s Orfeo; “Cherubino” in Opera Queensland’s Marriage of Figaro, Opera Queensland’s Festival of Outback Opera 2021; the Brisbane Racing Club’s Under the Stars Members’ Evenings SongStudio 2020 at Carnegie Halland the Camerata of St John’s Helpmann nominated ‘Home’ concert.

Kate Rankine is a primary school teacher based in Canberra, Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Primary Education (Creative Arts) from the University of Canberra, and strives to inspire the leaders of tomorrow through art and music. Outside of the classroom, Kate continues to explore this artistic passion through continued involvement within the Canberra Theatre community – such as her role as assistant production manager for Canberra’s Shakespeare by the Lakes 2018-2019 summer season. Using knowledge and skills learnt from these theatre experiences, Kate is currently workshopping an original musical based on the Australian political climate.

Lauded by Limelight Magazine for his “life affirming music-making”, Lloyd Van’t Hoff enjoys a career as a vibrant young clarinetist, chamber musician, collaborator and educator. Having been crowned the 2015 ABC Symphony Australia Young Performer of the Year, Lloyd regularly performs as a concerto soloist and tutti player with many of Australia’s symphony orchestras, and as a soloist and chamber musician at festivals and venues around Australia and the globe.

Lloyd is a founding member of Arcadia Winds, Australia’s leading young wind ensemble, and Musica Viva’s Inaugural FutureMakers. He is currently studying a Masters of Music with David Shifrin at the Yale University, where he is a recipient of the University’s prestigious Keith Wilson Scholarship. Lloyd is very proudly a Buffet Crampon endorsed performing artist.

Arts Fund Scholarship Recipients (USA to AUS)

Tania Khouri (b. 1990, Oklahoma City, Ok.) is a multimedia artist examining embodied rituals and oral histories. Following familial lineages as a form of reclamation she is creating a growing multi-media archive that will collect and share ancestral SWANA knowledge of healing, building on community networks of care through a methodology of social practice. Khouri holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Parsons School of Design at The New School and a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the University of Oklahoma. She was a resident at NARS Satellite Residency in New York City and has been published in Photographer’s Forum, Art&Education, TransCultural Exchange’s Hello World, and Galerie Magazine online. Khouri is the recipient of the City Artist Corps Grant, a recipient of the 2021 American Australian Association Arts Fund Grant, is a featured artist for NYC Majlis, and recently had an exhibition at Kellen Gallery in New York.

Victoria Manganiello is an artist, educator, producer and collaborator. She has received multiple recognized grants, commissions, and residency appointments and exhibited her work internationally including in Taiwan and throughout Europe and the USA. She is an adjunct professor at NYU and Parson’s (New York) and the executive producer of an upcoming documentary about Women and Textiles. Exploring the intersections between materiality, technology, geography, and storytelling, Victoria’s multi-disciplinary and installation work, abstract paintings and kinetic sculptures are made meticulously with and inspired by hand-woven textiles using hand-spun yarn and hand-mixed natural and synthetic color dyes alongside mechanical alternatives and modern technologies.

During 2022, Victoria will be an artist in residence at the Australian Tapestry Workshop in Melbourne where she will also have a solo exhibition of her woven textiles. Additionally, she will be leading a course with local RMIT textiles undergraduates.


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