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2021 AAA Scholarship Recipients (AUS to USA)

Congratulations to our 2021 Australia to USA 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 (AUS to USA)

Jessica Bridgford

Jessica Bridgford obtained her PhD from the University of Melbourne in 2018. Her doctoral research focused on elucidating the mechanism of action of the first-line antimalarial, artemisinin, in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and was published in Nature Communications, PLoS Biology and Cell Reports. She then completed a 2-year postdoc at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, where she studied the role of cytokine receptor mutations in myeloproliferative neoplasms, culminating in a publication in Blood.

Jess moved to New York in July 2020 to pursue postdoctoral research under the supervision of Professor David Fidock at Columbia University. Her current research aims to identify and characterize the mechanisms of action of new antimalarial compounds in preclinical and clinical development. Jess is also working to solve the cryo-EM structures of novel P. falciparum drug targets, to assist in the development of inhibitors against them.

Ronald Chau

Ronald Chau is a clinical psychology PhD student at the University of Arizona. His dissertation research focuses on existential psychology and specifically the development of existential psychotherapeutic interventions. He will be conducting a feasibility and acceptability study of a novel intervention aimed at facilitating meaning construction among undergraduate students by drawing upon narratives related to tragedy and redemption.

Ron’s long-term goal is to promote existential perspectives in psychotherapy and society more broadly. He hopes to help people find more meaning and purpose in their lives and thus become more resilient in the face of adversity, more oriented toward personal growth, and more appreciative of the fragility and beauty of life.

Zoey Isherwood

Zoey Isherwood is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar in Prof. Michael Webster’s lab at the University of Nevada, Reno. She received her PhD at UNSW Sydney in 2019 under the supervision of Prof. Branka Spehar and Dr. Mark Schira. Shortly afterwards, she started her first postdoc position at the University of Wollongong, staying on in Dr. Mark Schira’s lab. During her PhD she focused on researching the visual processing and aesthetic appreciation of natural scene statistics using neuroimaging and behavioral techniques.

In her current postdoc position, Zoey has focused on vision research, and is using neuroimaging techniques to investigate the cortical underpinnings of colour processing and neuroplasticity in colour blind individuals—specifically those with anomalous trichromacy.

Helen McRae

Helen McRae is a postdoctoral fellow working at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. She received her B.Sc (Hons) majoring in genetics from the University of Melbourne in Australia and completed her PhD through the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia. Under the supervision of Anne Voss, PhD, and Tim Thomas, PhD, McRae focused on understanding the role of chromatin-associated proteins in blood development and leukemia for her graduate studies. McRae joined the Salk Institute in September, 2019, and is currently working under the mentorship of Diana Hargreaves to understand the epigenetic control of tumor-associated macrophages.

Jacob White

Jacob White completed a Bachelor of Engineering at the University of Queensland, majoring in electrical and biomedical engineering, where he graduated with First Class Honours. He was the recipient of the University Medal and the David Andrew Krnak Memorial Prize, awarded to the student with the highest GPA out of the graduating cohort of electrical or software engineering students.

Jacob has been accepted to commence a PhD in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics at Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology, where he will investigate novel methods for improving the availability, affordability and accessibility of medical imaging, and MRI in particular. After his PhD, he intends to return to Australia to further this research and establish a program to educate the next generation of Australian biomedical engineering innovators.

Jasmine Wilson

Jasmine Wilson, PhD is an Australian-Filipino researcher at the Gerner Laboratory, University of Washington. She has strived to develop and apply creative experimental solutions to a wide range of diseases including tuberculosis, influenza, infertility and multiple sclerosis. Currently, Jasmine’s research seeks to understand how immune cells respond against tuberculosis using advanced microscopy techniques and computational analysis. These studies will inform the design of improved vaccines and host-directed therapies for tuberculosis. Jasmine enjoys science outreach and mentoring, and has helped to organize a range of public outreach events, science retreats and student mentorship.

AAA-Northrop Grumman Corporation Scholarship Recipient

Todd Whittaker

Todd Whittaker received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. His achievements there include becoming an Academic All-American while playing for the varsity soccer team, and receiving a Kokes Award from the North American Catalysis Society, a rare feat for an undergraduate. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder under the supervision of Adam Holewinski and Charles Musgrave, where he has received the 2021 Outstanding Research Assistant and the 2020 Dean’s Graduate Assistantship. His research is focused on developing electrocatalysts for more sustainable transportation fuels and chemical production. His projects cover green plastic production, CO2 reduction to specialty chemicals and modeling electrochemical interfaces using advanced quantum chemical methods. He plans to use fundamental chemical principles to engineer next-generation catalyst materials which will ultimately transition the world towards a more sustainable future.

AAA-Sustainable Health Care Fund Scholarship Recipient

Tess Kelly

Tess Kelly is a Senior Policy officer at Danila Dilba, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service in Darwin. She holds a Bachelor of Arts/laws (First Class Hons) from the Australian National University. In her role at Danila Dilba Health Service, Tess has been focused on health and justice policy reform, and the implementation and funding of services to address systemic issues that cut across the health and justice systems. Tess played a key role in the establishment of a Danila Dilba health clinic at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre – the first Aboriginal community controlled health service to deliver healthcare in youth detention in Australia.

Tess plans to study a Master in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School. Through research and coursework, Tess will further develop her knowledge regarding health and justice policy, with a focus on sustainable healthcare funding models to comprehensively address the social determinants of health.

David Charles Nason Journalism Scholarship Recipient

Ava Benny-Morrison

Ava Benny-Morrison is studying a Master of Arts (politics concentration) at Columbia Journalism School in New York. She has been a journalist in Australia for 12 years and worked at major metropolitan newspapers. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from Griffith University in Queensland and in 2019, published her first non-fiction book, The Lost Girls. Ava is passionate about reporting on the justice system and how government and policy decisions affect the lives of everyday people. Through her studies at Columbia, Ava plans to focus her thesis on trends in global organised crime and terrorism. She aims to sharpen her investigative journalism skills and deepen her understanding of the link between crime and endemic social issues.

AAA-Aurora Indigenous Scholarship Recipients

Bronte Gosper

Bronte Gosper is a filmmaker, writer and historian. She is a proud Wiradjuri woman. She graduated with First Class Honours from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in History. Bronte has interned with Killer Films/Moxie Pictures in New York and has had her creative works published in the Cordite Poetry review and Ratrock magazine. In 2020, Bronte interned with the Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians, where she led a community engagement project that informed a research paper investigating the unique challenges faced by indigenous women.

Bronte plans to undertake an Oral History Master of Arts at Columbia University. This study will give Bronte the opportunity to make a documentary that records the transnational histories of Indigenous women involved in advocacy work in the late 20th Century. She hopes that this documentary will create an archive for future advocates and policy makers while informing the Australian public about issues that are often told for Indigenous women, rather than by them.

Chloe D'Souza

Chloe D’Souza will be studying a Master of Laws at Harvard University, with a focus on international human rights and comparative studies. Chloe’s research to date has focussed on the correlation between self-determination, and constitutional recognition of First Nations peoples. Chloe is interested in the intersection of law and policy relating to reform targeted at improving the social and economic outcomes of Indigenous Australians and hopes to gain more knowledge and skills in human rights advocacy, constitutional reform and social justice.

Isabella Frank

Isabella Frank’s goal is to provide accessibility and support to indigenous populations that do not have access to culturally sensitive psychological resources. To accomplish this, Isabella is currently undertaking a Master’s of Counseling Psychology at Lehigh University.

On completion of her Master’s, Isabella plans to commence her PhD in Psychology with her research interests centered around multiculturalism, social justice, intersectionality, equality, trauma, and mental health awareness and treatment within indigenous populations. Isabella hopes to use her education and research to be a mechanism of change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to work within their communities across Australia improving individuals, families, and communities’ psychological care and quality of life.

Hayden Ryan

Hayden Ryan is a Yuin man from the South Coast of New South Wales, looking towards a career in advanced audio engineering, spatial sound research, and cultural interaction with acoustic environments.

His academic journey has seen outstanding achievement in higher sound design programs, overseas research opportunities, and multiple scholarships to support him in pursuing his career aspirations. Through post-graduate study, Hayden will dive deep into the complex technologies used to analyse and process acoustically significant environments, as well as the advanced techniques acoustic researchers and designers used to reproduce the sonic qualities of these environments.

With the skills developed from his time overseas, Hayden is keen to work with Indigenous communities to reinvigorate cultural performance through advanced sound design and engineering processes, and contribute to academic research into Aboriginal sound science.

Veterans’ Fund Scholarship Program

Veterans’ Fund Scholarship Recipients (AUS to USA)

Joel Bell

Major Joel Bell is an Army Engineer Officer who has spent the last 15 years delivering infrastructure in complex environments around the world. As a Civil Engineer he has had the privilege of twice deploying on operations to the Middle East, to Afghanistan in 2016 and to the United Arab Emirates in 2021. He will use the American Australian Association Scholarship to complete a Master of Business Administration. This course of study will allow Joel to build a post-military career in infrastructure planning and investment, so he can continue having an impact on society by shaping decisions around our most important projects.

Adam Leslie

After serving twelve years in the Australian Army, followed by fifteen years in the Australian National Intelligence Community under the Foreign Affairs portfolio, Adam Leslie has developed a deep understanding of the requirement for closer cooperation between Australia and the US in the context of global strategic competition, especially with China. As a result, Adam founded a business, Levenhall, that promotes innovation agility and technology mobility between the United States and Australia. Adam intends to study innovation at the post- graduate level to apply academic rigor to achieve the mission of providing capability to Australian and US war fighters and intelligence operators.

Emily Ford

Emily Ford joined the Australian Defence Force as an operator movements soldier in 2015. Most recently in 2019/20 she was a part of Op Bushfire Assist to provide movement support in Australia’s bushfire crisis. After her fulltime career in the military, she completed a Bachelor of Education majoring in Humanities. Throughout her degree she took a special interest in the field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). The AAA Veteran’s Scholarship will benefit her greatly as she purses a Graduate Certificate of TESOL. This study will help her specialise in her field and gain opportunities to work as an educator in various schools, universities, and organisations.

Natalie Harrisson

Natalie Harrisson enlisted into the Australian Regular Army (ARA) in 2010 as a dental assistant GAP year and continued full time service as administration and pay. She has participated in exercises such as Talisman Sabre, which is a joint military exercise between Australian and US forces. Natalie learnt languages including French, Portuguese and Tetum at the Defence Force School of Languages in Melbourne. She spent a two-year assignment in Timor Leste as the Administration Manager for the Defence Cooperation Program. Natalie is going to study food and nutrition as part of the AAA Veterans Scholarship which will aid in her plans for after military service as a dietician.

Benjamin Zeid

Benjamin Zeid joined the Australian Army in 2009 and completed a number of specialist training courses prior to deploying to the Solomon Island as a Combat First Aider and Linguist in 2012. During his deployment, Ben found he had a passion for the medical field. Ben took part in an exchange program to the United States where he encountered the Physician Associate career. Ben plans to complete the Yale University Physician Associate (PA) program with the aid of the American Australian Association’s scholarship. Ben’s goal is to help establish the role of PAs in Australia in order to improve healthcare accessibility and outcomes in rural and remote areas while also providing an attractive career to other Australian Defence Force Veterans with medical experience in a career that utilizes their unique skills, abilities and experiences.

AAA-Incitec Pivot Ltd Scholarship Recipient

Catherine Walsh

Catherine Walsh, a 14-year veteran of the Royal Australian Air Force and current active Reservist, will undertake a Master of Public Management. Catherine also has over a decade of policy, program and governance experience in leadership roles across the Commonwealth and South Australian public sectors. Formal post-graduate study in the United States will enable Catherine to learn from internationally renowned practitioners and theorists and focus on risk management, democratic governance and the implications domestic policies have globally and vice versa.

Arts Fund Scholarships and Grants

Arts Fund Scholarship Recipients (AUS to USA)

Camilla Caldwell

Camilla Caldwell is currently studying a Professional Studies Diploma at Mannes The New School under Curtis Macomber, while working as a touring sessional violinist, having been invited to perform in China, Singapore, Austria, Italy, Germany and in the UK, Australia and the US.

She has been a concerto soloist at the Melbourne Recital Centre, Melba Hall and with U3A Symphony Orchestra and concertmaster for Taylor Mac’s ‘A 24 Decade History of Popular Music,’ no.1 and Opiuo’s Syz ygy Orchestra. She has toured over 30 Chinese cities with the Australian International Opera Company and with the Melbourne Opera Company.

Joseph Shing Him Chan

Joseph Shing Him Chan is an emerging Australian conductor currently based in Kansas, where he is completing a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting under the tutelage of Dr Carolyn Watson. Joseph is equally comfortable engaging both professional and developing ensembles. Now beginning his career in the United States, Joseph has been actively involved in the orchestral programs of the University of Kansas, as well as co-founding a new ensemble, the Kansas University Orchestra. In addition to his conducting schedule, Joseph is also a proficient violist, with mentors including Professor Patricia Pollett and Boris Vayner.

Stephen de Filippo

Stephen de Filippo is a classical composer from the regional Southwest of Western Australia, whose music has been described by The Age’s Clive O’Connell as “of its time, packed with energy very few young writers would be capable of depicting”. Stephen’s music bridges the worlds of classical, experimental performance, and new media to culminate in a product that has a unique base in capturing an Australian sonic experience. Central to his sound are the use of nonstandard instrumental techniques, a constant pushing and pulling of density and speed, and notational strategies that utilise timed durations.

Miranda Samuels

Miranda Samuels is an artist, researcher, and educator. Her work explores the concept of representation as both a contemporary political problem and an aesthetic issue, and questions the emphasis on optics and visibility in conceptions of equality and diversity today. Miranda is a member of the artist-activist collective The Countess Report; which produces data, analysis and conceptual artwork addressing underrepresentation of female artists in the contemporary Australian art-world. The Countless Report is a partner of the NGA’s Know My Name initiative, contributing to their Gender Equity Action Plan. Miranda holds a BFA(Hons) and has extensive experience in public engagement positions at Australian museums/galleries.

Arts Fund Scholarship Recipients (USA to AUS)

Starr Horton

Starr Horton is an animation student fascinated with cultures around the world. His focus on expression through animation is due to its combination of multiple artistic disciplines and his appreciation for art that communicates abstract concepts such as dreams with symbolic meaning and contrast.

Under the mentorship of the faculty at The University of Southern California, Starr has continued to hone his artistic and directing abilities in sequential time-based art. He currently is working on his 2-D animated senior project “Kokoda,” focusing on the flora and fauna of Papua New Guinea through the lens of the native wildlife.

Mikel Moss

Mikel Moss is passionate about creating space for arts therapies research in the broader psychological community. Mikel’s Doctoral research focuses on the development of ‘Gold Standard’, practice lead, mixed method dramatherapeutic techniques and researching the best practices for healing and care with ‘colonized Other’ communities. He has currently developed a new drama therapy approach utilizing Sanford Meisner’s repetition exercise focusing specifically on youth from ‘colonized Other’ communities and has developed a tool to enable better engagement in drama therapy normed on youth from ‘colonized Other’ communities assessing engagement with performance in everyday life as a precursor to engagement with dramatherapeutic interventions. Mikel has recently joined the Wominjeka Djeembana Indigenous Research Lab at Monash University as a PhD student to further this work.

Gregory Uzelac

Artist and writer Gregory Uzelac uses visual media to tell fantastical stories that resonate in our times. A multilingual son of immigrants to New York City, Uzelac’s work draws inspiration from the cultural hybridisation of the internet age. Expanding on Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s Super Flat Theory, Uzelac sees culture and history as taxonomically fluid. Drawing from the universal accessibility of myth, Uzelac blends and usurps classifications in order to tell tales that cross divides perpetuated by technology, branding, class, and ideology. He completed his BA at Northwestern University in 2013 and is a current MFA candidate at Sydney University.

AAA-AFNGA AusArt Scholarship Recipient

Guy Grabowsky

Guy Grabowsky is a Melbourne-based artist working with analogue photography. Grabowsky creates photographs with and without the camera.

Grabowsky graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) from the VCA, (University of Melbourne) in 2018. He will commence an MFA in Photography at Parsons School of Design, The New School, NYC to develop his practice by examining psychological and perceptual relationships to a ‘post-photographic’ and ‘hypernormalised’ world: how it is continually evolving, with an evidently shifting reality, and our perception of it.


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