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2022 Australia to USA Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations to our 2022 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.

2022 Graduate Education Fund Scholars

 Alison Kearney completed a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry at the University of Sydney in 2017, graduating with First Class Honours and the University Medal. In 2022 she obtained her PhD at the University of Sydney under the supervision of Prof. David James, where she assisted in the development of diabetes treatments by elucidating how insulin transmits cellular signals. She is now a Postdoctoral Research Scientist in the lab of Dr. Neil Vasan at Columbia University, New York. Here she is working to expand treatment options for breast cancer patients with mutations in the gene PIK3CA, one of the most frequently mutated genes in human cancer.

Isobel Ronai is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Extavour lab at Harvard University. Her research interests are in ticks and tick-borne diseases of medical and veterinary importance. Ticks have a significant impact globally on the health of humans and animals, but remain extremely understudied. Isobel will be investigating the fundamental biology of the highly invasive and asexually reproducing Asian longhorned tick (‘bush tick’). This tick species is associated with over 30 human pathogens and also pathogens of livestock.

In Australia, Isobel has been co-leading a McGarvie Smith Institute research grant on the major tick-borne disease of cattle (oriental theileriosis) caused by the Asian longhorned tick. Previously, Isobel was awarded an Endeavour Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Columbia University and investigated the behaviour of the Asian longhorned tick. Isobel obtained her Ph.D. in genetics and entomology at The University of Sydney and was awarded the prize for most meritorious Biology thesis.

Winnie Orchard is a cognitive neuroscientist investigating the transition to motherhood, and the ways in which parenthood changes the brains and minds of women across the lifespan. She completed her Bachelor of Psychology with Honours, and PhD in Neuroscience at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Currently, Winnie is a Postdoctoral Associate with a joint appointment at the Before and After Baby Lab (BABL), and the Department of Psychology, at Yale University in Connecticut, USA. Her research is focused on investigating changes to brain structure and function related to motherhood across the lifespan, and how these changes impact mood and cognition for mothers. With the assistance of the American Australian Association Graduate Education Fund Scholarship, Winnie will continue her program of research, investigating the importance of motherhood as a sensitive neurodevelopmental stage, specifically focusing on the relationship between neural, hormonal, and cognitive changes across pregnancy and motherhood.

James O’Sullivan is a postdoctoral researcher at Michigan State University.  James will be using a range of advanced imaging techniques to identify how certain agricultural practices help to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store carbon within soil. James will work under the supervision of Professor Alexandra Kravchenko and Dr Andrey Guber who are world leaders in examining soil processes at the micro-scale.

Prior to starting his postdoctoral research, James completed his PhD at La Trobe University in Melbourne Australia. Under the supervision of Professor Caixian Tang, James examined the impact of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations on plant phosphorus acquisition and symbiotic N2 fixation. James has been invited to present his research at various seminars and is an active committee member of Soil Science Australia. James’ research passion centered around improving agricultural sustainability through managing soils and enjoys contextualising highly conceptual soils research in practical in-field examples.

Dr Jianghui (Sloan) Wang is a scientist with a decorated early-career research track record and interests in gene therapy and data science. He has helped to establish pipelines for both laboratory and clinical gene therapy studies for eye diseases at Centre for Eye Research Australia based in Melbourne. He is passionate about development of delivery vectors for gene therapy, sophisticated bioinformatic analyses and machine learning. Sloan is also an investigator on two current gene therapy clinical trials, sponsored by Gyroscope UK. His study at Yale University sponsored by American Australian Association will focus on the development of novel viral vector (adeno-associated virus, AAV) for gene therapies that are superior to its wild-type version in terms of infection efficacy and safety in eyes using machine learning. If successful, he will apply this approach to develop other superior viral vectors suitable for other organs/tissues.

Dr. Simone Park completed her PhD in Immunology at The University of Melbourne (Australia) in 2019, publishing papers in leading scientific journals detailing how tissue-resident T cells protect against skin cancer and infection. Simone’s research has been recognised with multiple awards including the Victorian Premiers’ Award for Research Excellence, Centenary Medical Innovation Award and Picchi Award for Cancer Research, and led to her being named on the Forbes Asia ‘30 Under 30’ List in 2022. Simone recently relocated to The University of Pennsylvania (USA) to undertake further training in the laboratory of Dr. E. John Wherry. Her postdoctoral research seeks to understand how protective and dysfunctional subsets of T cells develop and function in tissues like the gut, liver and brain during chronic infection and cancer. Simone is exploring how these cells are hardwired at a molecular level, with the goal of leveraging this information to develop novel disease therapies.

Stone Woo was born and raised in Sydney, Australia and earned a BSc(Adv)(Hons) with University Medal at the University of Sydney in 2019. He is currently a chemist and PhD-in-training in the Shenvi laboratory at Scripps Research. His PhD research has focused on developing robust chemistry to access Australian Galbulimima (GB) rainforest tree-derived neuroactive compounds, whose detailed biological study and elaboration into medicines has been precluded by unreliable supply from natural sources. In 2022, he co-published a solution to the supply of one of these compounds, GB18. Using this synthetic material, GB18 was identified as an antagonist for opioid receptors, the first biological target assignment for these GB rainforest compounds in 35 years. Stone is currently using this work as a foundation for an Australian-made solution to the growing global opioid crisis, and hopes to take more of these neuroactive GB compounds from bush to bedside.

Ruth Kravis is a first year Ph.D. student in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department at the University of California, Berkeley. She graduated from the Australian National University with a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechatronics) and a Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy), earning First Class Honours and a University Medal for her academic achievements.

Kravis’ research interests lie broadly in energy system decarbonisation. Currently, she is interested in how control theory and optimisation can help make decisions regarding the design and stable operation of future power grids. She is also interested in the economic and social dimensions of this transition. In the time between graduating and commencing her PhD, Kravis has been investigating multi-energy systems and approaches to optimising across different commodities and resources. In her PhD, she hopes to further our understanding of the dynamic behaviour of the new generation of devices that will constitute a future, decarbonised grid.

Dr. Helena Franco [Sir Keith Murdoch Scholar] is undertaking a Master of Medical Sciences in Global Health Delivery at Harvard Medical School.

She obtained her Doctor of Medicine from Bond University in 2017. She completed overseas surgical electives at Yale University and Cambridge University, and received the 2018 Bond University Young Alumni Award. Since graduating medical school, Helena worked as an Orthopaedic Principal House Officer in Queensland. She served as the Vice Chair for International Student Surgical Network, a non-for-profit organisation representing over 5,000 members across 75 countries. Her contribution to leadership and research in global surgery was recognised as the 2022 Student Leader in Global Health Award recipient from the Consortium of Universities in Global Health.

Her thesis at Boston Children’s Hospital will examine sociodemographic factors influencing access to and outcomes for children with acetabular dysplasia requiring surgical management. This novel research may assist in understanding barriers for children accessing equitable orthopaedic care.

As a plant biologist, Joseph Swift [Pratt Industries Scholar] is driven to conduct research that can help mitigate the effects of climate change. Both Australia and the USA are facing drier futures. To help adapt our agriculture, he will study how plants respond to water at the molecular level. At the onset of drought, plants stall the growth of new leaves and wait for water. What genes allow plants to evaluate the amount of water they have available? And can we use these mechanisms to help plants use water more efficiently? Diving deep into the molecular genomics of plant biology, Swift’s research seeks to answer these questions. He is pursuing these aims as a post-doctoral scholar at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California. Committed to science communication, Swift has published freelance articles in Science and The Australian, and served as front-matter adviser for PNAS.

Michael Dore [Kayne Anderson Scholar] is a postdoctoral fellow in the Simpson Querrey Institute at Northwestern University, under the supervision of Professor Samuel I. Stupp. He received his PhD in chemistry from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where he worked to incorporate therapeutic RNA into precisely designed nanostructures built from DNA.

Dore’s published research is focused on creating bio-inspired nanomaterials that can find applications in biology to treat injury and disease. He is currently developing technology to controllably deliver mRNA to targeted tissues and cell types. By integrating mRNA into peptide-based nanomaterials that enhance cell regrowth, he is working to create an injectable gel that will be used to treat chronic spinal cord injuries.

Dore aspires to start his own research group in Australia, where he will explore further how regenerative medicine can be enhanced using mRNA-nanomaterials, and work with industry to make these technologies accessible.

2022 David Nason Journalism Scholar

Lori Youmshajekian is heading to New York to study a Master of Arts in Science, Health and Environmental reporting at NYU. She has been a video journalist and TV producer in Australia for several years and has worked at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and News Corp Australia. She graduated with an undergraduate degree in Commerce and Media with distinction from the University of New South Wales. She’s also received a Walkley Award for Public Service Journalism and a Kennedy Award for Outstanding Online Video for her contributions to the #LetHerSpeak and #LetUsSpeak campaigns supporting sexual assault survivors. At NYU, Lori plans to learn how to bridge the gap between complex scientific issues and mainstream journalism. She aims to combine her experience in visual storytelling with a deeper understanding of the latest research in science, and the skills to report on controversial issues in the field.

2022 Aurora Indigenous Scholars

Dakota Feirer is a Bundjalung and Gumbaynggirr man with a background in writing, art and Indigenous education. Dakota graduated from the University of Wollongong with a Bachelor of Communications and Media (Honours) from which he double majored in Indigenous Studies and Global Media. Dakota achieved Class 1 (High Distinction) honours with his research thesis focused on local reterritorialisations of Hip Hop as Indigenous cultural sovereignty in the 21st Century. Central to his thesis is the premise of Indigenous cultural sovereignty as inseparable from Country (the environment), positioning contemporary manifestations of storytelling – particularly Hip Hop and poetry – as reclamations of identity in a globally connected cultural environment. Dakota’s research plan concerns Indigenous cultural sovereignty – still inseparable from Country – when engaging with global collecting institutions; where cultural material (Country) may work as meeting places (between Indigenous and non-Indigenous). Central is the work of decolonising through relationships between collecting institutions and Indigenous communities.

Danielle Kampers is an experienced aquarist with a strong background in facility maintenance, tropical aquariums and aquatic animal biology, seeking to take the next career step into research. She has completed her Bachelor of Science majoring in Marine Biology and minoring in Aquaculture and Fisheries Science at James Cook University, Australia.

As a Nyungar woman from Western Australia, Danielle has a passion for aquaculture, and its role in sustainably meeting the increasing global demand for seafood. She has dedicated her studies to exploring ways to improve the efficiency and application of new technologies in aquaculture that relate to producing low impact production systems and reducing reliance on natural resources. Understanding how to utilise Indigenous Sea Country science more effectively is her second area of interest. Danielle wants to draw attention to aquaculture’s cultural and historical importance to Indigenous peoples because it can improve connections between local Indigenous people and governmental agencies.

Nick Harvey-Doyle is a descendant of the Anaiwan Peoples from the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales and is passionate about undertaking work that creates a more culturally diverse and inclusive Australia.

Nick has qualifications in arts, law, and journalism, and has spent the last three years working for a First Nations social impact consultancy. Through this work, Nick advises government, corporate, and third-sector organisations on some of Australia’s most significant Indigenous Affairs projects.

Nick will be undertaking a Master of Arts in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University to examine the global intersection of media, race, and culture. Through his study, Nick aims to identify and develop strategies to mitigate the barriers to achieving diverse representation for First Nations people and other minority cohorts in mainstream media.

Nick was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship from the Australian-American Fulbright Commission and an Indigenous Futures Scholar Award from the University of Melbourne.

Flynn De Luca is a nineteen-year-old Wiradjuri man. A former Indigenous Ambassador at his high school, Chancellor State College, and now earned academic recognition for his grade point averages during the Winter 2022 Semester after being elected to the president’s list for maintaining and achieving a 4.0 grade point average at Muskegon Community College. Flynn has been accepting into Davenport University as a sophomore studying accounting full-time while competing in the men’s soccer team in the NCAA Division II, which he plans to combine use of both in his future endeavours after finishing his college degree.

Before commencement to the United States, he lived on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. While attending high school, Flynn managed to combine his two passions of football and finance, studying towards being an accountant, as well as being selected as the Indigenous Ambassador at Chancellor State college, further being awarded Chancellor 5 C’s award in 2019, completion of multiple certificates, Flynn managed to excel for sporting in school too, being awarded Bill Turner player’s player, and captaining his age’s futsal team.

Outside of school, he was doing the extra’s to get an edge over his opposition to becoming a professional soccer player, representing Brisbane Warringal’s Men’s football team at Australian Indigenous Football Championship aged only 15 as well as being the Sunshine Coast Wanderers Junior Indigenous ambassador in 2020, and further captaining his National Premier league 18s team.

Maxwell Brierty is a Kullilli man with ancestral connections to the Wakka Wakka people and the Aboriginal community of Cherbourg in Queensland, Australia. Max is currently undertaking a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry at the University of Queensland (UQ).

In 2021, he completed his PhD at the School of Political Science and International Studies at UQ, which explored the operations of colonialism through the restraint of Aboriginal people in histories that spanned from the beginning of Australia’s colonisation through to the present-day.

Max is currently developing his doctoral thesis into a book manuscript entitled When Moderns Dream. The support of the American Australian Association – Aurora Indigenous Scholarship will enable Max to undertake a year of postdoctoral research at Harvard University, where he will write a book that looks at Australia from afar while exploring an Australian Indigenous philosophy of truth, place, and time.

2022 Veterans’ Fund Scholars

Patrick Beer is a former Australian Solider and current Bachelor of Theology/Bachelor Laws (honours) student at the Australian Catholic University (ACU). Throughout his time in the Army he participated in various multinational training exercises in his role as an Air Dispatcher. Through his studies he developed a keen interest in the fields of both Public Law and its interaction with religion. He has received the Executive Dean’s commendation for outstanding academic attainment and a number of unit commendations recognising his consistent academic excellence. He intends to use his scholarship to analyse the growing disconnect between religion and the western legal tradition through the completion of a Master of Law program. Asking the question “How are we to rationalise the effect of religion upon the influence of the law now and historically?”.

Peter Saunders [Northrop Grumman Corporation Scholar] currently studying a dual Bachelor’s in Business and Commerce majoring in International Business and Finance at the University of Newcastle. He previously completed qualifications in Business, Government, and Environmental Management and Sustainability. Saunders’ has been studying his bachelor’s part-time since 2020 while still in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). He is now in his second year of university and still serves in the RAAF as a reservist. He intends to use his scholarship to spend a year in America at a partner university. This will allow him to study International Business, internationally, rather than in his hometown. Towards the end of his degree, Saunders’ plans to do an internship at a multinational company, using his experience in America and hopefully secure a job straight out of study. In his late 20’s he plans to get his Master’s in Business Administration.

Nicholas Desilas [F45 Scholar] is a Royal Australian Navy veteran of 10 years specializing in military combat system integration, with operational deployments across the Middle East and Asia pacific regions.

He is the co-founder of Deploi Technologies, an early stage military health tech startup that is building software to improve the veteran healthcare space. With a strong interest in technology, Nicholas is looking to study at The University of California to immerse himself in all things entrepreneurship and innovation that is associated with Silicon Valley.

For the past 3 years Nicholas has worked across SaaS enterprise sales, and currently leads the Retention and Growth team across Australia for Palo Alto Networks, the global cybersecurity leader. Nicholas holds a Master’s of Business Administration (Technology) from the Australian Graduate School of Management, a certificate in Electronics Engineering from Tafe NSW, and is the recipient of the Australian Active and Operational Service Medals.

2022 Arts Fund Scholars

Ben Mason’s short fiction has been performed, awarded, and published, including in Westerly and Overland. Home Invasion — his collection of short fiction — was long-listed for the 2019 Fogarty Award. For spoken word he finished 3rd in the 2019 WA leg of the Australian Poetry Slam State Final, won the Margaret River Writers Festival Slam, and has performed in Fringe and Festival shows throughout Western Australia. In 2020 he was a writer-in-residence at Mattie Furphie House for the Fellowship of Australian Writers WA, in 2021 he won an Emerging Writers Award with Westerly/UWA, and in 2022 he is an incoming member of the Iowa Writers Workshop. His themes focus on class and what it means to be Australian in contemporary society, in both regional and urban environments. At Iowa, he aims to complete a linked short story collection and a novel.

Sarah Bishop is an actor and filmmaker passionate about impact storytelling and often using comedy to entertain and thought-provoke.

She is one third of comedy group Skit Box who have received over 140 million views for several viral videos including ACTIVEWEAR. Recent credits include writing and starring in Amazon’s THE MOTH EFFECT, voicing the lead character on Adult Swim and HBO Max’s YOLO:CRYSTAL FANTASY and appearing as a series regular on Network Ten’s KINNE TONIGHT. She also created, starred in, wrote and directed the sketch series WHAM BAM THANK YOU MA’AM for ABC and NBC Universal’s Seeso.

In 2020 she was AACTA nominated as part of the team for her directing and acting work on the webseries DING DONG I’M GAY, and in 2019 she was a directors attachment on OPERATION BUFFALO with Porchlight Films.

She is repped by RGM Artists and is signed as a commercials director with Revolver.

Ania Freer is an Australian-Jamaican artist, filmmaker. cultural researcher and curator based in Kingston, Jamaica. She attended The University of Sydney, Australia and received a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Film Theory. In 2016, she moved to Jamaica devoting herself to an art practice which explores identity and lesser known histories through themes of social justice, class, race and familial relationships. In 2022, Ania undertook residencies in the Everglades and Senegal, building relationships and collecting stories which drew on important Indigenous knowledge and mythologies around water. Art Omi: Artists residency is an exciting opportunity for Ania to deepen her studio practice, refine her research, and build important relationships with local and international critics, curators and prominent artists through routine studio visits, workshops, and presentations.

Ania has exhibited at the National Gallery of Jamaica, she is an AIRIE (Artist in Residence in Everglades) Fellow, a Caribbean Film Academy Fellow, recipient of the Black Creative Endeavours Grant and the Film By Bike BIPOC Filmmaker Grant. She was the inaugural Curatorial and Art Writing Fellow at New Local Space Kingston where she curated her first group exhibition, ‘All That Don’t Leave’, which interrogated the line between art and craft, and questioned who can be called an artist and how do we assign value to works.

Talisha Elger graduated from the University of Queensland with BAs in both Writing, and Film and Television graduating with a Distinction. She also spent an academic quarter at UCLA, studying Screenwriting, The Art and Technique of Filmmaking, Television Studies, and Entertainment Economics. On completion, she placed on the Dean’s Honors List and gained a screenwriting mentorship with her Professor. She also holds an Advanced Diploma of Screen (Film and Television) and a Certificate IV in Photo-imaging both from Southbank Institute of Technology, Australia. Talisha’s short film THE FEARS OF YOUNG CAROLINE was a Coup de Coeur at Cannes and also won awards at festivals worldwide including Best Drama at the Queensland New Filmmakers Awards. Her first screenplay THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT FINCH has achieved an Official Selection at the Gold Coast Film Festival, a Finalist at the AFIN International Film Festival, and a Semi-Finalist (Top 10) at the Australian International Screenwriting Awards. Talisha will be studying for her Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting at AFI Conservatory.

Linda Sok is a Cambodian-Australian artist investigating the Khmer Rouge Regime, which forced her family to flee Cambodia. Her practice navigates the complexities of the trauma embedded in the Cambodian diaspora and aims to shift its legacy from one focused on genocide to one of healing.

Her current area of inquiry explores nuanced ways of looking at traditional Cambodian textile techniques such as silk and pidan weaving and hol (ikat) dyeing techniques as an act of resilience and speaks to the ways a reclaimed practice can be used as a tool to interpret her family’s and her own migration, intergenerational trauma, and healing in the present day.

Linda has exhibited internationally in institutions throughout Australia and the US, including the Institute of Modern Art, Artspace, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Gertrude Contemporary, and Multicultural Arts Center. Linda is currently at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn, NY. She is a finalist in the Churchie Emerging Art Prize and will be in residence at NARS Foundation later this year.

2022 AusArt Scholar

Pippa Mott is a curator and arts writer based in Lenapehoking/Brooklyn, New York. With the support of the American Australian Association and Fulbright Australia, Pippa is completing an MA in the History of Art & Archaeology (Marica and Jan Vilcek Curatorial Program) at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Pippa has a decade-long career in the arts, having held a range of roles at the Australian Museum, ARTAND Foundation, the Nicholson Museum, Dark Mofo, Mona Foma, and the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona). With an academic background in archaeology and experience in both public programming and science communication, she has a unique vantage point on material culture, visitor experience, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Pippa continues to work with the Museum of Old and New Art as Associate Curator whilst regularly contributing to Artist Profile Magazine as International Writer.


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