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2022 Round 2 Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations to our 2022 Round 2 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 US to AUS Graduate Education Fund Scholars

Growing up in a small, rural town along the Atlantic coast of the United States, Aaron Hasenei always had an intimate connection with the natural world and its wonders. Given his proclivity towards nature and wildlife, it was only innate that Hasenei gravitated towards a career within the biological sciences. His bachelor’s and master’s degree experiences solidified the connection of his skills and passions by exploring how environmental stressors influence the performance of marine organisms through their physiology, which mechanistically links an individual to its environment. Here, in Australia, Hasenei continues this exploration through a PhD program at James Cook University investigating how future ocean warming impacts resilience potential within one of the most critical yet vulnerable groups of animals within our oceans, sharks. His research will provide invaluable insights of the capacity for adaptation within shark species under future climate change to enhance conservation initiatives in an uncertain future.

Allison Clatch is a PhD candidate in the Depearment of Immunology and Microbiology at the Peter Doherty Institute, through the University of Melbourne. Her research focuses how the protective capacities and behaviour of T cells change based on tissue location. Specifically, she is exploring how local discrepancies within the tissue can modulate T cell behaviour and induce autoimmune hyperactivity. Ali’s research passion is at the nexus of immunology and microbiology. By coupling her PhD in T cell human immunology with a BS and MS in microbiology from UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, respectively, she hopes to drive future innovative research examining how some pathogens can modulate immune cell behaviour, such as directing T cell populations towards protective or autoimmune immune responses. Ultimately, her interdisciplinary research aims to guide tissue-specific immunotherapies and potentially unlock new treatment avenues.

Anamaria Muniz Rodriguez is pursuing her master’s degree in Marine Biology at James Cook University in Australia. Previously earning her bachelor’s degree in Marine Science from the University of Tampa, she decided to move to the coral hotspot of the world to better study coral reefs in the field. Her research focuses on the potential for thermal acclimation and selective shuffling of algal symbionts that reside within the coral tissue. She is particularly interested in using this information to better understand the physiological pressures coral reefs are undergoing due to global climate change. Her aims are to use the study of higher thermally tolerant Symbiodinium to investigate the potential for more resilient genetic selection of reefs, bettering our conservation efforts in the future.

Angus Keto is a second year computational chemistry PhD student at the University of Queensland and a graduate from the University of Bath with a first class honors MChem degree. During his undergraduate studies, he was an industrial trainee at Syngenta in the Formulation Technology Group at Jealott’s Hill International Research Centre researching microencapsulation methods. His current interests are focused on developing new technology to predict the outcomes of chemical reactions with industrial significance. Computational approaches can significantly reduce costs and expedite the syntheses of new compounds such as pharmaceuticals, which have particularly costly and lengthy design processes. His research aims to develop prediction technologies through a multi-discipline approach combining chemistry, computer science, and artificial intelligence. These technologies will be readily implementable in laboratory environments to enable chemists to efficiently design synthetic routes to compounds and reduce toxicity and waste both in the compounds themselves and the associated processes.

Callaway Thatcher’s research focusses on the role of the microbiome in reef-building coral health. She developed these interests while working as a microbiologist for Nelson Laboratories and completing a master’s thesis on coral-associated bacteria. Her doctorate research will discover if probiotics tailored to corals could benefit coral health in an aquaculture setting. Bacterial probiotics are routinely used in agriculture and aquaculture to improve the health of farmed organisms. As coral reefs degrade worldwide, there is an urgent need for aquaculture processes to mass-produce corals for research and deployment. However, coral husbandry research has been limited, and in particular, it is not known if/how bacteria can maximize coral health. Her project will isolate and screen probiotic candidates, targeting functions expected to enhance coral nutritional condition, growth, and early immune response under captive conditions. This work has direct applications to improve the aquaculture industry and she looks forward to seeing her work deployed in a meaningful way.

Emily Nabong is a PhD Candidate at the University of Sydney in the School of Civil Engineering. Her studies are concentrated within the field of Humanitarian Engineering through which she researches the impact of climate change on migration and displacement. Emily’s research focuses on the complex interactions that lead to/ inhibit climate adaptation strategies, such as migration. Prior to beginning her PhD, Emily attended the University of South Florida where she completed her Master’s in Environmental Engineering for International Development and Florida State University for her Bachelor’s in Civil/ Environmental Engineering. During her studies, Emily has also worked in multiple organizations focused in the field of international development. Her recent positions have included interning at the Asian Development Bank to conduct research on climate risk assessments and adaptation, as well as serving two years in the Philippines as a Peace Corps Volunteer, assisting in coastal resource management and climate change adaptation.

Emily Pacheco is an only child to Deaf parents who migrated to the United States. American Sign Language (ASL) is her first language. Emily’s Bachelor of Arts is in ASL with a concentration in ASL/English Interpreting. During her time at Framingham State University, Emily studied abroad at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland. During her time there, she learned about interpreting and translation using British Sign Language. One same sign language being used universally is a common misconception people have. Just like spoken languages, many different sign languages are used worldwide. Emily is now pursuing her Master of Research at Macquarie University in Australia. Her areas of research are linguistics with a focus of translation and interpreting. Emily aims to explore cognitive processing in translation, interpreting production and reception, and community interpreting. She hopes to learn in depth about the potential double brokering aspect of signed languages and multicultural Deaf and hearing people.

Growing up on the beaches of south Florida, Miranda Altice has always had a magnetic draw to the ocean. She received marine biology and communications degrees from Indian River State College and Jacksonville University, graduating with honors and being equipped with determination in research and science writing. Altice’s research interest is coral reef biodiversity, particularly symbiotic relationships, and how they can strengthen the conservation of marine organisms. As a research student at Southern Cross University, her topic explores heat resilience in corals using assisted evolution. Corals live in symbiosis with microalgal symbionts, providing each other with essential nutrients to survive. When the ocean gets too warm such as from global warming, the symbionts are expelled from the coral, causing coral bleaching. Altice’s research with the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program at the Australian Institute of Marine Science involves providing young corals with symbionts conditioned to survive in bleaching temperatures.

Soren Huber received a Bachelor of Music in trumpet performance from University of Maryland in 2006 and then completed postbac science courses at Montgomery College in Maryland. In 2020, She earned her Master of Science at the University of British Columbia, where she did genetic characterization of new species, including collecting, sequencing, and running genetic analyses on calcified red algae for comparison with DNA extracted from historical specimens (including one collected from Chile in the 1800s by Charles Darwin) for the purpose of accurate name application, range confirmation, discovering, and naming new species. Huber has been in the PhD program at Griffith University (Brisbane, Australia) for almost a year.  She is excited for the opportunity to apply her skills and knowledge of genetics and marine botany to aid restoration of the Great Barrier Reef at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (Townsville, Australia) where Huber is researching coral larval settlement on crustose coralline algae.

2022 US to AUS Indigenous Education Scholar

Lacey Trujillo was born and raised on the Navajo Reservation from small towns, Shiprock, NM and Window Rock, AZ, Lacey graduated from Arizona State University with degrees in Industrial Design and Design Management. Post-graduation she went on to attend Pensole Footwear Design Academy in Portland, OR and eventually networked her way into her dream job as a Nike designer. Laceystarted her career at Nike as a contract employee color designing for baseball, football, lacrosse and softball athletes. She then transitioned into a full-time position in tennis footwear and is currently a part of the women’s running team where she continues to work with athletes and story tell through color. Aside from her daily job, Lacey continues the work she started in college along with a team of ASU students/faculty by traveling to Native American reservations speaking to students in hope of exposing them to opportunities in design. Native Americans are rare in the design industry, but Lacey would like to change that by mentoring as many students. This year, Lacey plans to continue her education in South Australia to pursue a Master of Business Administration. After completion she plans to give back to her community in hopes of building professional development opportunities for indigenous youth.

2022 Sustainable Health Care Funding Scholar

Madeline O’Grady is currently studying toward a Master of Health Economics at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane, Australia. She graduated from MIT in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in biological engineering and a minor in economics. She then went on to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Vanuatu, where she helped implement a solar water system for her island community. Prior to coming to UQ, she worked as a Program Manager at the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), an independent, non-profit organization in Boston that conducts research on the comparative clinical and cost effectiveness of health care interventions. While studying, she is also working as a research assistant at UQ’s Centre for the Business and Economics of Health, which uses economic methods to help inform decision-making in health care to improve health outcomes for patients in Australia.

2022 US to AUS Veterans’ Fund Scholars

Corey Moody’s goal is obtaining a PhD in Military History, which will allow him to either teach as a Professor or work alongside National and State Park Organizations, Historical Foundations, and museums. While his current interests are geared to broad subjects such as Greco-Roman History, ideally Moody’s future research will be geared towards the understanding of ancient warrior cultures, such as the Apache, Spartans, Gurkha, and Māori. To this point, he has earned a B.A. in History with a Focus in Secondary Education. In order to progress to PhD study, Moody is seeking a master’s level certification through postgraduate study. He intends to earn a Master of Museum and Heritage Studies to arm himself with the tools necessary to present history in a respectful and engaging manner. This course study will prepare him to approach future research with an eye for engaging others, teaching with dignity, and history with perspective.

Isiah Hernandez served as Aviation Electronics Technician in the US Navy, where he served on the USS Carl Vinson. As a veteran, in 2020, he furthered his education in the field of aviation by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Aviation Management at the University of Griffith in Brisbane, Australia. With the support of the Australian American Association, he seeks to advance in his field by completing a master’s degree in Information Technology at the Queensland University of Technology. His goal is to increase his multicultural competencies and create a strong network with professionals working in Aviation and IT niche. During his studies, Isiah plans to focus on getting hands-on experiences by doing an internship and seeking learning opportunities through conferences and events. He aspires to use his skills and qualifications to contribute in a professional capacity to the aviation field in the United States and Australia.

Nina Tolentino is a twenty-six-year-old veteran from Westland, Michigan. She was in the United States Air Force for six years stationed at Hurlburt Field, Florida and Spangdahlem, Germany. During her service Tolentino was deployed twice, first to Erbil, Iraq and second to Abu Dhabi, UAE. She received the rank of E5 Staff Sergeant by the end of her enlistment in January of 2022. While in the military she enrolled at Northwest Florida State College for Nursing Prerequires, completed an Associate Degree through the Community College of the Air Force for her job title Maintenance Management, and began researching international nursing programs. After exploring courses around the world, Tolentino applied to the University of Technology, Sydney and was accepted into their undergraduate nursing program. She is looking forward to starting in February 2023 and receiving my undergraduate nursing degree in December 2025.

Saim Bashir is a United States Marine Corps Veteran who has over a decade of experience in security and intelligence for the Department of Defense. He is a Department of Defense certified Linguist and proficient in Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, and Pashto languages. Currently, Saim works as a Cyber Security Analyst / Dev Sec Ops Engineer working and protecting Government systems. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in Criminology and Law from the George Mason University, an Associate’s Degree in Information Systems, and a Career Studies Certificate in Cyber Security. Saim has conducted one year of academic research, which earned him an honors designation on his Bachelor’s degree. His criminology department research project looked at how different variables affect an individual’s perception of disorder; the topic was derivative from broken window theory. This research forms a better foundation for how race and skin color can affect an individual’s perception of their physical environment. Saim would like to pursue an MBA with a focus on Cyber Security and Operational Management at the University of Sydney. He is also passionate about volunteering and minority empowerment and upliftment. His ultimate goal is to set up an organization that will focus on increasing employability for the underprivileged population to help them become financially independent.

During Sergio Villareal’s academic career leading up to his future endeavor, he attended numerous institutions including the US Air Force technical training school. Villareal completed technical school for the Aerospace Ground Equipment technology career field. From Moraine Valley Community College he earned two Associate degrees in Science and General Studies. He then attended Indiana State University where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology. During Villareal’s instruction at Indiana State University, he qualified for the Dean’s List for academic achievement by maining a 3.6 gpa. After realizing his passion for helping others, Villareal has decided to pursue a Masters of Nursing at The University of Queensland. Upon completion of the program he hopes to work in the Emergency Department. Once he has gained enough experience, Villareal intends to return back to the US and commission into the US Air Force as a Registered Nurse.

2022 Incitec Pivot LTD Scholarship and Internship Scholars 

Hai Tu will study towards a Master of Business from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia, focusing on International Business and Data Analytics. Learning international business will allow him to nest his experiences in the military and commercial-corporate environments. Hai has over 13 years as a cleared multi-disciplinary military intelligence analyst and over six years as a human capital consultant. He is a proven leader who has delivered creative solutions across the US Intelligence Community, US State Department, allied-foreign military partners, and within corporate environments. Hai is an Army ROTC graduate from Widener University in Chester, PA, where he obtained a Bachelor’s in US Government and Politics.

Nick Heier graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management. In 2022, he completed two concurrent Master of Science degrees through Arizona State University, one in biomimicry, and the other in Construction Management and Technology, graduating with distinction. In his previous chapter of life, Nick served twenty years in the United States Marine Corps and its special operations forces. Nick’s travels in service spanned North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. While contemplating what opportunities might follow his career in the Marine Corps, Nick unearthed a passion for creative work, building and construction, and studying the natural world. He plans to work with the communities and local governments of South-East Queensland to incorporate nature-inspired innovations into the infrastructure development ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games. Through his biomimetic research and engineering, Nick will empower innovators in the piloting of sustainable engineering technologies.

2022 Round 2 Arts Fund Scholars

Born in Western Sydney, Alex Bateman is a filmmaker and writer living in New York City. She was previously the Digital Marketing Coordinator and Graphic Designer for Sydney Film Festival, Communications Coordinator at NIXCo, Director of the 2018 Verge Creative Arts and Culture Festival, and Editor of the 2017 Hermes Creative Catalogue. She completed her Undergraduate Degree at The University of Sydney in Media and Communications and Film Studies and is now completing her MFA at Columbia University in Screenwriting/Directing. At Columbia University Bateman is the Public Relations Fellow, the 2023 New Plays Festival Manager and is a Teaching Assistant for Cinema History. She recently received an AAUW International Fellowship for her thesis works at Columbia University examining lesbian identity.

Based between Sydney and Los Angeles, Imogen McCluskey was series director for all 10 episodes of the new ABCME series ‘SOUNDTRACK TO OUR TEENAGE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE’. SUBURBAN WILDLIFE, Imogen’s debut feature film, was runner-up for the Audience Award at Sydney Film Festival 2019, premiered internationally at festivals including Taormina Film Festival and Cinequest Film Festival, and she was honoured as the Debut Director for the London Australian Film Festival in 2019. Imogen graduated from the Australian Film Television and Radio School in 2017, receiving the prestigious EU Film Award for her short film GEM. Her short film ATOMIC LOVE has screened at the 2020 BFI Flare Festival, Edmonton IFF, Encounters FF, OUTFEST LA, Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and Short of the Week. Imogen’s web series LOVE BUG was funded by Screen Australia and has over 2.5million views on TikTok, with Imogen work receiving a Best Director nomination from the Australian Director’s Guild, and Best Screenplay nomination at the 54th Australian Writer’s Guild Awards. She is currently studying a Masters of Directing at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, California.

Michaela Burger has shared the stage with Jason Robert Brown, Tina Arena, Meow Meow and many other world renowned artists. Described by Kate Ceberano as “as asset to the cabaret community”, she has been nominated for two Helpmann Academy Awards and is the recipient of the Frank Ford, FringeWorld, BankSA and Best Cabaret Adelaide Fringe awards. Burger received accolades for her co-creation and stellar portrayal of Edith Piaf in Exposing Edith and her show, A migrant’s Son – featuring original songs by Burger – has acquired critical acclaim. Her recent credits include Aftertaste (ABC TV & Closer Productions), Twelfth Night (Adelaide Botanic Gardens/Shakespeare South Australia), Apocalypse Meow (Brooklyn Academy Of Music, New York & Malthouse Theatre) and Rumpelstiltskin (Southbank Theatre London/Windmill & State Theatre SA). Burger plans to work with prolific director and acting instructor Susan Batson, at her New York studio. During her training she will apply the Batson Technique to create and develop a new solo work, detailing the true-life story of Australian sex-worker and activist Pippa O’Sullivan, known as Grace Bellavue. During her training she will apply the Batson Technique to create and develop a new solo work – which will then be premiered in the US and Australia.

Based in New York City, renowned Australian violinist Peter Clark first performed in Carnegie Hall with the Australian Chamber Orchestra at the age of twenty. As concertmaster, he appears regularly with Sydney Chamber Opera, Victorian Opera, Darwin Symphony Orchestra, and New Zealand Opera, and has also appeared as Principal Second of the RTÉ Orchestra, Dublin. In 2020, Peter was made a principal member of Omega Ensemble, ‘one of Australia’s most forward-thinking ensembles’ (Limelight Magazine). Peter’s deep commitment to arts access has led him to perform in more than 120 regional towns and cities across Australia, as well as to develop a beloved music program at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, through the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Peter’s doctoral research on social innovation and cohesion through music is generously supported by Judith Neilson AM, and the General Sir John Monash Foundation. He is also completing an MBA in Arts Innovation, with the generous support of the American Australian Association.

Yen Pham is a writer and journalist from Adelaide, Australia. She has degrees from Harvard and the University of Oxford in English literature and Women’s Studies. Her non-fiction writing has appeared in publications such asThe New York Times, Bookforum, the White Review, and Literary Hub. She is currently an MFA candidate at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she is working on fiction writing. She hopes to publish books and to have a career which combines her interests across literature and journalism.

2022 APRA AMCOS Global Professional Development Scholar 

Gordi is the musical moniker of ARIA nominated singer/songwriter/producer, Sophie Payten. Based between Australia and LA, the Troye Sivan collaborator who has toured with the likes of Sam Smith, Bon Iver, Julien Baker and The Tallest Man On Earth delivered her second album Our Two Skins in June 2020 through Jagjaguwar and Liberation Records. The impeccable ten track record was nominated for an ARIA, won best pop album in the 2020 AIR Awards, named triple j’s feature album, praised by Pitchfork and garnered international attention across Europe and America. As 2019’s Australian Women In Music’s Songwriter of the Year in 2019, Payten has embedded herself in the artistic community including involvement in APRA’s Queer Discovery program, mentorships with AIR, The Push and Arts access while also lending her time to the Country Education Foundation. As she works towards her third full length offering, her AAA scholarship will see her deepen her ties with the US to allow further development of her song and studio craft, working alongside some of the country’s most esteemed collaborators.


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