Fulbright scholars awarded at Sydney

Five University of Sydney academics and alumni will travel to the United States as part of the Fulbright Scholarship Program. The University will host an academic as part of the exchange.

Five distinguished academics and alumni from the University of Sydney community have been recognised with prestigious Fulbright Scholarships

In areas ranging from history to bioinformatics, journalism, and medical science, the researchers will be sponsored to travel and stay in the United States at host institutions while completing research projects designed to further understanding and exchange between the two countries.

The University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Emma Johnston commended the awardees.

“I’m delighted to congratulate the five members of the University community recognised with Fulbright Scholarships this year who will be hosted by prestigious institutions like Georgetown University, Harvard, and the Mayo Clinic.

Their diverse projects not only showcase their individual brilliance but also highlight their commitment to advancing knowledge and making a meaningful impact in their respective fields. With research into areas including data journalism, geopolitical history, cancer treatment & quality of life, prenatal alcohol exposure and organ transplant health, their impact will be broad.

We’re also proud to continue our tradition of hosting Fulbright Scholars as part of our commitment to international collaboration and promoting a shared understanding of complex global issues.

We wish them all the best in the year to come. And hope the experience will enrich their academic journey, provide new skills, and introduce them to new colleagues and collaborators from around the world.”

Now in its 75th year, the Australian-American Fulbright Commission offers scholarships to Australian citizens across all career stages. Awardees take part in an academic and cultural exchange, pursuing research or study at a US institution, experiencing life abroad and bringing back their knowledge and experience to share with their communities.

The prestigious Fulbright Program is the largest educational scholarship of its kind, created by US Senator J. William Fulbright and the US Government in 1946.

University of Sydney academics and alumni have joined each cohort since 1950 and include McCaughey Chair in Biochemistry Professor Tony Weiss, Melanoma researcher and Australian of the Year Professor Georgina Long and Dr Mitch Gibbs researcher in Indigenous practices and coastal management.

Dr Niro Kandasamy – history

Niro Kandasamy

Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholar hosted by Georgetown University

Dr Kandasamy‘s Fulbright research aims to identify and assess how the US and Australia have responded to conflicts in the Indian Ocean region during the twentieth century. The findings from the project will help to advance contemporary historical understandings of the region and offer important insights to Australian policymakers.

Dr Kandasamy is Lecturer in History in the School of Humanities at the University of Sydney. She teaches histories of conflict, refugee resettlement, and international relations. Before joining the University of Sydney in 2022, she was teaching in Melbourne and held senior research positions in non-government organisations. She has undertaken visiting fellowships at the University of Oxford and York University. Her US Fulbright scholarship will enable her to expand her research interests in understanding how states and societies respond to conflicts. The project will examine US and Australian responses to conflicts erupting in the Indian Ocean region during the twentieth century.

Dr Maggs X – comparative genomics

Maggs X

Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholar hosted by the University of Sydney

Dr X (they/them) is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Missouri. They received their PhD in Comparative Biology from the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History. Their research focuses on using phylogenetics, single-cell technologies, and comparative genomics to better understand how complex traits evolve at the molecular level. Their research explores the evolution of reproductive modes in snakes and lizards, and the evolution of troglomorphic traits (cave-associated phenotypes) in teleosts. They are inspired by the value non-model organisms have for informing our understanding of evolution, human health, and the health of the planet.

Dr X’s Fulbright research aims to utilise the rare comparative framework of two reproductively bimodal species that are endemic to Australia to identify genomic features that influence the evolution of egg-laying and live-birth.

Justine Landis-Hanley – investigative journalism

Justine Landis-Hanley

Fulbright Postgraduate Student Scholar

Landis-Hanley is a New York Times-published journalist and award-winning podcaster, currently reporting on federal politics from the Australian press gallery for The Canberra Times. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald, The Saturday Paper, and Crikey. In 2022 she co-hosted Left Right Out, a Spotify-exclusive podcast that answered young people’s questions about Australian politics. It was the #1 news show on the platform in Australia throughout the federal election. Justine graduated from the University of Sydney in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) majoring in Philosophy.

With her Fulbright scholarship, Justine will undertake a Masters of Science (Journalism) specialising in investigative data journalism. Her goal is to help pioneer new ways that journalists can tell data-driven political investigations through emerging mediums to expose political corruption and hold governments to account.

Associate Professor Louise Mewton – medical sciences

Louise Mewton

Fulbright Future Scholarship (Scholar) hosted by the Medical University of South Carolina

Dr Louise Mewton is an Associate Professor and Program Lead in Lifespan and Brain Health Research at the Matilda Centre for Mental Health and Substance Use Research, University of Sydney. Dr Mewton is a public health researcher with a focus on the epidemiology, assessment, prevention, and treatment of alcohol use and related disorders across the lifespan. Her research expertise spans population neuroscience, large-scale epidemiological modelling, and the development and evaluation of intervention programs across the lifespan.

As part of her Fulbright Scholarship, Dr Mewton aims to learn more about how prenatal alcohol exposure affects adolescent health and neurodevelopmental outcomes.

Through established translational pathways, she will ensure any findings have an impact on the choices pregnant women make, as well as the lives of young people impacted by prenatal alcohol exposure.

Dr Sireesha Koneru – medical sciences

Sireesha Koneru

Fulbright Future Scholarship (Postdoctoral) hosted by the Mayo Clinic

Dr Koneru is a colorectal research fellow at the University of Sydney and Concord Repatriation General Hospital. She is completing her PhD with research centred on functional outcomes and quality of life after operative and non-operative management of rectal cancer, on which she has published and presented extensively.

With the support of the Fulbright Future Scholarship, Sireesha will continue her research work at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, focussing on functional outcomes after “watch and wait” management for rectal cancer. This research will enable the completion of an inaugural 360-degree review of functional outcomes following all available rectal cancer treatments.

Harry Robertson – computer science/bioinformatics

Harry Robertson

Fulbright Future Scholarship (Postgraduate) hosted by Harvard University

As an aspiring bioinformatician, Harry Robertson envisions a future where healthcare decisions are guided by the wealth of data we gather on patients. His pursuit as a PhD student and Fulbright researcher in Australia is to make this vision a reality by pioneering accessible biomarkers for organ transplant health. Tapping into our nation’s connected healthcare system, Robertson is developing machine learning algorithms that can interpret complex imaging data, offering non-invasive diagnostic tools for widespread use. His ambition is to pave the way for Australia to be a global leader in data-driven healthcare, enhancing patient outcomes nationally and across the globe.

His Fulbright study is focused on discovering contemporary biomarkers for organ transplant health through advanced imaging. Traditional biomarkers rely on costly sequencing, often inaccessible to many. By pioneering new machine learning methods to analyse this imaging data, he aims to offer a universally available, non-invasive diagnostic tool for transplant recipients.

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