The University of Melbourne has celebrated its three Fulbright scholars – a physicist, a river system manager and a playwright – who received their awards at a presentation dinner in Brisbane overnight.

The scholarships support recipients for professional development in the United States, up to the value of $40,000. The Fulbright Program promotes cultural and educational exchange to foster peace and understanding between nations.

University of Melbourne Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) Sue Elliott said the scholarships highlight the University of Melbourne’s world-class research and global focus.

“Fulbright Scholarships support outstanding graduates and recognise the potential international impact of their research aspirations,” Professor Elliott said.

“It is particularly pleasing to see Melbourne graduates from a diverse range of disciplines, from physics and engineering to playwriting, awarded scholarships.”

Nuclear physicist Mark Boland has received the Fulbright Professional Scholarship in Nuclear Science and Technology. Dr Boland is the Principal Accelerator Physicist at the Australian Synchrotron particle accelerator laboratory and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne, where he co-supervises students in the Experimental Particle Physics Group.

He will study at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University in California to extend the ability of the Australian Synchrotron to measure processes at the level of picoseconds – one trillionth of a second. This will allow Australian scientists to examine chemical reactions with a new level of detail and help improve miniaturisation of computers.

Lachlan Philpott is the inaugural recipient of the Fulbright Professional Playwriting Scholarship, which will see him undertake a writing residency at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco.  Since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts in 1999 he has had ten plays published and over 50 productions performed in Australia, the UK, Ireland and Spain.

Mr Philpott will collaborate with staff and students to create a play for young audiences, with the aim of increasing understanding between different cultures.

Water resource manager Tony McLeod has received a Fulbright Senior Scholarship. Dr McLeod completed his Bachelors and PhD in engineering at the University of Melbourne and is a General Manager at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority in Canberra. He will compare the water management challenges of the Colorado and Murray Darling river basins at the Getches-Wilkinson Centre for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Dr McLeod said the systems share many challenges and opportunities and he will work to prepare an analysis that will inform policy in both the US and Australia.