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Louise Bennet
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Five University of Melbourne students have been awarded American Australian Association Education Fund Fellowships for up to US$40,000 to undertake advanced research at prestigious American institutions.

The largest source of privately funded educational fellowships between Australia and the United States, the Education Fund was established to support the study and two-way flow of emerging innovators between the two countries in fields of sustainability, engineering and medicine.

Only sixteen students across Australia received the 2014 fellowships.

Professor Susan Elliott, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International) at the University of Melbourne, said the fellowships played an important role in knowledge sharing between Australia and America.

“The opportunities these fellowships provide are invaluable and will contribute greatly to high level Australian American knowledge exchange,” she said.

University of Melbourne Fellowship award winners are:

Ron Tidhar from the Departments of Computing and Information Systems, Mathematics and Statistics and The Asia Institute, will use mathematical modelling and optimisation techniques to investigate entrepreneurial management and finance strategies within Stanford University’s Master of Science program.  He plans to use his studies at Stanford as a launching pad for research into improving collaborative economic and scientific ties between the US, Australia and China.

Ashleigh Hood from the Department of Earth Sciences, who recently completed her PhD in Geology studying the oxygenation of Earth’s early oceans, will be working at Yale University as a postdoctoral researcher, extending our understanding of ocean evolution back over 2.5 billion years using new geo-chemical techniques.

Petter Nyman from the Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science seeks to develop models that enable land and water managers to better predict the effects of climate change, wildfire and drought on water supply from forested catchment. He will be working with the Eco-hydrology Research Group at the University of Washington to build a catchment evolution model framework for fire-prone Eucalyptus forests in southeast Australia.

Gabrielle Josling from Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, will be undertaking postdoctoral research aiming to identify the triggers that lead the malaria parasite to change into its transmissible form. This process is an essential part of the parasite’s lifecycle, and understanding more about it could lead to the development of antimalarial drugs to eradicate the disease.

Claire Gordon, a current PhD student from the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences and a Master of Arts student in Biomedical Informatics at Columbia University, aims to be a physician-scientist in transplantation infectious disease specialising in viral immunity.