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For more information about University of Melbourne recipients, contact Annie Rahilly (Media office): 9035 5380/0432 758 734

Two outstanding early career researchers from the University of Melbourne have won Fellowships to further their work in enabling positive social impact thanks to The Westpac Bicentennial Foundation.

In addition to this, exceptional young Australians including four from the University of Melbourne have been awarded a Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship.The Future Leaders awards enable students to undertake post-graduate study at one of Australia’s nine leading universities.

The following Westpac Research Fellows from the University have been recognised for their innovation, their determination to make a difference and their specialist research.

Dr Nicholas Opie from the Melbourne School of Engineering and MDHS works in a unique field developing small electronic devices to stimulate the transmission pathways in the brain. The award will allow him the opportunity to translate this device known as the Stentrode into clinical use for the potential treatment of paralysis.

Dr Jessica Heerde will embark on a longitudinal study on the predictors, health and social problems of homelessness. Dr Heerde will focus her research on youth homelessness.

 Professor Dick Strugnell, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research) said the University of Melbourne welcomes the outstanding contribution being made to graduate researcher and post-doctoral researcher development by the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation. 

 “The Westpac Foundation schemes recognise the importance of cohorts and the networks created by cohorts, and these networks will be important for Australia for decades to come,” he said.

“The examples set by the Westpac Foundation demonstrate the impact that corporate philanthropy can have in enabling Australia's academic talent to reach their potential.”

 The Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship, announced earlier this month, is offered in partnership with The University of Adelaide, The Australian National University, The University of Melbourne, Monash University, The University of Queensland, The University of Sydney, University of Tasmania, University of New South Wales and University of Western Australia.


The successful Melbourne recipients were:

Ms Michelle Todorov from the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences (MDHS) will look at how children with a hearing loss in mainstream classrooms can maximise their participation in activities and enhance their learning outcomes.

Dr Naveen Tennetti also from MDHS will use his Scholarship to advance a foundation of public health knowledge with a view to improving health and well-being and reduce social inequity.

Robert Snelling combines disciplines in engineering and architecture and is keen to focus attention on how to balance infrastructure growth with environmental and sustainable architecture.

Philip Chan is studying a Master of Law at the University of Melbourne and is a qualified lawyer and children's rights advocate. He was recently named as one of Australia's most influential people in the pro bono sector.