Four alumni win Fulbright Scholarships

27 March 2013

Alumni Iona Novak, Allan Young, Thomas Newsome and Tessa Boyd-Caine have won  Fulbright Scholarships,  which will allow them to pursue their studies in the US.

The prestigious Fulbright program is the largest educational scholarship program of its kind, and aims to promote mutual understanding through educational exchange. Founded by US Senator J William Fulbright in 1946, the program operates between the US and 155 other countries.

Faculty of Health Sciences graduate and Head of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute in Allambie Heights, Associate Professor Iona Novak was named the Fulbright Professional Scholar. Novak plans to use her scholarship to establish an Australian-American Cerebral Palsy Stem Cell Research Consortium at the University of California in San Francisco to improve our understanding of this condition.

"Cerebral palsy is under-researched but deserves our attention because it is the most common physical disability in childhood, and for the first time scientists believe a cure may be possible," says Novak.

Alumnus of the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, Allan Young, was named the Fulbright Professional Scholar in Climate Change and Clean Energy. Manager of Coastal Policy at the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure, Young will use his scholarship to travel to the New York City Mayor's Office and MIT in Boston, where he will work on urban planning issues around adapting to climate change.

"Sea level rise due to climate change will affect almost every aspect of coastal life for communities in Australia and the US," says Young. "How we plan and adapt is a vitally important global issue but it is still a relatively young field of enquiry."

Arts and Sydney Law School alumna, Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine,  is Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Council of Social Service. Dr Boyd-Caine was named the Inaugural Fulbright Professional Scholar in Non-Profit Leadership, and hopes the scholarship will help her assist Australian non-profit organisations in identifying community needs and solving them through independent, community-led approaches.

Dr Boyd-Caine will travel to New York City and Washington, DC, to investigate how non-profit organisations can strengthen the trust and confidence in which the sector is held. "My project will examine the work of the Foundation Center, an organisation instrumental to building openness with the American non-profit sector, and its partnership with the National Center for Charitable Statistics," says Dr Boyd-Caine.

Dr Thomas Newsome, who completed his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and PhD at the University of Sydney, is an Honorary Research Fellow at the  Desert Ecology Research Group  in the School of Biological Sciences. He was named the Fulbright New South Wales Scholar, and what he plans to do with the scholarship was inspired by the recent re-introduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park in the US.

Dr Newsome's scholarship will take him to Oregon State University in the US, where he will collaborate with local researchers to determine whether or not there would be benefits for Australia in using similar measures with our native dingoes in areas where they have become locally extinct.

"Research on the dingo is important for two reasons," Dr Newsome says. "Wild dogs, including dingoes, cause millions of dollars of damage to agricultural productivity annually. However, recent studies suggest that the reintroduction of the dingo into areas from which it has been made locally extinct could be the key to restoring Australian ecosystems decimated by introduced predators such as the feral cat and European red fox."