Alumna to pursue political science doctorate at MIT

30 April 2012

Fiona Cunningham (LLB 2011) has received a highly competitive fellowship to undertake a PhD in political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Fiona will commence her studies in September and the cohort represents 10 to 15 students from over 400 applications, with Fiona being the only Australian.

The financial aid package includes includes both tuition and a living stipend for the duration of the program.

The PhD program is five years long - 2 years of coursework and 3 years of dissertation writing.

Fiona was also offered fellowships in political science at Cornell University (Ithaca New York) and George Washington University (Washington, DC).

"I am planning to pursue research interests in international law and institutions, Chinese foreign policy and international security, ideally at the confluence of all three looking at China's approach and responses to the laws and institutions that govern international security," she said

"This will build upon my legal training at Sydney and my experience as an Research Assistant for Professor David Kinley and a research associate in nuclear issues at the Lowy Institute for International Policy.

"All three schools are leading centres of scholarship on these areas, which made it quite difficult to decide among them!

"I owe a debt of gratitude to Professor David Kinley, who supported my countless applications for both graduate study and provided excellent advice - his mentorship was essential to my success."

Fiona originally transferred to Sydney Law School from Combined Law at UNSW.

Duringher Sydney LLB, Fiona served as the Vice-President (Education) of both SULS (2010) and the Australian Law Students' Association (2009-10), was a member of the Student Editorial Committee for the Sydney Law Review (2010), a volunteer editor for the Australian International Law Journal (2009) and won an academic merit prize in 2010.

Just before coming to the University of Sydney, she was an intern with the International Crisis Group's Beijing office and has been a Research Associate (Nuclear Issues) at the Lowy Institute for International Policy since early 2009.

She was also a Clerk for King & Wood Mallesons in in Sydney and Hong Kong.

Since completing her law degree, she worked as a Research Assistant for Professor David Kinley and a Research Associate (Nuclear Issues) at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, and was recently admitted as a solicitor in the ACT.

"I have had quite a productive past year, co-authoring publications on human rights and the Chinese banking sector with Professor Kinley, the China-India nuclear relationship with Lowy International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf, corporate social responsibility in the nuclear industry with Lowy Deputy Director Martine Letts and was both a co-editor and contributor to an edited book on extended nuclear deterrence in East Asia (with Rory Medcalf), which was published by the Lowy Institute and launched just last week," she said.

She was also made an affiliate of the Sydney Centre for International Law (SCIL).

Contact: Greg Sherington

Phone: +61 2 9351 0202

Email: 0c3d1f2f62670c080a3b3f2c39351a0c3b2a09560f15195c332374252d