Three students win new Dean's International Postgraduate Research Scholarship
9 September 2013
Three international students were welcomed into the Faculty of Science with the first Dean's International Postgraduate Research Scholarships to be awarded. The three PhD students were welcomed by Professor Trevor Hambley, Dean of the Faculty of Science, and other staff on Friday 6 September.
The new Dean's International Postgraduate Research Scholarships are for outstanding international students to undertake a research doctorate degree - PhD - full-time in the Faculty of Science.
The scholarships are awarded to top-performing students who are completing a four-year Bachelor of Science, equivalent to Australian Honours, at an international university, with the scholarships awarded competitively on the basis of academic merit.
The first students to receive the scholarship are: Pengju Bian and Yifan Gu, who are both from China, and Nuwanthika Fernando from Sri Lanka. Each of the three students will complete their PhD in the School of Physics.
"We're very pleased to welcome Pengju, Yifan and Nuwanthika to the Faculty of Science as our first recipients of the new Dean's International Postgraduate Research Scholarship," said Professor Trevor Hambley.
"The new scholarship will bring the brightest young talent from around the world to complete their PhDs in the Faculty of Science," explained Professor Hambley.
"What's great is that these outstanding students can apply before even completing their final exams in their home countries and secure a scholarship and postgraduate spot with us. We're aiming to increase the access into the Faculty of Science for top international students, and support and attract young research talent."
The scholarships cover the full cost of academic tuition fees, plus a stipend equivalent to an Australian Postgraduate Award indexed annually, for three years subject to satisfactory progress. There is also the option to extend for up to a maximum of one year to make it a four-year scholarship.
Pengju Bian, who completed his undergraduate degree at Nanjing University in China, said, "I heard about the Dean's International Postgraduate Research Scholarship when Dr Rongkun Zheng, who will now be my PhD supervisor, told me about it last year.
"The scholarship helps me a lot because it gives me the chance to pursue my PhD and cover my living expenses in Sydney at the same time. It attracted me because I can concentrate on the experiments of my interest and learn a lot about the microscopes. So the scholarship absolutely influenced my decision to come to the University of Sydney," explained Pengju.
"The moment I knew that I would be granted the scholarship, I started preparing for being one part of the Faculty of Science, and read books about the semiconductors and transmission electron microscope. So I think the scholarship did help me manage the transition to this world famous university."
Yifan Gu, who studied at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, said, "I first heard about the scholarship from Dr Pulin Gong, now my PhD supervisor, when doing a summer project with him. At that time, I hadn't decided where to do my PhD, preparing for applications to universities mainly in USA since usually there are many opportunities there to be fully funded.
"When I received this scholarship, I shifted my priority to the University of Sydney. So, definitely, it was one of the key factors that influenced my decision. The application process was straightforward for me, since all it took was following the instructions on the webpage," said Yifan.
"As the scholarship pays at the same rate as the Australian Postgraduate Award, it helps me to put aside major financial concerns and also, importantly, to become more social. If I didn't get this scholarship, I could imagine my research and personal life to be a lot more struggling," said Yifan.
Nuwanthika Fernando, who completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka, said, "Having always been interested in astronomy, I knew I wanted to pursue the subject in my postgraduate studies. The University of Sydney research website connected me with my supervisor, Professor Geraint Lewis, who directed me towards the Dean's International Postgraduate Research Scholarship.
"Not only has the Scholarship been crucial in funding my graduate studies, but it also allowed me to skip a Masters degree and proceed straight onto my PhD work. Most of my colleagues back in Sri Lanka applied for American universities, and have to go through a five to six year program that includes a Masters degree. Through the recommendation of a friend, I looked into the requirements of doing my PhD at the University of Sydney and found a more simple process," said Nuwanthika.
"I was already accepted into a Masters program elsewhere when I received the email about the Sydney scholarship. As this allowed me to step ahead while working on a project that matched my interest, I declined the previous offer to gladly accept the University of Sydney offer."
Read more about the new Dean's International Postgraduate Research Scholarships at: http://sydney.edu.au/science/fstudent/postgrad/deans_international_pgr_scholarships.shtml
Contact: Katynna Gill
Phone: 02 9351 6997