Skip to main content
People_

Sydney Society of Fellows

The Sydney Society of Fellows was the first of its kind in Australia

The society epitomises our commitment to research and scholarship of the highest calibre.

University of Sydney Fellowships aim to attract outstanding early-career researchers who contribute to and enhance our research strengths and culture.

Recipients of University of Sydney fellowships receive a full salary and a significant research allowance for the first three years, and become lifetime members of the Sydney Society of Fellows. 

Note: The University of Sydney Fellowships scheme is currently under review and won't be offered in 2019.

Current Fellows

Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies

Fellowship Year: 2014

Find out more about Dr Xianghai An

Faculty of Science

Fellowship year: 2018

Research interests: My research interests are in synthesizing porous materials for environmental remediation and energy application.

Biography: I obtained my PhD under the supervision of Prof. Junhua Li at Tsinghua University in 2014. Afterwards I worked in the laboratory of Prof. Hongxing Dai at the Beijing University of Technology.

In 2015, I was awarded a Vice-Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales under the supervision of Scientia Prof. Rose Amal.

In 2018, I was awarded a University of Sydney Research Fellow under the supervision of Prof Thomas Maschmeyer.

Find out more about Dr Hamid Arandiyan.

Media and Communications

Fellowship Year: 2015

Find out more about Dr Karina Aveyard.

Faculty of Science

Fellowship Year: 2017

Research interests: Quantum information and topological phases of matter

Biography: I completed my PhD at Imperial College London on defects in topologically ordered lattice models in 2013. I have since held postdoctoral positions at Imperial College and then the Niels Bohr International Academy in Copenhagen before moving to the University of Sydney to work on quantum error correction and fault-tolerant quantum computation.

Find out more about Dr Ben Brown.

Fellowship year: 2017

Research interests:

  • Human dimensions of environmental change and risk responses
  • Theoretical approaches in vulnerability research and sustainability science with an emphasis on contextual influences on change and transformation in the coupled human-environment system
  • Disability, risk, equity, inclusion and resilience.  
  • Natural hazards and disaster risk reduction (DRR), with an emphasis on the coastal zone
  • Climate change adaptation, with a focus on coral reefs and climate change impacts on tourism livelihoods in Asia and the South Pacific
  • The politics of aid and change
  • Geographies of scale, place, and temporality and their application to sustainability science and transformative processes

Biography: I am a human geographer specialising in disaster risk reduction (DRR), vulnerability, and resilience. My research examines the complex set of contextual factors that impede and/or improve resilience and vulnerability levels to risk with a regional focus on South-East Asia and Australia and the South Pacific. My research career began looking at the vulnerability and resilience of tourism destinations to natural hazards. However, the last several years has seen my focus shift to disability and disasters.

Inclusion and Disability-inclusive DRR (DiDRR) is a human right. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 recognises this and mandates stronger inclusion of people with disabilities at all stages of DRR from inception to delivery. Yet pathways to achieving inclusion remain unclear. Taking a systems approach, my current work explores two fundamental questions designed to advance inclusion in the disaster space: 1) what does inclusion means in the context of DRR and 2) what steps - including knowledge generation and sharing, processes and practices - are needed to make DiDRR a lived reality.

This Sydney Fellowship expands and deepens the research component of the multi-partner Disability and Disasters project that I lead. Funded by the Global Resilience Partnership, this project aims to provide people with disabilities the institutional and social support need to respond effectively to hazards in Southeast Asia with a focus on Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines.

Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Fellowship Year: 2019

I will work with the Conservatorium of Music and Sydney Environment Institute to explore the interconnection between Tiwi Island community song culture and death in the context of artistic creativity, cultural maintenance and community health.

Research Interests: Investigating ways of supporting and preserving Tiwi song skills and language, the collaborative musical discovery, ethics of repatriation of indigenous cultural material.

Biography: I’ve enjoyed a twenty-year half-life as a freelance horn player in the orchestras of professional musical theatre as well as everything from symphony to jazz, Opera Australia to Australian Idol and touring Australasia in the bands for Barbra Streisand, Michael Crawford and (my favourite!) Shirley Bassey.

In 2007 I met a group of Tiwi songwomen and together we created Ngarukuruwala – we sing – a collaboration of Tiwi and non-Tiwi musicians re-imagining old Tiwi songs into new music genres and spaces. Ngarukuruwala has performed around the country and has produced two recorded works as well as facilitating a number of projects in the Tiwi community aimed at engaging Tiwi children and young people with their cultural and linguistic identity through song.

My involvement in the discovery and repatriation to Traditional Owners of archived Tiwi song recordings led me to complete a PhD (2014), the first musicological documentation of Tiwi song. Since then I’ve published as an independent researcher working with elders to document and preserve traditional Tiwi song language while we continue to perform together. Our latest work Ngiya awungarra (I am here, now) centres around ethnographic recordings of deceased Tiwi songmen and songwomen taken over the last century and places them as co-performers in new musical treatments of their very old songs.

This Fellowship gives us the time to properly confront and discuss the very real impact of social imbalance and cultural loss on the spiritual, artistic and physical health of the Tiwi community and to support the continuation of its rich but highly endangered song traditions.

Find out more about Dr Genevieve Campbell

Centre for Translational Data Science

Fellowship Year: 2017

Research interests: My research interests are in methodologies and applications of deep learning, recurrent neural networks, learning algorithms, neuro-evolution, cognitive and developmental systems, and time series prediction. I have used some of these methods for climate modeling that mainly includes tropical cyclones.

In the Sydney Fellowship, I will be developing novel deep learning architectures and learning algorithms with application to climate modeling, particularly in areas of earthquakes and cyclones. I will be developing methods that will provide a synergy of deep learning methods with Bayesian inference, multi-task and transfer learning. Moreover, I will be developing learning algorithms inspired from cognitive systems. I will also simulate the learning behavior of the human brain and other aspects of consciousness that include personality and attention.

Biography: I am originally from Nausori, Fiji. I hold a Ph.D. in Computer Science (2012) from the Victoria University of Wellington, M. Sc. in Computer Science (2008) from the University of Fiji and B. Sc.in Computer Science and Engineering Technology (2006) from the University of the South Pacific.

I was Lecturer in Computer Science from December 2012 – January 2016 at the University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji. I took the role of Research Fellow in Machine Leaning in 2016 for a year at the Rolls Royce @ NTU Corporate Lab, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. There, I undertook a project in the use of Machine Learning methodologies for the efficient design of Jet Engines. I took the role of the University of Sydney Fellow from March 2017 at the Centre for Translational Data Science, University of Sydney.

Find out more about Dr Rohitash Chandra

Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies

Fellowship Year: 2019

I will work the Faculty of Engineering and IT to improve the hydrogen embrittlement resistance of ultra-high strength steels, increasing reliability and their potential use in the automotive and aerospace industries.

Research Interests: My specialty is in using atom probe tomography (APT) to observe hydrogen in materials, particularly steels which are suffered from the catastrophic consequence of hydrogen attack known as hydrogen embrittlement.

Through my PhD project, I (co-)developed the cryogenic APT sample transfer facilities that critically enable the hydrogen observation which used to be difficult due to the signal loss of the highly mobile hydrogen in room-temperature transfer process.

As an extension of PhD research, I am now applying this technique in industrial high-strength alloys for further understanding of the effect and mitigation strategy of hydrogen embrittlement in practical applications, whilst establishing a transferable protocol to combine this specialty with other material topics such as catalyst.

Biography: After finishing my master study in ceramic powder processing for electronic capacitor application with Prof. Jau-Ho Jean, I worked in consulting business for many years before going back to pursue a research career in Academia Sinica Taiwan with Prof. Ing-Shouh Hwang in 2013. I learned the fundamental of field emission science there and then moved on to doctoral research at University of Oxford with Prof. Michael Moody in 2014. I am  now a postdoctoral research associate in both Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis (ACMM) and School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering (AMME) at the University of Sydney.

Find out more about Dr Eason (Yi-Sheng) Chen.

Sydney Medical School, Northern Clinical School

Fellowship Year: 2017

Research interests: My research aims to understand the regulation of hypoxia inducible factor (HIF), a transcription factor activated by hypoxia (low oxygen) and involved in cancer development and progression, and to develop anti-cancer drugs that inhibit HIF.

I have a particular interest in understanding the role of HIF and hypoxia in tumours linked to obstructive sleep apnoea. Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is increasingly prevalent in the adult population. It is characterised by episodic obstruction of the upper airway, resulting in intermittent hypoxia and cyclical decreases in blood oxygen.

OSA patients have higher rates of cancer and cancer mortality, yet the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. My work focuses on the molecular mechanisms underpinning this association and in particular the role of intermittent hypoxia.

While at Oxford and the NIH I studied the regulation of HIF in tumour hypoxia, and identified a new class of HIF-targeting drugs. These small molecules inhibit HIF activity and decrease tumour growth in mouse models. This work led to me to design a high-throughput drug screen to identify new HIF inhibitors at the NIH. The screen was highly successful and work is ongoing to move these drugs towards clinical application. 

Biography: I completed my D.Phil. in Chemical Biology at the University of Oxford (UK) in 2010 in a collaborative program with the NIH (Bethesda, Maryland, USA) as an OxCam Biomedical Research Scholar. Prior to this, I graduated Summa Cum Laude from San Diego State University in 2005, with a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology and a minor in Chemistry (awarded a ‘distinction’ honour).

I have had post-doctoral positions at the Lowy Cancer Research Centre, University of New South Wales and the Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney.

Find out more about Dr Kristina Cook.

Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Sydney Medical School, Charles Perkins Centre

Fellowship Year: 2015

Research interests:

My principal area of research has been elucidating and eradicating bacterial biofilms. Specifically:

  • Elucidating the role of bacterial extracellular molecules in biofilm formation and infection.
  • Development of a novel therapeutic strategy to disrupt and kill biofilms and promote host cell growth.
  • Translating fundamental research into a clinical trial for treating diabetic wound infection.

Find out more about Dr Theerthankar Das.

Faculty/Department: School of Public Health

Fellowship Year: 2018

Research Interests: I am interested in communication around HPV and cancer, cancer screening, overdiagnosis and overtreatment and the psychological impact of cancer. My current research focuses on public communication of reductions to cancer screening programs, specifically in the case of cervical screening, and the experiences and implications of this for both women and health professionals.

Biography: I completed an undergraduate in Psychology at the University of Leeds (UK) in 2007, a Masters in Health Psychology at King’s College London (UK) in 2009 and a PhD in Psychology at University College London (UK) in 2016. I now work in the Wiser Healthcare team at the School of Public Health. 

Find out more about Dr Rachel Dodd.

The University of Sydney Business School

Fellowship Year: 2019

My work with the University of Sydney Business School and Sydney Policy Lab will explore the crucial and changing role that work, as a source of ‘social citizenship’, has played in rising levels of inequality, alienation and mistrust, and how it might be reconfigured to address these problems.

Biography: I am an early career researcher with an interdisciplinary background in work studies and history. I hold a University of Sydney Fellowship based in WOS and am affiliated with two of the University’s interdisciplinary research hubs, the Sydney Policy Lab and the Sydney Environment Institute.

My research concerns the crucial and changing role that work has played as a source of social cohesion, identity and belonging in the context of ongoing changes to employment relationships, technology and the environment.

I have co-convened a number of Sydney-based public seminars that seek to link academic research with the public and communities of practice in civil society.  I am also the author of a number of long-form essays that have been published in the Griffith Review, Arena and Inside Story.  

In February 2019, I was invited to deliver the inaugural Iain McCalman lecture on the environment and culture, on the subject ‘Climate Change and the New Work Order’

I am a research associate of the Centre for Future Work (Australia Institute), as well as a member of the Australian Historical Society and the Association of Industrial Relations Academics of Australia and New Zealand.

Find out more about Dr Frances Flanagan

Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, Sydney Medical School

Fellowship Year: 2017

Research interests: My research started focusing on different aspects of medical mycology, including clinical epidemiology and ecology of fungal species. During my PhD I extended my studies on molecular epidemiology towards global population genetics of a number of emerging human and animal fungal pathogens. I was also interested in phylogenomics/whole genome sequencing, the understanding of fungal virulence, and correlating genotypes with pathogenicity and antifungal susceptibility to underpin information driven therapy of different mycoses. During my scientific career I have published several scientific works, impacting on the understanding of the population genetics, the detection of nosocomial outbreaks and the identification of human and animal pathogenic fungi. As post-doctoral researcher my research focused on the identification of cryptococcal allergens that may contribute to novel immunodiagnostic monitoring and to the development of novel adjunctive immunotherapies in fungal infection.

Biography: I am a biologist from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and since 2005, I worked at the Microbiology Group of the Instituto Nacional de Salud in Bogotá, Colombia. In 2010, I joined the Molecular Mycology Research Laboratory at The University of Sydney, Australia, to undertake a PhD in Medicine with a scholarship Francisco José de Caldas for International Doctorates from COLCIENCIAS, Colombia. In 2015, I joined the Institute of Immunology at the University of Leipzig, Germany, as a post-doctoral researcher with a Georg Forster Research Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany. Currently, I hold a University of Sydney Fellowship for postdoctoral researchers to work at the Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, Sydney Medical School, Sydney, Australia.

Find out more about Dr Carolina Firacative

Faculty/Department: Faculty of Science / School of Geosciences

Fellowship Year: 2017

Research interests: Transgression, Cities, Ethnography, Audio/Visual Methods

Biography: I am a cultural geographer based in the School of Geosciences. After a brief career as an archaeologist working for the United States Bureau of Land Management, I moved to London in 2008 to undertake ethnographic work with urban explorers. My first book, Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City (Verso Books 2013), is an account of my adventures trespassing into ruins, tunnels and skyscrapers with urban explorers over many years. Explore Everything has been translated into Korean and Japanese and is currently being scripted into a feature-length film in Los Angeles.

In 2014, I published Subterranean London: Cracking the Capital (Prestel Publishing), a photographic dissection of what lies underneath the streets of London, layer by layer and 2016 marked the release of the final book in my urban exploration triptych; London Rising: Illicit Photos from the City’s Heights (Prestel Publishing), which documents the social, infrastructural and corporate verticalities of the city.

As a University of Sydney Research Fellow, I am currently at work on a new book entitled Bunker, an ethnography of apocalyptic imaginations.

Find out more about Dr Bradley Garrett.

Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Fellowship Year: 2014 

Find out more about Dr Catherine Ingram.

Faculty of Science, School of Physics and Sydney Nano

Fellowship Year: 2018

Research Interests: Optical fibers, fiber lasers and amplifiers, supercontinuum sources and meta-materials.

Biography: I received an honours degree in Electronics and Communication engineering from the Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram University of Science and Technology in Murhal, India in 2009. I went on to complete my masters degree in laser technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India. I then moved to the UK to complete my doctoral studies in optical fibers at the University of Southampton. After completing PhD in 2015, I moved to Technical University of Denmark as a Hans Christian confounded Marie-Curie postdoc fellow. In 2018, I joined the Sydney Nano Institute under the University of Sydney Fellowship scheme. My research interest lies in understanding of light and its generation. I am currently working on hollow core fibers with meta-material cladding.

Find out more about Dr Deepak Jain.

Faculty of Medicine and Health

Fellowship Year: 2019

I will work with the Faculty of Medicine and Health, Charles Perkins Centre, Brain and Mind Centre and Sydney Nano on the development of fluorescent probes for super-resolution imaging of pathological protein aggregates in neurodegeneration.

 

Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning

Fellowship Year: 2015

Find out more about Dr Jennifer Kent.

School of Public Health, Sydney Medical School

Fellowship Year: 2012

Find out more about Dr Julie Leask.

Faculty of Health Sciences

Fellowship Year: 2017

Research interests: My research focuses on brain imaging and analysis of small animals moving freely (awake and responsive) in the fusion medical imaging system, PET-MRI. The development of awake animal imaging is a critical step in the further development of PET-MRI technology and its application to the understanding of normal and aberrant brain function.

Biography: I have achieved B.S. in Radiological Science at Yonsei University, Rep. of Korea in Aug. 2008, and Ph.D. in Radiological Science at Yonsei University, Rep. of Korea in Feb. 2014. I have had two postdoctoral research fellow positions at the Department of Radiology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, USA (April 2014 – January 2016) studying molecular MR neuroscience imaging using CEST-MRI technique, and at the Department of Radiological Science, Yonsei University, Rep. of Korea (June 2016 – February 2017) studying x-ray and nuclear medicine.

Find out more about Dr Dong-Hoon Lee

Faculty of Science

Fellowship Year: 2019

I will work with the Faculty of Science and Sydney Nano to develop cost-effective and efficient materials for removing heavy metals, which can be hazardous contaminants and pose serious risks to human health, from water.

Find out more about Dr Martina Lessio.

Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies

Fellowship Year: 2014

Research interests:

  • Structure and surface properties’ influences on photocatalytic performance of the materials.
  • The preparation of carbon- or silicon-based device and their applications.

Biography: I joined the Laboratory for Catalysis Engineering Lab in 2016 as a University of Sydney Postdoctoral Research Fellow. I am interested in the nanomaterial design and synthesis for sustainable energy applications. 

Faculty of Medicine and Health

Fellowship Year: 2019

I will work with the Faculty of Medicine and Health and the Brain and Mind Centre to investigate biomarkers of neurodegeneration which will be used to monitor the effectiveness of drug therapies for motor neurone disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration.

 

Sydney Medical School, Parkinson’s Research Clinic, Brain and Mind Centre

Fellowship Year: 2017

Research interests:

  • Pakinson’s Disease
  • REM sleep behaviour disorder
  • Functional neuroimaging
  • Gait impairments
  • Cognition
  • Affective disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Freezing of gait

Biography: I am completing my postdoctoral fellowship at the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney. My research continues to focus on both early gait deficits detectable in prodromal Parkinson’s disease (e.g. iRBD) as well as advanced symptoms such as freezing of gait using state-of-the-art techniques such as virtual reality paired with functional neuroimaging and neurophysiology. 

I obtained my PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience in 2015 from the University of Waterloo in Canada, which focused on understanding how anxiety influences movement in Parkinson’s disease. My PhD work was fully funded by a Doctoral Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in partnership with the Parkinson Society Canada, andwas selected as one of the Top 20 CIHR Institute of Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction Brain Star awardees in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

I completed my BSc in Kinesiology in 2010 at Wilfrid Laurier University, where I volunteered as an exercise coordinator for a Parkinson’s rehabilitation program offered at the Movement Disorders Research Center (MDRC). I was awarded a CIHR Master’s Award which fully funded my MA degree in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Waterloo in collaboration with the MDRC which focused on understanding how underlying sensory deficits might contribute to movement impairments in PD, with a specific interest in freezing of gait. Upon completing my Master’s degree, I was recognized with the Outstanding Achievements Master’s Award. 

Learn more about Dr Ehgoetz Martens

Central Clinical School and Marie Bashir Institute

Fellowship year: 2018

Research interests:

  • Zebrafish models of infection
  • immunity and vasuclar pathology

Biography: I completed graduate education at the University of Auckland in 2012. There I established zebrafish models of intestinal inflammation to understand the aetiology of inflammatory bowel disease and discover new anti-inflammatory drugs. I moved to Duke University School of Medicine as a postdoc from 2012-2016 where I was supported by a CJ Martin Early Career Fellowship to train in using the zebrafish as a model for tuberculosis and cryptococcal meningitis. In 2016 I set up my own independent laboratory at the Centenary Institute.

Contact details:
+61 2 9565 6192
stefan.oehlers@sydney.edu.au

Find out more about Dr Stefan Oehlers

Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies

Fellowship Year: 2019

I will work with the Faculty of Engineering and IT and Sydney Nano to develop high-performance electrically rechargeable zinc-air batteries to enable more efficient and substantial energy storage.

 

Fellowship year: 2018

Research interests:

  • community ecology
  • macroecology and biogeography
  • field ecology
  • statistical modelling
  • climate change
  • ecosystems at the transition of biogeographical zones

Biography: I completed my PhD in marine ecology in Prof. John Pandolfi’s Lab at the University of Queensland and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in December 2015. My PhD investigated the ecology of corals at their high-latitude range limits, in the subtropical-to-temperate transition zone south of the Great Barrier Reef.

In 2016, during my Postdoc at the University of Queensland, I studied the effects of elevated temperatures on high-latitude corals and the extent to which they were affected by coral bleaching.

In 2017 and early 2018, I held post-doctoral positions at the University of Leeds (UK) and the University of Technology Sydney.

In 2018, I was awarded a University of Sydney Research Fellowship under the supervision of A/Prof William Figueira to investigate ecological dynamics of marine organisms in tropical-to-temperate transition zones under climate change.

Find out more about Dr Brigitte Sommer.

The University of Sydney Nano Institute, School of Physics, Faculty of Science

Fellowship year: 2017

Research interests: Plasmonics, nonlinear nanophotonics, terahertz optics, metamaterials, sub-wavelength imaging, hybrid (multi-material) photonic devices.

Biography: I received a B.Sc. Degree in Physics from The University of Trieste in 2007, and B.Sc. (Honours) from the University of Sydney in 2008.

At Sydney, I continued my PhD in 2009, being the first student in the metamaterial fibers group, and completed my Ph.D in 2013.

In 2014, I received a Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology in Jena, researching fiber plasmonics.

In 2017, I joined the Sydney Nano Institute under the University of Sydney Fellowship scheme on the topic on nonlinear nanophotonics.

Find out more about Dr Alessandro Tuniz

Faculty of Medicine and Health

Fellowship Year: 2019

I will work with the Faculty of Medicine and Health, Cancer Research Network and Charles Perkins Centre to develop a technique to deliver clearer, faster and safer imaging for high precision guidance during interventional cardiac procedures and cancer radiotherapy treatments.

Research Interests: My research interests are developing Patient Connected Imaging protocols, where the imaging hardware is adapted to physiological changes in a patient’s cardiac and breathing rates. Patient Connected Imaging has the potential to deliver clearer, faster and safer medical imaging for high precision guidance during interventional cardiac procedures and to improve cancer radiotherapy treatments.

Biography: I completed my PhD in Physics under the supervision of Prof. Tanya Monro, Prof. Stephen Nicholls and Dr. Alexandre Francois at the University of Adelaide in 2017. My research focused on the development of a Whispering Gallery Mode Microlaser Biosensor as a way to facilitate real-time label-free in-vivo sensing. I received a Dean’s Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence.

In 2017, I joined the ACRF Image X Institute at the University of Sydney as a Postdoctoral Research Associate.

In 2019, I was awarded a University of Sydney Fellowship under the supervision of Associate Professor Ricky O’Brien.

Find out more about Dr Tess Reynolds

Faculty of Science

Fellowship Year: 2019

I will work with the Faculty of Science and Sydney Nano on an approach for constructing logic-gated polymer nanoparticles to improve targeted delivery of chemotherapy drugs into cancer cells.

Find out more about Dr Derrick Roberts

 

Faculty of Science

Fellowship Year: 2019

I will work with the School of Physics within the Faculty of Science to further our understanding of the formation and evolution of our galaxy and its stars and planets.

 

Past Fellows

Faculty of Science

Fellowship Year: 2014

Research interests: I study epigenetic regulation of gene expression– the interplay between the environment that an organism encounters during its lifetime, and the expression patterns of its genes. Importantly, these environmental signals can sometimes get passed between generations (Darwin was wrong!), and I am trying to understand how this occurs.

Biography: I completed my undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Sydney, and my PhD at the University of Sydney and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research when the lab moved. After a couple of years in Brisbane I moved over to Cambridge, UK, where I spent four years as a postdoctoral research fellow.

During my PhD I developed my fascination with the area of epigenetics – I kept up this interest but broadened my horizons by learning all about a new model organism (the nematode worm C. elegans) and the world of RNA molecules during my postdoctoral work.

Find out more about Dr Alyson Ashe.

School of Life and Environmental Sciences
Fellowship Year: 2015

Find out more about Dr Thomas Bourguignon.

Faculty of Science 


Fellowship Year: 2013

Research Interests: I invent new ways to make carbon materials that are used in technologies including mobile phones, computers, televisions, and water purifiers. Carbon materials naturally exist in various forms such as graphite, charcoal, and diamond which can be mined from natural deposits. However, not every form of carbon exists naturally and hence must be made chemically. The form carbon materials take depends on how the individual carbon atoms chemically bond together. Each form of carbon has unique properties that allow it to be used in different device components like batteries, screens, and filters. By understanding why carbon atoms come together, I develop methods to control the structure, size, purity, and quantity of carbon in many forms to make materials that are lighter, stronger, and more durable. This ability to chemically control carbon forms allows for the production of new carbon materials that are required in the next generation of technologies relating to human health, the environment, and reliable energy use.

Biography/About Me: I was previously a recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) where I completed my PhD (2010) from the UNSW School of Chemistry, along with a BSc in Nanotechnology with Honours Class 1 (2007) from the UNSW School of Materials Science and Engineering. I was awarded a Scholarship to complete a Graduate Certificate in Research Management and Commercialisation (2009) from the UNSW School of Business. 

In 2011 I was awarded the Cornforth Medal by the Royal Australian Chemical Institute Inc. for the most outstanding PhD thesis in a branch of chemistry, chemical science, or chemical technology in Australia. I then took up a postdoctoral research role in the Department of Physics in the University of Parma (Italy). I returned to Australia in 2012 to a postdoctoral role in The School of Chemistry at The University of Sydney and in 2013 I was awarded a University of Sydney Postdoctoral Research Fellowship.

Faculty of Medicine and Health 
Fellowship Year: 2013
Current Position: Toxicologist, Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), Department of Health

I completed a Bachelor of Medical Science (Hons) at the University of Sydney in 2002 and subsequently a PhD under the supervision of Dr Christopher Jolly at the Centenary Institute (Sydney) where I investigated the role of DNA repair proteins in antibody gene class switching and mutation in B lymphocytes.

A recipient of La Ligue Contre le Cancer (French Cancer Council) and NHMRC CJ Martin Postdoctoral Fellowships, I joined the lab of Dr Geneviève Almouzni at the Institut Curie in Paris in where I turned my attention to the regulation of chromatin dynamics in maintaining genome function and stability.

I returned to Australia in 2011 and joined the lab of Prof. David Tremethick at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University (Canberra), to complete a second postdoc.

In 2012 I was awarded a University of Sydney Postdoctoral Research Fellowship which allowed me to return to the University and Centenary Institute in 2013 to continue my research within the Immune Imaging Laboratory (lab of Prof. Wolfgang Weninger). In 2016 I chose to undertake a new career direction within the Australian Public Service to work in regulatory toxicology at the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Faculty of Health Science

Fellowship Year: 2013

Find out more about Dr John Gillam.

Faculty of Science

Fellowship Year: 2014

Find out more about Dr Ros Gloag.

Faculty of Medicine and Health 
Fellowship Year: 2013

Research interests: I’m really interested in diseases of the nervous system - particularly those that cause pathological changes in neural signalling. I am currently a research fellow in the Pain and Drug addiction laboratory in the Discipline of Pharmacology, and my research focuses on changes that happen within the pain processing pathways in the spinal cord following the development of chronic pain.

Some of these changes are potential therapeutic targets and I am interested in finding new, more effective ways to treat chronic pain. Recently I have been working with drugs that increase the effect of endogenous pain modulators and I have also been looking loss of inhibitory neurotransmission in the spinal cord to work out how we can increase these signals to reduce pain.

Biography: I started off as a microbiologist and after a few years, and a couple of jobs (working with deadly human pathogens followed by colourful marine microbes), I decided to switch fields and start a PhD in pharmacology the University of Otago. Here I worked with fungal toxins that cause neurological symptoms in grazing animals, which really sparked my interest in abnormal neural signalling in diseases that affect the brain.

After completing my PhD project, in a very small town in rural New Zealand, I jumped on a plane to begin the next stage of my career at Columbia University in the big city of New York. My research here focused on neural circuit function in the childhood motor neuron disease, Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), using a fruit-fly model of the disease. This work established dysfunction in sensory-motor circuitry as the origin of the motor deficits in SMA and led to the identification of a drug to treat the disease.

Following this, I had a short stint at the Queensland Brain Institute where I worked on neural circuits involved in sleep and anaesthesia. I then moved to Sydney to take up a University of Sydney Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Discipline of Pharmacology. When I’m not doing science I like making music (quietly at home, or loudly with my band) and drinking wine, sometimes at the same time.

Faculty of Health Sciences
Fellowship Year: 2014

Find out more about Dr Cristian Leyton.

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Fellowship Year: 2016

Find out more about Dr Maïa Ponsonnet.

Faculty of Science

Fellowship Year: 2015

Research interests: Galaxy evolution, stellar populations, dwarf galaxies and the Milky Way.

Biography: Nic completed a DPhil in astrophysics at the University of Oxford, studying the link between the stellar populations and dynamics of early-type galaxies as a probe of their formation histories.

Nic moved on to a postdoc at Swinburne University of Technology, where he weighed supermassive black holes in the centres of galaxies and investigated their role in galaxy evolution. In 2013 he moved on to a postdoc at the University of Sydney where he returned to his DPhil work on early-type galaxy evolution.

In 2015 Nic was awarded a University of Sydney Research Fellowship to investigate the formation of dwarf elliptical galaxies in nearby galaxy clusters. In 2018 he moved on to a DECRA fellowship, where he is currently using our own Galaxy, the Milky Way, as a key to unlocking the histories of more distant galaxies.

Find out more about Dr Nic Scott.

Faculty of Science

Fellowship Year: 2014

Research interests: My research is in quantum information theory and cryptography, with a focus on theoretical questions that arise when the size of the available quantum devices is limited. 

Biography: I received a Master of Science degree from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology at ETH Zurich, and a doctorate in Theoretical Physics also from ETH Zurich. Since then I have worked as a research fellow at the Centre for Quantum Technologies in Singapore.

In 2016 I received an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship to work on Information Processing with Small Quantum Computers. I remain in the School of Physics for the duration of my DECRA Fellowship.

University of Sydney Business School

Fellowship Year: 2014

Find out more about Dr Chris F Wright.

Faculty of Science

Fellowship Year: 2015

Research interests: My research interests are in the broad areas of Computational and Systems Biology with a focus on cell signalling and transcription networks. Specifically, I am interested in developing computational methods and statistical models to reconstruct and characterise signalling cascades and transcription networks that underlie cellular homeostasis, proliferation, differentiation, and cell-fate decisions.

With the University of Sydney Postdoctoral Fellowship award, I have recently embarked on expanding my research to analyse neuroimaging data and integrate them with genomic data and networks. The overarching goal is to enable the integration of both neuroimaging and genomic information for understanding the interconnection and the function of the brain, and to utilise such knowledge for translational research such as characterisation and diagnosis of mental disorders.

Biography: I’m interested in travelling and experiencing different cultures and food. I have been to many countries in Asia and a few in North America. I have never been to Europe and would love to make it the next adventure. I’m also a Sci-Fi movie fun since I was young. This partly motivated me to purse a career in academia and science.

I was initially interested in Physics, and later in Molecular Biology, but eventually chosen Computer Science as my major. Now, I’m embracing both Computer Science and Molecular Biology by harnessing the power of computing for analysing enormous biological data generated these days. I believe that I’m extremely lucky to be in the position to marry these two disciplines for my interdisciplinary research.

Society of Fellows events

  • In January 2019 we had a networking event with the University of Sydney Robinson Fellows.
  • In November 2018 we hosted Professor Marlene Zuk from the University of Minnesota, an expert on behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology.
  • In March 2018, the Society welcomed new fellows for 2018.
  • In October 2017, Professor Nick Enfield gave a presentation to Fellows on ‘post truth’. Enfield is Professor of Linguistics and the recipient of an Ig Nobel Prize
  • In September 2017 the Society had the pleasure of hosting two high-profile speakers, including Professor Loraine Daston from the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, and linguist, media researcher and political activist from Tel Aviv University Professor Daniel Dor.
  • In July 2017, the Society hosted Professor David Haig from Harvard University. Professor Haig talked about conflict in our own bodies.
  • In April 2017, Professor Huw Price spoke about the dangers of articfical intelligence.
  • In March 2017, the Society hosted Professor Bernard Crespi with a talk titled 'Autism as a disorder of high intelligence'.
  • In August 2016, the Society had the pleasure of hosting Professor Eva Jablonka, who talked about her work on epigenetics, summarised in ‘Evolution in Four Dimensions’.

Fellows in the news