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Alumni awarded flagship foreign exchange


Five members of the University of Tasmania alumni community have been awarded prestigious 2021 Fulbright Scholarships that will allow them to further their research through academic and cultural exchange in the United States.

Kathy Willis (BSc Hons 2015), a PhD candidate in marine socioecology with the School of Social Sciences, will spend 10 months at the University of Washington researching plastic waste and management that threatens the health of the environment, wildlife and livelihoods. She will conduct the first cross-continental comparison of waste management strategies that effectively reduce the quantity of plastic waste in the environment.

“I’m very honoured to be given the opportunity to immerse myself into the US culture and collaborate with leading researchers in the plastic pollution impacts and policy space. The reality of this opportunity and its future possibilities still hasn’t really sunk in, it’s a very surreal feeling.

"I cannot wait to explore the mountains and coastline of the Pacific north-west and meet people, who like me, also get pretty excited talking about trash!”

Kate Johnson (BSc Hons 2017), a PhD candidate in the School of Natural Sciences, will use newly developed imaging technologies to visualise both the 3D structure of the plant water transport system and the pattern by which it fails under drought conditions. This will assist in predicting and managing for drought-induced tree death in a drying world.

“I will get to work with experts in my field on what is essentially my dream research project,” Kate said.

“I am also really excited to travel around the US, meet lots of new people, and to hang out in a beautiful research forest where I’ll hopefully befriend lots of forest creatures!”

Dr Louise Grimmer (PhD 2015), Senior Lecturer in Marketing in the College of Business and Economics, will visit the University of South Carolina to further her research in retail place marketing. Working with US colleagues, Louise’s research will identify best-practice strategies for promoting retail precincts, supporting small and independent retailers and encouraging local shopping.

“The opportunity provided by the Fulbright Scholarship is incredibly unique. I’ll be collaborating with retail scholars in the US to look at ways to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on retail precincts. These areas are so important for local communities and vital for local economies.

“I’m really grateful for this opportunity to be able to engage in research with benefits for retail practice and policy, both Australia and the United States, and the opportunity to start a new research collaboration between UTAS and USC.”

Dr Louis Stevenson (MBBS 2015) is currently an ophthalmology trainee at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne, Victoria.

Dr Stevenson's research interests include epidemiology and clinical ophthalmology and he has published significantly in these areas.

Having worked across remote Western Australia with Lions Outback Vision, a mobile outreach ophthalmology service, he has seen the significant inequalities that exist in healthcare across Australia.

He will use his Fulbright Scholarship to study a Master of Public Health at Harvard University with a special focus on health economics. His goal is to enhance the delivery of health services in Australia to achieve a more equitable and sustainable system.

Dr Helen Nahrung (PhD 2003)

Dr Nahrung is a Senior Research Fellow at USC’s Forest Research Institute in Queensland. Her research focuses on understanding insect invasion processes towards their prevention and management: invasive insects cause severe economic and environmental impacts globally, moving accidentally via trade and travel.

As a Fulbright Scholar, Dr Nahrung will work with leading invasion biologist Dr Andrew Liebhold to examine insect establishments and interceptions between Australia and the United States - an unwanted reciprocal exchange.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship foreign exchange scholarship program of the United States, aimed at increasing bi-national research collaboration, cultural understanding and the exchange of ideas.

Applications for the new round of Fulbright Scholarships is open until July 6, 2021.

Pictured (L-R) Kate Johnson, Kathy Willis and Dr Louise Grimmer

Fulbright scholars 2021

This article featured in the monthly eNews Alumni and Friends, if you are a member of the University of Tasmania alumni community and would like to receive this publication, please email us at or update your email address.
Published on: 26 May 2021 1:43pm