A wildlife ecologist studying apex predators and a post graduate student researching the recovery of island ecosystems, were amongst five outstanding University of Tasmania recipients of prestigious 2020 Fulbright Scholarships.
Wildlife ecologist and School of Biological Sciences postdoctoral researcher Calum Cunningham will be hosted by the University of Washington to study how apex predators shape ecosystems.
Mr Cunningham will focus on how scavenging affects the wellbeing of ecosystems and human and ultimately use this ecosystem knowledge to help address extinction issues.
Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) postgraduate student, Penny Pascoe, will use her Fulbright Future Scholarship to research the recovery of island ecosystems following the eradication of invasive mammals.
Ms Pascoe will be hosted by the Northern Illinois University to investigate the use of stable isotopes to monitor the progression of recovery in island ecosystems by undertaking a large-scale natural experiment across more than 30 Australian, New Zealand and sub-Antarctic islands.
Professor Graeme Jones, Head of the Musculoskeletal Unit at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, will work with colleagues at the University of California San Francisco to effectively predict who will require knee replacement surgery, as part of his Fulbright Future Scholarship
With the prevalence of osteoarthritis increasing with an ageing population, the research has the potential to better allocate resources and to greatly improve the management of osteoarthritis in Australia.
“This will give me the opportunity to foster some important international collaborations working with the program leaders of some of the biggest cohorts in osteoarthritis, to improve who has access to knee replacements,” Professor Jones said.
The award is the second 2020 Fulbright Future Scholarship for Menzies, with PhD student Lachlan Tegart also set to travel to the US, to further research the health effects of airborne pollen.
Mr Tegart will use immunology and DNA sequencing to examine the effects of Australian native species on people’s health - including species that are not often associated with asthma and allergies.
A Fulbright Scholar Award was also received by Dr Leon Barmuta from the University of Tasmania’s School of Natural Sciences to work with Kansas State University researchers on nutrient transformations in streams.
An ecologist who has worked extensively with water managers, foresters and biodiversity advisors, Dr Barmuta aims to develop a longer-term collaboration to guide environmental scientists to work across scales more effectively.
“Ecosystems are rarely the simple sum of their parts: processes operate at different scales in space and time,” Dr Barmuta said.
“My Fulbright will enable me to work with world leaders in scaling ecology at Kansas State University to improve our accuracy in predicting nutrient losses from agricultural and forested catchments.”
The US-based Fulbright Program is aimed at increasing binational research collaboration, cultural understanding, and the exchange of ideas.
This year’s Fulbright Scholars were officially introduced at a Presentation Gala Dinner at Parliament House, Canberra last night (Thursday 27 February, 2020).
Image L-R: Penny Pascoe, Calum Cunningham, Professor Graeme Jones, Lachlan Tegart, Dr Leon Barmuta (absent).