Four UNSW rising stars have been awarded prestigious Fullbright scholarships to undertake research in the United States.

Dr Peter Nugus from the Australian Institute of Health Innovation will travel to the University of California Los Angeles to undertake postdoctoral research on how hospital and community care of seniors can be improved.

“Older people are more likely to have multiple health problems, requiring care coordination across different professionals and organisations,” says Nugus.

His project will develop criteria to measure if policy reforms designed to better integrate health care actually work in practice.

Dr Richard Collins from the UNSW Water Research Centre will travel to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington State to undertake research at the US Department of Energy.

He will use computational modelling to improve the efficiency of acid leaching processes, which are becoming increasingly used as a way of maximising the extraction of uranium from the waste of low-grade uranium mines.

“Nuclear energy will be a fundamental contributor to meeting global energy demand, with reduced CO2 emissions, into the medium-term future,” says Collins. “Australia is a key supplier of uranium worldwide and it is in our interest to make the process of extracting it as efficient as possible.”

PhD candidate Laura Crommelin from the Faculty of Built Environment is heading to the University of Michigan in Detroit to study the city itself.

She’s interested in how cities that have experienced sharp industrial decline can reinvent their image through branding. The once booming base of car manufacturing in the US is an interesting parallel to the Australian city of Newcastle, both of which are being used as case studies in her PhD thesis.

“Both cities have had to grapple with the shifting relationship between their economy, their identity and their image,” she says. “Lessons from the US about innovative and effective ways to reshape urban image and identity are therefore highly pertinent to Newcastle.”

Laura added; “I am a bit shocked, very excited and extremely grateful for the chance to immerse myself in my fieldwork and in US culture for an extended period.”

“I really appreciate the support and encouragement I've received from my supervisors, Rob Freestone and Simon Pinnegar, and am thankful to the NSW universities and the NSW government for their sponsorship of the scholarship I received. The award is both a great honour and a great opportunity, and I'm looking forward to making the most of it with a jam-packed eight months in Michigan and around the US!”

UNSW graduate Eleanor Wood, who completed a dual degree in renewable energy and political science, is the 2012 Anne Wexler Australian Scholar.

Wood is bound for Harvard University for the next two years, studying for a master’s degree in public policy in the field of sustainable energy.

By combining her technical knowledge with increased leadership and policy skills developed in the US, Wood aims to play a key role in the development of a sustainable energy system for Australia’s future after she returns home.

“When I return to the industry I will bring international perspectives and expertise on energy policy, as well as linkages to professionals in energy-related organisations around the world,” she says.

For more information on the award recipients, go to the Fulbright website. Applications for the 2013 awards open on June 1.