The 2024 Fulbright Scholars have been revealed, with UNSW Sydney recipients set to live and work for at least a year at host institutions in the United States under the scheme that seeks to foster educational exchange and cultural understanding.

The four UNSW scholars are a professor of marine ecology, a medical doctor with a passion for health education, and recent graduates in quantum computing and in neuroscience.

Ryan Richards from Golden, Colorado, a professor of chemistry at the Colorado School of Mines with a joint appointment at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will visit UNSW.

Professor Paul Gribben, a marine ecologist and Director of the Centre for Marine Science and Innovation at UNSW Sydney, and a former Australian Research Council Future Fellow, has been awarded a Fulbright Future Scholarship, funded by the Kinghorn Foundation.

Prof. Gribben’s research is focused on understanding the response of coastal marine ecosystems to environmental change and employing cross-disciplinary approaches to building more resilient marine ecosystems.

He will spend the year at Northeastern University, Boston, and use his Fulbright Fellowship to seek greater understanding of how microbes and genetics influence the performance of threatened marine plants. This research will endeavour to offer novel approaches for restoring marine plants globally.

Prof. Gribben, who was born in New Zealand, said, “I’m deeply honoured the selectors saw past my Kiwi accent and considered me worthy of this award.

“In addition to expanding my research ties in the US, I hope this experience will also enhance the global reach of our Australian research.”

Belinda An

Fulbright Scholarship recipient Dr Belinda An, who lectures in Women's Health at UNSW, will complete a Master of Science in Media, Medicine, and Health, with a view to developing a multimedia health platform aimed at Australian youth. Photo: Fulbright Australia

Dr Belinda An is a doctor at the Royal Hospital for Women and a Conjoint Associate Lecturer in Women’s Health at UNSW Medicine & Health with a passion for health literacy education, particularly relating to sexual health, pelvic inflammatory disease and its long-term impacts on fertility and reproductive health.

In addition to Dr An’s clinical work in obstetrics and gynaecology, she is a fertility researcher with first-authored publications in international journals such as Human Reproduction, and she volunteers as the lead medical advisor for the not-for-profit consent and sexual education organisation Consent Labs.

Dr An will use her Sir John Carrick NSW Fulbright Scholarship to complete a Master of Science in Media, Medicine, and Health, with the aim to develop a multimedia platform that can connect, engage and empower Australian youth with evidence-based health information to become lifelong advocates for their wellbeing.

UNSW alumni receive Fulbrights

For 75 years the Fulbright Program, founded in 1949, has provided funding for close to 6,000 Australian and American students, scholars and professionals to undertake impactful programs of study and collaborative research exchange.

Throughout that time only a small number of multi-year scholarships have been awarded to candidates.

Bill Zhu, a recent UNSW grad with honours and specialisation in neuroscience, has received a fully-funded five-year scholarship to do his PhD at one of the world’s most prestigious institutions.

Bill Zhu

Bill Zhu has received a fully funded five-year scholarship to pursue his PhD. Photo: Fulbright Australia.

His Fulbright Future Scholarship in Neuroscience is funded by the Kinghorn Foundation, and will enable him to conduct rigorous academic research in the molecular neurobiology underpinning cognitive dysfunction and symptom progression in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Mr Zhu firmly believes in the values and potential of basic science in clarifying complex problems such as neurological diseases and is dedicated to discovering the molecular mechanisms behind diseases as a means of establishing clinical intervention targets.

“Alzheimer’s disease is the single most prevalent neurodegenerative disease in the world today, and it still lacks an effective clinical intervention. My Fulbright research aims to unearth the basic underlying mechanisms behind cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease patients, establishing the targets for future molecular therapies,” said Mr Zhu.

“I am overjoyed with being awarded the Fulbright Future Scholarship for my upcoming PhD in neuroscience. More than just supporting students and professionals in higher research, the Fulbright program is an opportunity to take my research in neurodegeneration beyond the horizon and learn from the world's foremost research institutions.

“With the scholarship's support, I get to undertake research at the United State's foremost institutions and come home with the knowledge and capacity to pioneer work in Australia.”

Keshavi Charde, a recent dual-degree graduate in advanced physics (honours) and aerospace engineering (honours) has received a Fulbright Future Scholarship in Quantum Computing, funded by the Kinghorn Foundation.

Caitlin Tedesco, a PhD candidate, has received a Fulbright Future Scholarship funded by the Kinghorn Foundation to study at the National Institute on Drug Abuse Intramural Research Program in Baltimore. Caitlin will hone her neuroscience techniques as part of her research into the mechanisms underlying the efficacy of bariatric surgery.