The quadrangle glowing in a golden light with blue sky above

Sydney academics and alumni awarded 2023 Fulbright Scholarships

3 March 2023
Prestigious Fulbright Scholarships announced
From fluorescent nanoparticles to novel quantum sensors in medical imaging, academics and alumni of the University of Sydney have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships.

Eight prestigious Fulbright Scholarships have been awarded to members of the University of Sydney community and alumni.

Professor Emma Johnston, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) congratulated all Fulbright Scholars.

“I’m impressed by the range of research projects of our Fulbright Scholars, which reflects the University's commitment to fostering interdisciplinary research and promoting diverse perspectives to address pressing global challenges.” 

Professor Johnston thanked those Scholars hosted at the University of Sydney who are soon to complete their exchange as part of the Australian-American Fulbright Commission Scholarships.

“The University of Sydney values the importance of hosting Fulbright Scholars as part of its commitment to international exchange and collaboration. These scholarships provide a unique opportunity for scholars to engage in academic research, develop new skills, and form lasting connections with colleagues from around the world,” said Professor Johnston.

The University of Sydney is proud to have its academics and alumni recognised through the Fulbright program and looks forward to their continued success in their respective fields.

Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholars

Dr Thomas Boele – Staff & Alumni - Faculty of Science, School of Physics
(B.Sc.(Adv) '13 B.A. '15, BSc(Hons) '15 Ph.D. '21)

Dr Thomas Boele is an experimental quantum physicist with a keen interest in building prototype devices and the intersection of quantum physics with medical imaging. He received his BA, BSc (Hons I) and PhD from the University of Sydney, where he currently works as a quantum systems engineer. His recent research has focused on developing a quantum magnetometer based on fluorescent defects in diamond.  
As a Fulbright Scholar, Thomas will collaborate with researchers at the The Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital to explore how the application of novel quantum sensors in medical imaging can enable new imaging modalities for improved disease diagnosis and treatment.
Thomas's Fulbright research aims to combine magnetoencephalography (MEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in a single modality for imaging the function of the human brain. This combination can provide electrophysiological and haemodynamic information simultaneously, opening unprecedented possibilities for studying healthy and diseased brains non-invasively with high temporal and spatial resolution. 

Dr Mitchell Gibbs – Staff & Alumni - Faculty of Science, School of Geosciences
(Ph.D. '21)

Dr Mitchell Gibbs's PhD in marine biochemistry focused on studying the impact of climate change on oysters, which is an important natural resource for Indigenous communities. As an Indigenous science student, he identified the importance of Indigenous Knowledges around shellfish and coastal management and aims to bring a clearer representation of these Knowledges in academia.  
As a Fulbright Scholar, he will partner with Western Washington University on a collaborative project between Australian First Nations and Coast Salish people to share their respective knowledge of shellfish. The aim is to improve understanding of the mechanisms and protocols that have been set in place to initiate and continue cultural revitalisation in association with community-driven habitat restoration.

Dr Pooria Lesani – Staff & Alumni – Faculty of Engineering, School of Biomedical Engineering
(Ph.D. '22) 

Dr Pooria Lesani graduated with a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Sydney in 2022, and currently works as a postdoctoral researcher. His research focuses on developing the next generation of fluorescent nanoparticles for medicine approaches such as biosensing, bioimaging, and targeted drug delivery. Pooria’s area of research is highly interdisciplinary as it combines materials science & engineering, nanotechnology, biomedical engineering, and cell biology, aiming to develop nanoparticle-based theranostic systems for early and accurate detection and treatment of diseases. 
As a Fulbright Scholar, Pooria will conduct interdisciplinary research at the California NanoSystems Institute, UCLA, fostering the research alliance between Australia and USA and benefitting both scientific communities. The project will add substantial new knowledge about the development of biocompatible nanoparticle-based targeted drug delivery systems and their application for cancer therapy.

Fulbright Postgraduate Student Scholars

David Sweeny - Staff & Alumni 
(B.Sc. '20 BSc(Hons) '21) 

David Sweeny completed a Bachelor of Science (Advanced) with First Class Honours in Physics at the University of Sydney. Currently completing his PhD, also in Physics, his research focuses on applying machine learning and artificial intelligence to problems in Astronomy, particularly in the area of gravitational lensing. David is a passionate teacher, both designing and tutoring many units across data science, computer science and physics.

David is taking his interests with him as a Fulbright Scholar to the University of California, Irvine where he will be identifying lensed quasars and, hopefully, uncovering some secrets of the cosmos.

Dr Oliver Cronin – Staff – Faculty of Medicine and Health, Westmead Clinical School

Dr Oliver Cronin is a gastroenterologist at Westmead Clinical School. Dr Cronin is currently completing additional subspecialty training in Therapeutic Interventional Endoscopy at Westmead Hospital under the mentorship of Professor Michael Bourke. Dr Cronin’s research specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the digestive system (Gastroenterology). Dr Cronin was one of twelve Sydney students awarded NHMRC Postgraduate Scholarships in January 2023 for The Science of Cold Snare Polypectomy.  

As a Fulbright Future Scholar Dr Cronin will continue this research at NYU Langone Health, under the mentorship of Professor Greg Haber.  

Alexi Polden – Alumni 
(B.A. LLB(Hons) '19) 

Alexi is a Senior Solicitor at the NSW Crown Solicitor’s Office with experience in constitutional law, administrative law, and regulatory prosecutions. He is passionate about understanding and improving how public and criminal law reflect the balance between public power and individual rights. Alexi was previously Associate and Tipstaff to Justice Payne of the NSW Court of Appeal and holds a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours from the University of Sydney.

For his Fulbright Scholarship, Alexi will study a Master of Laws degree with a focus on how American law prevents government officials from resiling from their statements and explore what this means for faith in government.

Christina White – Alumni 
(BA(Hons)/LLB(Hons) '16)

Christina is a criminal defence lawyer at the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons)/Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from the University of Sydney. She has also worked as a Tipstaff at the Supreme Court of New South Wales and as a Senior Solicitor at the Crown Solicitor’s Office in New South Wales.

With her Fulbright Scholarship, Christina will pursue a Master of Laws (LLM) specialising in criminal justice. She will examine the criminalisation of mental health issues and solutions to mass incarceration. Her research will focus on the nexus between mental illness and intoxication in criminal law.

Benjamin Lau - PhD candidate

Benjamin is a PhD candidate at the Image X Institute, University of Sydney under the mentorship of Dr Tess Reynolds.  His doctoral research focuses on developing the next generation of 4D imaging systems for radiotherapy. The initial research stage will be targeted to lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death and amongst the most difficult areas to treat. This technology aims to reduce radiation exposure and imaging time whilst improving patient outcomes.

As a Fulbright Scholar, Benjamin will join the Advanced Imaging Algorithms and Instrumentation Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University.

Australian-American Fulbright Commission scholars

Jessica Livney
2023 scholar, commenced September 2022

Jessica graduated from Georgetown University in May 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Global Health and started her Fulbright Scholarship in September 2022 at the InsideOut Institute for Eating Disorders at University of Sydney, Charles Perkins Centre (CPC). Jessica's research working alongside Associate Professor Sarah Maguire aims to understand the genetic predispositions that contribute to typical and atypical presentation of anorexia nervosa to better understand the illness and provide scientific evidence for optimal prevention, intervention, and pharmacological development.

Associate Professor Lindsay Squeglia  
Awarded Fulbright Future Scholarship in 2021, commenced September 2022 

The University of Sydney is hosting Associate Professor Lindsay Squeglia from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). An American Fulbright Senior Scholar awarded the Fulbright Future Scholarship in 2021, Lindsay is currently in Sydney working with Professor Maree Teesson and her team at The Matilda Centre on prevention and intervention projects for adolescents with substance use disorders.

Lindsay’s research focuses on understanding the effects of substance abuse on adolescent brain development, as well as creating effective treatment options for substance-using youth. She has a strong interest in community outreach and education efforts and is a licensed clinical psychologist. Lindsay aspires to minimise the long-term negative effects of teen substance use by creating more effective prevention and intervention programs.

Related articles