Sydney Horizon Fellows

Sydney attracts top research talent with innovative Fellowships

28 February 2024
40 researchers focus on climate change, health and sustainability
Unprecedented investment in appointment of 40 research fellows across a range of disciplines.

The University of Sydney has attracted and retained 40 of the best and brightest early and mid-career academics who will bring new research capability and unlock solutions to the complex problems of climate change, health and sustainability. 

The record $100m investment in the Sydney Horizon Fellowship Scheme is the first of its kind in Australia and among the world’s most generous university fellowships.

The cohort of Horizon Fellows includes 15 internal and 25 external appointments. The Fellows' international education and work experience spans across North America (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Harvard University), Asia (City University of Hong Kong, Yonsei University) and Europe (University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, European Commission Joint Research Centre and the World Bank).

10 Horizon Fellows are alumni of the University and four are returning staff.  

The Horizon Fellows’ projects have a multidisciplinary lens and cover a range of topics across climate change, health and sustainability - from conversational AI for patients with heart failure to making energy poverty visible, from smart wastewater surveillance to increasing coral reef resilience. Others are addressing sleep-wake disturbances and neurodegeneration, using music to address mental health issues, promoting healthy diets for young children from sustainable first-food systems, and strategies to achieve secure zero-carbon energy and food futures.

“I warmly congratulate this community of Sydney Horizon Fellows, from an impressively broad range of disciplines, on their appointments and on the critical role they will play in research dedicated to solving the most pressing challenges of our time,” said Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Mark Scott.  

“Our $100 million investment, unprecedented in Australia, underlines our commitment to developing the careers of early and mid-career researchers, the problem solvers of the near future. It delivers on a major undertaking of our Sydney in 2032 strategic plan – to deliver excellent research for the common good. The researchers will be valuable additions to the University’s established multi-disciplinary collaboration. I can’t wait to see what they will achieve.”  

The Horizon Fellows have been appointed across the Faculty of Medicine and Health (14), Faculty of Science (9), Faculty of Engineering (8), Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (3), Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning (3), University of Sydney Business School (2) and Sydney Conservatorium of Music (1) and will work across the University’s multidisciplinary initiatives, centres and institutes.

The Fellows will be supported to become research leaders at the University through a five-year research-focused Fellowship, which includes generous funding and a dedicated training and development program that has been designed to support leadership growth and amplify research impact.  

Our $100 million investment, unprecedented in Australia, underlines our commitment to developing the careers of early and mid-career researchers, the problem solvers of the near future.
Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Mark Scott

Professor Emma Johnston, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), said, “The contributions of these Sydney Horizon Fellows will be both broad and deep and have an invaluable impact by accelerating the development of solutions to the many challenges we face in climate, health, and sustainability. 

“The Horizon Fellowships have allowed us to retain outstanding talent already at the University and attract brilliant talent from outside. Our investment in their futures will lead to new technologies, policies, treatments, laws, businesses, designs and insights, to the benefit of our society, our economy, and our environment.”

Sydney Horizon Fellows and project titles

  • Dr Shamila Haddad - Developing resilient housing for low-income social housing residents and mitigating urban overheating in Australia: Tackling adverse impacts of climate change and the housing crisis

  • Dr Federico Tartarini - Beat the heat: Advancing our understanding of heat stress and developing effective sustainable interventions to reduce health risks in a warming world

  • Dr Giulia Ulpiani - Urban heat mitigation and adaptation for climate neutrality: Towards a new holistic paradigm in urban sciences for healthier cities

  • Dr Barbara Barbosa Neves - The aged care of the future: AI social science for sustainable ageing and healthier societies

  • Dr Blanche Verlie - Emotional politics in the climate crisis 

  • Dr Lee V. White - Making energy poverty visible: A wellbeing measure 

  • Dr Danielle Kent - The power of reframing our climate transition decisions  

  • Dr Cara Vansteenkiste - Corporate philanthropy: Mobilising corporate resources for the common good

  • Dr Steffen A. Herff - Sustainable health practice: Music for health and health for musicians  

  • Dr Sid Assawaworrarit - Advanced climate and energy applications of electromagnetics  

  • Dr Ann-Na Cho - Bioengineered human brain tissue on a microchip: Breakthrough in personalised disease modelling and personalised medicine  

  • Dr Jiaying Li - Smart wastewater surveillance for public health and wellbeing  

  • Dr Neda Mohammadi - Conflux of Catalysts: Transforming Sustainability in Urban Horizons through Harnessing the Synergistic Impact of AI, Digital Twins, and Human-Infrastructure Dynamics  

  • Dr Arman Siahvashi - Australia’s first high-efficiency, modular, and low-cost hydrogen liquefaction and storage  

  • Dr Zengxia Pei - Advanced zinc-metal batteries for sustainable energy storage  

  • Dr Conrad Wasko - Future proofing Australia from increasing flood risk  

  • Dr Aoni Xu - Autonomous electro-active material discovery for a positive climate  


  • Dr Phillip Baker - Healthy infant and young child diets from sustainable first-food systems  

  • Dr Katrina Champion - Optimising prevention: Innovative approaches to improve the physical and mental health of Australian adolescents  

  • Dr Nicholas Fancourt - Immunology and pneumonia in malnourished children: A translational approach from Timor-Leste to improve global child mortality 

  • Dr Aaron Jenkins - Watershed Interventions for Systems Health (WISH): Delivering co-benefits for climate resilience, biodiversity, health, and well-being in Melanesian watersheds 

  • Dr Liliana Laranjo - Evaluating a conversational Artificial Intelligence program to support patients with heart failure in managing their disease  

  • Dr Elie Matar - From bench to ‘bedside’: Sleep-wake disturbances as a window into identifying, treating, and preventing neurodegeneration  

  • Dr Natalie Matosin - How stress leads to mental illness: A mechanism to improve global health outcomes  

  • Dr Archita Mishra - Early-life microbial-immune priming: Unveiling a new paradigm in human immune development 

  • Dr Stephanie Partridge - Harnessing digital technology to create healthy societies and improve health of adolescents  

  • Dr Mitchell Sarkies - Establishing an implementation science laboratory to rapidly translate health and medical research innovations into better health outcomes  

  • Dr Kerrie Wiley - Integrating social science to fight vaccine-preventable diseases  

  • Dr Chun Xu - Multifunctional nanoparticles for genome editors delivery  

  • Dr Jingjing You - Collagen based biomedical research to develop new treatment in health and new technology in biomanufacturing 

  • Dr Wesley Dose - Sustainable and high-energy materials for energy storage  

  • Dr Jasmine Fardouly - Improving social media for users’ body image: A multilevel ecological approach  

  • Dr Shawna Foo - Learning from marginal systems: Identifying factors that increase coral reef resilience to climate induced stress  

  • Dr Haihui Joy Jiang - Using plasma- and magneto-electrochemistry to solve energy and climate challenges  

  • Dr Mengyu Li - Integrated assessment modelling of sustainable energy, climate and food systems  

  • Dr Alison Peel - Associations between bat ecology, bat virome dynamics and the human health risk of emerging bat viruses 

  • Dr Alistair Senior - Healthy ageing through sustainable nutrition  

  • Dr Ting Rei Tan - Trapped-ion quantum simulator for photoactive drug design 

Dr Ann-Na Cho, Horizon Fellow at work in her laboratory. Credit: Stefanie Zingsheim.

Faculty of Engineering

Over the past 12 years, Dr Ann-Na Cho has established the world’s first bioengineered human brain-on-a-chip combining personalised stem cells, 3D brain-specific biomaterial and an organ-on-a-chip.  

“My research has contributed to the successful fabrication of artificial organs and to our understanding of the development, disease, and function of the brain. I’m excited and grateful to be joining the University’s Faculty of Engineering. The goal of my Sydney Horizon Fellowship is to generate a vascularised-human brain-on-a-chip model that incorporates a neuroinflammatory system and to facilitate the development of personalised therapeutic approaches as clinical interventions for ageing and diseased conditions."

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences 

Dr Lee White’s research focuses on who is underserved by current energy systems and governance by creating a new measure to make energy poverty visible in terms of peoples’ wellbeing and ability to live a life that they value.

“Current metrics do not fully capture lack of access to the services that energy provides, which is a critical piece of pursuing a transition that achieves energy justice. My previous research has had a direct impact on policy and practice. I have led or contributed to 15 submissions to regulatory reviews at the state and national level. I am excited to undertake this Sydney Horizon Fellowship that aims to design policies for energy system reform that address social as well as environmental goals.”

The University ranked equal 19th globally in the highly regarded 2024 QS World University Rankings. The University is in the top seven globally and first in Australia in the QS World University Rankings: Sustainability.  

Verity Leatherdale

Manager, Faculty Media and PR

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