2015 Fulbright Scholars Dr Scott Chapman, Dr William Feeney and Ms Kathryn Zealand
2015 Fulbright Scholars Dr Scott Chapman, Dr William Feeney and Ms Kathryn Zealand
19 February 2015

Three University of Queensland graduates have been awarded prestigious Fulbright Scholarships to United States universities.

They are CSIRO Senior Principal Research Scientist Dr Scott Chapman; UQ School of Biological Sciences Postdoctoral research fellow Dr William Feeney; and science first class honours graduate Kathryn Zealand.

Australian and American recipients of the 2014–15 Fulbright Scholarship will be officially introduced at the annual Fulbright Scholar Showcase and Presentation Dinner in Perth tonight.

Dr Chapman, a crop physiologist and Adjunct Professor with the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation at UQ, said his Fulbright Senior Scholarship at Kansas State University was an opportunity to work in a country known for innovation in agricultural research, especially in plant breeding.

“The researchers I will work with will provide new connections for Australian researchers in crop science, especially in understanding what ‘traits’ of crop plants can help them adapt to heat and drought,” Dr Chapman said.

He said Kansas State University, in common with CSIRO and UQ, was investing in high-throughput sensor systems that would help him build computer models of how crops respond to drought and heat.

“They study wheat and sorghum – our major grain crops in Queensland and Northern New South Wales — and they frequently suffer from drought and heat like we do, although they have snow-bound winters, which we do not,” he said.

Dr Feeney said his Postdoctoral Scholarship at the Georgia Institute of Technology  would allow him to focus on coral reef fishes and whether their mutually beneficial actions could help species cope with a changing environment.

“Coral reefs are among the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth, and are home to a number of species that are obligate mutualists — that is, their ecology is linked with one or a number of other species in a co-operative manner,” Dr Feeney said.

“These types of co-operative interactions are both ecologically and evolutionarily interesting, and study of these interactions has potential implications for understanding and conserving marine biodiversity.”

Dr Feeney said he was excited at the prospect of working with Dr Danielle Dixson, a world leader in understanding how climate change affects the ecology of marine organisms, and applying the findings of research to aid conservation efforts.

Fulbright-Anne Wexler Masters Scholarship in Public Policy recipient Kathryn Zealand completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Physics at UQ in just one and half years.

Ms Zealand has now completed a Masters in International and Development Economics at the Australian National University. She worked as a management consultant with McKinsey and Company before joining the Clinton Foundation as an enterprise developer in East Africa.

She said well-crafted, good policy alone was not enough to create lasting change, because effective public institutions were also needed to implement those policies.

“Working with McKinsey and Company has exposed me to some organisations which have successfully delivered change, and I hope that the Fulbright Scholarship will provide me with more of the skills necessary to transfer these lessons to our public services, many of which have started, or will need to, undergo transformational change in the next decade” Ms Zealand said.

The scholarships are awarded by the Australian-American Fulbright Commission to foster understanding between the United States and Australia and to encourage excellence, innovation and creativity.

The Fulbright Commission media release is available here: http://www.fulbright.com.au/media-and-news/media-releases?id=897.  

Media: Australian American Fulbright Association, Alex MacLaurin, Alex.Maclaurin@fulbright.com.au, 0433 484 592;

UQ media, Michael Duthie, 3346 7691, 0458 801 328, mduthie2@uq.edu.au.