UQ's Fulbright winners (from left) Dr Christopher Dixon, Dr Ralf Dietzgen and David Rawson.
UQ's Fulbright winners (from left) Dr Christopher Dixon, Dr Ralf Dietzgen and David Rawson.
26 February 2016

Three University of Queensland researchers working to create change in food production, alternative education and historical knowledge are heading to America on prestigious Fulbright scholarships.

UQ plant virus expert Dr Ralf Dietzgen, history researcher Dr Christopher Dixon and Toowoomba teacher David Rawson, a UQ graduate, will all visit in 2016 to advance their work.

Dr Dietzgen, from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, has been awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholarship to work with the Plant Virus Vector Interactions Group at Kansas State University, which is leading a global effort to study the genome of thrips.

“Thrips are tiny insects that cause significant feeding damage in many horticultural and ornamental crops worldwide, and that transmit several economically significant viruses,” Dr Dietzgen said.

“We will be putting these insects under the ‘genomic microscope’ to find out how they interact with the viruses they transmit.

“In the longer term, we aim to identify molecular targets for improved control of both the insects and virus transmission.”

Dr Dixon won a 2016 Fulbright Professional Scholarship in Australia-United States Alliance Studies to visit the University of Texas, home to the Edward A. Clark Center for Australian Studies and a world-class history department.

Dr Dixon, a Reader in History at the UQ School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, said the visit would be invaluable to his researches on the experiences of the 100,000 African-Americans who spent time in Australia during World War II.

While the Internet has helped make some aspects of research easier, many of the sources used by historians are not available online,” Dr Dixon said.

”My research explores the intersections between foreign policy and the social and political histories of the United States and Australia during the period in which the formal alliance between the two nations was established,” he said.

“That alliance remains fundamental to both nations.”

Mr Rawson, a UQ graduate and teacher at St Ursula’s College in Toowoomba, won a Fulbright Queensland Postgraduate Scholarship to visit the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he plans to connect with world experts on educational assessment.

“I hope to develop a professional network of scholars globally who share my vision for rich teacher feedback and teacher differentiation that is driven by data,” he said.

“It is my goal to return to Queensland with the energy and strategies in place to advocate for reform to educational assessment in schools.”

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.

About 50 scholars travel between Australia and the US each year to further their careers through the Fulbright Program.

Under a Fulbright Senior Scholarship, American scientist Professor Kirsten Nilsen will work with researchers at the Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre at UQ to address a crucial problem in the study of crytococcus disease in humans.

Media: UQ Communications, 07 3346 0561 or communications@uq.edu.au; Australian-American Fulbright Commission, Alex Maclaurin, public.relations@fulbright.com.au