18 March 2010

Reducing energy use through water management, exploring the haunting effects of lyrical poetry and applying mathematical theory to biology will be the focus of research for three researchers with University of Queensland connections named winners of this year’s Australian Fulbright Scholarship.

Awarded to 25 of Australia’s most talented researchers in Melbourne last night, the Fulbright Scholarships enable scholars to study, or conduct further research in their chosen field, at leading universities in the United States.

Through his Fulbright, UQ’s Steven Kenway will research linkages between water use, energy and greenhouse gas at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories and the University of California, Berkeley.

Mr Kenway, a PhD candidate at UQ’s Advanced Water Management Centre, and a Program Manager with the Urban Water Security Research Alliance, in Brisbane, said that roughly five per cent of total energy and 15 per cent of electricity were influenced by water.

“I want to prove that water management influences energy use significantly and that this can be forecast,” he said.

Mr Kenway said the scholarship would help with his research, as many of the world’s best data sets and numerical and input-output models for water-energy linkages have been developed in the U.S.

“Australia is researching and managing the water-energy nexus in many different ways to the U.S. In part this is because Australia has historically been more limited by water than energy.

“The differences in approach that the US and Australia are taking, offers insight into their joint management in a carbon and water constrained future.

“Climate change impacts including the unprecedented drought and new commitments to mitigating climate change have severely exacerbated the implications of the connection between water and energy in Australia.”

This project will contribute by providing a new method for quantifying the energy implications of a range of water management options.

The University’s other winners include:

Recent Arts and Master of Philosophy graduate Sarah Holland-Batt (now with QUT), who will study a Master of Fine Arts in poetry at New York University for two years. She is one of two winners of the Postgraduate Alumni (WG Walker) Scholarship, which is granted to the highest ranked Australian postgraduate applicant. Her first book of poems, Aria, written as the thesis of her UQ Master of Philosophy, recently won a number of national prizes, including the Arts ACT Judith Wright Poetry Prize for best book published by an Australian poet.

Dr Shevarl Macnamara, formerly a Postdoctoral Research Assistant with UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience, who will marry mathematical and computational principles with biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He intends to model single molecules and thus enhance related technologies such as those involved with DNA sequencing.

The prestigious Fulbright program is the largest educational scholarship of its kind. Aimed at promoting mutual understanding through educational exchange, it operates between the U.S. and 155 countries.

Applications for Fulbright Scholarships in 2011 open on 1 June, visit www.fulbright.com.au

Media: Robbie Mitchell 07 3346 7086