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Early Career Researchers Receive $2.4M Fellowship


Thursday, 16th February 2017 at 1:44 pm
Wendy Williams
The five “best and brightest” early career researchers in Australia have been given a multi-million dollar boost to undertake groundbreaking research.


Thursday, 16th February 2017
at 1:44 pm
Wendy Williams


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Early Career Researchers Receive $2.4M Fellowship
Thursday, 16th February 2017 at 1:44 pm

The five “best and brightest” early career researchers in Australia have been given a multi-million dollar boost to undertake groundbreaking research.

The Westpac Bicentennial Foundation has partnered with The Australian National University, The University of Melbourne, The University of Queensland and The University of Sydney to offer a $2.4 million Westpac Research Fellowship with the aim of freeing fellows up from applying for multiple sources of funding and allowing them to focus on research.

It builds on the success of the inaugural program launched last year, the first of its kind in Australia, and offers a “holistic package of support” covering each researcher’s full-time salary plus professional development and global experiences.

Westpac Bicentennial Foundation CEO Susan Bannigan said the five successful candidates were “the best and brightest in Australia”.

“They’ve been selected on their exceptional research capability as well as their drive to contribute to the prosperity of Australia in one of the foundation’s priority focus areas of innovation and technology, enabling positive social impact and building Asia-Australia ties,” Bannigan said.

“These outstanding early career researchers have all demonstrated how they can shape Australia’s future through a variety of groundbreaking initiatives including improving vaccination rates in Australia and examining China’s role in shaping the international economic order.”

The fellowship, one of five scholarship programs offered through the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation, was co-created with the universities to focus on the specific needs of the research fellows.

It will contribute $330,000 towards each researcher’s salary over three years, while the respective university partners will cover a professional development fund providing global opportunities and the associated costs of the research, ranging from $97,000 to $241,000 for each fellow.

One of the successful researchers, Dr Nicholas Opie from The University of Melbourne, who designed and developed the world’s first brain recording device that can be implanted without invasive surgery, received $571,279 to assist his research.

“Thanks to the Westpac Research Fellowship I now have the opportunity to translate my device into clinical use for the treatment of paralysis and diversify this technology to address a wide range of other neurological conditions,” Opie said.

Professor Brian Schmidt AC, vice-chancellor of The Australian National University said the partnership with Westpac was a great collaboration that would have lasting impact for the nation.

“These fellowships will have a real impact not only for each researcher who has been awarded a fellowship, but for the nation as it benefits from the results of their work,” Schmidt said.

“I congratulate each of the recipients and look forward to seeing the results of their work and this partnership with Westpac.”

The 2017 Westpac Research Fellows are:

  • Dr Amy King, Australian National University
  • Dr Nicholas Opie, University of Melbourne
  • Dr Jessica Heerde, University of Melbourne
  • Dr Tom Aechtner, University of Queensland
  • Dr Maja Cassidy, University of Sydney.

See here for more information about the fellowship.


Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.


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