2012 Menzies scholarships – background information

2012 Menzies Scholars: background information

The five 2012 Menzies scholars to receive their awards this Thursday, 24 November are:

Ms Jane Galvin, originally from Bendigo, now Senior Occupational Therapist at the Victorian Paediatric Rehabilitation Service, Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), Melbourne. Jane’s two-year Menzies Research Scholarship in the Allied Health Sciences worth $27,500 a year will help her undertake a PhD looking at the possibility of using virtual reality as a motivating and enjoyable way to engage children in repetitive rehabilitation activities following traumatic brain injury.

Jane holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) and a Master of Occupational Therapy from La Trobe University in Melbourne. At RCH, she is a group leader in neuro-rehabilitation research at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. Jane is also a board member of Occupational Therapy Australia and convenor of its Paediatric Special Interest Group.

Mr Matthew Pase, a tutor in psychology at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, is also an Allied Health Sciences scholar. His PhD project is investigating whether a healthy diet can help to counter the slowing of brain function with age.

Matthew’s research is already internationally recognized through presentations at conferences and articles in peer-reviewed journals. His most recent international conference presentation won the prestigious Templeton Foundation prize for best PhD paper. Another of his conference presentations was listed as a highlight at the world’s largest conference of hypertension and cardiovascular disease this year held in Milan and attended by more than 6,000 delegates.

Ms Brittany Coff, a water resources engineer with Sinclair Knight Merz in Adelaide, has won a Menzies Memorial Scholarship in Engineering which will take her to Cambridge University to undertake an MPhil in Sustainable Development. Brittany is passionate about sustainability and in particular its application to water resources planning in Australia.

He holds a Bachelor of Civil and Structural Engineering from The University of Adelaide and won a University Medal in 2008. As vice-president of the South Australian chapter of Engineers Without Borders, she has a keen interest in working with indigenous communities and the education of Australian Engineers about humanitarian engineering. Brittany enjoys playing soccer and touch-football.

Mr Ananth Dev Tayal, an electrical engineer from Perth now employed by Energy Australia in Sydney, is another Engineering scholar also off to do an MPhil in Sustainable Development at Cambridge.

He wants to explore the relationship between engineering innovation, renewable energy and sustainable development particularly with respect to the problems of climate change. Dev holds the degrees of Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical) and Bachelor of Commerce (Finance and Investment) from The University of Western Australia.

He is president of the Energy Division of Engineers Without Borders in NSW, where he has initiated a remote assistance program for overseas renewable energy projects. He has spent three months volunteering as a renewable energy engineer in Laos.

In 2009, Dev received an Australian Youth Leadership Scholarship to represent Australia at a conference on future economic development in Delhi, India. He plays jazz clarinet, and is a keen runner, having just completed the Sydney Marathon on behalf of the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

Ms Eleanor Mitchell from Adelaide has won a Menzies Memorial Scholarship in Law, and will undertake a Bachelor of Civil Law at Oxford University next year.

She is currently Associate to Justice Jayne Jagot of the Federal Court of Australia. In the past she has volunteered with Amnesty International and did an internship at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Eleanor has a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Adelaide where she won a University Medal in 2009. She has been a presenter and producer for community radio station, Radio Adelaide, and is a keen debater.

Four other Menzies scholars this year received their awards earlier, and are already overseas. They are:

Dr Susanna Park, from Neuroscience Research Australia, University of New South Wales, who has an NHMRC/RG Menzies Fellowship which provides four years of $5000 a year for supplementary research activities, such as conference travel.

Susanna has taken up a postdoctoral Fellowship in the Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders, Institute of Neurology, University College London.  She is working on the damaging impact of chemotherapy on nerves.

Mr Luke Raffin is a Melbourne lawyer whose activities have included the creation of a venture philanthropy fund to support the growth of enterprises in remote indigenous communities, and projects to improve the effectiveness of the Victorian Children’s Court and to optimise educational opportunities for young people in regional areas.

Luke won a Menzies Scholarship to Harvard University and is studying for a Master of Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government.

Ms Angela Lopes has also won a Menzies Scholarship to Harvard. An aerospace engineer by training, she has worked as a business strategy consultant at Port Jackson Partners in Sydney on various projects across the commercial and public sectors, particularly on issues to do with climate change and sustainability and on critical infrastructure development. Angela is undertaking an MBA at the Harvard Business School.

Ms Julia Smith in another Menzies Harvard scholar. Julia is a geographer with interests in education access and international community development.

She is studying for a Masters in International Education Policy (Education Policy Evaluation and Innovation) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The Menzies Scholarships to Harvard are awarded in association with the Harvard Club of Australia and the Australian National University.

From bones to business, scholars boost Menzies’ contribution to society

The establishment of the Queensland Bone Bank, the $23-billion initial public offering of General Motors, and important research which unravelled the mystery of coeliac disease are just three significant events in which the key figures were Menzies Foundation scholars.

Since 1968 the scholarships—which provide funds towards first class research or education in Australia, the US or UK—have boosted the careers of more than 150 of Australia’s leading graduates in allied health sciences, engineering, medicine, science, law and the humanities.

They include:

A/Prof David Morgan OAM, a Brisbane orthopaedic surgeon, who was a prime mover behind the establishment of the Queensland Bone Bank—the largest and one of the most advanced facilities of its kind—which provides musculo-skeletal tissues to thousands of Australians each year.

The Menzies Foundation Scholarship David won in 1985 allowed him to spend two years in Oxford while he obtained higher degrees in surgery. “I developed a special interest in hip and knee surgery and, more importantly, was grounded in the foundations of bone and tissues banking and transplantation. That seed blossomed into the current Bone Bank.”

Sarah Beshar, now a partner in the Corporate Department of New York law firm Davis, Polk and Wardell, completed the largest initial public offering in history for General Motors—more than US$23 billion.

She also advises multinational banking corporation JPMorgan Chase. She was the first Menzies Scholar in Law in 1982. It allowed her to spend two years at Magdalen College, Oxford completing a Bachelor of Civil Law.

Dr Adrian McCallum, who won a Menzies Foundation Scholarship in Engineering in 2007, hopes to further Antarctic Research in Australia. He has now completed a PhD in Geotechnical Engineering at the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge.

As part of his doctoral studies, he undertook engineering and scientific research in Antarctica, Greenland and Svalbard. He was employed as a scientist on the Catlin Arctic Survey Explorer Team, which involved a 50-day man-hauling scientific traverse from the North Geographical Pole towards Greenland.

“The knowledge and contacts that I have gained may assist Australia in maintaining and strengthening its research within, and commitment to, Antarctica; especially as a melting Arctic forces the microscope down upon our polar regions.”

Dr Robert Anderson, an NHMRC/Menzies Foundation scholar in 1997, has become a lynchpin in the research and treatment of coeliac disease, the gluten intolerance of the small intestine which blocks the absorption of nutrients.

After a couple of years of research at the Nuffield Department of Medicine at Oxford University, where he resolved the impact of gluten to a single protein fragment, Bob returned to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, at which he heads a laboratory.

He has established coeliac clinics at the Royal Melbourne and Alfred Hospitals, set up a charity to increase education and awareness of coeliac disease, and founded a company to commercialise the first drug aimed at preventing and treating the condition.

“The Robert Menzies Fellowship played a critical role in this chain of events that has led to Australia now being regarded as a global leader in coeliac disease.”

The Hon Justice Andrew Beech, of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, spent two years at Oxford University completing a Bachelor of Civil Law after receiving a Menzies Foundation Scholarship in 1986. “The law faulty included numerous world leaders in many areas in which I was interested…That has been very beneficial for my work as a lawyer in practice; as a solicitor, then counsel, then judge.”