Sep, 09 2014

Education Fund Program Update

Education Fund Program:  July 2014 Interviews for AUS to US Fellowships

The American Australian Association embarked on its most ambitious interviewing program to date over a four-day period in July this year. It was an extensive timetable for the Judges, interviewing 39 excellent candidates in Sydney and Melbourne locations.

The Education Panel of Judges:
 It is with pleasure to introduce the esteemed panel of Judges in Australia, who adjudicate applications for American Australian Association Fellowships. These individuals invest a considerable amount of time in the review of applications, ranking of candidates, and panel interviews with the successful shortlisted candidates.  The interview process is comprehensive in its execution.
Australia to United States of America Program

Mr Malcolm Binks AO Chairman, American Australian Association
Mr Mark W Baillie Deputy Chairman, Folkestone Limited
Ms Patricia Cross  Current Non-executive Director Aviva plc, Non-executive Director at Macquarie Group & Director at Grattan Institute
Dr Graham Macdonald AM Former Director, Medical & Scientific Affairs, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Australia
Dr Jim Peacock AC CSIRO Fellow and Strategic Advisor Science/ OCE Scheme, Distinguished Professor, University of Technology, Sydney
Dr John W Stocker AO  former Australian Chief Scientist, current Principal Foursight Associates

The Association would like to acknowledge the contribution of Professor Sinclair as our guest Judge this year to assist in the evaluation of the candidates being considered for the Morgan Stanley Pediatrics Fellowship.  

Professor Andrew Sinclair Associate Director of Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Principal Research Fellow, and an honorary fellow at the Department of Pediatrics, University of Melbourne.

The Corporate Sponsor for the Interviews: PricewaterhouseCoopers
The Association would like to take the opportunity to thank Mr Rod Dring (PwC Partner) for the generous sponsoring of the 4 days of the interview program in Sydney and Melbourne. The support of his team Dianne Foster (Sydney) and John Poulter (Technical in Melbourne) enabled the program to run to schedule and seamless video streaming of candidates.  The excellence of the PwC facility allows the Judges to meet and interview the candidates in an ideal setting. The Association is extremely grateful.

The Candidates:
The excellent depth of candidates spanned the fields of Medicine; Sciences; Engineering; Technology; Sustainability and Business. The top 39 candidates were advised they had been successful to progress through to panel interview phase with the Judges. They shared with the Judges their journey to date; elaborating on career goals; a detailed review of the research work they are to undertake in the US; the institute of choice; and the relevance of the work to both countries, often at the forefront of the discoveries in the field.  The fields of interest covered were broad ranging across many disciplines, as representative of the marvelous corporate sponsorship that underpins this truly exceptional education program. 

The Corporate Sponsors of the AAA Fellowships for 2014:
•    Amgen Fellowship
•    American Political Science Association
•    Ausart Fellowship in Fine Arts
•    Bechtel Fellowship
•    Chevron Fellowship
•    ConocoPhillips Fellowship
•    Folkestone Fellowship
•    The Dow Chemical Company Fellowship
•    Merck Company Foundation Fellowship
•    Morgan Stanley Pædiatrics Fellowship
•    Northrop Grumman Fellowship
•    QANTAS Fellowship
•    University of Queensland Fellowship
•    Westfield Group Fellowship
•    Sir Keith Murdoch Fellowships

The list of the successful candidates for appointment as AAA Fellows for the AUS to US 2014 Program are currently being finalised! We look forward to bringing you the outcome in our next Newsletter!

Nikki Alekna – General Manager Melbourne Office


AAA Fellow Update

Dr. Jacqueline Thomas -  2008 Sir Keith Murdoch Fellow

(1)    Introduction of yourself;

During my high schooling I was fascinated by agar plates and different coloured bacterial colonies.  Hence, I went on to complete a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in microbiology at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).  At the conclusion of my first degree in 2007 I was looking for a way to apply my microbiology to the help those most in need. Improving water and sanitation was the perfect career path. I then went on to complete a PhD in environmental engineering again at UNSW. My research focused on pathogen re-growth in drinking water and was undertaken in collaboration with the Water Research Centre UNSW and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency supported by American Australian Association. Since my PhD I have worked with remote Aboriginal communities in Australia as part of my work with the NSW Health Department.

(2)    Overview of the research undertaken under the AAA Fellowship;

My PhD research was specifically looking at the ability of bacterial pathogens to regrow within amoebae in reuse and potable water systems. This research is particularly important, as reuse water must be used more extensively to contribute to solving our water shortage problems. An opportunity presented itself to undertake a period of research with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio though my primary supervisors. I was awarded an American Australian Association fellowship late in 2008 and undertook one year of research at the EPA in 2010. The time at the EPA allowed learning a range of molecular microbiological methods and to learn from my fellow scientists.

(3)    Where you are today – the work you are undertaking in Tanzania;

I found may way to Tanzania via an invitation form an Australian guy called Dale Young who had started an water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) NGO called MSABI ( Working with MSABI was a great experience as they work closely with the local communities to provide the right affordable WaSH technologies and assist the behaviour required to adopt them. One example is the ceramic filter pot for household level water treatment. MSABI produces these simple locally made ceramic pots that can cheaply treat drinking water.

Now in 2014, I work for a Tanzanian not-for-profit research institute called the Ifakara Health Institute:

This research institute is the largest of its kind in East Africa. My position here is to start a research group on WaSH. I won research grants from the Canadian Government to look at health impacts of treatment technologies such as the ceramic filter pots. Through research findings we can help shape policy and practice in Tanzania. If we show how effective these pots are at reducing diarrhoea and associated deaths then this can translate into the government and community members adopting them more widely. My research also looks at how to treat faecal sludge from pit latrines which is a huge problem. Problems with poor sanitation result in more deaths than dirty drinking water alone.

(4)  Timeframe in Tanzania

I plan to work in Tanzania for at least the next 2 years. I will then return to Australia to commence more research in South East Asia or the Pacific.

(5) Photos: Working with the team in Tanzania and teaching a local family in Namawala about water quality


U.S. Composer José Beviá in Sydney

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U.S. Composer, José Beviá will be in  attendance for the Australian premier of his work, "Noit-Alimissa (Assimilation)" by the Sydney Contemporary Orchestra at the Sydney Conseratorium of Music on 19 September.  Noit-Alimissa (Assimilation) is a piece which combines the influences of contemporary jazz and contemporary classical music styles.   More info


The Marvin Gaye Experience

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On the 30th anniversary since the passing of Motown legend Marvin Gaye, a 15-piece American and Australian all-star lineup pay tribute with a journey through his smooth soulful sounds at Sydney's State Theatre on 19 September.  More Info


AAA Ltd. Memberships

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Join the American Australian Association Ltd.

Corporate Membership is suited for organisations, institutions and individuals who have a strong interest in Australia-US relations and who wish to make a contribution to the Association through their direct activity in its programmes and activities.


Individual Membership is suited for those individuals who have a strong interest in Australia-US relations and who wish to participate in the social and cultural activities of the Association.  More info

For further information, please contact Nicola Alekna: or 03 9663 9550



Australian Nanotechnology Network Early Career Research

Australian Nanotechnology Network Early Career Research
The American Australian Association sponsors the ANN ECR Workshop July 2014 - Best Poster Award

Robert Utama is an up and coming chemical engineer who received from Mr Mark Baillie (AAA Director) the American Australian Association sponsored Best Poster Award at the 10th Australian Nanotechnology Network Early Career Research workshop (ANN ECR). Held during July 2014 at the University of Technology (UTS), this annual workshop focuses on nanotechnology in various applications, including biomedical, optics and catalysis. Furthermore, the workshop also provides an excellent forum for Australian postgraduate students and early career researchers to showcase their cutting edge research, network and exchange ideas.

His poster, titled inverse miniemulsion periphery RAFT polymerization: a facile pathway to loaded-polymeric nanocapsules, presented both the fundamentals and applications of IMEPP (inverse miniemulsion periphery RAFT polymerization). IMEPP was confirmed to be capable of controlling the critical parameters of a drug delivery system such as the size of the nanocapsule as well as the shell material and thickness.  Successful application of IMEPP to encapsulate, protect and release protein and cancer drug was also presented, with an in-vitro­ study of the drug-loaded nanocapsules confirmed an improved cytotoxicity towards pancreatic cell lines.  In short, his method produces nanocapsules for the targeted delivery of cancer therapeutic agents.

Robert Utama received his bachelor of engineering in industrial chemistry (Hons. class 1) from UNSW in 2010.  He is currently finishing his PhD study under the supervision of Prof. Stenzel and Prof.  Zetterlund at the Centre for Advanced Macromolecular Design (CAMD, UNSW). He also collaborated with Prof. Stephan Förster at University of Bayreuth during his PhD study.

The AAA involvement with the ANN was through Dr. Charlene Lobo (2006 Sir Keith Murdoch Fellow) who was responsible for bringing the workshop together. The Association would like to thank  Dr. Lobo for the opportunity to be involved with the ANN ECR Workshop. The Associations extends its congratulations to Robert for his excellent contribution to the forum and his awarding of the Best Poster.


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