Bright future for Fulbright scholars

7 March 2014

Quantum computing, Australia-United States strategic relations, the use of military force to achieve human rights objectives and medical anthropology might not seem like they have a lot in common.

However, these research topics will all be strengthened through the Australian-American Fulbright Commission. Four ANU academics have been honoured as Fulbright Scholars, the most out of any Australian university for 2014.

Dr Peter Dean is Director of Studies at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific and has been awarded a Fulbright Professional Scholarship in Australian-United States Alliance Studies, sponsored by DFAT.

He will be studying at Georgetown University, Washington later this year, focusing on Australia-United States strategic relations and how that strategic relationship has evolved and changed over time.

He will also visit the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, the leading global think tank for security and strategic issues. His studies examine how the ANZUS Alliance, formed in the early days of the Cold War in Asia, has endured for over 60 years.

"I am keen to ascertain US perspectives on the ANZUS alliance as part of the US 'rebalance' to the Asia-Pacific region as announced by President Obama during his visit to Canberra in 2011," says Dr Dean.

"This is a critical time in the alliance; one of the most important in the Asia-Pacific Region since the announcement of the Nixon Doctrine in 1969."

Ms Anna Samson, also from the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, has been awarded a Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship and will travel to the US next year to focus on the use of military force to achieve human rights objectives, also known as 'armed humanitarian interventions'. She will review the United States' humanitarian interventions in Iraq, Kosovo and Libya.

"The endemic and acute levels of persecution in many of the places in which I worked or visited, predominantly inflicted by governments against their own citizens, has at many times saddened and angered me," said Ms Samson.

"I anticipate that my research will contribute to the broader policy debate regarding the effectiveness of using armed force to defend human rights internationally."

Alison Witchard, also a Fulbright Postgraduate Scholar, is doing her PhD in Anthropology in ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences. She is investigating, using anthropological theories and methodologies, the experiences of "previvors" - those who carry the genetic mutation linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, BRCA1 or 2. Specifically, she will investigate the nuance and complexity of the decision to forgo a significant part of the body; (such as a breast or uterus).

"My own experiences within the biomedical system have spurned my desire to undertake medical anthropology and focus on the embodied and lived experiences of those who face their own mortality, but are often overlooked and misunderstood during such processes.

"Through my research, I hope to foster greater understanding and awareness of the challenging experiences faced by women with BRCA1/2 and the difficult decisions with which they are confronted."

Dr Rose Ahlefeldt is a Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholar in the Laser Physics Centre at ANU and will study at Montana State University in Bozeman, an unparalleled leader in rare earth spectroscopy, later this year.

She will focus on developing ultra low broadening rare-earth materials for quantum computing. In particular, she will study materials which may be applied to quantum computing, a method that uses the quantum properties of matter to perform some calculations much faster than a classical computer.

"My project addresses a significant gap in our knowledge of rare earth materials. By the end of my project, researchers around the world who seek to use rare earth materials will be able to use the results for quantum information applications.

"The collaboration available to me through this scholarship is vital to launch a successful career in such a diverse field as rare earth physics."

This Fulbright Scholarship was established in 2001 by the Australian Government as a contribution to Australia's ANZUS 50th Anniversary commemorations. The Scholarship aims to contribute in a practical way to contemporary Australian scholarship on the Australia-U.S. alliance relationship.

The 2014 Fulbright scholars join a community of nearly 5000 alumni who have completed their Fulbright scholarship since the Australian-American organisation was established sixty-five years ago (in 1949).

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