Western Sydney University Fulbright scholars celebrated

Attendees together at the Fulbright Ceremony 2019

2019 Fulbright Scholars with Professor James Arvanitakis, Western Sydney University

Western Sydney University welcomes two postgraduate scholars, Kaleigh Rusgrove and Nikita Roy, visiting from the United States to study at the University as part of the Fulbright Scholarship program.

In further good news, Western Sydney University’s Victoria Austin, from the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, has also received a Fulbright postgraduate scholarship to study in the United States, and will depart later this year.

Western Sydney University’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Barney Glover AO, highlighted the importance of the Australian-American Fulbright Commission as he congratulated the scholars.

“Through the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, the University exchanges research findings, shares ideas and finds common values between globally-focused universities. We are proud to be part of such an important and prestigious program,” said Professor Glover.

The University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Graduate Studies), Professor James Arvanitakis, also commended the 2019 recipients.

“As a research-led University, Western Sydney University is very pleased to support the exchange opportunities and participate in the valuable international collaboration provided by the Fulbright Program,” said Professor Arvanitakis.

Fulbright recipients, Kaleigh and Nikita, both from the University of Connecticut, will spend up to 10 months in Australia conducting research at the University in their respective fields of expertise; while Victoria will study at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

All three scholars were recently recognised at the 2019 Fulbright Gala Presentation Dinner held at Parliament House.

2019 Fulbright Scholars

Kaleigh Rusgrove

From: University of Connecticut
Visiting: Western Sydney University’s School of Humanities and Communication Arts
Award: Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship
Discipline: Visual Arts/PhotographyFulbright Scholar Kaleigh Rusgrove

Kaleigh holds a Master of Fine Arts and through her unique photographic narrative style she will explore environmental issues to create a body of compelling work during her exchange.

“I’ve been focusing on seeds as a representative issue within climate change for a few years now, because the specimens themselves as well as the facilities that hold them are often visually stimulating.

“There’s something magic and almost fairy-tale-like about the promise of seeds as saviours in this terrible situation we’re faced with,” said Kaleigh.

Nikita Roy

From: University of Connecticut
Visiting: Western Sydney University’s Translational Research Health Institute
Award: Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship (funded by Western Sydney University)
Discipline: Public HealthFulbright Scholar Nikita Roy

Nikita, who is undertaking a master’s degree in health, will study the association between genetic polymorphism and cognitive function in humans.

“Genetic polymorphisms are unique differences in our genetic code that can result in various health outcomes. I’m exploring one particular polymorphism: Val66Met.

“This genetic trait has been shown to cause a decreased secretion of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor in our brains, which is needed for many healthy brain processes,” said Nikita.

Victoria Austin

From: Western Sydney University, Lab of Animal Ecology, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment
Visiting: Cornell University, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Mike Webster Lab
Award: Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship (funded by Western Sydney University)
Discipline: Animal EcologyFulbright Scholar Victoria Austin

PhD candidate Victoria will continue her research into vocalisations of female superb lyrebirds abroad.

“The discovery that female song in song birds is widespread and ancestral has huge consequences for our understanding of the evolution of song.

“This opportunity will allow me to work with Professor Mike Webster, a world leader in the field of animal communication and signalling,” said Victoria.


1 March 2019

Ali Sardyga, Media Officer

Photo credit: Christopher Whitfield