Science graduates' US formula for success
Going from studying science at the University of Adelaide to mixing with the likes of Rupert Murdoch over dinner in New York isn't as big a leap as it seems - just ask three Adelaide alumni who recently got to do just that.
The scientists - Drs Mark Hutchinson, David Lupton and Nathan Gianneschi - earlier this year were awarded a total of $270,000 in fellowship grants from the American Australian Association (AAA) to pursue research and studies in the US.
The Adelaide scientists officially received their awards at the AAA benefit dinner in New York in October, where they had the opportunity to meet News Corporation managing director, Rupert Murdoch, who is a patron of the Association. The AAA is the largest national not-for-profit group in the United States devoted to American and Australian and New Zealand relations, and its Fellowship program is the largest privately funded education program between Australia and the United States.
"Receiving my award from Rupert Murdoch was a great honour. I am very proud to be named a Sir Keith Murdoch Fellow. This is an Australian who did much for the global profile of Australia in a variety of fields, so to be named after this man and receive the award from his son was a great honour," said Dr Lupton.
"Meeting Rupert was great. He really supports the work that the Education Fund of the AAA does, which is fantastic," said Dr Hutchinson.
"It was a pleasure to shake hands with him," said Dr Gianeschi.
Dr Lupton, who was awarded the Sir Keith Murdoch Fellowship, graduated from the University of Adelaide with First Class Honours in Chemistry in 2000. Now based at Stanford University, near San Francisco, Dr Lupton is currently pursuing research that allows the development of efficient and clean ways of producing materials of interest within academia as well as industry. He lives in Palo Alto and says that life in the US is great.
"The studies that I undertook with Adelaide's Professor Dennis Taylor set me up to be successful in my current field. Adelaide chemistry has a very rich history and one that I am very proud to be associated with," Dr Lupton said.
"The fellowship from the AAA has been fantastic and has provided me with opportunities to meet people within science and business that I would never have the opportunity to meet normally."
Dr Hutchinson graduated from the University of Adelaide with a PhD in Medicine and a First Class Honours Science degree. He now lives in Boulder, Colorado and works in the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Colorado.
Dr Hutchinson was awarded the Merck Company Foundation Fellowship and is currently working in a new field that aims to solve a critical problem that agonises thousands of Australians.
"We are focusing on understanding the role the immune cells in the brain and spinal chord have in changing the way we feel pain," Dr Hutchinson said.
"Pain persists long after the injured nerves have healed and we need to understand how our body changes our way of responding to pain killers.
"I am learning cutting-edge techniques from the best people in the field and then we have lively and amazing discussions about what it all means and where to go next. It sounds kind of geeky, but you have got to love what you do - especially when it has such clinical relevance and could impact on the lives of millions of people.
"Without the funding we could not have done this. It means I am actually able to learn from the world's best," said Dr Hutchinson.
Dr Gianneschi gained his science degree at the University of Adelaide in 1995, where he majored in physical chemistry, inorganic chemistry and biochemistry. Subsequently he earned an Honours degree in Chemistry and was awarded the Chemistry Thesis Prize in 1999. He now lives in San Diego, California and works at The Scripps Research Institute, developing new treatments for inexpensive and rapid detection of disease.
"I love it here. America is an extremely vibrant country. The scientists, colleagues and friends I've had the pleasure to know here are an inspirational and positive group of people," Dr Gianneschi said.
"The fellowship is to a postdoc what a patron is to an artist. It allows a certain freedom to produce and a certain motivation to do so."