Fellowship gift attracts young scientists

Stephen Ramsay Scholarship

Some of the nation’s brightest young scientists are being lured back to Australia to pursue groundbreaking research thanks to two of the most generous gifts ever made to the University of Adelaide.

Benefactor Hamish Ramsay has now been joined by his stepbrother Fergus in funding the four-year Ramsay Fellowships and extending the focus to include both theoretical and applied science projects.

Hamish initiated the fellowships in 2008 in memory of his stepmother, Mimi Ramsay, who was interested in supporting the sciences. Hamish and Fergus’ father, Sir Thomas Ramsay, was managing director of the family business, Kiwi Polish and, with his brother John, turned it into an iconic international brand.

“When my stepmother died, I received a large and unexpected inheritance which left me in a position to respect her wishes,” says Hamish.

“The idea of a fellowship seemed like a good idea at the time and, as it turned out, it has been.”

Hamish has a background in structural engineering and architecture, and says his family is keen to encourage young Australian scientists working overseas to return home to further their careers.

“The fellowships are particularly aimed at people who are in that post-doctoral phase and are starting to work on fairly major research projects but may be a  uncertain about where their career is taking them,” he says.

Last year, Hamish’s brother, Fergus provided his own gift to grow the offering of the Ramsay Fellowship to attract post-doctoral stars in the applied sciences back to Adelaide. In 2016, Dr Stephen Warren-Smith was one of two recipients of a Ramsay Fellowship.

This Fellowship allowed Stephen to return to Adelaide from Germany’s Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology to develop advanced opticalfibre imaging technology.

“Using the University’s optical fibre fabrication facilities, we’re trying to develop endoscopes of very high resolution to view locations in the body that you would never previously have been able to access,” he says.

The ultra-fine optical fibres will have a range of potential industrial and diagnostic imaging applications, including very thin endoscopes. Stephen is based within the School of Physical Sciences and the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing, and is an associate investigator of the Centre for Nanoscale Biophotonics.

His return to Adelaide means he will also be able to continue previous research here relating to fertility biomarker sensing and temperature sensing.

"The Ramsay Fellowship is very generous and the fouryear length was the most interesting for me...(it) gives you that opportunity to apply for additional larger funding."

For many students, a scholarship is the only way they will be able to take on their tertiary education. Give now.

Tagged in scholarship, philanthrophy, impact of giving, legacy giving