Adelaide student wins US scholarship

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

A University of Adelaide postgraduate student has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to research an area which could help boost Australia's defence capabilities.

Laura Brooks, who has a first class honours degree in Mechanical Engineering and a University of Adelaide Medal for Outstanding Academic Achievement, is one of 20 recipients of this year's Fulbright Scholarship - and the only one from SA.

Laura will spend 12 months at the University of California, San Diego, conducting research on the seafloor and determining how it affects the transmission of sound in the ocean. She will be based at the Marine Physical Laboratory (MPL) in the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

Laura's research will help scientists to accurately model the sea floor to predict sonar performance.

"There is potential for the establishment of defence applications within the areas of seafloor exploration and underwater sound transmission. When we are considering communications between defence vessels we need to know how far sound travels," Laura said.

"This research will directly benefit both Australia and the US through an increased understanding of seafloor properties and their impact on sound transmission."

On her return, Laura will be equipped to advise Australian-based mineral and petrochemical companies, as well as defence organisations.

"By knowing more about acoustic interactions with the sea floor we may be able to find out what is actually down there and whether there is evidence of petroleum or other minerals."

The quality of facilities and expertise at the Marine Physical Laboratory is one of the best in the world.

Laura will work with an internationally renowned expert in marine acoustics, Dr Peter Gerstoft, at the University of California.

"Exploration of our oceans, in particular the sea floor between Australia and Antarctica, presents vital economic and defence opportunities for the nation," Laura said.

The prestigious Fulbright program, created in 1946, is the largest educational scholarship of its kind, operating between the US and 150 other countries. The Australian-American Fulbright Commission has awarded scholarships to more than 2500 Australians and 1800 Americans to study, research and travel in the respective countries.

Laura will travel to Brisbane on May 18 for a National Awards Dinner, attended by the US Ambassador and an Australian Government representative. She leaves for the US in September.


Contact Details

Ms Laura Brooks
Fulbright Scholar
Business: (08) 8313 6940
Mobile: 0402 331 595

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762