Family bequest brings scientists back to Australia

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Two outstanding young scientists will return to Australia to continue their research at the University of Adelaide – thanks to a significant family bequest.

Dr Stephen Warren-Smith, a University of Adelaide graduate, and Dr Stephanie Watts-Williams, who did her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Monash University, will return from overseas research positions later this year to take up their four-year 2016 Ramsay Fellowships.

The Ramsay Fellowship was established in 2008 with a bequest by the Ramsay family, founders of Kiwi Polish Company (later Kiwi International), to help advance scientific research.

“It’s been very rewarding to watch the growth in number and quality of applicants since the inception of the Ramsay Fellowship,” says family representative Katrina Ramsay. “In this last round it was extremely challenging to select two fellows out of a cornucopia of high quality candidates with outstanding projects.

“The number of high quality applicants we received does illustrate that there is a high demand for this type of program. We look forward to seeing these two brilliant young Australians grow into prestigious contributors to the science community and invaluable assets to the University of Adelaide.”

Dr Warren-Smith will use the University’s state-of-the-art fabrication facilities to develop very fine optical fibres with a range of potential industrial and diagnostic imaging applications, including bronchoscopy, where very thin endoscopes are required to reach the periphery of the lung.

“When I saw the Ramsay Fellowship scheme open, I was immediately interested as it is a fantastic opportunity to come back to Australia and take the next step in my research career,” he says. “I am thrilled to have been selected and now be returning to Adelaide with my young family.”

Dr Watts-Williams will investigate the molecular mechanisms behind root fungus-mediated zinc uptake with the view of improving zinc nutrition in crops.

“The Ramsay Fellowship will allow me to pursue both my professional and personal goals by not only facilitating my return to Australia, but by also allowing me to work independently on a project of my own design at one of Australia’s top universities for agricultural research,” she says.

Professor Bob Hill, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, says: “These two young scientists have already demonstrated their research excellence and are likely to make significant contributions to research and to the wider community throughout their careers.

“We are extremely grateful for the support of the Ramsay family that has brought them back to Australia, and made this opportunity available.”


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