Westpac Scholarships support Adelaide’s future research leaders and innovators

Westpac scholars, Lachlan Holden, Anna Kalamkarian, and Jamie Priest

Westpac Scholars, (L to R) Lachlan Holden, Anna Kalamkarian, and Jamie Priest.

Three University of Adelaide graduates - Lachlan Holden, Anna Kalamkarian, and Jamie Priest – have been awarded prestigious Westpac Future Leaders Scholarships to continue their research, supporting both postgraduate studies and the chance to travel to further their studies.

With an honours degree in engineering, computer science and mechatronics, the scholarship will help Lachlan Holden to further his dreams of contributing to Australia’s burgeoning space sector.

“I want to improve autonomous navigation on Mars with AI-enabled robotic vision,” Holden says.

“Applying artificial intelligence to robotic vision will give us new capabilities, resilient to the challenging and changing environment experienced on the Martian surface and with parallels between Mars and the Australian outback, there is wider potential for earth-bound applications of the technology in environmental monitoring and technology-supported agriculture.”

The scholarship will support Holden’s studies for his PhD in Autonomous Space Robotics.

Honours graduate in Public Health, Anna Kalamkarian’s research focus is the complex relationship between multidimensional poverty and child abuse and neglect.

“We need to address the elephant in the room and consider poverty as a key driver of child maltreatment and particularly neglect, one of the leading reasons for notification to child protection services in South Australia,” Kalamkarian says.

“If families are struggling to afford food and shelter, it is unsurprising if they can’t provide adequate care and safety for their children or even engage in the many parenting support services available. 

“I want to investigate how factors such as low income, homelessness and unemployment contribute to child maltreatment so that we can provide better help to Australian families.” 

“We encourage our students to embrace a research culture that is both daring and disciplined, and each of these students has worked with dedication and passion to drive their academic goals.”Professor John Williams

Marine biologist, who spent much of her childhood sailing the east coast of Australia, Jamie Priest is keen to explore how coastal ecosystems can be managed sustainably as coastal populations grow.

“I will be comparing urbanised and protected seascapes to identify the factors that inhibit or facilitate range shifting in tropical fish populations,” Priest says.
“My goal is to contribute to the long-term stability of our coastal ecosystems and the communities that depend on

The Future Leaders Scholarship program is a partnership with Australia’s leading universities to invest in the nation’s brightest and most ambitious students, by supporting them to pursue their big ideas. 

University of Adelaide Interim Provost and Executive Dean, Professor John Williams says he is delighted with the success of this year’s scholarship winners.

“We encourage our students to embrace a research culture that is both daring and disciplined, and each of these students has worked with dedication and passion to drive their academic goals,” Prof Williams says.

“Their success is a credit to them, and to their ambition and we are delighted to have played our part in developing their academic and research careers.”

Acting Westpac Scholars Trust CEO, Amy Lyden says as Australia seeks to build a sustainable and inclusive future, the nation is looking to develop a new generation of leaders. 

“As well as the financial support, a key part of the Westpac Scholars program is for each scholarship recipient to undertake a transformative leadership development program to equip them with the skills, networks and opportunities they need to reach their potential,” Lyden says.

“As one of Australia’s largest education scholarship programs, Westpac Scholars Trust affords a unique opportunity for those eager to turn their passion into their profession by supporting them through social initiatives or tertiary studies.” 

The Westpac Future Leaders Scholarships  are offered in partnership with the University of Adelaide, Australian National University, University of Melbourne, Monash University, University of Queensland, University of Sydney, University of New South Wales, University of Tasmania, and the University of Western Australia.

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