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Westpac supports early career researchers with $2.4 million fellowship

16 February, 2017

Five outstanding early career researchers will receive $2.4 million in funding to undertake ground-breaking research, thanks to the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation’s Research Fellowship and four Australian universities.


Following the success of last year’s inaugural program, the prestigious Fellowship is the first of its kind in Australia and offered in partnership with four of Australia’s leading research universities - The Australian National University, The University of Melbourne, The University of Queensland and The University of Sydney.


The Westpac Bicentennial Foundation will contribute $330,000 towards each researcher’s salary over three years, while the respective university partner will cover a professional development fund providing global opportunities and the associated costs of the research, ranging from $97,000 to $241,000 for each fellow.

Susan Bannigan, CEO of the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation said the five successful candidates were the best and brightest in Australia.


“They’ve been selected on their exceptional research capability as well as their drive to contribute to the prosperity of Australia in one of the Foundation’s priority focus areas of innovation and technology, enabling positive social impact and building Asia-Australia ties.


“These outstanding early career researchers have all demonstrated how they can shape Australia’s future through a variety of ground breaking initiatives including improving vaccination rates in Australia and examining China’s role in shaping the international economic order.”


One of the successful researchers, Dr Nicholas Opie from The University of Melbourne, has designed and developed the world's first brain recording device that can be implanted without invasive surgery.


“Thanks to the Westpac Research Fellowship I now have the opportunity to translate my device into clinical use for the treatment of paralysis and diversify this technology to address a wide range of other neurological conditions,” said Nicholas.


Professor Brian Schmidt AC, Vice-Chancellor of The Australian National University said the partnership with Westpac was a great collaboration that would have lasting impact for the nation.


“These fellowships will have a real impact not only for each researcher who has been awarded a fellowship, but for the nation as it benefits from the results of their work. I congratulate each of the recipients and look forward to seeing the results of their work and this partnership with Westpac.”


Every Westpac Research Fellowship recipient will be part of the Westpac 100 Scholars Network. Growing by 100 scholars a year across Westpac’s five scholarship programs, this network will connect those with bold ideas to build a better future for all Australians.


The Westpac Research Fellowship is one of five scholarship programs offered through the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation. The Foundation will award its 200th scholar this year, as part of Westpac’s 200th anniversary.



2017 Westpac Research Fellows:


Host University Total Funding

Dr Amy King

Australian National University


Dr Nicholas Opie

University of Melbourne


Dr Jessica Heerde

University of Melbourne


Dr Tom Aechtner

University of Queensland


Dr Maja Cassidy

University of Sydney



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