Not For Profit: Funding mix drives Fulbright

19/03/2008 - 22:00

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Tony Robinson has a greater appreciation than most people of the fragrant aroma of a good wine.

Not For Profit: Funding mix drives Fulbright

Tony Robinson has a greater appreciation than most people of the fragrant aroma of a good wine.

 

It’s a skill the Murdoch University viticulture student hopes to develop further over the next year, when he continues his PhD research at the University of California’s Davis campus into flavour formation in grapes.

 

Mr Robinson is the inaugural recipient of the Fulbright Western Australia Scholarship, set up through a combination of private donations and government funding.

 

The scholarship is part of a national program, running for more than 50 years, which allows students from Australia and the US to study on an exchange for one year.

 

Currently in the second year of his PhD at Murdoch, within the Separation Science Laboratory, Mr Robinson will travel to the US in July to continue his study with scientists from the University of California.

 

“They have a very strong group that has been involved in researching grapes and the wine industry for decades.

 

As an institution, they’re respected internationally,” Mr Robinson said.

 

The University of Western Australia graduate said he applied for the program in order to study with some of the international leaders in sensory research.

 

“I realised the Fulbright Scholarship was an excellent way to network with professional and expert people,” Mr Robinson said.

 

“I also intended from the outset of my PhD to conduct research in the US, because I needed to do some sensory research to complete my work, and that skill set is not really available here.” It’s the first year WA has had its own scholarship program, and while many Western Australians have received Fulbright Scholarships over the years, the new funding pool will ensure that two scholarships are funded in perpetuity from 2009.

 

Almost $1 million has been raised by the WA chapter of the Australian Fulbright Alumni Association, in conjunction with the US Consulate, through a campaign that has been running for the past year.

 

Australian Fulbright Alumni Association WA chair Professor Don Smart said the fundraising process had been kick-started by a $200,000 contribution from shipbuilding company Austal, which had helped in attracting other corporate donations.

 

“Once we had close to $500,000, we were then able to approach the state government and request that they match it, as they had done in other states, and that got us over the line,” Professor Smart said.

 

Australia is one of more than 150 countries participating in the Fulbright Scholarship program with the US, having established its scheme through a binational treaty with the US government in 1949.

 

The program is run by the Australian-American Fulbright Commission and aims to promote mutual understanding through educational and cultural exchange.

 

Past Western Australian recipients of a Fulbright scholarship include former Clough Ltd chairman Harold Clough and head of the Laboratory of Genetic Epidemiology at the WA Institute for Medical Research, Professor Lyle Palmer.

 

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