University community scoops the pool with five Melbourne-Boston fellowships

November 14 / 149

2014 winners of the Hugh Rogers Fellowships and selection panel members
2014 winners of the Hugh Rogers Fellowships and selection panel members

A French horn player, a bioinformatician, two science teachers and a physicist have received 2014 Hugh Rogers Fellowships for travel to Boston.

The fellowships were presented by the Melbourne Boston Sister Cities Association and the City of Melbourne during Melbourne Knowledge Week last month.

The Hugh Rogers Fellowships encourage and support innovative people in the early stages of their careers by funding research and projects that expand and enhance Melbourne and Boston’s reputations as centres of knowledge excellence.

The fellowships fund visits to leading institutions including MIT, prestigious Boston schools, the New England Conservatory (NEC), Harvard, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr Bryn Sobott from the Department of Physics won a fellowship in the Healthcare and Medical Research category. 

He is a Grand Challenges Research Fellow on the Saving Lives at Birth Grant and is working on a prototype of the FRE02 system, a low-cost, electricity-free oxygen concentrator for use in health facilities in the developing world.

Dr Sobott will visit the D-Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to tap into their expertise at developing low-cost technologies to assist people living in poverty.

Dr Natalie Thorne, Clinical Bioinformatics and Genomics Project Manager for the Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance based at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, received a Healthcare and Medical Research fellowship to build her knowledge of large scale genome testing.

Education fellowships were awarded to two alumni, Mr Sandor Kazi and Ms Emily Rochette, both science teachers at Melbourne Girls College who focus on promoting science education among female students.

The Arts and Culture fellowship was awarded to Melbourne Conservatorium of Music Masters student Ms Susan de Weger, a French horn player who is an advocate for the teaching of entrepreneurial skills to musicians. 

Ms Weger has already completed her fellowship, spending two weeks in the Entrepreneurial Musicianship Department at the NEC.

She said the fellowships had opened wonderful networking opportunities.

“Not only in Boston, but with educators, entrepreneurs, researchers and students in New York, Columbus and Pittsburgh,” she said.  

She has already met with staff from several Conservatoriums in Australia to discuss the development and delivery of curricular and extra-curricular initiatives for tertiary music students.

Ms Weger also used the fellowship to improve her horn playing, working with renowned performer and teacher, Eli Epstein, at the NEC.

“We had great success identifying some technical issues with my playing, and were able to quickly implement strategies to ensure I could continue to monitor, diagnose and self-correct,” she said.

For more information on the 2014 recipients, the MBSCA, and the Hugh Rogers Fellowships, visit

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