Featured News JCU researchers say g’day to the USA

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Wed, 4 Mar 2020

JCU researchers say g’day to the USA

four people pose in a line on the internal steps of Parliament House
L-R: Clinton Elliott, Dr Allison Hempenstall, Lucy Holmes McHugh, and Dr Mal Fernando.

Five James Cook University researchers, graduates, and staff have received prestigious United States’ fellowships that will allow them to further their studies in climate governance, prevention of diabetes-related complications, and public health.

Lucy Holmes McHugh, Dr Malindu (Mal) Fernando and Dr Allison Hempenstall have been awarded Fulbright scholarships that will allow them to increase their cross-cultural understanding, collaborate with leading researchers, and learn about successful projects in the USA that could be translated to Australian contexts.

Ms Holmes McHugh, who is at the ARC Centre for Coral Reef Studies based at James Cook University, has received a Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship to attend the University of Michigan, where she will extend her interest in filmmaking to explore how communities and policymakers in Australia and the USA understand climate risk and crisis.

“Climate change is a complex political as well as ecological issue,” she said. “Just like in Australia, climate change can be a contentious issue in some US communities, yet many are now feeling the direct impacts.”

Ms Holmes McHugh has a particular focus on how climate change is framed in Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef and Florida’s mangrove Everglades.

“My research looks at how we can improve the governance of World Heritage sites in the context of climate change,” she said. “I will explore how we understand climate policy at the international level and how that influences, and is influenced by, national and local approaches to climate governance.”

Dr Fernando is the recipient of a Fulbright Future Scholarship (Postdoctoral) with the University of Southern California and the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.

His current research is based at the Queensland Research Centre for Peripheral Vascular Disease, James Cook University and focuses on identifying better ways to prevent diabetes-related foot complications in regional areas.

“Diabetes-related foot complications are arguably disproportionately overrepresented in regional, rural, and remote geographies due to a range of reasons,” he said. “I want to find ways to increase the uptake and reach of prevention practices and explore new methods of early detection.”

In particular, he is interested in novel technological solutions such as smart sensors, remote delivery, and wearable technology used in the USA.

“I want to see how technology can boost the effectiveness and reach of a prevention program for regional Australians at risk of diabetic foot complications,” he said. “For example, smart sensors that detect complications before they arise which could be integrated into footwear and be used for routine prevention.”

Dr Allison Hempenstall has received a Fulbright Queensland Scholarship and will undertake a Master of Public Health in global health and infectious diseases.

Dr Hempenstall is part of the AITHM Capacity Strengthening Program in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Region and wants to use her Fulbright experience to improve health outcomes in Far North Queensland.

“I’m particularly interested in learning how the USA has approached First Nations’ healthcare to see how we can improve upon our healthcare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here in Australia,” she said. “I hope to use the opportunity to sharpen my public health skills and showcase the wonderful Torres Strait with our USA friends and colleagues.”

JCU Engineering graduate Clinton Elliott and medicine tutor Dr Grace Yeung have also received Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarships. Mr Elliott plans to study a Master of Engineering at Florida Polytechnic University and Dr Yeung hopes pursue her research interests in epistemology, metaphysics, ontology and religious philosophy.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship foreign exchange scholarship program of the United States of America, aimed at increasing bi-national collaboration, cultural understanding, and the exchange of ideas.


Bethany Keats

JCU Media