2015 Victoria Fellows

The 2015 Victoria Fellowships were awarded to:

Life sciences:


Physical sciences:


Dr Lauren Ayton

Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne

The development of vision restoration treatments such as bionic eyes, stem cells and gene therapy offers emerging options for those blinded by eye disease or injury. Challenges remain in assessing patients, as they have very poor sight to begin with and the current treatments provide only modest improvements in vision. Dr Ayton works on the Bionic Vision Australia project, contributing to the development of a retinal prosthesis (bionic eye). On her study mission she will meet with collaborators at an international meeting in Germany, attend an invite-only World Health Organisation forum on rehabilitation standards in Rome, and visit the testing facilities of a bionic eye group, Pixium, in France. These activities will be invaluable for the future development of Australia’s bionic eye and cement Dr Ayton as an emerging leader in the field of vision restoration outcome measurement.


Daniel Corp 

Deakin University

In 2005, a retired professional National Football League player was diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) – a neurodegenerative disease caused by repetitive impact to the head, resulting in tangles in neural fibers, and eventually cell death. Mr Corp’s study will measure the possible changes in activity of a number of different types of brain cells that occur as a result of repetitive head impacts sustained while playing sport. This project will help to characterise the effects of head injury, and aid future development of treatments. Working alongside the scientists at Harvard University, Mr Corp will have the chance to learn about the mechanisms and the prospective treatment of neurodegenerative disease due to brain injury.


Danielle Ingle

Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne

Food-borne outbreaks are a global problem with impacts spanning health, agriculture, food industries, international trade and travel. Ms Ingle’s research has focused on bacterial infectious disease. Her PhD work has allowed her to utilise key technologies, such as high-throughput sequencing, which she applied to a particular subtype of E. coli that causes diarrhoeal disease in children all over the world. This technology is providing a method for tracking outbreaks of infection and revolutionising public health. From her study mission at the Institut Pasteur in France and Public Health England (PHE), Ms Ingle will return with training in the latest knowledge and technologies for dealing with these outbreaks.


Dr Severine Lamon 

Deakin University

Skeletal muscle is the largest organ in the body, serving as a structural and mechanical unit enabling the maintenance of posture and the performance of gross and fine motor movements. To study the processes associated with the loss of muscle mass and the associated frailty in the elderly, it is essential to implement a technique that measures the amount of muscle proteins that are being built up in vivo following a pharmaceutical or exercise intervention. The use of stable isotope tracers to measure protein synthesis rates was developed at the University of Texas Medical Branch in the early 1990s. Dr Lamon will spend four weeks at the laboratory, studying this complex technique, which constitutes the current gold standard for measuring acute muscle protein synthesis in vivo.


Dr Jodie McClelland 

La Trobe University

Knee replacement surgery is the most common treatment for severe arthritis of the knee. In Australia, the number of knee replacements performed each year has doubled since 2003 and further growth is expected with the ageing population and the rising incidence of obesity and joint injury. Although knee replacement improves pain and quality of life, function is not restored to normal, and the benefits of surgery may start to decline within three years. Often, these limitations in outcome are related to the need for further surgery in other joints or revision of the original knee replacement. Being able to predict who will need further surgery will help the design of better interventions. Dr McClelland’s study mission to leading universities and prosthesis manufacturers in the United States and Sweden will provide a valuable opportunity to investigate the factors that contribute to the increasing need for further surgery following knee replacement.


Dr Janine Trevillyan 

Monash University

Dr Trevillyan is an infectious diseases physician and researcher with an emerging reputation in the field of non-infectious HIV-related co-morbidities. This study specifically targets one of the key areas in which HIV-positive patients still experience high rates of disease. It will generate results that will directly affect clinical decision making and guide further studies. The collaboration between UCLA and the Victorian HIV Service will allow a large number of suitable patients to be enrolled in the study trial, and also formalise an important new collaborative link between Victoria and the United States. Further, this study mission will allow the formation of an exciting new multi-national collaborative research network that has the capacity for enduring, productive relationships of benefit to Victorian research and researchers.



Physical sciences


Dr Madhu Bhaskaran 

RMIT University

Electronic devices are a part of daily life. Transparent and wearable electronics promise enhanced functionality while making devices less obtrusive. Dr Bhaskaran has realised scientific advances that allow integration of ultra-thin layers of functional materials with rubber-like materials. Her work will combine frontier materials science, and micro-/nano-electronic processing, to develop functional devices. These will have significant economic and social impacts, through widespread market adoption, health applications, and human and environmental monitoring. The study mission to the United States and Europe offers Dr Bhaskaran the opportunity to gain international exposure at leading research institutions, and with potential industry partners. She is looking forward to gaining insights into new techniques and industry needs in advancing creation of low-cost, wearable electronics.


Dr Daniel Gomez 


Harvesting energy from light sources could meet some of our energy needs over the next century. To do this, we need to devise ways to transform light energy into chemical fuels. Dr Gomez’s research into the physical chemistry of nano-sized metals and semiconductors has enabled him to create metal-semiconductor nanostructures for efficient solar to chemical energy conversion. This study mission to the United States and Germany will allow him to establish collaborative links with leading scientists, offering expertise and capabilities in diverse areas of plasmonics, including nanofabrication, and the synthesis, device fabrication and testing of plasmonic structures for direct solar to chemical energy conversion. The skills and knowledge Dr Gomez will gain from engaging with world leaders in these areas of research will strengthen his own contributions.


Dr Nisa Salim

Carbon Nexus, Institute for Frontier Materials, Deakin University

Carbon fibres offer a solution to the growing demand for lightweight, low-cost materials to meet future design and performance requirements in automotive and aerospace manufacture by balancing weight and strength. This mission will allow Dr Salim to contribute to this emerging sector. Dr Salim will visit world leading carbon fibre research facilities in the United States and Europe to explore current practices and future directions in high strength and low-cost carbon fibre precursors. Access to the industry sites and advanced technological training on pilot scale wet spinning facilities will significantly advance her current research activities on next generation precursors. Dr Salim is looking forward to the opportunity to broaden her skills and expertise, and establish new collaborations.


Alex Schenk 

La Trobe University

Mr Schenk’s research is in methods of modifying the surface electronic structure of materials for quantum electronics. His doctoral research focuses on the development of the diamond surface as a platform for quantum electronics and sensing. His work has included development of a novel surface termination, which may have implications for producing diamond nanomagnetometers. Mr Schenk’s study mission will allow him to perform additional measurements on the newly developed silicon terminated diamond surface and the germanium terminated diamond surface, which cannot currently be performed in Australia. Mr Schenk’s planned visits to the Peter Grünberg Institut in Germany and other prominent institutions in Europe will expose him to experience and expertise in using powerful techniques for characterising strongly correlated electron systems and types of engineered electronic structures.


Dr Ke Wang 

University of Melbourne

Dr Wang’s research focuses on four major areas – high-speed optical wireless communications; reconfigurable optical interconnects; silicon photonics integrated devices and systems; and light field microscopy (LFM). Dr Wang will visit Stanford University and the Intel Corporation to carry out studies on LFM and silicon based optoelectronics integration. He will look to apply this to his current research on high-speed optical wireless communications and reconfigurable optical interconnects for prototyping products. The study mission will benefit Dr Wang’s future career by opening up new opportunities to establish connections and collaborations with world leading universities and industry. He will return with an increased understanding of the detailed working principles and application of LFM, prerequisites in nanotechnology, bio-imaging, nanofabrication, neural sciences and engineering and clinical pathology.


Ada Wing Chi Yan 

University of Melbourne

Chronic influenza infection occurs in people with suppressed immune responses, such as chemotherapy patients or organ transplant recipients, and is associated with the development of antiviral resistance, greater severity of disease and increased deaths. Ms Yan’s research contributes to the understanding of temporary immunity, where infection with one strain of influenza virus prevents or delays infection with another strain or virus. Members of Ms Yan’s research group have developed a within-host mathematical model for multi- strain influenza infection, taking into account both strain-independent and strain-specific components of the immune response. Her Toronto and Florida study mission will lead to increased quantitative understanding of the causes of chronic infection in immunosuppressed patients. This will aid development of specialised treatment regimes, consolidating Melbourne’s status as an influenza research hub.

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