A mathematician determined to understand why social media makes us act the way we do, a chemist investigating ways to store hydrogen more efficiently, and a neurobiologist studying fat molecules in the brain to better understand diseases such as Alzheimer's, are among the outstanding young Australians to receive a 2021 Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship today.
17 individuals from nine universities across the country were awarded the postgraduate scholarship. Valued at up to $120,000, the scholarship will enable these PhD and Masters’ students to pursue their research, as well as connect them to a network of individuals who share their passion and drive to help shape a better future.
2021 recipient Bridget Smart from The University of Adelaide says, “Social media is a platform for people to share ideas, create change and build strong and meaningful connections with others. My research aims to understand how what we see online shapes our actions and opinions. I hope to build better understanding of online phenomena including echo chambers, fake news and disinformation campaigns.”
Fellow 2021 recipient, Andie Delaney will commence a PhD at the Australian National University to investigate bimetallic catalysts that lower the energy cost of storing hydrogen for use as a fuel in a safer way.
“With the transition to clean hydrogen fuel, we will be able to lower our emissions and slow global warming. As international markets begin to set targets for net-zero carbon, Australia is in a prime position to export hydrogen, rendering it a valuable economic resource,” says Delaney.
Beyond financial support, each recipient also undertakes a bespoke leadership development program to help develop their skills and networks.
According to Susan Bannigan, CEO of Westpac Scholars Trust, the opportunity to build strong leadership skills is a fundamental component of these scholarships.
“We’ve worked closely with our university partners and Westpac to deliver transformational programs that not only challenge the Scholars’ thinking, but also increases their access to new networks and opportunities,” she said.
“Having the ability to build on your leadership capabilities with the support of like-minded people around you really separates this scholarship program from others.”
The network and development opportunities extend well beyond the formal program, with every scholarship recipient becoming a lifelong member of the program’s alumni, the Westpac 100 Scholars Network (W100).
Growing by up to 100 Westpac Scholars every year, the W100 brings together people from all walks of life and provides access to professional development and inspiring networks. Engagement is led and driven by the Scholars, with the support of the Trust.
“For many Westpac Scholars, the W100 is the best part of the scholarship, with many lasting friendships and connections already being established. It’s a trusted space for individuals to connect and collaborate, share ideas and support each other as they pursue their goals,” added Bannigan.
“This year we celebrate a special milestone, reaching our first 500 Westpac Scholars. Seeing how far people have come and the impact they’re having gives me great hope for the future.”
Westpac Scholars Trust was established in 2014 with a $100 million gift from Westpac to help support individuals with the drive and ideas to help shape the future of Australia. Since its inception, more than $24 million has been awarded through 470 scholarships.
The 2021 Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship recipients:
- Cassandra Cleever
- Andie Delaney
- Amelia Goonerage
- Benjamin Griffiths
- Jessie Harper
- Mayleah House
- Charlotte Jones
- Jake Louthean
- Annika Luebbe
- Kelly MacKinnon
- Somayra Mamsa
- Anna Normyle
- Monica Phimmachanh
- Douglas Radford
- Stacey Savin
- Bridget Smart
- Jacob White
Visit the Scholars page of our website, where you'll find bios on each of our 2021 Westpac Scholars.
Published 24 February 2021