08 December 2010
Fellowships support global research links
Dr Simon Puglisi and Dhirendra Singh will further their research overseas in 2011.
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Two early career RMIT University researchers have been awarded prestigious international fellowships to undertake research in The Netherlands and the UK.
Dr Simon Puglisi and Dhirendra Singh, both from RMIT's School of Computer Science and IT, will be heading overseas in 2011.
Dr Puglisi, a Research Fellow with the School, has been awarded a Newton International Fellowship and will spend next year with Kings College, London, while Mr Singh, a PhD candidate, has received an Endeavour Research Fellowship to work with the Man Machine Interaction group at Delft University of Technology, Netherlands.
The Newton International Fellowships scheme is run by the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society, and with only 50 fellowships awarded each year across all disciplines and all countries, Dr Puglisi believed his chances were slim.
"I was pretty surprised to be named one of the 50 and it's quite inspiring really," Dr Puglisi said.
"You put these applications in not really knowing what chance you have, and then just try to forget about it.
"The success rate is only about 6 per cent and the competition is international, so it is a great honour to receive such an award."
Newton Fellowships are awarded to the best early stage post-doctoral researchers from around the globe, providing support to engage with the wider world through research at UK institutions.
"Australia - and Melbourne-based researchers in particular - had been a leader in information retrieval technology such as search engines for the past two decades or more," Dr Puglisi said.
"But as a young researcher I'm looking forward to being closer to the European and US research scene for a while - to form new collaborations and to pick up new knowledge and skills to bring back to Melbourne."
Dr Puglisi's Newton Fellowship project aims to unify recent breakthroughs in pattern matching data structures with the ranking algorithms at the heart of modern search engines such as Google.
"The ultimate aim is to enable Google-style searches over data other than text, and with queries other than words," Dr Puglisi said.
"After serving my Newton Fellowship I will return to RMIT and I'd like to continue to work on algorithms and data structures, particularly those relating to massive data."
For Mr Singh, the award of an Endeavour Research Fellowship is quite literally life-altering.
Aside from moving his family overseas and undertaking research with new colleagues at the Man Machine Interaction group, his project work will also involve finding ways to improve the "life" of a humanoid robot called Nao.
"The proposed research is a natural extension of my current work in artificial intelligence that combines agent-oriented programming with machine learning, only on a far more challenging problem: a humanoid robot called Nao," Mr Singh said.
"The idea is to develop ways of programming Nao, so that it can adapt and learn from its interactions in the environment."
Awarded by the Australian Government, Endeavour Research Fellowships allow high achieving post-doctoral fellows to undertake research overseas in any field of study, with the aim of developing knowledge and skills, as well as building international networks and linkages.
"This will be an extremely valuable time for me and the opportunity to work with some of the leading researchers in my field is a real privilege," Mr Singh said.
"It will also give me the chance to visit some of the other key research groups in the region.
"But apart from being a serious research problem, it should also be a lot of fun - we'll get to see more of Europe and my two-year-old son Rohan is also keen to teach Nao a thing or two!"