Programs & Projects

Michael and Deborah Thawley Scholarship in International Security

Michael and Deborah Thawley Scholarship in International Security

The Michael and Deborah Thawley Scholarship in International Security at the Lowy Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington DC, provides an exceptional opportunity for an Australian official, officer, student, or recent graduate to play a part in the work of two leading think tanks dedicated to generating policy ideas on global strategic affairs. The scholarship provides a $10,000 award, flights, visa costs, and a small travel allowance for the Washington placement. Established in 2008 by former diplomat Michael Thawley and his wife Deborah, the scholarship supports Australia’s future strategic leaders. Successful candidates spend an initial period based at the Lowy Institute, in Sydney, followed by a placement of 8 to 12 weeks with CSIS in Washington DC, which provides direct exposure to both organisations’ work at the intersection of research and policy in international affairs, access to their research networks, and involvement in their policy work.

Information about applying for the Thawley Scholarship can be found on our careers page.

Current Thawley Scholar

Joshua Armstrong 2024 Thawley Scholar

2024 – Joshua Armstrong

Joshua Armstrong is the 2024 Michael and Deborah Thawley Scholar in International Security at the Lowy Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. His topic for the fellowship is US-China nuclear deterrence and arms control. His research interests include the domestic political drivers of China’s foreign policy, the history of Sino-Western relations, and nuclear strategy more broadly.

Joshua is an Assistant Director in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, currently responsible for leading the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations’ work on improving Australia’s China capability. He previously managed its track 1.5 and 2 dialogues. Prior to joining DFAT, he was a Warfare Officer in the Royal Australian Navy and Research Assistant to former Prime Minister The Hon. John Howard OM AC. He holds degrees in International Relations and Chinese from the University of Sydney and a Master of Strategic Studies from the Australian National University.


Past Thawley Scholars

2023 – Rebecca Connolly

Rebecca Connolly 2023 Thawley Scholar

Rebecca Connolly is the 2023 Thawley Scholar in International Security at the Lowy Institute (Sydney) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington, DC). Rebecca is currently an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney Law School. She specialises in the complex legal issues associated with International Space Law and International Law and Technology. In particular, her research focuses on the global governance of outer space, including issues relating to militarisation and national security, commercialisation and space sustainability.

Rebecca has a PhD in Law from the University of Sydney, a Master of Laws from the University of Sydney, and a Bachelor of Laws from UTS. Rebecca is also a member of the Space Law Council of Australia and New Zealand.

2022 – Justin Burke

Justin Burke 2022 Thawley Scholar

Justin Burke is the 2022 Michael and Deborah Thawley Scholar in International Security at CSIS and the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia. He is also a non-resident fellow at the Center for Maritime Strategy and Security at the Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University, Germany. Justin is currently completing a PhD at Macquarie University in Sydney, where he also teaches.

His research interests include the uses of submarines in naval diplomacy, the AUKUS pact, and defence and security policy more generally. In addition to authoring research for the Royal Australian Navy’s Sea Power Centre and other scholarly publications, his writings on defence and security regularly appear in print and online in Australia and internationally. Previously he was a journalist with The Australian newspaper and the Yomiuri Shimbun of Japan.

2019 – Brigid O’Farrell

Brigid O’Farrell, 2019 Thawley Scholar

Brigid O’Farrell is the 2019 Thawley Scholar at the Lowy Institute and the Centre of Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. She is a Rhodes Scholar and MPhil Candidate in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford. Her research interests include transitional justice, human rights and women, and peace and security in the Middle East.

Brigid has worked for International Crisis Group, the Australian Mission to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Victorian State Government and the Parliament of Victoria. She graduated from the University of Melbourne with Honours in History. As the Thawley Scholar, Brigid’s research will focus on the recent history of Australian foreign policy in the Middle East and how traditional calculations of our strategic interests in the region are changing.

2018 – Rohana Prince

Rohana Prince, 2018 Thawley Scholar

Rohana Prince is the 2018 Thawley Scholar at the Lowy Institute and a policy officer in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s ASEAN and Regional Programs Section. She has previously worked in DFAT’s Southeast Asia and South and West Asia Divisions, as well as the Department of Defence’s Regional Strategy Directorate.

Rohana completed the Masters of Strategic Studies program at the Australian National University in 2015 as the T. B. Millar Scholar, and holds a Bachelor of Philosophy with Honours (Asia-Pacific) (PhB) degree, also from the ANU. Rohana completed her honours thesis in 2014 on China’s role as a driver of Australian strategic policy and has studied abroad at the University of Toronto and Peking University.

2017 – Olivia Shen

Olivia Shen, 2017 Thawley Scholar.

Olivia Shen was the 2017 Thawley Scholar. She is an international adviser in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet where she covers Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. Most recently she worked on the 2018 ASEAN-Australia Special Summit. Olivia has previously been a visiting fellow in the office of US Senator John McCain. She is currently completing a Master of Public Policy at the ANU.

“Now more than ever, Australia needs to be ambitious and hard-headed about influencing the policy debates that matter. The Thawley Scholarship offers an invaluable opportunity to contribute to those debates. At CSIS I had the opportunity to work closely with world-class experts whose work I have followed from afar.

The dynamism of the DC policy community is very special. It inspired me to stretch myself, challenge my own assumptions and refresh my thinking as a foreign policy professional. Personally and professionally, it was an absolute privilege to be a Thawley Scholar.”

2016 – Patrick Ingle

Patrick Ingle, 2016 Thawley Scholar.

Patrick Ingle is Special Assistant and Advisor to the President of the Asia Society Policy Institute, based in New York. Before joining the Asia Society, Patrick worked for over four years in the Australian Prime Minister’s department, where he focused on Southeast Asia, Asian regional institutions and the South China Sea. He was the 2016 Michael and Deborah Thawley Scholar at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, and visiting Thawley Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. His research interests include US and Chinese foreign policy, Chinese strategic culture, and Australian foreign and defense policy. He holds degrees in International Relations from the Australian National University and the London School of Economics and Political Science.

“The Thawley Scholarship is a uniquely generous opportunity to spend time in two world-class research institutions. CSIS and the Lowy Institute carry serious weight in DC, and the scholarship helped me gain access to many of the United States’ most influential policymakers, researchers and academics. The conversations I had with them about my research were illuminating, stimulating and often surprisingly candid.

Given the extensive ties between our two countries, it’s important that Australians with an eye for global affairs have a nuanced understanding of international policy debates in the US. There’s no better way to do this than to live and breathe the experience of being in Washington DC. I couldn’t have gained the new perspectives I did without the support of Michael and Deborah Thawley, the Lowy Institute and CSIS.”

2014 – Jacob Berah

Jacob Berah was the 2015 Michael and Deborah Thawley Scholar in International Security at the Lowy Institute for International Policy and visiting Thawley Fellow at CSIS. Taking leave from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to undertake the scholarship, Jacob was previously posted as Third Secretary in the Political Section of the Australian Embassy in Afghanistan. Jacob joined DFAT in 2012, working across a number of areas, including counterterrorism cooperation and South America bilateral relations. Jacob holds Masters Degrees with first class honours in International Relations and Diplomacy from the Australian National University, including a semester at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, and completed his undergraduate studies in philosophy and history at the University of Melbourne. He was also awarded the 2010 National Parliamentary-Congressional Scholarship, for which he interned for then-US Senator Richard G. Lugar.

“The Thawley Fellowship was an immensely enriching and educational experience. The program allowed me to connect and interact with the Washington foreign policy establishment and to meet with high-level and influential policymakers and commentators. Taking the time to get under the skin of Washington and live in the political cycle every day helped me to understand how Americans think about themselves and the world.

The Fellowship also provided the opportunity to get to know CSIS and the broader think tank community in Washington in a very personal and privileged way. Think tanks are, in many ways, the bridge between theory and policy in Washington, and being based at CSIS allows the Thawley Fellow to understand, and even engage, in that process. It was also a great experience to inject my own analysis and views into international policy debates by authoring commentaries published both by CSIS and the Lowy Institute.”

2014 – Adelle Neary

Adelle Neary was a Michael and Deborah Thawley Scholar in International Security at the Lowy Institute for International Policy and visiting Thawley Fellow in the Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asia Studies at CSIS. She is currently working in the International Division of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Prior to taking up the Thawley scholarship, Adelle served as Second Secretary in the Political Section at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. Adelle joined DFAT in 2010, after working as the International Business Support Lawyer to the central and eastern European offices of London-based law firm CMS Cameron McKenna LLP. She graduated with honours in law from the University of Adelaide, where she also completed undergraduate degrees in International Studies and Science, as well as a semester exchange to Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

“The Thawley Scholarship allowed me to step outside the public service and look at key international security issues from new perspectives. It’s important as Australians that we understand the influences that shape and transform the US worldview and foreign policy approach. There are few better ways to develop this understanding than through immersion in the Washington DC policy community.

As a policy think-tank, CSIS has impressive influence. On crucial policy questions of direct import for Australia, CSIS helps set the agenda on US policy debates that directly shape our region. It’s a great base for the Thawley Scholar to work from – I had direct access to its impressive array of experts (many who have served in current and former administrations) and was able to sit down with them to discuss my research questions.”

2013 – Andrew Kwon

Andrew Yong-chang Kwon was formely a Program Associate of the Alliance 21 Program at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. A 2014 recipient of the Michael and Deborah Thawley Scholarship in International Security from the Lowy Institute for International Policy, he also completed internships at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI), and the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA). Andrew holds a Master of International Security from the University of Sydney and a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and International Relations from the University of New South Wales.

“The Thawley scholarship is in a league of its own, there are no comparable opportunities available for aspiring strategic thinkers. By being exposed to the work of two leading international affairs think tanks, the scholarship provides recipients the chance to engage with both the best minds in the field and even the trickiest global challenges of the day. In addition, recipients will gain valuable insight on the unique role think tanks play in policy – institutions that not only craft original and practical policy solutions to influence government, but also provide insights that inform the public debate on complex world issues.”

2012 – Jack Georgieff

Jack Georgieff is an international security analyst, currently based in Wellington, New Zealand. In 2013 he was a Research Associate at the Lowy Institute where he focused on international security issues within the Indo-Pacific. Jack graduated top of his class from the Australian National University in December 2013 with a Master of Arts (International Relations) with First Class Honours. While there, he was a Hedley Bull Scholar and a New Zealand Ministry of Defence Freyberg Scholar. During 2013, he was a Thawley Scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. Additionally, Jack taught international relations and comparative politics for several years at tertiary level in New Zealand and Australia, and has presented his research at peer conferences both at home and overseas.

“The issue I focused on as a Thawley Scholar at CSIS was alliances in the Indo-Pacific, particularly those the US has with Australia, Korea and Japan. It was striking how valued the Australian perspective on strategic issues was — many at CSIS (both senior and junior) were keen to hear my thoughts on how America was perceived in the framework of its 'rebalance'. My views on these alliances made me realise that they are more integral than ever for the success or failure of the rebalance strategy coming from Washington.

I hope to one day return to Washington DC to work and further deepen the relationships and friendships the Thawley Scholarship allowed me to develop. I particularly valued the friendship and mentorship of Michael Thawley. He and his wife Deborah really did provide an outstanding experience I will value for the rest of my life.”

2012 – Ryan Manuel

Ryan Manuel is a Fellow at the Australian Centre on China in the World and the Crawford School of Public Policy, both at the Australian National University. His most recent publication is A New Australia-China Agenda (with Geremie Barmé).

“The Thawley Scholarship was an excellent chance to work with Linda Jakobson, a world-class China expert, and our collaboration continues to this day. I’m grateful to the Lowy Institute for instituting this program, and would encourage anyone interested in working on foreign affairs in Australia to apply.”

2011 – Esther Sainsbury

Esther Sainsbury is the Democracy and Justice Assistance Coordinator at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. This role involves coordinating the Australian Government’s aid to Indonesia to support the rule of law, access to justice, anti-corruption, public engagement in elections and improvements to electoral management. Prior to this, she worked as an Assistant Director with the Australian Agency for International Development and as an Investment Analyst with the Australian Defence Department. Esther received the 2011 Thawley Scholarship in International Security, studying at the Lowy Institute, Sydney, and Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington DC. There she researched Australia-Indonesia-United States relations and helped establish the CSIS Pacific Partners Initiative, the first Washington-based policy forum dedicated to providing a sustained, high-level focus on Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island countries. Esther was a 2014 Conference of Australian and Indonesian Youth delegate and as an Asia Education Foundation Asia Literacy Ambassador supports educators to develop Asia literate young Australians. Esther holds a Bachelor of Asian Studies (Specialist-Indonesian)/Hons Degree and Master of Strategic Affairs from the ANU and is an alumni of the Australian Consortium for In-Country Indonesian Studies program, studying at Gadjah Mada and Muhammadiyah Universities.

“The scholarship provided a valuable opportunity to develop my understanding of relations between the US and Australia, our mutual interests, possible areas of divergence and, as a young professional in the Australian Defence Department, to consolidate my research interests and professional experience.”

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