Category Archives: Awards

Photographs on Display at the US Embassy

US Ambassador Bleich has selected two of my photographs for display at the US Embassy in Canberra. The competition, “America Through Australian Eyes” received more than 180 submissions from across Australia and my photographs below, “The Great Dividing Range” and “Bushfire Glow,” were two of the eight selected.

“The Great Dividing Range,” Central Park, New York, NY, f/8, 1/400 sec
“Bushfire Glow,” San Francisco, CA, f/6.3, 6 sec

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Fulbright in New Orleans

Thanks to the US Department of State, I was flown to New Orleans with dozens of Fulbright Scholars from around the world to discuss Global challenges, local solutions: Climate change and environmental sustainability. We were featured in the local rag, The Times Picayune, whilst volunteering at The Green Project repurposing landfill to help rebuild houses post-Katrina. My group also took the award for Best Environmental Solution and Presentation!

Matthew B Thompson - Fulbright Enrichment New Orleans

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Second in Best Illusion of the Year Contest!

We’ve taken out second place in the Best Illusion of the Year Contest, 2012! Like many interesting scientific discoveries, this one was an accident. Sean Murphy, an undergraduate student, was working alone in the lab on a set of faces for one of his experiments. He aligned a set of faces at the eyes and started to skim through them. After a few seconds, he noticed that some of the faces began to appear highly deformed and grotesque. He looked at the especially ugly faces individually, but each of them appeared normal or even attractive. We called it the “Flashed Face Distortion Effect” and wanted to share it with the world, so we put it on YouTube. Click for more.

The effect seems to depend on processing each face in light of the others. By aligning the faces at the eyes and presenting them quickly, it becomes much easier to compare them, so the differences between the faces are more extreme. If someone has a large jaw, it looks almost ogre-like. If they have an especially large forehead, then it looks particularly bulbous. We’re conducting several experiments right now to figure out exactly what’s causing this effect, so watch this space!

Featured in Nature and New Scientist. Click for more.

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Winner Three Minute Thesis Australia-New Zealand

After winning the UQ Final of the Three Minute Thesis Competition, I travelled to the University of Western Australia to compete against 42 other PhD students from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. I was blown away by the quality of the presentations and the importance of the research. I can’t imagine how the judges managed to make a decision but I ended up coming out on top. Click for more.

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Winner UQ Three Minute Thesis Competition

I’ve taken out the UQ level of the Three Minute Thesis Competition! Ryan Stafford was Runner-up and People’s Choice winner. The thought of presenting three years work in three minutes was daunting. It it even possible? How will I get my point across? Will I fall before the audience in a quivering heap of incoherent babble? I entered the 3MT to overcome my anxiety and learn to talk about my research as plainly as possible.

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Fulbright Queensland Scholar 2011

I’ve been awarded the 2011 Queensland Fulbright Scholarship. I’ll spend a year researching at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to determine how accurate fingerprint experts are, explore the psychology that affects how well they match fingerprints, and maximise the reliability of fingerprint evidence in the criminal justice system. The 2011 Fulbright Scholars were presented with their awards at the Adelaide Festival Centre on 10th March 2011.

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