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Student researching renewable energy wins Rhodes scholarship

University of Sydney undergraduate student Brian O’Callaghan will take his research in renewable energy to the next level when he heads to Oxford as the 2019 NSW Rhodes Scholar.

O’Callaghan, who is studying a Bachelor of Engineering Honours and a Bachelor of Commerce,  has spent the year studying in Singapore, working on renewable energies in the Solomon Islands and travelling in the Asia-Pacific region.

He did this while completing his undergraduate degree, having received a 2018 New Colombo Plan Scholarship.

Next year he’ll be attending the University of Oxford to continue his postgraduate studies as a Rhodes Scholar.

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O’Callaghan said he is passionate about exploring how renewable energy solutions can be used to improve electricity access in lower and middle income countries.

“I will be studying for a DPhil (PhD) in Engineering Science, particularly looking at marine renewable energy solutions and their economic viability.

“I will work with both the Department of Engineering Science and the Oxford Martin Programme on Integrating Renewable Energy,” he said.

“I am excited to be a part of the Rhodes community and look forward to learning across a broad range of areas over the next three years,” said O’Callaghan.

Living and working in the Solomon Islands was one of the most memorable experiences he’s had so far, he said.

“[It] was a particularly interesting but also trialing time.

“I stayed with a local family and walked 3km along dusty roads to and from work every day. I endured frequent power and water outages but gained a first-hand perspective into the impact of the work I was doing,” said O’Callaghan.

“New experiences broaden our perspectives and push us to reconsider our place in society.

“Working with the Asian Development Bank provided insights into the intricacies and difficulties associated with working in the development space,” he said.



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