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Perth software developer Ryan Bunney has been identified as a leader of the future with the award of a high-value scholarship for exceptional individuals.

The 22-year-old was today awarded a Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship to undertake a PhD in data intensive astronomy, translating radio astronomy applications and algorithms to work on high performance computing clusters.

Westpac has awarded 17 exceptional young Australians with a Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship to undertake post-graduate study at one of Australia’s nine leading universities.

The scholarships are valued at over $2 million, providing each individual up to $120,000 for research or coursework studies at graduate level, including a nine-month bespoke leadership development program and international experiences.

Bunney completed an undergraduate degree in computer science and spent a year in industry working as a software developer on smart payments for the Stockholm public transport system.

But the draw of research was too great and he completed his honours at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) last year.

Bunney will undertake his PhD at ICRAR-UWA, under the supervision of big data specialists Professor Andreas Wicenec and Associate Professor Chen Wu.

“I’ll be taking advantage of advances in parallel computation and high-performance computing with industry partners, and moving traditionally single processing applications to massively parallel applications,” he said.

Astronomy has long been on the leading edge of big data science, with modern radio telescopes producing unprecedented volumes of data.

In the project’s initial phase, the SKA is expected to produce up to 250 petabytes of data each year – an amount of data equivalent to a stack of books eight million kilometres high.

The project is already attracting big data scientists to Western Australia, where the low-frequency part of the telescope will be built.

Bunney said receiving the scholarship gave him a huge confidence boost.

“The big thing for me was that I felt confident in the decision I had made to pursue this next step,” he said.

“It really solidified that I’d made a good decision, and that other people had faith in me.”


About the Square Kilometre Array

About the Murchison Widefield Array


More Information

Westpac Scholarships

The Westpac Scholarship Program is an initiative of the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation. The Foundation is celebrating Westpac’s 200th anniversary in 2017 with a $100 million gift to future generations of Australians. With the sole aim of educating and advancing Australians, we’ll ensure those with a passion to contribute to our nation’s growth and prosperity have every chance to do so. https://bicentennial.westpacgroup.com.au


The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) is a joint venture between Curtin University and The University of Western Australia with support and funding from the State Government of Western Australia.


Ryan Bunney (ICRAR / UWA)

Ph: +61 433 069 908          E: Ryan.Bunney@icrar.org

Prof. Andreas Wicenec (ICRAR / UWA)

Ph: +61 6488 7847          E: Andreas.Wicenec@icrar.org

Pete Wheeler (Media Contact, ICRAR)

Ph: +61 423 982 018               E: Pete.Wheeler@icrar.org