PhD candidate awarded Fulbright Scholarship

La Trobe University announced today that Desireé LaGrappe, a public sexual health nurse and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Postgraduate Scholar at La Trobe University's Judith Lumley Centre, School of Nursing and Midwifery, has been selected as a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar for 2023-2024 for the Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship.

Desireé, a dual national of the United States and Australia, was eligible for the U.S. Scholar Program award, in collaboration with Hanoi Medical University and with support from Fulbright Vietnam.

Desireé said that the Fulbright opportunity not only expands her PhD research but also aligns with the partner-country institution's priorities.

“I have devoted my career to promoting gender equality and advocating for the prevention of gender-based violence. I strive to use my knowledge in various health care service delivery and research areas to make a lasting impact through research and policy change," Desireé said.

"I look forward to building my public health skills through the Fulbright award, which has been made possible by the long-standing collaboration between my La Trobe supervisor Associate Professor Kristina Edvardsson and Associate Professor Pham Thi Lan in Hanoi.”

The research is centred on reproductive coercion and abuse, examining controlling behaviours that infringe upon reproductive autonomy and decision-making, which often intersect with domestic, family, and sexual violence.

Through her project, she seeks to explore the measurement of this form of gender-based violence and investigate the role of nurses and Maternal and Child Health services in responding effectively.

Professor Jan Nicholson, Director of La Trobe University's Judith Lumley Centre, said the scholarship is both recognition for Desireé and the University.

"This Fulbright Award acknowledges the global public health importance of Desireé's work, building on La Trobe University's leadership in nurse-led responses to sexual health and family violence," Professor Nicholson said.

This Fulbright Fellowship, granted by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, has recognised Desireé's outstanding achievements and provides her with an opportunity to serve in a public health professional placement in Vietnam for the 2023-2024 academic year.

By receiving this Fellowship, Desireé joins a prestigious network of scholars and leaders from various fields, including 62 Nobel Prize laureates, 89 Pulitzer Prize recipients, 78 MacArthur Fellows, and 41 former heads of state or government.

The Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship is specifically designed for early and mid-career professionals and practitioners who aim to enhance their expertise as technical specialists in their respective fields.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational and cultural exchange program and is supported by the people of the United States and partner countries around the world.

For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit

Media: Courtney Carthy-O'Neill, +61 487 448 734