South Australian student wins a place at MIT and a Fulbright Scholarship

31 May 2021

South Australian data science research student, Tobin South, is celebrating following his research collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) bigdata Living Lab at Lot Fourteen, helped him secure a Fulbright Scholarship and a place as a doctoral student at MIT, in the United States.

Tobin South, data science research student.

Mr South, who completed a Master of Philosophy in Applied Mathematics and Data Science at the University of Adelaide, is heading to the home of MIT in September, to undertake a PhD with MIT’s Human Dynamics group, working with Professor Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland who is considered the ‘father’ of modern social physics.
His PhD comes off the back of his research collaboration at the MIT bigdata Living Lab, established in Adelaide in 2019, under an agreement with the Government of South Australia, enabled by BankSA, Optus and DSpark.
The MIT bigdata Living Lab, provides opportunities for local researchers to have access to invaluable data to build a stronger and more prosperous economy and opens doors for local students wanting to undertake research on real-time projects.
Mr South undertook research at the MIT bigdata Living Lab that investigated the way the diversity of skills used by workers, contributes to economic resilience and job growth potential. 
“The exploration at the frontier of knowledge is a global pursuit and one that is often dominated by places like the US,” Mr South said. “Being far away from these institutions and large conferences can make it hard for students down under to compete at the global scale. Having the MIT bigdata Living Lab here, presents a real opportunity for research students around Adelaide to form lasting collaborations with amazing institutions like MIT.
“I’ve been accepted into the MIT Media Lab (nicknamed the Star Fleet Academy), to continue my research with teams of engineers, economists, designers, social scientists, mathematicians and artists. This PhD will be an incredible five-year mission into the unknown.”
Mr South has also been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to undertake his studies in the US – the country’s flagship scholarship program – aimed at increasing research collaboration, cultural understanding and the exchange of ideas.
“The Fulbright Scholarship is an amazing opportunity for me to work on research projects that can help both the US and Australia. I hope to bring back what I learn to help make Adelaide and Australia the very best it can be.”
Stephen Buckley, Executive Director of Connection Science at MIT, says Mr South’s admittance to MIT is one of the highlights of undertaking research collaboration with universities locally.
“Like the original Star Trek TV series, we view ourselves as applied utopians, bringing together experts from across academia and industry to develop, deploy and test new technologies in real environments that enable us to share that data, understand how societies actually work, and provide valuable opportunities for students,” Mr Buckley said.
“Tobin’s PhD with MIT will enable him to develop his knowledge and research capabilities further that he can then apply when he returns to Adelaide. He’ll be working alongside some of the best researchers in the world, learning from them and seeing first-hand, how they use that research to inform decision-making and policies.
“We’re delighted to have him on board and congratulate him on his place at MIT and his Fulbright Scholarship.”
To learn more visit the MIT bigdata Living Lab