The Valette Williams Scholarship in Botany is sponsored by the North Shore Group of the Australian Plants Society. The Scholarship honours the memory of our former esteemed member, Valette Williams (1937-2004). Applications were sought from Honours, Masters or PhD students undertaking research at universities from the greater Sydney region.
The project must contribute to the knowledge of the ecology, conservation or propagation of native plants in the Sydney and surrounding regions.
The Scholarship, valued at $2 000 this year, attracted eight applicants – 2 BSc. Honours and 6 PhD students – from seven different universities. This was much the largest and most diverse response over the four years that the scholarship has been in operation.
The award committee, Alec Fisher (convener), Margery Street and Hugh Jones, found all the applications to be of a high standard and having merit to warrant consideration.
After due assessment and deliberation the scholarship was awarded to two of the applicants – the recipients are:
Diane Warman BSc. Hons student at Newcastle University $1 000
Topic – What factors influence the habitat, distribution and population structure of Grevillea shiressii Blakely (Proteaceae) a threatened species of the Central Coast of New South Wales.
The reasons the award committee favoured Diane were the encouragement of the student to continue in a biological science career, that she had relevant experience and she was offering a self-contained and achievable project in 2012. Her research concerns a threatened species in the Sydney area which she had already underway.
Berin Mackenzie a PhD student at the University of NSW $1 000
Topic - Assessing dormancy mechanisms and the interaction of seasonal and fire cues for germination of Boronia (Rutaceae)
The reasons the award committee favoured Berin were the encouragement of the newly enrolled PhD student, he had excellent experience with published papers and was offering a self-contained and achievable project within his PhD program. He is coming from professional involvement in ecology with distinguished supervisors and assistance from other institutions as well. The species B. serrulata and B. ledifolia of interest are icons of the Sydney flora and his research has practical implications to implementation of fire management regimes and to commercial propagation of Boronia species.
Tony Evans and Fred Langshaw oversaw the setting up of the scholarship and the yearly logistics of advertising and handling applications – they see the scholarship as well established to be administered solely now by the Group secretariat. Many thanks go to these two and to Wendy Grimm, for one of the activities that make the North Shore Group so successful.
Best wishes go to the two recipients, Diane and Berin, for success in their studies and we look forward to learning of the outcomes their endeavours in the 2013 speakers program.