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 are sought firstly from Honours students and also from Masters or PhD students undertaking research at universities in 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 six applicants, all PhD students, from three different universities.
Jessica Mowle at the University of Western Sydney. Supervisor: Dr Jeff Powell, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment
Her scholarship topic is: Promoting conservation and future regeneration of Wollemi Pine through manipulation of microbial communities.
Jessica is pictured with her Wollemi Pine offspring and has supplied some personal notes:
I am a 22 year old and I started my PhD candidature in March this year. I have always been local to the Hawkesbury area. Although my formal training is based in Microbiology and Molecular Biology I love plants! This probably started when I was younger as my childhood home backed onto national park.
The other key aspect of my PhD project (aside from the work I will be completing as part of the Val Williams Scholarship) is an experimental translocation of Wollemi pine. In collaboration with Heidi Zimmer from University of Melbourne and the Botanic Gardens Trust 200 Wollemi pine were planted out last August adjacent to the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mt Tomah.
I am studying how the microorganisms associated with these Wollemi pine shift as the trees establish themselves in this new environment. The overall aim of this experiment is to identify how soil properties (associated with fertility, pH, water retention, microorganisms), climate characteristics (temperature, rainfall) and canopy conditions (light penetration) affect fitness of translocated Wollemi pine.
I really hope that sometime in the future I can see the wild Wollemi Pine site.
Best wishes go to the recipient, Jessica Mowle, for success in her studies and we look forward to learning of the outcomes of her endeavours in the 2014 speakers program.