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Recipient 2016


Valette Williams Scholarship Recipient 2016

Johanna Wong

The Val 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, Val Williams (1937-2004). Applications are sought firstly from Honours students and also from Masters or PhD students undertaking research at universities in the 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 four applicants, a mix of Masters and PhD students, from two universities.

Congratulations to Johanna Wong, recipient of the 2016 Val Williams Scholarship in Botany.

Johanna is a PhD student at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at the Hawkesbury Campus of Western Sydney University.
Her topic is: Developing metabolic ‘biomarkers’ for the early diagnosis of Armillaria root rot in eucalypts of the endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland

In Johanna’s words:

“I am from Hong Kong but I love the nature here in Australia as much as the members of the Australian plants society do! Having grown up in the concrete, vertical city, it makes me realized the scarcity of natural scenery and the importance of natural conservation. I cherish my chance to learn about the nature and plants surrounding us.
I started my PhD study this year and I am glad to focus my study on eucalypts, the dominant trees in Australian landscape. The main goal of my PhD study is to understand about how eucalypts interact with fungi of different lifestyles. It’s my honour to receive this award to support an extension of my study--developing metabolic ‘biomarkers’ for early diagnosis of Armillaria root rot in eucalypts of the endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland.
Armillaria is one of the indigenous fungal pathogen which cause root rot of eucalypts. The scholarship allows me to explore possibility to improve detection strategies for Armillaria root rot. Plants secret chemical signals called metabolites to the environment under different stressors. I will identify the metabolite which is only secreted specifically by trees under Armillaria infection. The metabolite can potentially be used as ‘biomarker’ to assist detection of Armillaria disease at early stages. The developed methodology can be beneficial for management of vital ecosystems such as the Cumberland Plain Woodland both around Sydney and throughout Australia to save endangered habitats and vulnerable eucalypts species.
This scholarship is a huge encouragement for me! It is my pleasure that the funding enables my research to become applicable and beneficial to the conservation of the environment.”

Johanna Wong standing in a forest

The scholarship grant of $2,000 will be used to help pay for laboratory consumables and for LC-MS profiling of metabolites collected from root tip samples.
Johanna’s supervisors are Dr. Jonathan Plett and Prof. Ian Anderson of Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University and collaborator A/Prof. Ute Roessner of The University of Melbourne.

Australian Plants Society NSW will provide Johanna with one year’s complementary membership to encourage these young students of botany and to help them be aware of the benefits of belonging to APS.

Our thanks go to Dr Hugh Jones, Mark Abell and Roslyn Mort, who undertook assessment of the four scholarship applications for 2016. The selection committee were pleased to note that all of the applications were of a very high calibre.

Best wishes go to the recipient, Johanna Wong, for success in her studies and we look forward to learning of the outcomes of her endeavours in the 2017 speakers program.


Previous recipients

2009 Liza Xian

2010 Alison Hewitt,

2011 Nathan Emery &Tanya Bangel

2012 Diane Warman & Berin Mackenzie

2013 Jessica Mowle

2014 Desi Quintans

2015 Jon Pankhurst

For enquiries:
Wendy Grimm, Convener, Val Williams Scholarship in Botany, Australian Plants Society - North Shore Group
Phone: 02 9144 5600


We are affiliated with Australian Plants Society NSW Ltd which is part of the national body the Australian Native Plants Society (Australia) inc. (ANPSA).