Thursday, 14 January 2016

Summer scholarships for young talent

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Kings Park science student in the laboratory Kings Park science student in the laboratory Jason Thomas
  • Kings Park scholarship program boosts talented young scientists
  • Seagrass, mine site rehabilitation and fire regenerators to benefit
  • Applications for Kings Park scholarships open again in September 2016

FIVE young West Australian scientists are spending their summer working alongside researchers at Kings Park and Botanic Garden as part of this year’s Kings Park scholarship program.

The competitive scholarships—each worth $7000—are designed to provide practical research experience.

“We believe in training young scientists for the future,” Kings Park Director of Science Dr Ben Miller says.

“We want to help students to understand the challenges of projects they might take on for future Masters or PhDs, so we can improve the capacity of our state to deliver positive conservation science outcomes.”

The Kings Park Science Directorate employs 25 research staff in native plant science, conservation biology and restoration ecology, hosting facilities including a genetics lab, tissue culture and cryopreservation facilities, and a new seed science laboratory.

These five students are spending their summer working alongside Kings Park researchers. Credit: Kings Park/Siegy Krauss


One of this year’s seven successful scholars is Henry Lambert, a UWA zoology and marine science double major who is studying the genetics of seagrass restoration for his summer project.

Mr Lambert says understanding the traits of individual seagrass plants can help optimise the success of seagrass restoration projects.

“We don’t necessarily see seagrasses as much as plants on land, but they have a huge role as ecosystem engineers, they’re really integral, and if they disappear we’ll start to see problems,” he says.

“This project is the perfect transition into postgraduate study…it’s in active research with a really great, involved research community…I can’t wait to be part of it.”

Curtin University environmental science student Tayla Kneller is also researching plant restoration for her summer project, with a focus on mine site rehabilitation.

“In the old days, mines didn’t know they should keep the top soil, so we have a lot of mines closing now with only mine waste available to use for environmental restoration,” Ms Kneller says.

“My project is looking at the effect of soil amendment, adding things like gypsum to waste soil, to hopefully improve seed germination at mine sites in the Pilbara.

“I’m really looking forward to putting my skills into practise,” she says.

Other successful scholars include Alexandria Latham, who will spend her summer assessing the effect of fire on regenerated bush in Boddington, Siobhan Sullivan, who is researching the effect of drought on seedlings growing in a post-mining environment, and Tayla van de Kroft, who is studying the effect of habitat fragmentation on plant-pollinator interactions.

Students interested in applying for next year's summer scholarship program should contact Kings Park from September 2016.

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