Introducing our 2023 research grant recipients

August 12, 2023

Nature Science underpins all of our efforts to manage our unique biodiversity for future generations sustainably, and an essential aspect of this is offering research grants for university students, funded by donations from our generous supporters.

Since 2000, Nature Foundation has awarded $1,924,964 in research grants to post-graduate students, academics, and the community to kickstart careers in research. This financial year, seven researchers were awarded grants in the May 2023 grant round to the value of $60,000 including two recipients of the Roy & Marjory Edwards Scholarship. Of these seven researchers, five students are carrying out their research on Nature Foundation nature reserves.

Coinciding with National Science Week (12-20 August 2023), we are delighted to share this year's research grant recipients and their projects with you.

Grant Start Grants – Honours

These grants provide up to $2000 for one year to assist an Honours student undertaking research. Projects may be field-based or involve non-field-based research such as geographic information systems, remote sensing-related projects, or data analysis.

Grand-Start_Honours-Lachlan-Greenwood-(1).jpgLachlan Greenwood

Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Biodiversity and Conservation), Flinders University

Lachlan's project involves looking at how the vegetation density of fringing habitat influences the trophic ecology of Watchalunga wetland. He is researching the diet and distribution of Australian Smelt (native), Flat Headed Gudgeon (native), Mosquitofish (invasive), and Carp (invasive), along with the distribution of any other fish and invertebrate specimens caught.

Grand-Start_Honours-Emily-Wilson-(1).jpgEmily Wilson

Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Biodiversity and Conservation), Flinders University

Environmental water delivery is a conservation action that returns water to off-channel wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin. There is a growing concern that salts (transported with water) could accumulate at these sites and poison them. Emily's project aims to quantify this salt accumulation, in both surface water and soil, at wetland sites throughout the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin.

Grand Starts Grants – PhD

PhD/Masters Grand Start Scholarships provide grants of up to $3000 per annum for a maximum of three years to assist a PhD/Masters student undertaking research.

Matt-Smith-Grand-Start_PhD-(1).jpgMatt Smith

PhD, University of New South Wales, UNSW Sydney

Thick-billed Grasswrens are a small endangered bird found on Nature Foundation's Witchelina Nature Reserve. During the last drought, there were concerns that kangaroos with no natural predators on Witchelina may have overgrazed the landscape and contributed to the decline of Thick-billed Grasswrens. Matt aims to address these concerns by monitoring Thick-billed Grasswren populations, habitat changes and resource availability under different kangaroo grazing intensities to inform conservation efforts by determining if and how kangaroos impact Thick-billed Grasswrens.

Jack-Bilby-Grand-Start_PhD-3-(1).jpgJack Bilby

PhD, University of New South Wales, UNSW Sydney

Australian arid zone mammals will be subjected to incredible pressures by climate change, and yet we know very little about how they respond to heat. Jack is investigating how native and invasive species cope with extreme temperatures and how physiology, phylogeny, behaviour, and land management will impact their ability to survive.

Nature Foundation Scientific Expedition Foundation RL & GK Willing Grant

This annual grant provides up to $2000 for one year to support an Honours student.

The student's research must focus on:

  1. Trends in the abundance and distribution of native populations of South Australian fauna and flora; or
  2. Soil, water, geology or climate where it will affect the abundance and distribution of native populations of South Australian fauna and flora.

This is a partnership between Nature Foundation and Scientific Expedition Foundation.

Scientific-Expedition-Rebecca-Greening-1-(2).jpgRebecca Greening

Honours in Ecology and Environmental Science, The University of Adelaide

Rebecca's project studies the TGB Osborn Vegetation Reserve at Koonamore in South Australia to determine if spatial patterns of soil nutrient accumulation and microbial community compositions are different between 98 years of livestock grazing exclusion vs areas grazed since the 1860's.

Despite the known pervasive effects of livestock, most studies suggest they do not impact the observed spatial patterns of soil nutrients in arid lands or redistribute resources in the landscape.

However, the long history and widespread nature of livestock grazing may suggest that grazing is confounding studies, so Rebecca's project aims to fill this knowledge gap to ensure our rangelands are managed sustainably.

Roy and Marjory Edwards Scholarship

This scholarship provides up to $12,000 per annum for up to three years to support a student at an Australian university. This scholarship was initiated in 2002 by a generous donation from Mrs Marjory Edwards to establish a perpetual scholarship in conservation biology.

Roy-Marjory-Edwards-Beth-Treglown-(1).jpgBeth Treglown

Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Animal Behaviour), PhD in Freshwater Ecology, Flinders University

Beth's project will investigate three South Australian wetlands and how the environmental factors at each site influence plant and animal community structure. A key part of this project will be surveying fish, frogs, and their prey to better understand distribution and diet.

Roy-Marjory-Edwards-Kantine-(Chih-Yun)-Liu-(1).jpgKantine (Chih-Yun) Liu

PhD, The University of Adelaide

Freshwater rock-holes can be found on many granite outcrops in arid and semi-arid regions of Australia. When filled with rainwater, they support a unique diversity of aquatic invertebrates and serve as a main water source for many local wildlife. Kantine's project focuses on assessing and mitigating climate change impacts on these precious freshwater ecosystems at Hiltaba Nature Reserve.

We wish all of our 2023 grant and award recipients well with their research and look forward to bringing you more updates.

Support our Grants Program

Donating today, you can support our Grand Start Grants program, furthering scientific research for nature conservation. Donations of $2 and over are tax deductible.

If you are interested in speaking with us regarding establishing a scholarship or similar, please contact our Philanthropy Coordinator, Patrick Mentzel: [email protected]

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