Menu
Log in


North Shore District Group

Scholarship past recipients

2020


Valette Williams Scholarship in Botany - Recipient 2020

Shubham Chhajed

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). 

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 $3000 this year, attracted eight applicants, a mix of Honours, Masters and PhD students, from three universities.

Congratulations to Shubham Chhajed, recipient of the 2020 Val Williams Scholarship in Botany.

Project Title:
Hydraulic drivers of photosynthetic variation in co-occurring plant species in Sydney region: a least-cost theory approach

Position:
PhD candidate, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University

Growing up as a farmer’s son naturally made me curious about plants. I was amazed that all plants use the same resources (water, light, nutrients etc.) to carry out photosynthesis and yet, there is a stupendous amount of variation in their photosynthetic output. This childhood curiosity of mine turned into a scientific passion and has been the primary focus of my previous and current research work.
During my undergraduate research at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, I studied plant responses to water, nutrients, and temperature stresses and the underlying eco-physiological mechanisms. For my PhD at Macquarie University, I decided to focus on the investments that plants make to acquire and use these resources. Investments towards these multiple resources are interchangeable and plants balance them to achieve the optimal level of photosynthesis while incurring the least total cost. I seek to understand how plants manage to achieve this balance and what traits assist in the optimization. Preliminary results show that hydraulic traits such as rooting depth and water storage ability of plants are closely related to photosynthetic output at a short time scale. The Val Williams Scholarship would enable me to test these hydraulic trait – photosynthetic trait relationships at a longer time scale via a foliar δ13C analysis. δ13C is a stable carbon isotope signature that represents the ratio of 13Carbon to 12Carbon in leaves. It will significantly expand the scope of my current study and facilitate understanding long-term effects of plant hydraulic properties. I am excited to see what the isotope analysis reveals about water management strategies in plants at an extended time scale.

Valette Williams Scholarship in Botany - Recipients 2019

Farhad Masoomi-Aladizgeh

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). 

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 $3000 this year, attracted five applicants, a mix of Honours, Masters and PhD students, from three universities.

Congratulations to Farhad Masoomi-Aladizgeh, recipient of the 2019 Val Williams Scholarship in Botany.

Farhad is a Doctor of Philosophy in Biology student within the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University.

His topic is: DNA: the key to understanding evolutionary relationships betwee Australian ecotypes of Themeda triandra (kangaroo grass)

Farhad describes his project for us:

My PhD at Macquarie University is mainly on identifying stress tolerance genes in plants from distantly related crop relatives. It is well known that native plants are valuable genetic resources, harbouring resistance genes to environmental fluctuations. Climate change is going to adversely impact agricultural products in the near future; thus, steps should be taken by researchers to tackle the problem!

I am already working on cotton proteomics to discover genes related to male sterility after exposure to high temperatures. Under the supervision of Professor Brian Atwell, we aim to find key pathways involved in plant male sterility under heat stress and introduce the key genes that can be applied for crop improvement at high temperatures. 

The Valette Williams Scholarship has led us to start a new project on a stress tolerant species in Australia, Themeda triandra (kangaroo grass). A diverse collection of its ecotypes provides high genetic diversity with which to find ‘molecular signatures’ for environmental traits. DArTSeq™ protocol, a high-throughput sequencing approach, will be performed using DArT (Diversity Arrays Technology) markers for gene mapping and diversity studies of kangaroo grass ecotypes where there is no previous sequence information.

Having the same genetic codes: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T), plants respond to the changing environment too!       

Valette Williams Scholarship in Botany - Recipients 2018

Susan Everingham and John Whale were the joint recipients of the 2018 Val Williams Scholarship in Botany.

Susan Everingham

Susan is a PhD candidate within the School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences at University of NSW.

Her topic is: "Are the Sydney plants flowering earlier in the year currently, than they did in the past?"

In Susan’s words:

“Growing up, both my mother and grandmother loved Australian native flora and would take me on bush walks around Sydney, naming all the species. This joy and fascination led me to study plant science at university and I have now just started the second year of my PhD. I am undertaking my research at both The University of New South Wales, and The Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan. I really enjoy studying broad scale concepts in ecology as well as applying them to important areas of conservation at local scales.

My PhD encompasses both broad, global scale and smaller scale studies, to try and determine if plants are adapting to climate change that is already occurring. Researchers have made many predictions about how plants will cope in the future, as the climate continues to change. However, we need to know if plants are already changing and adapting to recent climate change, in order for them to survive in the future. 

The Val Williams Scholarship from the Australian Plants Society, North Shore Group, will allow me to undertake important fieldwork in the Sydney region, to determine if Sydney plants are flowering earlier in the year than they did in the past, due to climatic warming. I am using a large dataset that was compiled in 1963 that recorded the flowering time of 362 species in Sydney. This year, am doing a huge resampling effort of a subset of this data, to see if flowering times have change since the 1960s. The Val Williams scholarship will be helping me to travel to my sites, tag species and continue monitoring their flowering times.”

John Whale

John is a PhD candidate within the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University.

His topic is: The Scientific Basis of Assisted Gene Migration under Climate Change

John’s research: “My background has been research of genetic diversity within and between populations of a species and subsequently, how well adapted populations are to the environments they inhabit. In order for me to conduct my research and projects I will use my laboratory experience in DNA extraction and sequencing and analytical skills to look at the diversity and variation between individuals and populations. They will help to answer the questions about the genetic diversity and adaptive potential native Red Gums found in the Sydney Basin have to a changing climate. Among the species I will work with are Eucalyptus tereticornis, a coastal species and E. blakelyi, from the Western Slopes and Tablelands.”


Copyright © 2020 The Australian Plants Society - NSW. All Rights Reserved  •  Site by HighlandCreative.com.au

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software