News

Prestigious Val Street Scholarship awarded to biology student



12 February 2013

Top-ranked female PhD candidate, Georgia Ward-Fear, is the 2013 recipient of theVal Street Scholarship. Georgia will begin her studies in March in the School of Biological Sciences.

Georgia Ward-Fear will research the ecology of the Kimberley with the support of her Val Street Scholarship (photo by Andrew Morton).
Georgia Ward-Fear will research the ecology of the Kimberley with the support of her Val Street Scholarship (photo by Andrew Morton).

"Northern Australia is facing a biodiversity crisis," explained Georgia while describing her PhD project. "In part due to the effects of the livestock industry, past fire management regimes and now novel invasive species - such as the cane toad." Georgia aims to tease-out the interactions between these factors over the next three years of her scholarship. "These factors need to be studied in order to create long-term landscape management plans."

Georgia completed her undergraduate honours degree in the School of Biological Sciences in 2008. Her thesis on cane toad control using native meat ants earned her a University Medal. Georgia's PhD project will again involve cane toad ecology. "My research will be based in the Kimberley and will focus on the community ecology of large goannas under the impact of invasive species such as cane toads and feral stock." She will be working in conjunction with the Department of Environment and Conservation, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy in WA and indigenous ranger groups. "If successful this project may aid the effective conservation of species in northern ecosystems, whilst contributing to our knowledge of invasion ecology."

The award that Georgia has won, the Val Street Scholarship, is a top-up award established from the estate of the late Valerie Ruth Street. Val Street was a fervent supporter of education, especially for women. She was principal of the Women's College from 1981-89 and was also involved with the Faculty of Education. The Val Street scholarship is awarded to the highest ranked female PhD applicant commencing her candidature with an Australian Postgraduate Award or a University Postgraduate Award.

"I feel very humbled that I have won this scholarship," said Georgia, "but more so, I feel empowered. Winning this scholarship has inspired me to foster my interest in mentoring younger women. In addition, the extra financial support will allow me to focus all of my work energy on my PhD, making it the best it can be."