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The Cybec Foundation

Scholarships at the National Herbarium of Victoria


Jim Ross Scholarship



Roger Riordan became interested in native plants when he was a small boy living in the Dandenongs, and in 1944 he met former Assistant Government Botanist, Dr J. H. Willis, at the National Herbarium of Victoria (which is part of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne). He and Jim remained friends until Jim died in 1995. In 1996, at Roger's suggestion, and in consultation with the Willis family, the Herbarium established the Jim Willis Fellowship. The Fellowship was funded partly by Cybec, and partly by public appeal.

The Jim Willis Fellowship has been very successful, and in 2003 the Foundation agreed to fund a PhD Scholarship at the Herbarium. This enables one student at a time to study for a PhD, based on research into Systematic Botany carried out at the Herbarium.

This scholarship was renamed the Jim Ross Scholarship when senior botanist Jim Ross retired in 2006.

The late Sally Riordan, Roger Riordan, Fleur Anderson (1999) and the late Mavis Willis, widow of Dr Jim Willis



Christina Flann Christina has completed her PhD on Systematics of Euchiton (Asteraceae) at the School of Botany, the University of Melbourne, and is now living in the Netherlands. Christina is currently working as an Editor on the Global Compositae Checklist, reconciling nomenclature from around the world for this family of approximately 25 000 species.



Marcus Payne


Fleur Anderson Fleur was the Collections Coordinator at the National Herbarium of Victoria, but is currently looking after her family.


Katy Somerville: Katie spent a period as Manager, Collections at the National Herbarium of Victoria, and then went to ANU to do a PhD. In January 2010 she wrote:

Dear Roger and Pat,

I thought you would like to know that today I submitted my PhD thesis at the Australian National University. The Jim Wills Studentship that I received as an undergraduate student gave me a new confidence in my academic ability. I had not previously seen a future in plant science or valued my academic skills. I thank you very much for your very kind and generous donation. It has allowed me a very different and extremely rewarding life for which I am extremely grateful.


Deanne Thompson Deanne is now a Research Assistant in the Centre for Neuroscience at the University of Melbourne.


Jenny Tonkin Jenny is currently writing up her PhD thesis Systematic studies of the Russulales at the Institute of Food and Land Resources, the University of Melbourne.

Christina Flann 1997

(Photo 2006)


Katy Somerville 2000

(Photo 2010)



Ryan Garrick Ryan has completed a PhD on Comparative phylogeography of log-dwelling invertebrates (Collembola & Symphyla) at the Genetics Department, La Trobe University.

In 2007 he commenced a two-year postdoctoral study in Virginia investigating the co-evolution and interaction of a species of Euphorbiaceae and a bark beetle parasite in the Sonoran desert in Arizona.


Lindy Orthia Lindy is studying for a PhD on Radiation of the Australian arid zone flora: a test case using the saltbush family (Chenopodiaceae) at the School of Botany and Zoology, Australian National University, Canberra.


Zoe Smith Zoe is studying for a PhD on The use of mycorrhizal fungi and genetic analysis in the reintroduction of the rare terrestial orchid Diuris fragrantissima (Sunshine Diuris) at the Institute of Food and Land Resources, the University of Melbourne.

Mavis Willis, Jenny Tonkin & Deanne Thompson




Kristin Sicha Kristin recently completed a contract as a research assistant working on An interactive key to genera of fungi at the National Herbarium of Victoria.


Claire Rawlinson Claire has started an Honours Degree at Victoria University of technology, St Albans, studying the ecology of a butterfly from the Grampians.


Nina Sawtell Nina is currently completing an undergraduate degree at the University of Melbourne, majoring in Botany and Geography.

The paper describing the work she undertook during the Willis Fellowship was accepted for publication in the Australian Journal of botany in 2007.

Kristin Sicha (JHW), Gareth Holmes (JR) & Pat Riordan




Fiona Bowie


Helen Jolley During her fellowship, Helen Jolly worked on the differences between the mosses Breutelia pendula and B. elongata, under the supervision of Dr Neils Klazenga. A paper describing her work was published in Australian Systematic Botany on February 26, 2007.


Lily van Eeden Lily is studying the distribution of Australian fungi, using information from the Herbarium collections.

Helen Jolley & Fiona Bowie

J H Willis 2006


Lily van Eeden

J H Willis 2007



Charlotte Hurry is trying to determine the number of species of spinifex grass in Victoria

Triodia is the iconic spinifex grass of the Australian arid zone. This project will use both gene sequences and morphological characters in an attempt to differentiate between the two Victorian species - T. scariosa and T. bunicola.

Backgrounds and interests: My travels around South East Asia gave me a new appreciation for the natural world. When I moved from England to Australia five years ago, I decided to study biology with the main focus on conservation. Currently a third year at Monash University, I will start an honours in June 2008, which will focus on the movement of the common reed (Phragmites australis) in the increasingly saline Gippsland Lakes region. My hope is that this honours year will lead onto a PhD.



Lauran Pearce writes " I have almost completed my undergraduate Science degree, deciding to major in Plant Sciences after developing a fascination for plants and how they interact with their environment.

I am looking forward to beginning an honours year researching the relationship between resource conservation and resource acquisition in plants. During the Willis fellowship and under the supervision of Dr. Tom May, I have been studying species delimitation of the Banksiamyces, an Australian fungi which grows only on Banksia cones, using both morphological and molecular characters."

Lauran Pearce & Charlotte Hurry

J H Willis 2008




Colleen Peele will be using optical and scanning electron microscopes, and DNA sequencing, to determine the identity of a fungus that lives within galls on Sarcocornia quinquefolia (Beaded Glasswort), and to determine whether it is a food source for the midge larvae that dwell within the galls.

Colleen has just completed a double degree in Teaching and Science at Deakin University (Burwood Campus), and next year will be undertaking an Honours project co-supervised by Teresa Lebel.



Lana Smart will be using morphological and molecular characters to uncover taxonomic affinities of cryptic truffle species.

Lana is completing her Bachelor of Horticulture (Honours) degree after finishing her Bachelor of Science degree, both at the University of Melbourne.


Colleen Peele, J H Willis 2009

Collecting samples of beaded glasswort.

Colleen Peele & Lana Smart

J H Willis 2009




Rachel Fowler will be using DNA sequencing to assist in the identification of ecologically important Stipoid grass species



Marc Freestone will be using DNA sequencing to investigate the origin of the sterile Anglesea grevillea, Grevillea infecunda




Alicia Brown will be working on 'The development of microsattelite loci in Pimelea spinescens ..'



Kate Griffiths will be using DNA sequencing to investigate 'Molecular species delimitation in the Cortinarius clelandi species complex'.

In 2012 Kate was awarded a 3 year General Sir John Monash Scholarship to study in Edinburgh. The Scholarship website states: "Kate Griffiths completed a Bachelor of Philosophy (Science) with first-class honours and the University Medal from the Australian National University.

She received numerous prizes during her academic career and has conducted significant research at the ANU, CSIRO, Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens and the University of Copenhagen. Kate has been active in promoting science as a Science Ambassador, a tutor of indigenous students and in her current work with the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.

She is a Queen's Scout, an outstanding runner and triathlete, and a top AFL umpire. At Edinburgh, Kate will study plant taxonomy and biodiversity, before returning to Australia to contribute to the conservation and management of Australia's vulnerable ecosystems."



Rachael Fowler, Marc Freestone & Elizabeth Sheedy

J H Willis 2010, Jim Ross 2010

Kate Griffiths 2011




Rachel Douglas will be working on 'The genetic relationships of Pimelea spinescens and its relatives.'



Nicole Webster will be working on cryptic species of the mushroom, Lactarius eucalypti




Kurt Petersen will be using morphological characters to investigate the taxonomy of daisies Allittia and Brachyscome



Freya Berwick will be using DNA sequencing and morphology to investigate the systematics and taxanomic boundaries of Australian tussock grasses (Poaceae, tribe Poeae)




Grant Harris will be exploring species distribution in macrofungi under Tom May



Kelsey Tucker will be studying the taxonomy of Acacia boormanii under Neville Walsh & Dan Murphy



Freya Berwick & Kurt Petersen

J H Willis 2013.

Rachel Douglas & Nicole Webster. JHW 2012


Jim Ross PhD Scholarship

This scholarship was introduced as a Cybec scholarship in 2004. In 2006 it was renamed the Jim Ross Scholarship in honour of former Chief Botanist Jim Ross, who retired at the end of 2005.




Gareth Holmes Gareth studied the taxonomy of the Victorian holly-leafed Grevilleas.




Elizabeth Sheedy Elizabeth studied the conservation genetics & systematics of the ectomycorrhizal fungus Laccaria.


Elizabeth Sheedy, Gareth Holmes & Pat Riordan



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