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Herbarium welcomes inaugural Fellow

Last week, the Gardens welcomed Dr Tanja Schuster, inaugural Pauline Ladiges Plant Systematics Fellow, to the team at the National Herbarium of Victoria.

Dr Schuster is a systematist who completed a PhD on the Australian genus Muehlenbeckia and her research interests are focused on the buckwheat family Polygonaceae and its biogeographic history and potential associations with fungi. Systematics is the science of discovering and naming (taxonomy) the diversity of species and interpreting that diversity in an evolutionary framework.

Dr Schuster will strengthen the Royal Botanic Gardens’ plant science and biodiversity team, tackling what is often called the ‘taxonomic impediment’. As evidenced by the recent discovery of a new genus and family of algae (named Entwisleia after Prof. Entwisle), there are huge gaps in our knowledge of the Australian flora and fauna.

“By employing more systematists such as Dr Schuster, we can not only make startling discoveries about our natural world but also deliver to the Government and community groups the information they need to manage our environment in a time of accelerated climate change.” said Prof. Entwisle, Director and Chief Executive of the Royal Botanic Gardens.

The Pauline Ladiges Plant Systematics Research Fellowship is a joint fellowship between the Gardens and the School of Botany at The University of Melbourne. It was named in honour of Professor Pauline Ladiges AO FAA, who retired in 2010 after 18 years as Head of Botany at The University of Melbourne and is currently an Honorary Associate of the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Thanks to the generosity of private donors and the Cybec Foundation , almost $1 million was raised by the Gardens as our contribution to the Pauline Ladiges Plant Systematics Research Fellowship. This joint endowment is funded by the Royal Botanic Gardens Foundation and The University of Melbourne’s School of Botany Foundation, which will match the funds raised by the Royal Botanic Gardens.