Jim Willis Studentships

Vacation studentships honouring the late Dr James Hamlyn Willis


Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria invites applications for vacation studentships honouring the late Dr James Hamlyn Willis, distinguished former senior member of staff at the National Herbarium of Victoria. You will be in the third or fourth year of a Science degree, with interests in plant and/or fungal systematics. The studentship will allow you to participate, under supervision, in one of the research programs at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.

There are two studentships available and each is awarded for an eight-week period during December to February, and remuneration is $2,086.54 gross per fortnight. Applications will be assessed on the merit of the applicant.

The following projects are offered for 2021/2022:

Australian truffle-like fungi: new taxa in an ecologically important, endemic family

This project will entail formally describing new taxa (genera and species) within the Mesophelliaceae (truffle-like fungi that are a major part of the diets of mycophagous mammals, such as long-footed potoroos), using morphological, ecological, and genetic data. The project will involve DNA sequence alignment, phylogenetic analysis, and collating and writing essential elements of taxonomic descriptions. The project may also involve searching for specimens in the herbarium, microscopy, and/or DNA isolation, amplification and sequencing. Formally describing these new taxa and making their DNA sequences publicly available will advance species delimitation in these fungal groups and support environmental sequencing efforts, as well as help to pinpoint specific components of the diets of endangered mammals.

Supervisors: Naveed Davoodian (03 9252 2328, Naveed.Davoodian@rbg.vic.gov.au), Teresa Lebel (Teresa.Lebel@sa.gov.au) & Tom May (Tom.May@rbg.vic.gov.au)

Variation in southern Banksia spinulosa

Banksia spinulosa (Proteaceae) is a morphologically variable taxon, that is widespread across eastern Australia (Vic, NSW, Qld). Morphological and preliminary molecular studies of B. spinulosa suggests that this concept is likely composed of several taxa. With MEL herbarium specimens and new material sourced from the field, this project will closely measure representative herbarium specimens from Victoria and analyse the resultant data in R packages to shed light on the nature of the morphological variation within the southern distribution of the species. The results may provide evidence for appropriate ranks of recognition within the species complex.

Supervisors: Laura Simmons (9252 2362, laura.simmons@rbg.vic.gov.au), Tara Hopley (9252 2706, tara.hopley@rbg.vic.gov.au) & Liz James (9252 2378, elizabeth.james@rbg.vic.gov.au)

Straightening out Deyeuxia quadriseta (Reed Bent-grass)

Deyeuxia quadriseta is the most widespread and variable of Victoria's 'bent-grasses'. Some of the variation is undoubtedly habitat-related, but there are some variants that may represent so-far formally unrecognised entities worthy of naming. The project will examine the variation by detailed measurements of critical features using the herbarium specimens at MEL and subjecting the data to an analytic routine to build the case for erecting new taxa. Some fieldwork, conditions permitting, will be undertaken to confirm patterns of variation detected from herbarium work.

Supervisors: Neville Walsh (9252 2310, neville.walsh@rbg.vic.gov.au) & Austin Brown (austinjamesbrown@gmail.com)

Apply now

For general enquiries on studentships contact Frank Udovicic (9252 2313, frank.udovicic@rbg.vic.gov.au).

Applications should include curriculum vitae (including university transcript), two referees, and a brief covering letter explaining how the applicant would benefit from the Jim Willis Studentship and how they can contribute to research at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, and reasons for preference of particular project. 

Applications (single PDF only) should be emailed to Dr Frank Udovicic, Manager Research, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, frank.udovicic@rbg.vic.gov.au, by 8 October 2021.