Young researcher on the path to leadership

A UNIVERSITY of Tasmania (UTAS) student is one of 17 young Australians who were awarded a Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship to undertake post-graduate study at a leading university.

Matilda Brown was awarded the scholarship for her research that could have significant effects for managing climate change and its impact on biodiversity and food production.

Ms Brown is working to develop and apply cutting-edge machine learning techniques to unravel the complexities of the leaf epidermis and explore the associations between structure and ecological function.

The scholarship will support her as she undertakes a PhD in biological sciences at UTAS.

Ms Brown said she was “shocked and delighted” to have won.

“It’s just such an honour, the Future Leaders are an incredible cohort who are coming through and doing all these amazing things,” she said.

“There’s a really strong emphasis on continuing the connections we make with each other, and there’s already a sense of community and family feel between the group.”

The scholarships provide each individual up to $120,000 for research or course work studies at a graduate level, including a nine-month bespoke leadership development program and international experience.

“My project as a whole is a really broad idea that will hopefully in the long term have big implications that can be applied to a whole heap of different things,” Ms Brown said.

“It asks a really simple question – why do some things look like this and why do others look like that?

“In terms of managing the terms of climate change, understanding the physiology behind these differences will be really important.”

Westpac Bicentennial Foundation chief executive officer Susan Bannigan said the recipients came from diverse fields and backgrounds with a common goal – to shape a better future for all Australians.

“The scholarship attracts an incredibly high calibre of talented and driven individuals,” she said.

“All the 2018 scholars are passionate about one or more of the Foundation’s focus areas – innovation and technology, enabling positive social change, and strengthening Australia’s ties with Asia.

“Westpac is proud to help realise their full leadership potential.”

The 17 students will also gain lifelong membership to the Westpac 100 Scholars Network to join an incredible group of inspiring leaders.

The Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship is offered in partnership with nine universities across Australia.

It is one of five scholarships offered through the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation, which awards 100 scholarships every year.

For more information, visit http://bicentennial.westpacgroup.com.au/scholarships/future-leaders/

Caption: Westpac scholarship recipient Matilda Brown.