Young guns of STEM research win scholarships

Advanced projects by 10 outstanding Flinders University students will receive vital support from this year’s Playford Memorial Trust Scholarship program.

Playford Trust scholarships and awards aim to help students make the most of their studies, achieve their potential and contribute to South Australia’s knowledge, skills and research base.

The program’s priority areas include advanced manufacturing and new technologies, health sciences and enabling technologies, environmental sciences including water, energy and climate change, mining and resource development, and agriculture, aquaculture and food production.

Susannah Grigson receives her scholarship award from Flinders University Professor Karen Burke da Silva at the Convention Centre.

Playford Trust chairman and former SA Premier Mr Dean Brown thanked industry, government and university partners – and the enthusiastic response from students.

“This is our highest ever level of funding, which is an impressive achievement given the disruption and uncertainty caused by COVID-19,” Mr Brown says.

Established in 1983 in honour of SA’s longest-serving Premier Sir Thomas Playford, the program has supported more than 600 students in the past decade alone.

This year, the Trust and its partners are investing more than $700,000 to support about 100 new and continuing university and TAFE students during 2021. This includes more than 30 studying for undergraduate degrees, 33 Honours students and 17 PhDs – many of whom hail from regional South Australia.

For example, Flinders University Playford Trust Regional Science and Engineering Scholarship recipients Isabella Trigwell attended Whyalla’s Samaritan College, while Rory Bowles grew up on a farm near Mount Compass, and Jack Read excelled at maths while at Victor Harbor High School. Isabella aims to use her Honours research to help broaden scientific knowledge of medical applications of biotechnology.

Meanwhile Flinders University PhD scholarship recipient Isabella Reeves will use her scholarship to continue studying marine biology and conservation genomics after gaining First Class Honours for research into the population structure of killer whales in Australasian waters in 2019 – as well as the Max Clarke Prize in Science and Engineering, a University Medal and the NRM Rain Honours Scholarship.

Meanwhile, Douglas Rhodes will receive a scholarship for his Honours project in South Australian biodiversity, aspiring to focus on conservation programs connected to the Mount Lofty Ranges and Adelaide Hills where he grew up.

Flinders Professor Karen Burke da Silva presenting Mitchell Griggs with his scholarship award.

Another high achiever, Kieran Lobban, will progress his studies with the aim of gaining employment in the space or defence sectors. He has gained industry experience via a generous scholarship with a well-known local manufacturer Seeley International.

Susanna Grigson, originally from Loxton in the Riverland, moved to Adelaide in 2017 to pursue degrees in molecular biology and mathematics. Like Kieran, she has helped tutor first-year students and is also involved in the Yunggorendi Tutorial Program where she helps improve the academic outcomes of Indigenous students.

Susanna’s Honours project will investigate the evolution of bacterial communities as they migrate through the environment, also aiming to undertake a PhD to make contributions to biomedical and environmental science.

Biomedical and civil engineering research projects will also advance with Honours projects based at Tonsley, including Philippa Tsirgiotis and Adam Perryman who have both also gained inspiration from industry placements.

During her internship, fifth-year student Philippa prototyped a novel device for shoulder rehabilitation in collaboration with Global Movement Pty Ltd. She has been invited to continue this partnership for her Masters project this year, which will involve further development and testing of the device.

Ms Tsirgiotis will perform a trial of the device with patients suffering from shoulder pathologies and study users’ muscle activity during rehabilitation.

After a 20-week industry placement with The City of Holdfast Bay, Mr Perryman gained work as an undergraduate civil engineer. His Honours thesis will analyse recycled plastic aggregates in the use of eco-friendly concretes.

Mitchell Griggs will benefit from a Playford Trust Honours Scholarship to undertake a research project into the microscopic structure of the mineral pyrrhotite. It is hoped this project will develop the means necessary to prevent acid mine drainage and its environmental consequences. He has achieved High Distinctions throughout his undergraduate years and won the Michael Wills Prize in Physics and Astronomy and Flinders Prize in Physics for best results of any student enrolled in the first and second-year Flinders physics program.

Kieran Lobban, who is studying a double degree in Masters Engineering (Electronics), Bachelor Engineering (Robotics) (Honours) and Bachelor of Engineering (Computer and Network Systems) (Honours) has been awarded the Ultra Electronics Playford Trust Scholarship

The Flinders University recipients are –  Playford Trust Regional Science and Engineering Scholarships: Rory Bowles Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) (Honours), Jack Read Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) – Flexible Entry, and Isabella Trigwell Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Biotechnology):

Adelaide Hills Council / Playford Trust Scholarship: Douglas Rhodes Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Environmental Science);

Playford Trust Honours Scholarship: Mitchell Griggs Bachelor of Science (Honours) – Enhanced Program for High Achievers (Physics),  Susanna Grigson Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Enhanced Program for High Achievers) (Molecular Biology & Biochemistry) | Bachelor of Science (Mathematics), Adam Perryman Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) (Honours), and Philippa Tsirgiotis Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) (Honours) | Master of Engineering (Biomedical);

Ultra Electronics / Playford Trust Scholarship: Kieran Lobban Double degree in Masters Engineering (Electronics), Bachelor Engineering (Robotics) (Honours) |Bachelor of Engineering (Computer and Network Systems) (Honours);

Playford Trust PhD Scholarship: Isabella Reeves Doctor of Philosophy in Marine Biology and Conservation Genomics.

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Alumni College of Science and Engineering Research