Kathryn Napier has won the 2010 Fulbright Western Australia Scholarship, following in the footsteps of many prominent people, including writer Umberto Eco, former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, President and CEO of Intel Craig Barrett. A total of 39 Fulbright alumni are Nobel Prizewinners, while 60 have won a Pulitzer Prize.
Kathryn will spend 12 months at the University of Wyoming researching the relationship between birds and mistletoes.
Mistletoes are an important source of food and shelter for a range of animals in Australian forests and woodlands, but little is known about the relationship between these plants and birds.
“I aim to identify the bird species that eat mistletoe fruit, assess the nutritional importance of mistletoe to the bird community and to improve our understanding of mistletoe biology,” Kathryn said.
Although this project concentrates on mistletoe dispersers in Western Australia, it also has national significance in increasing the knowledge base for the management of mistletoes as a keystone resource.
Kathryn has a BSc with 1st class Honours in Biomedical Science and a BSc in Mathematics and Statistics from Murdoch University. She has won various research awards and scholarships, including the Stewart Leslie bird research award, Holsworth Wildlife research endowment, and Jean Gilmore postgraduate research bursary.
The prestigious Fulbright program is the largest educational scholarship of its kind, created by US Senator J. William Fulbright and the US Government in 1946. Aimed at promoting mutual understanding through educational exchange, it operates between the US and 150 countries. In Australia, the scholarships are funded by the Australian and US Governments and corporate partners and administered by the Australian-American Fulbright Commission in Canberra.
Kathryn is one of 24 talented Australians to be recognised as a Fulbright Scholar in 2010.