Wins for fiction and tree drought research

October 26, 2012

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Murdoch University post-graduates have taken three awards at the 2012 Graduate Women WA Awards.

Now in its 90th year, Graduate Women WA is an apolitical, non-governmental organisation committed to supporting the education of women in Western Australia.

PhD candidate Emma Steel took the $4388 Graduate Women (WA) Open Scholarship to help fund research into how the drying climate is affecting local Jarrah forests.

“Nowhere else in the world is there a forest of this stature in an area of such low rainfall. I’m looking at trees and soil conditions at five sites in Monadnocks Conservation Park to understand why the massive collapse occurred in 2010 and what we can do going forward,” Ms Steel said.

“This scholarship allows me to look at soil depth and moisture, which requires special equipment. I wouldn’t have been able to add this dimension to my research without the financial support.”

PhD candidate Lynn Gumb won the $4000 Graduate Women (WA) Jillian Bradshaw Bursary to fund research for a novel based on the true story of Irish women captured by slave traders and sent to America as sex slaves during the Cromwellian period.

“I’ve always been interested in Irish history, and a few years ago I came across letters from Henry Cromwell to Parliament asking for money to collect a thousand women to send to Virginia and Barbados to be ‘a comfort’ to the planters. The more I dug into the story, the more fascinating it became,” Ms Gumb said.

“I’ve conducted research in Ireland – primarily Sligo – and this grant means I can now go to Virginia to complete the work and tell the other side of the story.”

PhD Candidate Helena Kadmos received $1950 through the Graduate Women (WA) Joyce Riley Scholarship for a critical study of how the short story cycle is being used to tell stories about women’s ordinary lives. She is also writing a story cycle of her own.

“I spent a month last year researching and writing in Sydney – where part of my work is set – and this money gives me the chance to go back and check settings and details,” Ms Kadmos said

Ms Kadmos said she and Ms Gumb have benefited from the guidance of their supervisor, Dr Anne Surma, who encouraged them to apply for the WA Graduate Women WA Awards as well as Murdoch University’s Booth and Eveline Bursary, which both have won.

The 2012 Graduate Women WA Awards took place on Tuesday, October 23 at St Catherine’s College, Perth. For more details, go here.

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