2011 L’Oréal Fellows update

Women in Science

Tracy Ainsworth, Eve McDonald-Madden and Georgina Such.

The three L’Oréal Fellows for 2011 have been busy since they were announced on 23 August 2011.

Eve McDonald-Madden is in France, working with researchers at the National Institute for Agricultural Research to develop new strategies for the management of the impacts of climate change.

Thanks to her Fellowship, she’s able to have her son in childcare for four days a week, which has allowed her to take on leadership roles at the ARC Centre for Excellence for Environmental Decisions and the National Environmental Research Program (NERP) Environmental Decisions Hub. As a Chief Investigator, she has been mentoring new researchers and students and working behind the scenes to keep things running.

Eve was also co-organiser of a special symposium on adaptive management and climate change at the International Congress on Conservation Biology in Auckland last December. She hopes to present a paper on managing the unexpected consequences of climate change on biodiversity at conferences in New York and Melbourne. And she’s waiting to hear back on an ARC Discovery Grant for the next phase of her research – to simplify decision-making in biodiversity management.

Georgina Such has taken on two research students supported by her Fellowship. They’re helping her to understand how nano-engineered capsules carrying drugs and genes can be directed to the right part of a cell. Georgina is working to design a capsule which can travel within cells more easily. She has also designed a quicker method for constructing the capsules.

The fellowship has allowed Georgina to spend more time in the lab. She’s used part of the funds to have her daughter in childcare for an extra day per week. The University of Melbourne has also supported her through their three-year Women in Research Fellowship.

Late last year Georgina was featured in The Age’s annual list of the top 100 most influential, creative and inspirational Melburnians. She was invited to speak at Bio21’s Nano-in-Medicine workshops, and the Nanomedicine 2012 conference.

Tracy Ainsworth has been diving on the Great Barrier Reef and in the Coral Sea, conducting a survey of diversity in coral. She’s been looking at coral in the mesophotic – or twilight – zone up to 100 metres underwater, where there’s very little light from the surface. She’s collected more than 400 samples from 250 different species of coral. But her work now will focus on one species, Acropora granulosa, and she’ll be looking at how this coral lives in symbiosis with bacterial communities.

Tracy has also been awarded a $20,000 grant by the Ian Potter Foundation and a $20,000 Queensland International Fellowship which will allow her to travel to America to conduct further research on coral-microbe symbiosis and to learn more about bioinformatics. She’s published three papers on her recent research.