Skip Navigation

National Student Award

Promoting excellence in future agricultural scientists

The AEV Richardson Memorial National Student Award began in 2012 and is now an official AIA annual event. Undergraduate students who have completed an Honours research project as part of an agricultural science (or related) degree will be selected from each AIA Division of Australia. In order to compete, the selected students must provide a written piece on the background of their research topic and also present a 15 minute talk to a judging panel at the annual AIA event.

Our sponsor

AIA is proud to announce that Peracto is the sponsor of the AEV Richardson National Student Award. Peracto are one of Australia's largest private agricultural research organisations. The company provides a range of independent research, development and related scientific and technical services to private and corporate clients. Visit the Peracto website here

Who was AEV Richardson?

Professor Arnold Edwin Victor Richardson was the founding President of AIAS (now AIA) in 1935. He was born in Adelaide in 1883 and died in Melbourne in 1949. His impressive biography tells of his training at Agricultural College (Roseworthy) and Bachelor and Masters degrees at the University of Adelaide. The University of Melbourne conferred him with the degree of D.Sc. in 1924. While being an established researcher in cereal agronomy and wheat-breeding, Professor Richardson was a leader of many dimensions and levels. He was an advocate for agricultural education and agricultural policy. Read more on Professor AEV Richardson here.

2016 National Student Awards

1st Place

QLD - Chelsea Stroppiana

Chelsea Stroppiana represented Queensland at the 2016 awards. Her University of Queensland honours project is looking at compounds released from the roots of Australian native species and how they affect the breakdown of nitrogen in soils (nitrification). The long-term implication of the project is to model synthetic nitrification inhibitors to improve nitrogen use efficiency in cropping systems.

What did the research involve?

Hibiscus splendens and Solanum echinatum were examined for root exudate mediated biological nitrification inhibition (BNI) capabilities at first-step nitrification (NH4+ oxidisation to NO2-) and second-step nitrification (NO2- oxidisation to NO3-). Data was evaluated against the results for Sorghum bicolor. as positive control.

What was found?

Both the Australian native plant species demonstrated significant inhibition of nitrification. Hibiscus splendens demonstrated the strongest inhibition of NH4+ oxidization (first-step nitrification), and Solanum echinatum was the most effective at inhibiting oxidization of NO2- (second-step nitrification). Some correlation between several organic acids (OAs) identified in exudates and BNI activity was found, but did not suggest that these OAs are key BNI active compounds.

2nd Place

 TAS - Elya Richardson

Elya Richardson represented Tasmania at the 2016 awards. Her University of Tasmania/Viện Chăn Nuôi (Vietnam) honours project was focused on cassava root silage production.

What did the research involve?

The aim was to improve cassava root silage production for smallholder beef cattle producers in NW Vietnam. Excessive liquid production during the process of ensiling was identified as a problem in this system.

What was found?

- Air-drying cassava root for six hours prior to ensiling significantly reduced the liquid production of the silage, without any detrimental impact on silage pH.

- Ensiling cavassa resulted in a significant decline in hydrogen cyanide over time.

- Molasses was included to increase the fermentable carbohydrates in the silage, help offset the buffering capacity of the urea and increase palatability.

- Urea was included to increase silage non-protein nitrogen content

3rd Place

 NSW Chris Baldock

Chris Baldock will be represented NSW in the 2016 awards. His University of Sydney honours project was focused on Barley Serpin ‘Zx’ and Plant Programmed Cell Death.

What did the research involve?

Programmed cell death is a genetically controlled process used by plants to terminate their own cells. It is hypothesised that the process can be regulated or stopped by a group of proteins called serpins. My research looked at a serpin in barley known as ‘Zx’. Specifically my aims were to confirm the similarity of the serpin ‘Zx’ gene in two and six row barley, and, clone the gene to use in programmed cell death experiments.

What was found?

I found that serpin ‘Zx’ was highly similar in two and six barley and I successfully isolated and cloned the gene. The clone can now be used to over express the serpin, and test its function in cell death. If the function of the serpin is confirmed, it will be a potential avenue to manipulate programmed cell death. This is important as abiotic stresses (e.g. drought) trigger programmed cell death, therefore controlling it may provide a mechanism to build stress tolerance in barley and other crops.

People's Choice

 TAS - Elya Richardson

Elya Richardson will be represented Tasmania at the 2016 awards. Her University of Tasmania/Viện Chăn Nuôi (Vietnam) honours project was focused on cassava root silage production.

What did the research involve?

The aim was to improve cassava root silage production for smallholder beef cattle producers in NW Vietnam. Excessive liquid production during the process of ensiling was identified as a problem in this system.

What was found?

- Air-drying cassava root for six hours prior to ensiling significantly reduced the liquid production of the silage, without any detrimental impact on silage pH.

- Ensiling cavassa resulted in a significant decline in hydrogen cyanide over time.

- Molasses was included to increase the fermentable carbohydrates in the silage, help offset the buffering capacity of the urea and increase palatability.

- Urea was included to increase silage non-protein nitrogen content

Finalists

WA - Maddison Corlett

Maddison Corlett represented Western Australia in the 2016 awards. Her Murdoch University honours project was titled ‘Including biserrula chaff in the diet of sheep does not reduce methane yield’.

What did the research involve and what was found?

As biserrula in the diet increased acetate: propionate decreased, but methane yield on the basis of dry matter intake did not decrease, thus rejecting the hypothesis. There was no treatment effect over and above the percentage of fibre fractions on methane, and therefore the fibre content of biserrula needs to be further investigated.

The inability of dried biserrula to significantly reduce methane yield suggests that volatile compounds disappeared due to the conversion of biserrula into hay. Therefore, the methane reducing effect of biserrula appears to be evident only when utilised in the green state, which was seen in previous studies.

 SA - Sijia Guo

Sijia Guo represented South Australia at the 2016 awards. Her University of Adelaide honours project is looking at the effects of pre-harvest application of plant growth regulators on fruit development and ripening of capsicum annum.

What did the research involve?

The project aimed to evaluate the effects of pre-harvest applications of ethephon (ethylene precursor) and 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA, auxin analog) on and off plants.

What was found?

  1. Ethephon shortened the ripening process with early cessation of growth, reduced fresh weight, decreased fruit volume and lower total soluble solids.
  2. The efficacy of ethephon was affected by the season with low irradiance.
  3. Seasonal differences suggest photosynthetic efficacy might also determine how quickly ripening occurs, due to its effects on carotenoid synthesis.
  4. Ethephon-treated fruit harvested at partial breaker also showed colour change, primarily in the peel.

 VIC - Nickala Best

Nickala Best represented Victoria at the 2016 awards. Her La Trobe University honours project is looking at molecular methods for the detection of Dichelobacter nodous, the bacteria which causes footrotin sheep.

What did the research involve?

A new real time PCR assay was investigated to determine the diagnostic specificity in field samples when detecting virulent Dichelocbacter nodosus in sheep. This bacteria is the causative agent of footrot, a disease with severe animal welfare and economic impacts on the sheep meat and wool industries.

What was found?

The test has proved to be both more specific and more sensitive than methods currently employed in the diagnosis of footrot, and has led to the beginnings of a multi-state investigation to determine how best to use this new tool for diagnosis in the field.

 

 

Past winners

2012 - Miss Tameika Pearce (Tasmania) won the National Student Award which was presented in Adelaide as part of the AIA “Invigorating Ag” Conference. Tameika’s honours project was about fungal disease in pyrethrum. She studied the population genetics of crown rot in pyrethrum and focused on determining if a sexual cycle was present in the fungal pathogen. Tameika acknowledged that the win gave her the confidence that the research she was doing was something people are interested in.

2013 - Adam Langworthy was named the 2013 winner of a prestigious national agricultural student award. Adam was presented with the AEV Richardson Award at an Ag Institute Australia event in Devonport on Friday after being selected from a field of six finalists from all states. Adam Langworthy completed his ag science honours at the University of Tasmania last year researching the potential of a new legume suitable for saline and waterlogged areas.

2014 – Jane Kelley (Victoria) won the National Student Award for her project on “Determination of anthelmintic resistance in internal parasites of dairy cattle in Maffra, Victoria” which was presented in Melbourne on 19th November. Jane completed her Honours at Latrobe University and is now continuing the research with a PhD. Second place was awarded to Jaz Skinner (Queensland) and third to Alex John (Tasmania).

2015 - Ellen Versteegen (Victoria) won the National Student Award (NSA) for for the findings of her La Trobe University honours project “The lactational and reproductive performance of the dairy cow is critical to the future of the Australian dairy industry which was presented to the AIA National Conference in May 2015 in Brisbane. The NSA was a very tight contest, with Belinda Worland (QLD) finishing runner-up and Tori Percival (TAS) in third, while Emily Buddle (SA) took out the People’s Choice award.