Jim Willis Studentships

Vacation studentships honouring the late Dr James Hamlyn Willis


Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria invites applications for vacation studentships honouring the late Dr James Hamlyn Willis, distinguished former senior member of staff at the National Herbarium of Victoria. You will be in the third or fourth year of a Science degree, with interests in plant and/or fungal systematics. The studentship will allow you to participate, under supervision, in one of the research programs at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.

There are three studentships available and each is awarded for an eight-week period during December to February, and remuneration is $2,086.54 gross per fortnight. Applications will be assessed on the merit of the applicant.

The following projects are offered for 2022/2023:

Should Australian Hedgehog Fungi be Echidna Fungi?

Hydnum is a cosmopolitan genus of fleshy spine fungi. For many years, Australian material has been considered conspecific with Hydnum repandum from the Northern Hemisphere, known colloquially as the Hedgehog Fungus. Recent DNA sequencing indicates that there are numerous species in the Hydnum repandum group, often with distributions restricted to particular continents. It is likely that Australasian collections represent species endemic to the region. In this project, the extensive collections of Hydnum in the National Herbarium of Victoria will be examined across morphological, molecular and ecological features. This information will be integrated into an ongoing project to produce a modern treatment of the Australian species, including assessment of two existing names in the genus based on type material from Australia.

Supervisors: Tom May (9252 2319, tom.may@rbg.vic.gov.au), Luke Vaughan and Gareth Holmes

Turbotaxonomy of Australian macrofungi

Numerous Australian fungi await formal description. Many novel species of fungi are already collected and sitting in the
shelves of fungaria. However, it can take many years before new species are formally described and documented.
Turbotaxonomy (“Accelerated Taxonomy”) aims to speed up the time between collecting and naming and also the rate of
description of novel species. In this project, specimens of various macrofungi including Callistosporium, Cortinarius and
Pseudobaeospora will be documented for macro- and microscopic characters. This information will be integrated with DNA
sequence data. The project aims to produce publications on new species but also to contribute to the development of efficient
workflows for processing specimens and data.

Supervisors: Tom May (9252 2319, tom.may@rbg.vic.gov.au), Luke Vaughan and Gareth Holmes

Producing a multi-access key for the Victorian leafy liverworts

VicFlora aims to provide a comprehensive online guide to all Victorian plants. Multi-access keys are primary tools for the identification of bryophytes by experts as well as novices. With the VicFlora moss extension now completed, the next step is to add the liverworts. The ‘leafy liverworts’ (Order Jungermanniales) are the most species diverse lineage, being represented in Victoria by around 180 species. This order forms a logical basis for a multi-access key and will be the focus of this project. Construction of the key will require selection of characters that distinguish species and scoring each character for each species using published literature along with microscopy of herbarium collections. Photographs taken through the microscope and in the field will be linked to the key to illustrate the characters and their states. Once completed, the key will be integrated into VicFlora for public access.

Supervisor: Daniel Ohlsen (03 9252 2369, daniel.ohlsen@rbg.vic.gov.au)

Producing a multi-access key for the Victorian hornworts and thallose liverworts

This additional project will be offered in the scenario that two of the three successful applicants prefer to work on plant
projects rather than fungi projects. Like the previously proposed leafy liverwort key project, this newly proposed project will
also involve the construction of a multi-access key to be added to VicFlora using similar methods required for the leafy liverwort project. The hornworts and thallose liverworts comprise around 100 species in Victoria. Both have pad-like photosynthetic parts and form a logical grouping to base a multi-access key on. A multiaccess key will be available for all Victorian bryophytes in VicFlora upon completion of the two multiaccess key projects.

Supervisor: Daniel Ohlsen (03 9252 2369, daniel.ohlsen@rbg.vic.gov.au)

Apply now

For general enquiries on studentships contact Frank Udovicic (9252 2313, frank.udovicic@rbg.vic.gov.au).

Applications should include a curriculum vitae (including university transcript), two referees, and a brief cover letter explaining how the applicant would benefit from the Jim Willis Studentship and how they can contribute to research at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, and reasons for their preference of a particular project. 

Applications (single PDF only) should be emailed to Dr Frank Udovicic, Manager Research, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, frank.udovicic@rbg.vic.gov.au, by 14 October 2022.