Phyllis Montgomerie Award Winners

The Phyllis Montgomerie Award has been presented to promising young scholars since its inauguration in 2015. We commend the ongoing successes of past recipients and the important contribution they are making through their research and work to the lives of people in Australia, around the Commonwealth and beyond.   



2018 - Georgia Troup

Georgia Troup received First Class Honours in Zoology at the ANU before going to Africa to join the Save the Elephant (STE) campaign, an NGO based in Kenya. A few years later, as a PhD candidate in the Fenner School of the Environment & Society at the ANU, she embarked on her PhD research, in collaboration with STE in Kenya’s Tsavo National Park, home to one of Africa’s largest elephant populations. Her study, to investigate the nutritional needs, social structure and foraging behaviour of crop-raiding elephants, is designed to fit within an overall research strategy conducted by STE, working with farmers to find solutions to why some elephants raid crops. Human/elephant conflict has become a significant conservation concern with droughts more common and lasting longer. This has made the conflict worse and people have lost their lives trying to protect their homes and crops. It is expected that the knowledge gained through the project can be adapted to similar sites in Africa and Asia, so that farmers can reduce crop-raiding in their own communities. The fieldwork phase of Georgia’s study is now complete and she is back in Canberra working on her findings for the completion of her thesis.


2017 - Mitchell McMaster

Mitchell McMaster was a PhD candidate in the Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing at the ANU when he received the Phyllis Montgomerie Award in 2017 in support of his work on dementia research. This involved conducting a randomised controlled trial in older adults with mild cognitive impairment to find out if multiple factors that are known to increase the risk of dementia can be countered through physical exercise, diet, mental stimulation and increased social contact to improve cognitive function and halt further decline. People with mild cognitive impairment are one of the biggest risk groups for dementia. At the time of Mitchell’s trial it was believed to be the first of its kind among this group. Before commencing his doctoral studies, Mitchell had worked in the private sector and in research centres affiliated with hospitals and universities. He is currently back at home in Brisbane writing up his thesis.


2016 - Stephen Fairweather

Stephen Fairweather had completed a Bachelor of Philosophy (Science) degree with First Class Honours at the ANU before commencing his PhD studies in the laboratory of Dr Stefan Bröer in the University’s School of Biomedical Sciences and Biochemistry. There, Stephen joined a team studying apicomplexan parasites that cause some of the most devastating diseases affecting human populations and livestock industries. These include malaria, toxoplasmosis, cryptosporidiosis and tick fever. For their survival, apicomplexan parasites rely on taking amino acids from their hosts e.g. humans, cattle, poultry etc. to use themselves, using their own ‘transporter’ proteins. Because these proteins are unique to the group - and not found in their hosts or any other parasites – they provide a target for drug design aimed at treating the diseases they cause. Since completing his PhD, Stephen has continued this work with the team in the Bröer Laboratory as a Post-Doctoral Fellow. He has co-authored a number of papers published in international scientific journals.


2015 - Claudia Benham 

Claudia Benham was a PhD candidate in the Fenner School of the Environment and Society at the Australian National University (ANU) when she applied for the Award. At that time, her research was exploring interactions between socio-economic and ecological change in complex coastal systems. This involved examining the impact and management of gas development in coastal social-ecological systems within northern Australia and the Pacific region with a focus on tropical seagrass ecosystems. Before commencing her doctoral studies, Claudia had worked for the Australian Government in water and environmental policy and marine conservation. Since attaining her PhD, Claudia has been at James Cook University, lecturing in the College of Science and Engineering. She has co-authored a number of papers for international scientific journals.