PhD candidate wins prestigious award 

CDU PhD candidate Gill Ainsworth is working to conserve some of Australia’s rare birds

A Charles Darwin University PhD candidate has won the prestigious Nature Conservancy Applied Conservation Award 2011 to help further her research into conserving some of Australia’s rare birds.

The Nature Conservancy and the Ecological Society of Australia established the award to fund a postgraduate scholarship in the field of applied conservation science. For the past three years, a grant has been awarded to support research directed towards practical conservation.

Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods’ PhD candidate Gill Ainsworth said the award, valued at $4,300,  came at a crucial time and would be used to fund her final case study, which would explore the social values of the endangered Carnaby’s and Baudin’s cockatoos in south-west Western Australia.

“What is so exciting about this award is that it supports my ambition to develop a creative communications strategy for distributing my research findings,” she said.

Ms Ainsworth has been invited to attend the Ecological Society of Australia conference (ESA11) in Hobart in November this year to receive her award, and will also attend the ESA12 in Melbourne next year to present her research.

Gill’s principal supervisor, CDU Senior Research Fellow and environmental sociologist Dr Heather Aslin, said Gill’s success in obtaining the Nature Conservancy Applied Conservation Award recognised her continuing hard work and her entrepreneurial spirit.

“The award is a gratifying recognition of how important it is to focus on the social, cultural and institutional dimensions of wildlife conservation, as well as the biological and ecological ones,” Dr Aslin said. “Wildlife conservation is a human endeavour and is fundamentally linked to how we use and value wildlife and its habitats – this is what Gill’s PhD is all about.”