Student success stories

3 AUGUST 2019

Congratulations to our amazing students who recently completed their PhD and Masters research, and garnered coveted awards! Check out their discoveries, and the impact-driven research and study opportunities on offer with our team.

Helping urban trees to grow successfully

Photo of Peter May in greenhouse.
Peter May.

Peter Somerville, has just submitted his PhD thesis, looking at urban trees and methods to convert hostile urban soils into places that trees can grow successfully.

Supervised by A/Prof Steve Livesley, Dr Claire Farrell and Peter May, Peter focused on combining soils with organic waste products. His research highlights the importance of soil types and species selection when considering what type of soil remediation should be undertaken to improve tree growth.

Read more about Peter’s research.

Exploring habitat and seed ecology of the vulnerable swamp everlasting – Xerochrysum palustre

Naomi Sunner has completed a short-research project as part of her Master of Environment, with supervisors including Nick Williams, and Meg Hirst from the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Naomi conducted field surveys and germination trials of the swamp everlasting – Xerochrysum palustre, a nationally vulnerable, perennial herb which grows in swamps and wetlands.

Results of germination trials show that X. palustre can germinate under a wide range of conditions, but loss of habitat due to altered hydrology, weed invasion, clearing and reduced rainfall continues to threaten this species.

Photo of the swamp everlasting, Xerochrysum palustre, grows around wetlands and swamps.
The swamp everlasting Xerochrysum palustre, grows around wetlands and swamps.

An investigation of techniques to restore the native grassy understory at Royal Park, Parkville

As part of her Master of Urban Horticulture, Katherine Horsfall has completed a study of methods for increasing the establishment success of native grasses under eucalyptus tree canopies. Katherine’s supervisors included A/Prof Nick Williams, A/Prof Steve Livesley and John Delpratt.

Using experimental plots, Katherine found that the addition of seeds (direct seeding) combined with irrigation and a 1cm layer of sand had positive effects on recruitment and establishment. The addition of sugar, as a form of carbon, had a slight, but non-significant effect and mulching was found to minimise exotic weed species. These results demonstrate that there is significant potential to increase native species abundance under eucalypts in urban parkland using direct seeding.

Photo of experimental plots for investigating native understorey restoration in Royal Park, Melbourne.
Experimental plots for investigating native understorey restoration in Royal Park, Melbourne.

Student awards

Dean ShriekeDr Betty Elliott Horticulture Scholarship
The Maurice and Helen Wood Memorial Scholarship
Pei-Wen ChungDr Betty Elliott Horticulture Scholarship
The Frank Keenan Scholarships
Claire KenefickDr Betty Elliott Horticulture Scholarship
Elspeth LumsdenThe Dr Ray Marginson Prize
Julia SchillerThe Frank Keenan Scholarships
Lubaina SoniThe Frank Keenan Scholarships

Find out more about postgraduate research and study with the Green Infrastructure Research Group.