Joanna’s bold project earns Bursary backing

Queenslander Joanna Horsfall is the latest student to reap some fitting financial rewards from the SSAA Academic Bursary Program. Twenty-four-year-old Joanna has been handed a grant worth $1000, which she will be able to put towards the costs of continuing her postgraduate course at The University of Queensland.

Joanna, who hails from the Logan City suburb of Shailer Park, is currently involved with a major research project to gain a Master of Conservation Science. The formal title is ‘A decision support framework for prioritising strategies to mitigate wildlife-vehicle collisions’. As a taster to her studies, Joanna said: “Roads and their associated activities are one of the greatest means by which human development negatively affects biodiversity. Two related effects of roads on fauna are as sources of direct mortality and as barriers to movement.”

The goal for Joanna is to complete her Masters thesis in focusing on reducing the negative impacts of roads on wildlife by developing a tool that will help decision-makers prioritise mitigation strategies that deliver the greatest conservation return on investment. The funding assistance from the SSAA has left Joanna extremely grateful in that it will ease some of the monetary burden that most students have to contend with as they embark on their educational adventures. “This Bursary will assist me financially in the payment of my course fees of $4525,” she said.

Joanna is carrying out her research in relation to Redland City, the peri-urban area that comprises urban, industrial and agricultural areas as well as remnant bushland of mainly eucalypt-dominated vegetation. The location is southeast of Brisbane and features a network of arterial, sub-arterial and local roads with speed limits in the ranges of 50 to 90km/h.

Redland City is home to one of the most significant urban koala populations in Australia and vehicle-wildlife collision mitigation is one of the district’s key conservation priorities. To analyse the problems, Joanna has outlined a step-by-step approach, which opens with defining the predicament and objectives before moving on to list and weight target species, register mitigation strategies, calculate the costs of any directives, predict benefits and also consider constraints. Finally, comes the need to rank and select strategies.

It is a far-reaching and ambitious undertaking, which Joanna began in 2016 and hopes to complete in December 2017. Already she has received two Commendations for Academic Excellence from the Dean of the University for her coursework record and the work she has completed.

Once Joanna was told the good news about her Bursary success, she had time to reflect on the outcome. “It really helps because the course has been a real challenge so I am very grateful,’ she said. “I am not sure what my long-term future holds but I would really like to work in some areas to do with the protection of native wildlife.”

For further information or to apply for a SSAA Academic Bursary Program grant, please contact our Logistics and Support Officer.

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