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    The McPherson Family and Invergowrie Foundation PhD Scholarship for Women

    University of Melbourne

    A partnership to empower women in STEM in the Mallee Region

    The McPherson Family and Invergowrie Foundation have a proud history of supporting outstanding students at the University of Melbourne to access invaluable educational opportunities.

    Through the newly created McPherson Family and Invergowrie Foundation PhD Scholarships for Women, talented female engineers at the University are being empowered to develop critical career skills and networks by undertaking an industry placement at a new research and development hub – the Mallee Regional Innovation Centre (MRIC), supported by Regional Development Victoria in partnership with the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University.

    MRIC will combine the world-leading research capabilities of both institutions with the knowledge of regional partners, with a strong emphasis on building collaborations.

    The inaugural scholarship recipient, Anne Wang, is leading a multidisciplinary agriculture research project within MRIC – a unique opportunity to become a role model for other women wishing to pursue education and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

    How MRIC is creating collaborations and solving problems in the Mallee Region

    The aim of MRIC is to drive research and innovation across the Mildura and Swan Hill region – with a particular focus on horticulture, environment, energy and water sectors.

    MRIC Chief Executive Rebecca Wells explains that the new Centre – which is based in Mildura – expects research and development proposals to emerge from the community, including from peak industry bodies, governments and businesses, as key stakeholders come together to generate ideas.

    She adds that the Centre will prioritise research projects that address key challenges for the region. “MRIC will capitalise on existing research in the Mildura and Swan Hill regions,” explains Ms Wells. “Being place-based, the Centre will drive real impact and build capacity within communities adding a new focus on research and development for innovation.”

    Encouraging women to pursue their STEM ambitions.

    As the first recipient of the McPherson Family and Invergowrie Foundation PhD Scholarship for Women, Anne Wang is thrilled that her work within MRIC will give her the chance to collaborate with the local community.

    It’s exciting to be involved in a research project in which the community is coming together to try to solve some of the region’s biggest water, agriculture and environmental challenges,” says Anne.

    Anne’s PhD field work will shortly take her to the Mallee where she will engage with growers, peak industry bodies and horticultural organisations, in regard to monitoring and collection of data – that will form a complimentary data set that she will use in conjunction with the sensory data collected by airborne imagery collection.

    Since beginning on the 15 April, Anne has learnt laboratory methods for the quantification of pigments from leaf material that will be used as proxy for the stress detection and how to test and adapt the physical models to be used for stress detection of vegetation.

    This project is giving me the chance to learn and explore new technologies while pursuing my passionate ambition– an engineering career,” says Anne. “I hope that our work will provide inspiration for other girls and women to pursue STEM education.”

    HyperSens airborne facility consists of a light Cessna 172R Skyhawk Aircraft modified to carry Flir A655sc thermal camera, Micro-Hyperspec and High-Resolution Fluorescence sensors. The facility will be used to collect airborne imagery over anumber of horticultural crops in the Mallee region, covering thousands of hectares in a single flight.