Alumni Updates

Nicholas Booth – Sustainable agriculture

2018 Playford Trust Honours Scholarship

Every year the agricultural industry applies close to 100 million tonnes of nitrogen fertilisers to cropping systems, this comes with high costs and is a major source of pollution.

However, legumes such as chickpea and soybean have a symbiotic relationship with a soil bacterium allowing them to acquire their nitrogen requirements from the air we breathe.

I am extremely interested by this interaction and how legumes are able to exchange photosynthetic carbon with the nitrogen captured by the bacteria.

My research has focused on the transport proteins that facilitate this exchange, while the process is well understood the specific proteins involved have not been found.

During my candidature I have been able to identify a number of these proteins which provide novel targets for enhancement of nitrogen fixation. This research is fundamental in the sustainable agricultural model, as a society we need to meet our current food requirements without compromising the ability of future generations.

For this to be achievable, we must limit out reliance on synthetic nitrogen fertilisers and instead enhance the naturally occurring processes.

During my PhD candidature I have had the opportunity to present my research at several national conferences where I have been able to grow my network and improve my career outlook. Many of these opportunities would not have been finically possible without the support of the Playford Trust.


More Alumni Updates

Susan Lee – Environmental pioneer

2006 Playford Trust PhD Environmental Scholarship
I was the first student to receive a Playford Trust Environment Scholarship in 2006. Studies in the environment tend to include a lot of fieldwork and trips away from civilisation, so the scholarship really helped me with these costs!

Lucas (Tuan) Tran – Energy Engineer

2021 Playford Trust/Cooper Energy Petroleum Engineering Scholarship
In 2017, I came to Australia as an international student from Vietnam to pursue a world-class education in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Adelaide. After finishing my Honours degree, I began my PhD project…

Robert Trott – Exoskeleton and physiological measurement

2017 Playford Trust PhD Scholarship
Robbie is now working as a Research Fellow at the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute (AITI) – a national leader in industry and workplace innovation research – and he’s based at Flinders University.

Bec Pedler – R&D technician, Clean Seas Seafood

2019 Playford Trust Regional Science & Engineering Scholarship
Marine mollusc extracts represent an almost entirely unexploited source of broad-spectrum antivirals against human viruses. My Honours project involved assessing the hemolymph (blood fluid) from the Greenlip abalone and Pacific oyster for antiviral activity against Human Coronavirus…

Alexander Makarowsky – Maths modelling and energy

2018 Codan/Playford Trust Engineering Scholarship
The year after winning his scholarship, Alex joined the company that sponsored him – Codan/Minelab Electronics. There he used mathematical modelling to optimise the geometry of metal detector coils.

Joe Kupke – Man of the trees

2018 Playford Trust/TAFE SA Award
At the time Joe received his Playford Trust Award, he was employing just two staff in his arborist business, Adelaide Hills Tree Services. Now there are 10 on the team…

Phiala Shanahan – Professor of Physics at MIT

2011 Scantech/Playford Trust scholarship
In 2020, respected Science News magazine named Phiala one of its Top 10 elite young scientists ‘pushing the boundaries of scientific enquiry’. All of those honoured…

Georgina Duguid – Structural design engineer

2018 Playford Trust Honours Scholarship
Having completed my Bachelor of Civil Engineering at Flinders University in 2018, I am working as a structural design engineer with Mineral Technologies/Downer EDI – the company…

Michael Dello-Lacovo – Space scientist

2014 AusIMM/Playford Trust Honours Scholar
I received the AusIMM/Playford Trust Scholarship for my Honours degree in geophysics in 2014 for the thesis topic ‘heat flow and geothermal energy in South Australia’….


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