An evolutionary biologist fascinated with animal behaviour who hopes to help tackle global problems such as climate change and a psychologist who is working towards advancing our understanding of depression and anxiety have been named recipients of the 2017 Forrest Research Foundation Fellowships at The University of Western Australia.
Giovanni Polverino, who completed his PhD at Humboldt University of Berlin, will join Julie Ji, who completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge, in accepting the prestigious fellowships announced by the Forrest Research Foundation.
The fellowships are available to international and Australian early-career researchers who wish to pursue their post-doctoral research at any one of Western Australia’s five universities.
Dr Polverino said he was delighted to receive a unique opportunity to join The University of Western Australia and progress important research in the fields of behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology.
“Animal behaviour has fascinated me since I was a child when I used to spend most of my time observing animals on my family’s little farm just outside Rome,” Dr Polverino said.
“My research will investigate the evolutionary mechanisms behind the ecological success of invasive fish over native ones to predict different species’ response to climate change.”
Dr Ji said she was extremely grateful and proud to be a 2017 Forrest Research Foundation Fellowship recipient.
“I believe scientists have a unique and vital role to play in generating new solutions to complex and large-scale problems in society,” she said.
“What has particularly fascinated me, and what my research will focus on, is how depressive states can alter our capacity to access past emotional experiences and to simulate hypothetical ones in the future.”
In October 2013, the Forrests made what is believed to be the largest single philanthropic donation in Australian history – $65 million to attract the best minds to Western Australia. The donation included $50 million for the establishment of the Forrest Research Foundation to fund scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships across all five WA universities. The initiative has since been expanded by Andrew and Nicola Forrest, with a further $65 million commitment made to the Forrest Research Foundation.
Andrew and Nicola Forrest said they were thrilled to appoint such outstanding and inspiring early career researchers as the 2017 Forrest Fellows.
“Their research will drive forward the boundaries of human knowledge, and will bring benefits now and in the future to people and communities here in WA and around the world,” Andrew Forrest said.
Nicola Forrest added that appointing the inaugural Forrest Fellows was an exciting step forward for the Forrest Research Foundation.
“We look forward to following their collaboration with the Forrest Scholars and the outcomes of their research,” she said.