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Westpac Scholars Trust to back vital climate research

12 July 2022


Westpac is expanding its signature research funding initiative to include a new focus on Scholars addressing the impact of climate change.

Established in 2016, the $100 million Westpac Scholars Trust has a commitment to award 100 scholarships every year, forever.

The program backs research and social initiatives in four key areas; technology and innovation, strengthening Australia-Asia ties, creating positive social change, and now, ensuring a sustainable future.

Acting CEO of Westpac Scholars Trust, Amy Lyden, says the addition of the new sustainable futures funding priority elevates the importance of backing the next generation of leaders who are driving innovative climate change solutions.

“Westpac Scholars Trust invests in young Australians working to address key challenges and opportunities that will help our nation prosper.

“Climate change is one of our most pressing global challenges, so we’ve introduced a fourth funding priority to support scholars doing important work on building a sustainable future,” Ms Lyden said.

Scholarships are awarded to outstanding students, researchers and social innovators in partnership with 14 leading universities across the country. The scholarships include:

  • Westpac Research Fellowship. Supporting early career researchers embarking on ground-breaking projects.
  • Westpac Future Leaders. Post-graduate study for exceptional thinkers who have ambitious ideas.
  • Westpac Social Change Fellowship. Focused on the growth and development of established social innovators leading social change initiatives.
  • Westpac Young Technologists. Supporting undergraduates passionate about technology and its potential for good.
  • Westpac Asian Exchange. An opportunity for undergraduates with a genuine interest in Asia and Australia’s success in the region to study abroad.

This year, for the first time since before the pandemic, scholars from the past three years will gather in Sydney for the annual Scholar’s Summit, where they will hear from a range of speakers including Westpac Group CEO Peter King.

“We’ve worked closely with our university partners and Westpac to deliver transformational programs that not only challenge the Scholars’ thinking, but also increases their access to new networks and opportunities,” added Ms Lyden.

Among this year’s recipients are Dr Shawna Foo and Dr Hamish Clarke who have each been awarded a 2022 Westpac Research Fellowship, valued at almost $1 million in total.

In partnership with The University of Sydney, Dr Shawna Foo will receive $542,000 to support her research that seeks to better understand threats to coral reef existence.

“I’ve always been fascinated by animals surviving in extreme environments, and with climate change threatening the existence of marine ecosystems my overarching focus is understanding the potential of animals to adapt to ocean change, and to identify factors that influence resilience to climate stress at both a species and population level,” Dr Foo said.

Dr Hamish Clarke, a Research Fellow at The University of Melbourne, will receive $451,000 to support his studies around climate change impacts on the critical drivers of bushfire.

“Studying bushfire and climate change has given me plenty of opportunities to work across disciplines and with industry, government and the public, and my career goal is to bring science and society closer together.

“I believe it is by tapping into this collective expertise and providing a holistic perspective on the nature of bushfire risk that we can collectively take sustainable and effective action,” Dr Clarke said.

Since its inception, Westpac Scholars Trust has awarded $35 million to more than 660 scholars.

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