John A McKenzie / Selby Scientific Foundation Awards 2019

  • The Foundation established an additional award in 2005 at the University of Melbourne to be presented at the faculty of Science annual Dean’s Awards function. Named the John A McKenzie / Selby Scientific Foundation Award it provides continuing recognition of Professor McKenzie’s seven years of distinguished service as Dean of the Faculty.

    Awarded to a student who has completed the requirements for the Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Biomedicine, and is pursuing one of the following: a research training program in the Master of Science, the Postgraduate Diploma in Science or the final year of the degree of Bachelor of Science with honours or Bachelor of Biomedicine with honours, in the Department of Genetics.

    The Foundation congratulates this year's award winner:

    img University of Melbourne

  • University of Melbourne
    Awarded on 01/06/2020

    Navya’s research describes the state of sampling in publicly available RNA-seq studies of chimpanzees, which tend to be worse in accounting to diversity. Chimpanzees are often used as a basis of genetic comparison to understand more about human evolution and human-specific traits, however, there is great amount of genetic diversity within the chimpanzee species - the 4 subspecies are far more distinct from each other than different populations of humans. Not acknowledging this risks incomplete comparisons. There is also inconsistency in the labelling of chimpanzees used for research and a limited population available to sample from, which means that often the same chimpanzee is used in different research labs under different names. The true number of chimpanzees being studied is smaller than we might expect. Navya will characterize this at the ancestral-level (are all subspecies being represented?) as well as the individual level (what is the true number of chimpanzees for which we have RNA-seq data?).

    Navya finds the acknowledgement and support provided by this award incredibly motivating:

    ‘The research/academic path is full of rejection which can be frustrating. This encouragement to continue pursuing my goal is therefore very meaningful to me. As someone on a limited budget and trying not burden their parents, this award has provided considerable financial relief, especially given the current global situation. It has allowed me to focus on my research during an intensive honours year without having to worry about rent and bills, and having to split time with another part-time job. I can focus my efforts entirely on my project, and I hope to deliver a satisfying thesis and enter a PhD program next year.’

    Thank you!

    September 2020

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    img Navya Shukla_McKenzie Selby 2020.jpg