Canadian student wins award to study down under

by Stephanie Abba

Brett, 28, is currently a PhD student at the University of Tasmania (UTas). His studies at UTas were made possible by the Thomas A. Crawford Memorial Tasmania University Scholarship, which covers tuition costs at UTas for a student who wishes to pursue a doctoral degree by research.

Stephanie: How did you find out about the Thomas Crawford award?
Brett: The biology graduate secretary at my university in Canada forwarded me an e-mail with all of the details pertaining to the scholarship.

Stephanie: What was the application process like?
Brett: The process was very straightforward. It was simply a matter of having all of the appropriate forms filled out. I devised a research proposal and sent it to the scholarship committee at UTas, along with my letters of reference and a modified version of my c.v. [résumé].

Stephanie: What tips do you have for other students applying for awards?
Brett: In order to get considered for any award, applicants must sell themselves. Based on this advice, it is imperative to design a proposal that will both compliment and benefit the school to which you are applying. For example, a good proposal will incorporate the focus and abilities of the school with the skills and knowledge of the applicant. No matter how brilliant you feel a proposal is, you have to be considered a good fit for the school before you will be considered a good fit for the scholarship.

In addition, you have to make your proposal and c.v. as clear and as brief as you possibly can. It is always a good idea to have others proofread your application before you send it in.

Stephanie: In what field and at what school did you do your undergrad work?
Brett: I did my undergraduate honours degree and my master's in biology at the University of Waterloo. As part of my master's degree, my lab research was done at Wilifrid Laurier University, and I did some course work at the University of Guelph.

Stephanie: What are you studying now, and where could you go doing studies in this field?
Brett: Currently, I am using mutant pea plants to study the role of plant hormones in the plant-microbe symbiotic relationship known as nodulation. Upon completion of my PhD, I plan to continue in academia, doing research and teaching at the university level. Alternatively, there are many well-paying jobs available in related fields such as forestry, horticulture and agriculture, in both private and government sectors.

Stephanie: What is life in Tasmania like? How are you adjusting to life abroad? What are the major cultural, social, etc. differences that you're having to learn to live with?
Brett: Life in Tasmania is brilliant; it's very laid-back, cozy and friendly. In many regards, Tasmania is not that different from Canada and so it was not a huge adjustment to move here. The restaurants and pubs are nice and the people are great too. The biggest difference that anyone from North America will notice right away is in the sayings and slang terms that are not used back home; but that's part of the fun in moving to a new country!

Certain items are more costly when compared to prices in Canada and it will be very difficult to live without Halloween, but I think I will manage! All-in-all, Tasmania is a wonderful place; it's easy to adjust to and a safe, friendly place to live.

Find out more about this and other scholarships at

Modified on April 23, 2009