Hawkesbury Institute Student Tim Sutton Wins The FG Swain Award

23 July 2013 

tim-sutton-lab
Tim Sutton is pictured here with colleagues in laboratories within the Hawkesbury Institute.

Students at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment are fast developing a well-earned reputation for success and excellence in research. In 2013, this trend continues with the announcement that PhD candidate, Tim Sutton, has been awarded the F.G. Swain award for his project on the ecology and evolution of fig-pollinator-parasite interactions.

This prestigious award provides a prize of $6,900 that contributes to Tim's ongoing PhD work under the supervision of Prof James Cook and Dr Markus Riegler as part of the Institute's theme Plants, Animals and Interactions.

The project examines the dynamics between the symbiotic system of fig trees, their wasp pollinators and small parasitic wasps that attack the pollinating wasps.

There is a remarkably specific interaction between these three organisms that has evolved millions of years to form an interdependent set of species that co-exist in this intimate way.

The project is looking to uncover how these plant-animal interactions have evolved over time by using the very latest Sequencing techniques in combination with field and laboratory analysis techniques. For an upcoming scientist like Tim, these and similar projects pave the way into a brilliant career in science, providing the kinds of experiences and professional skills that are increasingly valued in today's competitive science agenda.

"Within this project, I have learned alongside the very best researchers from around the world, using facilities that really are unmatched in their currency and scale", says Tim.

I have learned alongside the very best researchers from around the world, using facilities that really are unmatched in their currency and scale - Tim Sutton

"To receive this award from within the University of Western Sydney and with the excellent reputation of the Hawkesbury Institute as part of my background, that's an honour and a privilege."

The FG Swain award aims to enhance the research outcomes of doctoral students based on the Hawkesbury Campus, and promote the Hawkesbury Campus as a focus of excellence and innovation in research.

The award has been established in recognition of the significant contribution of Professor Graham Swain to Hawkesbury, first as Principal of Hawkesbury Agricultural College over the period 1972 to 1988, and then as UWS Deputy Vice-Chancellor and CEO of UWS Hawkesbury from 1989 to 1993.

In 2011, Hawkesbury Institute student Jennifer Morrow was awarded the FG Swain Prize for her work examining fruit fly control.