The Royal Society of Queensland Research Fund

Round 5, 2023 – The Walter Fisher Grant(s) for Mycology Research

The Society is pleased to announce a pool of $20,000 within The Royal Society of Queensland Research Fund, donated by family of Walter Fisher for one or more curiosity-led projects with a focus on microscopic or macroscopic fungi. The Society envisages up to 4 grants of up to $5000 each, but other configurations will be considered. The perspective of the 2023 Walter Fisher grantee(s) will lie within the general purview of mycology, within the natural, physical, social or biomedical sciences or natural history. Cross-disciplinary studies will be welcomed.

Applications close at midnight on 5 March 2023. A flyer is available for distribution to interested researchers, naturalists or students. An application form with selection criteria and contact details is also available.

Round 4, 2021

The awardees of grants under Round 4 were announced at the Society’s AGM on 9 December 2021. We congratulate:

Ms Alexandria Mattinson, University of Queensland, for a project “Identification of novel peptides in Cavendish
banana during fusarium wilt infection”.

Dr Tobias Smith, University of Queensland, for a project “Assessing the distribution and conservation status of Australia’s rarest stingless bee, Tetragonula davenporti.

The Trevor Clifford Bequest

The estate of Life Member the late Trevor Clifford has generously donated funding to support two more projects this year:

Dr David Nielsen, Queensland University of Technology, for a project “Queensland’s Gardener: Walter Hill”.

Ms Cassandra Rowe, James Cook University, for the “Mua Island Garden Project: Reconstructing plant management practices in Western Torres Strait”.


It is proposed to publish details of the applications by the runners-up with a view to encouraging donors to support those projects. Watch this space.

Round 3, 2020

The Council was pleased to award a grant to Ms Sophie Walker of James Cook University for a project entitled “Mapping coastal wetland extent, heterogeneity and use by aquatic fauna using UAV (drone) technology to inform applied environmental management of tropical wetland”. The aims of this project are to:

  1. Map broad and fine scale coastal habitat heterogeneity
  2. Analyse ways in which marine fauna use fine and broad scale elements of coastal habitats.

Unlike satellite imagery, UAV collection of imagery is flexible and at the discretion of the individual, allowing managers to match image survey design to the needs of the project. This project will examine ways fauna move between and within habitats; and how complexity of those habitats is utilised in estuaries. Elucidating how these habitats are connected and used by species will benefit management of all species that utilise and reside in the intertidal coastal zone.

The grant will enable Ms Walker to extend research already completed on other ecosystems (e.g. coral reefs) to intertidal areas and mudflats, which comparatively have been under-studied. Additionally, the work will be at the intersection of two disciplines; remote sensing and elucidation of community structure. This is currently held back by low resolution of satellite imagery. Drones will work to fill this gap in a way that is cost effective, efficient and safer than traditional field work.

Round 2, 2019

Two applications stood out from a strong field.

Koala microbiomes by Dr Michaela Blyton of the University of Queensland.

“Throughout their wide geographic range, koalas always eat Eucalyptus leaves. Few animals can stomach let alone survive on these fibrous, toxic leaves and koalas are thought to rely on their gut microbiomes to help them digest their nutritionally poor diets. Our research has revealed that the microbes that make up the koalas’ gut microbiomes vary over their range with koalas from proximate populations having more similar microbiomes compared to koalas from opposite ends of the continent.

We are delighted that the Australian Koala Foundation agreed to sponsor this award. This has enabled the Society to make a second grant, which coincidentally was also on a koala theme.

Koala Retrovirus infection by Dr Bonnie Quigley, University of the Sunshine Coast.

“The survival of the koala is under serious threat… A major contributor to this decline is disease, with Chlamydia widely recognised as the major infectious threat and the relatively recently discovered retrovirus, Koala Retrovirus, a threat itself and worse when combined with Chlamydia. Koala Retrovirus is from the same family of viruses as HIV and has been detected in all Southeast Queensland koalas tested to date.”

Dr Quigley’s research has been published open access – see the article “Koala Retrovirus in Northern Australia Shows a Mixture of Stable Endogenization and Exogenous Lineage Diversification within Fragmented Koala Populations”

Inaugural Call for Applications

The first call for applications was launched by Emeritus Prof. Trevor Clifford OAM, Honorary Life Member on 5 June 2018 at the Global Change Institute, University of Queensland  in the presence of  Miss Shirley Hopkins, Treasurer, Central Queensland Koala Volunteers.

At the Society’s AGM on 29 November 2018, the winners of the inaugural awards were announced by Emeritus Prof. Calvin Rose AM, Life Member. Congratulations to both!

    Alex Jiang, University of Queensland, for an investigation of koala-cattle interactions. Powerpoint presentation herewith.

    Chapa Gimhani Manwaduge, Queensland University of Technology, on the conservation biology of threatened native olives (genus Notolaea) in southern Queensland. Powerpoint presentation herewith.


Initiated by the Central Queensland Koala Volunteers, who wished to perpetuate their work on a wider canvas, the Society has established a trust fund to support research into the natural sciences. Donations to the fund are tax deductible (within standard ATO guidelines).

The fund will aim to support projects which escape the attention of the mainstream grant programs like those of the Australian Research Council. Applications for small-scale projects such as those by NGO groups or early career researchers are encouraged.

Early in March 2018, the fund passed the minimum threshold for capital above which grants can be issued. The Trustees authorised release of $5000 per year for three years.

Prospectus for donors and Guidelines for applicants

Prospective donors are invited to consult the prospectus (but please use new account number, below, not the one in the prospectus). Prospective applicants are invited to consult the formal Policy Guidelines when they are re-issued every round.

The Research Fund has a Australian Business Number  and has been registered as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. The Council of the Royal Society of Queensland pro tem is Trustee of the Research Fund.

Donations can be lodged at any time into the trust account: Bank Australia BSB 313-140, Account number 12393328. (Note: This number was changed in April 2022). Deposits can be made online or by cheque. Please mark the transfer with an identifying name and send a specific request to the Society for a receipt. (Please do not pay into the Society’s mainstream account as general donations to the Society are not tax deductible). The formal name of the account is the ROYAL SOCIETY OF QUEENSLAND RESEARCH FUND account.

Donations can also be made via the PayPal button below. It is not necessary to hold a PayPal account:



Further information

Anyone who would like to know more about this inspiring opportunity to advance science is invited to contact the President, to discuss how your name and scientific interests might be perpetuated.

Other opportunities

There are few grant programs for modest-scale projects in Queensland-focused natural science. From time to time grant opportunities in the natural sciences are advertised on the website of the Queensland Science Network.