UNSW science student wins Rhodes Scholarship

Eleanor Bath
Tuesday, 1 November, 2011

Eleanor Bath, a UNSW science student with a fascination for evolutionary biology, has won the 2012 NSW Rhodes Scholarship.

Eleanor will travel to Oxford next year to undertake a PhD in the field of sexual selection and genetic inheritance.

At UNSW she has nearly completed a combined degree of Bachelor of Science (Advanced)/Arts, specialising in Biology, Politics and International Relations and History. She is an Honours candidate in the Evolutionary Biology Lab, under Principal Investigator Dr Russell Bonduriansky, a Senior Lecturer and Australian Research Fellow in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Eleanor has high ambitions. “I love research and want to be one of the best researchers in the world, to develop a new theory, to be responsible for a paradigm shift in biology,” she says. “I want to challenge the traditional assumptions of the field and ask difficult questions.”

Dr Bonduriansky says she is an excellent student: "She took on a challenging research project and produced a very strong thesis. We plan to submit her work for publication in a high-profile journal.

"Along the way, she had to overcome some technical challenges, such as how to dip a pair of mating flies in liquid nitrogen before they realize what's happening and separate. She performed exquisite dissections of fly genitalia, spent many hours observing the behaviour of her tiny subjects, and worked through the nuances of the relevant theory.

"I'm very impressed with her abilities to work independently and synthesize ideas. This scholarship will give Ellie the opportunity to pursue her PhD studies in one of the world's leading universities. I hope she will take advantage of the intellectual resources there, and have a great time."

She was educated at Sydney Girls High School, where she was awarded the School Medallion for academic achievement and extra-curricular participation.

As well as her tertiary studies, Eleanor has played an active role in a number of leadership, sporting and community groups. She was elected President of the UNSW United Nations Society in 2009 and has been a hockey umpire at local, state and national levels, being chosen as NSW Junior Female Umpire of the Year in 2010.

Prominent Australian Rhodes Scholars include Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, Geoffrey Robertson, Kim Beazley and Bob Hawke.

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