A number of scholarships are named after folk who have very generously donated money to help students fulfill their academic dreams. I always find it interesting to learn more about people who do this and in what I hope will be a regular feature here on the blog, this post looks at the person behind the named scholarship. To learn more about the Brenda Shore Award I caught up with Lorraine Issacs who helps with the selection process for the Award and we also hear from students who have benefited from her generous bequeath.
Lorraine: Brenda Faulkner Shore, nee Slade, (1922-1993) earned a BSC from Otago University in 1944-45, majoring in Botany. She was awarded an MSc and PhD, also in Botany, at Cambridge University in the early 1950’s and taught Botany at Otago until 1983, reaching the position of Associate Professor. She was enthusiastic and enterprising, and over the course of 35 years became a prominent figure in the Botany Department as a researcher and teacher. In later life she added the ability to paint botanically accurate plants to her many accomplishments, and always championed higher education for women.
Mel: The Brenda Shore Award is administered by the Otago Branch of the New Zealand Federation of Graduate Women. Can you tell me a bit about the NZFGW and the connection to Brenda Shore?
Lorraine: NZFGW is an organisation of women graduates which aims to improve the status of women and girls, promote lifelong education and enable graduate women to use their expertise effectively. It awards educational scholarships to deserving women: Brenda Shore was the second holder of an NZFGW Fellowship which helped her attend Cambridge University. She showed her gratitude to NZFGW by setting up the Brenda Shore Post-Graduate Research Trust to assist Masters’ and Doctoral research by Otago University women, the recipients to be chosen annually by a panel of NZFGW members.
Mel: When you are assessing scholarship applications, who in your mind is the ideal applicant that you like to support through the Brenda Shore Award?
Lorraine: Because of Brenda Shore’s own preferences and interest, we like to choose postgraduate applicants studying one of the natural sciences (eg. Botany, Zoology, Marine Science, Geography, Environment of Science, Ecology) and carrying out research in the Otago, Southland or Antarctic areas. They also, of course, need to be passionate about their work, have the potential to add value to their society and be doing research to a very high standard.
Mel: I know you have reviewed a number of applications over the years, what is one tip you would give someone who is applying for a scholarship?
Lorraine: We ask applicants to tell us in 100 words about their life experience: women who use those 100 words wisely to tell us about their experiences, skill and potential to be successful in their future endeavours will have more chance of winning a Brenda Shore Award.
Mel: What is your favourite thing about being involved in the process of selecting a candidate for the Brenda Shore Award?
Lorraine: It is wonderful to give away money to serving women scholars and know that the faith we have in them will spur them on in their higher education. Since 2004 we have given 34 awards worth a total of $184, 000 – who wouldn’t be pleased about that!
Mel: Last year the Brenda Shore Award was awarded to Kirsten Ward-Hartstonge and Natalie Howes. I caught up with Kirsten and Natalie and asked them to explain what winning the Brenda Shore Award meant to them
Kirsten Ward-Hartstonge, PhD candidate, Biochemistry: One of the aims of my Master’s project was to determine the phenotype of effector regulatory T cells in colorectal cancer. To do this I had to design a new flow cytometry panel using a large range of new antibodies. The Brenda Shore award allowed me to purchase a variety of antibodies I would not have been able to purchase otherwise, and I would not have been able to get such a thorough phenotype of my cells of interest. This greatly benefited my project as I was able to get a more detailed insight into the cells of interest that I was looking at and to complete my research to the highest possible standard.
Natalie Howes, PhD, Food Science: My PhD has a large component of field work that requires me to travel extensively. At the time of receiving the Brenda Shore Award I was travelling 400km per week to collect samples from a farm in Southland for a period of four months. The Brenda Shore Award assisted with the significant cost of this travel which would have otherwise been financially burdening. The scholarship also enabled me to purchase sampling equipment on a need-to-use basis. This was especially beneficial for my farm trials due to their relatively unpredictable nature.
The Brenda Shore Award closed on 28th of February. For more details about this scholarship including application information please visit the Brenda Shore Award page on the University of Otago Scholarships website.