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QUT researcher awarded inaugural WH Bryan PhD Scholarship

Talented PhD student Robert Emo will pursue his passion for geological research at QUT with the help of the inaugural WH Bryan PhD Scholarship in Queensland Earth Sciences.

First published 30 November 2018

Established by The Bryan Foundation, the $150,000 scholarship supports a young researcher to advance our understanding of Queensland earth sciences by addressing a globally significant problem leading to high-impact outcomes.

Robert was offered the philanthropic support based on the quality of his application and the potential of his chosen project, following a competitive process that was open to three Queensland universities with strengths in earth sciences research.

The QUT PhD candidate plans to investigate rare, deeply sourced rocks brought to the surface by volcanic eruptions.

“My research aims to link the evolution of Queensland’s lower crust to shallower processes expressed at the surface, such as the formation of the sedimentary basins that include Queensland’s coal beds,” Robert said.

“Through the generous funding of The Bryan Foundation, I am very excited to be able to conduct cutting-edge research with the state-of-the-art equipment at QUT.”

Philanthropy is an increasingly important driver of new knowledge within Australian universities.

The WH Bryan scholarship commemorates the legacy of Emeritus Professor Walter Heywood Bryan MC, a pioneering Australian geologist, educator and decorated World War I veteran.

The renowned Queenslander drove the establishment of the state’s first seismological station and others in the state’s north to support more accurate weather forecasting of cyclone events, earthquakes and sea disturbances.  

He also served in Gallipoli, Egypt and on the Western Front, where he was awarded the Military Cross for gallant conduct and bravery.

Emeritus Professor Bryan’s son, Bob Bryan AM, himself a prominent Queensland geologist and philanthropist, presented Robert with his scholarship in a ceremony at Old Government House on QUT’s Gardens Point campus.

It is the building in which Emeritus Professor Bryan worked for much of his early career with The University of Queensland, initially as one of the first intake of students in 1911 and later as an academic until the university moved to St Lucia.

The scholarship presentation was attended by Emeritus Professor Bryan’s family and representatives of The Bryan Foundation.

QUT geologist Associate Professor Scott Bryan addressed the audience.

"The Bryan Foundation was set up almost 10 years ago as a vehicle to give back to the community and to create a perpetual family legacy," Associate Professor Bryan said.

"My grandfather made many fundamental, impactful and wide-ranging contributions to his research field, tertiary education and societal wellbeing.

“Key subject areas that Pop taught and researched included mineralogy, petrology, field geology - and a particularly engaging topic he taught was entitled ‘major problems in geology’.

“This subject area was essentially the forerunner to plate tectonics which is a theory we take for granted now but, in his time, was still 20-30 years away from being realised. Thus, Robert’s successful project has many overlaps with Pop’s areas of interest.

“The Bryan Foundation aims to offer this scholarship every four years in perpetuity and we look forward to seeing the successes of Robert in the coming years as the inaugural WH Bryan Scholar.”

QUT Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Margaret Sheil AO, spoke at the event about the university’s long-standing relationship with The Bryan Foundation.

“QUT has enjoyed a long and valued relationship with The Bryan Foundation, and its Founder, Bob Bryan AM, as we share a particular commitment to supporting the education and aspiration of Indigenous Australians and young Queenslanders,” Professor Sheil said.

Read more about the WH Bryan PhD Scholarship on our scholarships page.

View photos of the event on our Flickr page.