University of Queensland PhD candidate Vikki Lowe has been named as the first recipient of the Leanne Armand Travel Award.

Vikki’s thesis is focused on reconstructing paleoceanography of the Southern Ocean using radiolaria. Her research project is providing the first radiolarian records from the South Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean over the last glacial cycle, and will play a crucial role in enhancing our understanding of the changes in temperature and sea ice concentrations in this region. 

Established in memory of the late Professor Leanne Armand (1968-2022) – former ANZIC Director and Professor of Micropaleontology at ANU – the award will enable Vikki to travel to GNS Science in New Zealand to work with radiolarian expert Dr Giuseppe Cortese, take high quality images and write a taxonomy paper.

Leanne was a world-leading expert on marine diatoms, which she used to reconstruct the waxing and waning of sea ice in the Southern Ocean. Vikki credits meeting Leanne with inspiring her current path.

“I met Leanne in 2012 when I began my Marine Science undergrad at Macquarie University,” she recalls.

“She gave a lecture about her work in Antarctica in one of my first-year subjects, and I thought: ‘I don’t know what she does, but whatever it is, I want to do that!’. So, I knocked on her door and asked if I could work with her on whatever project she had available. Since then, I have been very single minded in where my career will head.”

Vikki’s research is progressing well. She has recently discovered a new species of radiolaria in core sediments from the Southwest Pacific Sector of the Southern Ocean covering the last glacial cycle, and is choosing to name it in Leanne’s honour.

“It is exciting to be able to describe a new species and dedicate its naming to Leanne, who left such a strong legacy in the paleoceanography and micropaleontology fields,” says Vikki.

“I feel so privileged to have had Leanne’s guidance and that she was the example I looked towards as I learned what being a scientist was about. Now, I hope this small gesture of naming a species after her will in some way pay tribute to the amazing scientist and person that she was.”

The AQUA Leanne Armand Travel Award provides AU$3,000 to one Australia-based postgraduate or early to mid-career researcher annually, with preference given to applicants seeking to learn microfossil identification or advanced techniques from an expert. 

AQUA is seeking ongoing donations to sustain the fund, with options also available for international transfers. Please contact AQUA or the ANZIC Office for details on how you can help continue Leanne’s legacy in training the next generation of scientists.

Learn more about the Leanne Armand Travel Award here.