News & Stories

Released into the wild

The Governor’s Environment Scholarship.


Jessica Morrison had to change courses in the final year of her bachelor’s degree in order to study her honours year in Tasmania, but she says it was completely worth it.

And being awarded the $7500 Governor’s Environment Scholarship was a welcome assistance for the move south.

Originally from Queensland, Jessica was studying her Bachelor of Environmental Science at the University of Queensland when she heard about a project being run in Tasmania to help bolster the eastern quoll population.

With a strong interest in ecology and conservation, Jessica knew she wanted to be part of the study for her honours year. But her degree would not allow her to do honours at a different university.

“So I changed courses in my final year,” she said. “I switched to a Bachelor of Science and I had to do two extra subjects to make up for it, but it meant I could do honours at the University of Tasmania.”

First travelling to Hobart in mid-2021, Jessica joined the pilot project, which is being facilitated by the University along with the Tasmanian Land Conservancy, Tasmanian Quoll Conservation Program, WWF-Australia, and DPIPWE.

Underway since November 2020, the project is releasing captive-bred eastern quolls into the wild at the Tasmanian Land Conservancy’s Silver Plains property near Interlaken, Tasmania.

The aim is to determine if supplementing wild populations with captive releases can help halt or reverse population declines, and what effect this may have on local genetic diversity and the future of eastern quoll conservation.

“I think this research has some strong future applications, it’s real-world-based and could have a positive influence on the management of these populations,” she said.

I’d never even seen a quoll before I came to Tassie! My interest was primarily  in the experience and collaboration between industry and academia the project offered, but it’s definitely a bonus working so closely with such a cute animal.

The Governor’s Environment Scholarship played a significant part in Jessica’s ability to relocate to Hobart for her studies.

“Really, I would have somehow tried to make this work no matter what, because this project is so important to me. But the scholarship has been a massive help, it’s made things so much easier.”

Jessica has not yet made plans for her life after submitting her honours thesis but said she would love to remain involved with the eastern quoll project if possible.

“It’s an amazing project to be involved with and to learn from. It would be great to continue on with it,  and possibly be involved in further supplementations of other declining populations around Tasmania.

“I would also like to spend some time looking into whether the findings from this research could lead to more successful reintroduction attempts back onto the mainland as well.”

Thank you to the generous scholarship donors - Hydro Tasmania, Norske Skog, Nyrstar and Rio Tinto Aluminium (Bell Bay).  

Find out more about our scholarships. They can make a big difference to your university experience and set you on the pathway to success.