Toby Hendy – 2017 ANU Westpac Future Leaders Scholar

15 June 2017

Toby Hendy, a recipient of the 2017 ANU Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship, will begin her PhD in Physics in August. Toby says that, in applying for the scholarship, it's important to consider what defines leadership.

"Leadership is about having a vision and getting people to come on board with that vision. 'Leadership' is a very broad term. The kind of people that Westpac have chosen for this scholarship are not necessarily extroverts; they are people who are really passionate about something."

Toby advises prospective applicants not to assume that their research won't be of interest to the scholarship panel.

"Your research doesn't need really obvious applications as long as you as an applicant can share your passion for the project and have some idea of how it may benefit australia. This is a very different scholarship. Even if your grades aren't perfect and your CV isn't as good as someone else you've heard about, you should still apply. This scholarship is more about whether you're a passionate person and if you have what it takes to make a difference in Australia".

A subject that sparks Toby's passion includes science communications.

"I see myself taking some of the science that I have learned to achieve a more scientifically-minded community and society. Children are naturally curious and then we lose that as we get older. I'd like to instill that science is not just an academic pursuit but it's something that can help you maintain that curiosity throughout your life."

Toby's research relates to physics and biology, and looks at the mechanical properties of plant cells and how they respond to pressure.

"I'm looking at how the plant cell stiffens or rearranges itself to become a more resistant material. From a biology point of view, if we can understand nature's response, we can use that to our advantage and make more resistant varieties of crop and prevent crops from being infected with disease."

Applications are open from 15 June to 5 September 2017

Find out more about becoming a Westpac Future Leader here

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