Australian Society For Fish Biology

Gilbert P. Whitley Memorial Student Award

This award is presented to encourage and support high quality oral presentations by students at the Society's annual conference, and includes both a junior and senior category. The award was instated by the Society in honour of the late Gilbert P Whitley, who was one of Australia’s pioneering marine biologists. Born in England in 1903, Whitley migrated to Australia in 1921, where he was Curator of Ichthyology at the Australian Museum for 39 years. He described over 320 species of fishes, and published over 500 technical reports and papers, and five books. Travelling extensively and largely at his own expense, Whitley undertook over 80 trips within Australia and internationally to conferences, museums and to collect fish specimens. You can read the full story of Gilbert Whitley's life and works on the ASFB Hall of Fame.

The award is currently sponsored by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

FRDC forweb

Value of award

  • Junior and Senior awards of $600 each are presented.

Closing date for applications

  • The deadline for applications is at the deadline for abstract submission for the annual conference.


  • Work presented must deal with fish or fisheries, not necessarily exclusively in Australia.
  • A Junior Award may be made to a student for a presentation of work completed as part of a B.Sc. Honours or M.Sc. preliminary project. Other categories such as Graduate Diploma may be included at the judges' discretion.
  • For a Junior Award, work must be presented during, or within one year of completion of the degree.
  • For a Senior Award, work should be based upon Masters or PhD research presented within 18 months of conferral of the degree
  • This condition may be varied at the discretion of the judges.
  • Any contribution by others to the work presented for the Senior Award must be made clear in the presentation and the application for the award.
  • Applicants for both the Junior and Senior awards must be members of the Society at the time of presentation of the paper.
  • Projects should be at least half completed.

Process for application

  • Download the application form. 
  • Applicants must have a letter of support form their supervisor outlining their need for support and their general calibre.

  • Students putting forward their paper for consideration must include a declaration (see sample declaration) stating:
    i) The name of their supervisor(s) and university/institution.
    ii) the degree to which the research contributed.
    iii) the dates the study for the degree started and finished (or intended completion date) and whether the degree is full or part-time.
    iv) The applicant is usually the sole author, if not, then a statement should be included specifying the contribution of the co-authors. 

Contact person

Judging process

  • Applications will be judged by a panel of three or more members appointed by the ASFB Executive Committee. Membership of the panel will include representation of both sexes and a variety of university and other institutions. Only part of the judging panel should be replaced in any one year.
  • Presentations will be judged on the originality and quality of both the research and the presentation.
  • The judges may take into consideration whether the student is currently completing the degree or presenting the work after the degree is completed.


Award Recipients

2018 ( Melbourne, Victoria)

  • Senior: Robert Streit (James Cook University)
  • Junior: Sinead O'Dwyer (University of Melbourne)

2017 (Albany, Western Australia)

  • Senior: Marianne Nyegaard (Murdoch University). There be Giants! How a new species of ocean sunfish managed to hoodwink the world 
  • Junior: Cameron Desfosses (Murdoch University). The significance of macroalgae to the diets of juvenile fish and ecosystem function in a tropical coral reef lagoon 

2016 (Hobart, Tasmania)

  • Senior: João Teixeira (University of Melbourne): First excursions into the ‘black box’ period of the blackspot seabream Pagellus bogaraveo: a missing piece of a deep-sea life cycle puzzle.
  • Junior: Lucy Wenger (ANU) Microhabitat specialisation underpins coral-seaweed niche segregation in tropical reef fishes.

2015 (Sydney, N.S.W.)

  • Senior: Alexia Dubuc (James Cook U) Dissolved oxygen in mangrove ecosystems and impacts as productive habitat.
  • Junior: Garry Ogston (Murdoch U) Implications of climate change on aestivating fishes.

2014 (Darwin, Australia)

  • Senior Award: Kyystina Mossop (Monash University)
    Connectivity, phylogeography and behaviour of a desert-dwelling fish: does habitat matter?
  • Junior Award: Samuel Williams (UQ)
    Genetic population structure of black marlin (Istiompax indica ) within the central Indo-Pacific.

2013 (Hamilton, N.Z)

  • Senior Award: Michael Smith (U. Melbourne)
    Developing, testing and implementing an Atlantis model for the southern Benguela ecosystem.
  • Junior Award: Tansyn Noble (JCU)
    Investigating the occurrence and persistence of escaped barramundi in the wild

2012 (Adelaide, SA)

  • Senior Award: Adrian Hordyk (Murdoch University)

2011 (Townsville, Qld)

  • Senior Award: Ryan Day (U. of Q.)
    Extreme pharyngognathy: Modelling the energetic cost of an hypertrophic pharyngeal mill.
  • Junior Award: Sussanah Leahy (JCU)
    To fear or to feed: the effects of turbidity on perception of risk by a marine fish.

2010 (Melbourne, Vic)

  • Senior Award: Brynn M. Devine (James Cook University, co-authors Philip L. Munday and Geoffrey P. Jones). Ocean acidification impairs the homing ability of adult cardinalfish to diurnal resting sites
  • Junior Award: Tyrie Starrs (ANU, co-authors Christopher Fulton and Mark Lintermans). Swimming performance as a measure of alien fish invasion risk in the Cotter River, ACT

2009  (Fremantle, WA)

  • Senior Award: Madhavi Colton 
    A tale of two methods: comparing the performance of underwater visual census and baited remote underwater reef fish assemblages. 

2007 (Canberra, ACT)

  • Senior Award: Cordelia Moore (University of Western Australia, WA)
    The application of predictive habitat models to investigate the spatial ecology of demersal fish assemblages.
  • Junior Award: Steven Lindfield (University of Newcastle)
    Spatial, temporal and depth-related variation in reef fish assemblages of the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park, detected with baited remote underwater video stations.

2006  (Hobart, Tas)

  • Scott Ling and Arani Chandrapavan (University of Tasmania, Hobart)

2002 (Cairns, QLD)

  • Senior Award: Ashley Williams (CRC Reef Research Centre)
    Can movement explain spatial patterns in demography of red-throat emperor?
  • Cameron Dixon (University of Melbourne, Vic)
    Outplanting the seeds of success: abalone stock enhancement
  • Junior Award: Corey Wakefield (Curtin Univeristy of Technology)
    Spawning activity and reproductive biology of snapper (Pagrus auratus) in Cockburn Sound, Western Australia.

2001 (Bunbury, Western Australia)

  • Senior Award: Megan Storrie (Deakin University, Warrnambool)
    Observations of sperm in the oviducal gland of the gummy shark, Mustelus antarcticus.
  • Junior Award: Michael Travers (Murdoch University, Murdoch)
    Fish faunas of unvegetated and vegetated habitats in shark bay, Western Australia.

2000 (Albury, New South Wales)

  • Senior Award: Karina Hall
    Dynamics of the mating systems of the giant Australian cuttlefish Sepia apama, Gray.
  • Junior Award: Michael Hammer
    Variegated pygmy perch Nannoperca variegata in South Australia.

1999 (Bendigo, Victoria)

  • Senior Award: Janet Pritchard
    Golden Perch otoliths as recorders of environmentally induced growth fluctuations
  • Junior Award: Jemma Martin
    Are statolith growth bands a new ageing technique for gastropods?

1998 (Hobart, Tasmania)

  • Senior Award: Suzanne Round
    Diet of Juvenile Banana Prawns Penaus Merguiensis within a Subtropical Mangrove-Lined Estuary in Moreton Bay, Queensland
  • Junior Award: Dale McNeil
    Behavioural Responses of Billabong Fish to Gradual Hypoxia

1997 (Darwin, Northern Territory)

  • Senior Award: Kim Smith
    Links between physical oceanographic processes and larval fish distributions on the Sydney shelf

1996 (Brisbane, Queensland)

  • Senior Award: Combined with John Lake Award for the 2nd International Fisheries Congress
  • Junior Award: Combined with John Lake Award for the 2nd International Fisheries Congress

1995 (Sydney, New South Wales)

  • Senior Award: Sophie Dove (Sydney Uni)
    Incorporation of trace metals into the eye lenses and otoliths of Parma microlepis
  • Junior Award Tim Dempster (UNSW)
    Dynamics of ichthyoplankton on the Sydney Shelf

1994 (Canberra, Australian Capital Territory)

  • Senior Award Gavin Begg (U. of Q.)
    Reproductive biology and management of school (Scomberomorus queenslandicus) and spotted (S. munroi) mackerel throughout Northern Australia.
  • Rick Officer (Melb. U.)
    Sources of variation in counts of the vertebral growth increments used for age determination in school and gummy shark.
  • Junior Award: Andrew Sedger (Southern Cross U.)
    Age and growth of the freshwater catfish (Tandanus tandanus) in the Nymboida River, NSW.

1993 (Sorrento, Western Australia)

  • Senior Award: Michael Lowry (UNSW)
    Home range of red morwong
  • Junior Award: Mark Thomas
    The foraging behaviour of Dicanthais baileyana

1992 (Victor Harbour, South Australia)

  • Senior Award: Not awarded
  • Junior Award: Hui Cheng (UNSW)
    Aquaculture of prawns

1991 (Hobart, Tasmania)

  • Senior Award: Simon Thorrold
    An evaluation of light traps for sampling postlarval and pelagic juvenile fishes in coastal waters of the central Great Barrier Reef.
  • Junior Award: Gavin Begg
    Comparison of the juvenile fish fauna between an estuary (Lake Macquarie, NSW) and its backwaters: preliminary results.

1990 (Lorne, Victoria)

  • Julie de Jong (Melbourne University)
    A study of shell deposition and growth in Haliotis ruber
  • Paul Humphries
    An experimental evaluation of habitat preference in three species of goby.


  • Colin Simpfendorfer
    Embryonic diapause in the Australian sharpnose shark, Rhizoprionodon taylori.


  • Annabel Cabanan
    Numbers and diversity of ichythyoplankton caught by light traps at one tree lagoon, Great Barrier Reef, Australia.