The Helen McLellan Research Grant

  • To recognize the generous and substantial bequest to the Friends from the estate of Helen McLellan, the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne have established The Friends' Helen McLellan Research Grant (HMcLRG). 
  • The grant scheme, to a value of up to $20,000 per annum, is intended to support scientific research projects conducted by, or on behalf of, the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

The 2018/2019 Helen McLellan Research Grant-

The 2018/19 Research Grant has been awarded to Megan Hirst, Seedbank Officer, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria


Project: Testing Horticultural Potential of Rare and Threatened Australian Plants

2018 - $19,942
2019 - $20,540

Previous recipients of the Friends' Helen McLellan Research Grant

Dr Tom May, Senior Mycologist, RBGV -

The Project supported by the Research Grant for 2016/17 is the following: The funding of a fungi bar-coding project to establish the nature and diversity of fungi in Australia.
Tom May has research interests in the taxonomy, ecology and conservation of larger fungi, and in related historical, bibliographic and nomenclatural aspects. Genera currently under study include the agarics Laccaria and Cortinarius (especially the subgenus Dermocybe) and the disc-fungus Banksiamyces. Tom has been the lead author in an ongoing project to produce a catalogue of Australian fungi, several volumes of which have been published in the Fungi of Australia series. He is currently working on an interactive key to the genera of Australian agarics.

Dr Collin Ahrens and Dr Elizabeth James:

Uncovering the adaptive potential of the critically important grass Themeda triandra by understanding its genomic diversity, phenotypic plasticity and taxonomy.
$20,000 (2014/15),
$20,000 (2015/16),
$20,000 (2016/17)


1. Jointly     $15, 000 (2013/14), $11,100 (2014/15)
a) Dr Michael Barrett, Research Assistant Professor, School of Plant Biology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of WA

b) Dr Teresa Lebel, Senior Mycologist, Plant Sciences & Biodiversity Division, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
c) Dr Frank Udovicic, Manger Plant Sciences & Biodiversity Division, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

 Fleshy macrofungi of northern Australia: filling the phylogeographic and species diversity gap.

2. Dr Daniel Murphy  $2,470 (2013/14), $7,850 (2014/15)

Molecular Systematist, Plant Sciences & Biodiversity Division, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
Project: The evolution of Eremophila: collecting the diversity and developing cutting-edge techniques for molecular systematics


The 2012 HMcLRG was awarded to Dave Kendal (Post-Doctoral Fellow at ARCUE) and Sharon Willoughby (ANU PhD student and Public Programs Manage at the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne) for their project - Beyond the Boundary

Since the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne opened the Australian Garden to the public in May 2006, public, planning and horticultural programs have aimed at influencing gardeners to use Australian native plants (Russell et al., 2012).
While there is some evidence that the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne is having an influence on garden design, we know relatively little about who is being influenced and whether this influence is resulting in more sustainable gardens.
This project aims to explore the influence the Australian Garden is having on home gardeners, by surveying Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne Friends and the broader community of gardeners in the south-eastern suburbs.
This project is now completed and a full report is available upon request to the Friends' office.



The 2011 HMcLRG was awarded to Dr Anna Syme, Molecular Systematist at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, for her project - Unravelling the DNA of Australian grasses: gene duplication and its implications for molecular identification and evolution. 

This project is now completed and a full Report is available in Botanic News Summer 2012/13 p 14-15.

Research Grant Guidelines
(Adobe PDF File)

Megan Hirst


Tom May

Collin Ahrens

Elizabeth James

Teresa Lebel

Frank Udovicic

Daniel Murphy