Young achiever helping the world move to a more sustainable future

La Trobe honours graduate awarded prestigious Origin Energy Foundation John Monash scholarship to undertake PhD at University of Calgary

Marianne Haines will be taking a major step towards her dream of helping the world move to a more sustainable future as she looks to uncover the secrets behind using bacteria and algae to produce new forms of renewable energy.

The 24-year-old environmental microbiologist from Nagambie will be researching how to generate biofuel from photosynthetic micro-organisms after being awarded a prestigious scholarship to undertake a doctorate in Geoscience at the University of Calgary in Canada.

Ms Haines said, “Receiving the Origin Energy Foundation John Monash scholarship is an incredible opportunity to contribute to addressing one of the most significant challenges of our time.

“My focus is on developing bio-technology that harnesses micro-organisms to generate new forms of sustainable energy. The tiny beings multiply on a diet of sunlight, water, CO2, and key nutrients. They can then be processed into an end-product like methane using a group of other micro-organisms. The net effect is the production of combustible biofuel in a carbon neutral manner.

“Having grown up on a property near Nagambie, my dream is that we can lead the world to sustainable, closed loop systems and products,” she added.

Watch Studio 10’s interview with Marianne Haines, La Trobe honours graduate awarded the prestigious Origin Energy Foundation John Monash scholarship.

In congratulating Ms Haines, Head of the Origin Energy Foundation Sean Barrett said that the General Sir John Monash Foundation scholarship recipients are outstanding graduates who have a vision for a better world.

“Where others see problems these young people see challenges to be solved,” said Mr Barrett.

“Marianne is an important role model. Too few females in Australia are engaging in maths and sciences. We are losing the brainpower of half the population. But we know from research the Origin Energy Foundation has commissioned, that females are attracted to sciences where they can see a link to positive social outcomes.

“Marianne’s focus on producing biofuel using micro-organisms is fascinating and could certainly produce positive social outcomes. What a great example she is setting,” Mr Barrett said.

Ms Haines is passionate about inspiring the next generation of young scientists and has developed and run programs in schools that engage young students, particularly girls, in learning STEM subjects. She will continue being involved with school students at the University of Calgary, which has a robust learning centre and program for schools.

“Science gives you critical thinking skills that will serve you well in all aspects of life. It teaches you to think clearly and make informed decisions, question what people tell you, rethink an idea or method, and to come to you own conclusions,” Ms Haines said.

In 2017, Ms Haines graduated with honours from La Trobe University after completing a Bachelor of Biological Science degree majoring in Microbiology and Biochemistry. She is the first student to be awarded the Origin Energy Foundation Monash scholarship from La Trobe University. Ms Haines is due to commence her doctorate at the University of Calgary in May 2018.

The prestigious General Sir John Monash scholarships support Australia’s brightest young minds and future leaders to pursue their education potential at the world’s most reputable universities.

The Origin Energy Foundation is a long-term partner of the General Sir John Monash Foundation, funding scholarships for 8 years in the areas of Sustainability and Engineering.

We believe in the power of education to help create better lives for young Australians.

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