This scholarship has been endowed by the Climate Future Research Group and the School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences where Dr Harris was a staff member for several years before her death.
Dr Harris was a globally respected climate scientist and was highly influential in the field of climate change impacts on ecology. She was a Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), senior Lecturer in Climatology at the University of Tasmania and was the Director of the university’s Climate Futures Program. This research group is known internationally for its climate modelling, climate impacts and adaptation work. Dr Harris also supervised many honours and PhD students and educated thousands of undergraduate students on the science of climate change, its impacts and the responses needed. Dr Harris’ work helped put Tasmania on the map as a leading global location for climate change research and informed many Tasmanians about climate change.
She started work with the Climate Futures team in early 2012. From 2018, she led this award-winning team to global recognition, undertaking broad-ranging climate impacts and adaptation work. Under Dr Harris’ leadership, Climate Futures was one of few groups in Australia producing fine scaled regional climate projections with industry-orientated reporting. The Climate Futures’ work that Dr Harris contributed to is foundational to climate-related planning and decision-making for the Tasmanian State Government and local government in Tasmania. As a result, other state governments in Australia began to understand the need for such climate information. Climate Futures’ work, led by Dr Harris, made our university a trusted authority in the climate information space, locally, nationally and internationally.
In her short, decade-long research career, Dr Harris authored 66 publications, won numerous research contracts and consultancy projects and in 2016 was awarded a prestigious Humboldt Fellowship. In 2019 she was selected to participate in the Working Group II report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report 6: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (IPCC AR6). Dr Harris was a lead author in Chapter 2: Terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems and their services, and the Cross Chapter on Deserts, semi-arid areas and desertification. These were released on 28 February 2022, after Dr Harris’ death.
Dr Harris brought together many superb qualities. She was an astute scientist as well as an excellent communicator of science findings. She was an inspiring speaker: deeply committed to enhancing community climate literacy as an avenue for change-making.
She was a mentor for many young researchers, a role model for academic women, and was particularly passionate about supporting women in science.
Dr Harris passed away on Christmas Eve 2021, after a battle with cancer. As a researcher, scholar, and champion for women in science, she was an outstanding exemplar who had great integrity and was much admired.
The Rebecca Harris Memorial Scholarship aims to continue to support the kind of expertise leadership that Dr Harris’ demonstrated in climate impact science, and her role as a leading woman in science. The scholarship is intended to be awarded to a high achieving young student in ecology or physical geography, who plans to undertake an Honours study broadly related to the science and impacts of climate change.
The Rebecca Harris Memorial Scholarship is available to a student enrolling in an Honours degree in Science in the School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences in 2023. The student must have shown potential for further study and leadership in the discipline, based both on academic merit, demonstrated by sustained high marks, and extra-curricular activities, for example, volunteering. The scholarship will be awarded to a female (or female identifying) student.
30 June 2023
Apply online prior to closing date. Applications cannot be submitted after the closing date. As applicants will be assessed on the quality of their application and all questions should be answered in full. Please ensure care is taken with spelling and grammar.