26 October 1999

A North Queensland marine biologist tonight was announced Queensland's Rhodes Scholar for 2000 and tomorrow is off to study coral spawning at Lizard Island.

23-year-old Jan Strugnell will trade the tailored business suit she wore to tonight's announcement at the University of Queensland, for a wet suit during the 10 day Great Barrier Reef trip.

Ms Strugnell, a research assistant studying factors affecting brood stock quality in tiger prawns at the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville, plans to study for a PhD in evolutionary biology at Oxford University's Department of Zoology next year.

A childhood with many beach holidays inspired her love of marine biology and she hopes, a future career in this area.

"I would like to become involved in international policy concerning fisheries and aquaculture," she said.

A bachelor of science honours graduate who specialised in marine biology and aquaculture at James Cook University, Ms Strugnell has wide academic and sporting interests.

She was dux of her school at Swan Hill Secondary College, Victoria, before moving to Queensland. In 1997 she won the James Cook University's Convocation Medal, a Golden Key honour society scholarship and the Joe and Val Baker prize for excellence in third year marine biology.

A keen sportswoman, she has been active in the intercollegiate sporting program and enjoys touch football, softball, netball, and women's rugby union.

Secretary of the Rhodes Scholarship committee and University of Queensland Secretary and Registrar Douglas Porter said Ms Strugnell was believed to be the first marine biologist to win the award.

After the announcement from a short-listed field of six, Ms Strugnell plans to celebrate tonight with a "quiet beer" with a friend.

Rhodes Scholarships, founded in 1902 under the will of the late Cecil John Rhodes, are tenable at Oxford University for an initial two years, with the possibility of a third. Candidates must be between 19 and 25 years old and citizens of the country from which they are selected.

Scholarships are assigned annually in Australia, Canada, India, Jamaica, New Zealand, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, the United States, Germany, British Caribbean, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, Kenya and Hong Kong.

Australia receives nine - one for each state and three for Australia-at-large.

Since the scheme began, about 500 Rhodes Scholars have been selected. Women became eligible in 1972.

The first Rhodes Scholarship awarded in Queensland was won in 1904 by Arthur Stanley Roe, five years before an Act of Parliament was passed to set up the University of Queensland.

The qualities set out by the late Cecil Rhodes for those seeking Rhodes Scholarships include academic and intellectual excellence, integrity of character, respect for fellow beings and a capacity for leadership. Sporting prowess is an advantage, but not a necessity.

Media contact: Jan Strugnell, staying tonight at the Coronation Motel, telephone 3369 9955, leaving Brisbane 8.30am for a flight to Cairns. Her contact number after November 5 is 07 47 817171.