A third-year Natural History Illustration student at the University of Newcastle, Nadia Waters, has won the prestigious Margaret Senior Wildlife Illustration Award.
Ms Waters' illustrations of a gecko, insect and possums were described by judges as "excellent" and "demonstrating a confident understanding of the subject".
Ms Waters said she was attracted to drawing as a child.
"Drawing has always been something I've felt comfortable with and my sketchbook was an essential part of my school bag.
"I was raised on a sheep and cattle property in the New England tablelands and knew from a young age that I wanted to work with plants or animals.
"So when I found the Natural History Illustration degree program at a careers market I was really excited - plants, animals and drawings, all in one degree!"
Ms Waters said she enjoyed exploring the effect of light on a subject.
"I see the raw beauty in subjects when they are lit and the challenge is to retain the beauty and the essence of subjects in my illustrations."
The annual award of $1,000 is supported by a bequest from the late Margaret Senior - one of Australia's most prominent and respected wildlife illustrators - and the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water.
The bequest has helped more than 25 students progress their careers in wildlife illustration.
The 10 students vying for the 2009 award were Alison Babbage, Amanda Crockett, Jan Clark, Kathleen Hanna, Margaret Pearson, Nadia Waters, Robbie Donaldson, Tallulah Cunningham, Angela Callaghan and Tim Owers.
They spent six months working on their illustrations, and were judged on the quality of artwork, research and an interview.
The illustrations can be viewed until Friday 11 September 2009 in the Design Building foyer at the University's Callaghan campus.
The Bachelor of Natural History Illustration is unique to Australia and is offered by the University's Faculty of Science and Information Technology.
Electronic images of students' works are available by contacting Katie Porritt in the University's Media and Public Relations team on 02 4921 5120 or 0418 445 888.