New Honours Award in partnership with Sydney Environment Institute

20 January 2022

The Chau Chak Wing Museum is pleased to partner with the Sydney Environment Institute and its founding member Professor Emeritus Iain McCalman to establish the Iain McCalman Honours Research Award.

Utilising a natural museum collection to explore environmental issues.

Skeleton of a Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine)

Thylacinus cynocephalus; Tasmanian Tiger, Macleay Collections, Natural History, NHM.498

This unique Award provides a chance for an adventurous student to stretch their imagination and scope of study by accessing the oldest entomology collection in Australia, which is replete with unexplored wonders.

The student will have the chance to explore the Museum's Macleay Collections and use the objects and specimens as a provocation for considering global and/or local environmental change.

The Macleay Collections include specimens from the earliest scientific expeditions within Australia and the Pacific region. The Collections even boast one of the smallest and most precious natural exhibits of Australia’s zoological history, a tiny flea that Charles Darwin discovered in South America whilst dining on an armadillo.

Along with the insect, mammal, bird, fish and shell specimens of natural history, our Macleay curators care for a wealth of material including the historically rich collections of Aboriginal, Torres Strait and Pacific Islanders’ cultural objects, historic photographic records, scientific instruments relating to the story of scientific practice in Australia, and other material reflecting on the museum’s history itself.

Sponsored by renowned cultural historian and highly accomplished Professor of History and the Humanities Iain McCalman, the Award invites students to view these historical objects as a leaping-off point for thinking about the past and future in a warming world.

Applications for the inaugural Iain McCalman Honours Research Award are now open for 2022

The Award will be given to one eligible, outstanding undergraduate from the University of Sydney intending to undertake an Honours year in 2022.

The successful applicant will be offered mentorship throughout their Honours degree by experts from the appropriate discipline, a space to work within the SEI offices, and supervised access to the Collections. They will also receive a bursary of $2,000 towards research costs and may also be mentored towards publication of an article from their thesis.

Applications are encouraged from students with a background in any of the following areas:

  • humanities, art, visual culture and aesthetics;
  • the history and philosophy of science and human cultures;
  • architecture and design;
  • bio and geosciences;
  • oceanic and undersea marine scientists.


  • Applicants must have an overall mark of at least 70% across undergraduate units; and
  • be enrolled at the University of Sydney and applied for/have been accepted into Honours for Semester 1, 2022.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying, please send an email to Senior Curator, Macleay Collections, Dr Jude Philp [], with the subject heading 'Application for 2022 Iain McCalman Honours Research Award'. Your email must include a copy of the Iain McCalman Honours Research Award Application Form. 

The body of your email should consist of a brief personal introduction and with details of your current degree and status, your major(s) and department or school, and your Honours supervisor (if known). Please note that SEI is not responsible for finding you a supervisor.

Shortlisted applicants will be contacted once Honours positions have been awarded by University Faculties.

Along with your application form, please attach (in Word or PDF format):

  • proof that you have applied or been accepted to undertake Honours in semester 1, 2022. This can include a copy of your acceptance letter, or evidence of your pending application.
  • a copy of your most recent academic transcript (it does not need to be a certified copy).
  • your CV with details on your academic/non-academic achievements.

Please note that this opportunity is only available to University of Sydney students.

Applications close Friday 18 February 2022. 

Download the application form (doc, 86KB)