SEI announces new Honours Award in partnership with the Chau Chak Wing Museum (CCWM)

13 December 2021
The Sydney Environment Institute welcomes applications from undergraduate students interested in engaging with a natural museum collection to explore environmental issues.

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

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. They will have the chance to explore and use the Macleay Collections and to 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 CCWM’s 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 sciences.


  • 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 the Senior Curator, Macleay Collections, Dr Jude Philp [], with the subject heading ‘Application for 2022 Iain McCalman Honours Research Award’. Your email must include a completed copy of the Iain McCalman Honours Research Award Application Form (doc, 85KB). Applications close February 25, 2022.

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 the Institute 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.

The deadline for applications is Friday 25 February 2022. 

Header image: Chau Chak Wing Museum by University of Sydney.