Summer Scholarships

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The Biological Sciences Summer Research Scholarships are a great way to gain research experience and an insight into research process while working alongside leading scientific researchers from the School of Biological Sciences.

The School will offer up to 15 scholarships, with each scholarship worth $2928 (tax exempt). An extra $1500 will be paid towards expenses for students who reside outside of Sydney.

Scholarships will be awarded primarily on academic performance.


The Biological Sciences Summer Research Scholarships are open to:

  1. University of Sydney students who have completed Intermediate Biology (BIOL, MBLG) and who intend to undertake Senior Biology units.
  2. Students from other universities in Australia and New Zealand who have completed at least two years of a full time program and who are interested in honours or higher degree research.

Project dates

Projects run for four – six weeks, generally commencing in late November and concluding in late February.

Students must be available for the full duration of the project although specific dates can be arranged with their supervisor. (Please note the University will close on the 19th of December 2014 and reopen on 5th of January 2015.)

How to apply

  • Complete the application form.
  • Include a personal statement, no longer than two A4 pages.
  • Include a copy of your transcript (if not a University of Sydney student).
  • Submit by 4pm on Friday 29 August 2014.

Important dates

Applications open: 25 June 2014
Applications close: 4pm, Friday 29 August 2014
Offers made: 30 September 2014
Deadline to accept offer: 14 October 2014



1. Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub: an endangered floristic community endemic to the Sydney urban region
Since European Settlement the ESBS community has experienced a substantial reduction in size (5,300ha to <145ha), due largely to urban sprawl. The community faces many pressures, including a change in fire regimes. This project will examine differences in restorative techniques (i.e. fire and mechanical removal of weed species) in the preservation and promotion of biodiversity in this unique floristic community.
Matthew Pye

2. Peer-editing in the undergraduate Biology curriculum
It is critical for every biology undergraduate to develop written communication skills to a high standard. I have a collection of data relating to second year student’s perceptions of their writing and am offering a student whose learning agenda sits across Biology and Education an opportunity to work with me to complete a paper on the impact of ‘reflection’ and ‘reflexion’ in developing scientific writing skills.
Rosanne Quinnell

3. Foraging ecology of marsupial herbivores
We will explore relationships between food and fear as they affect foraging by swamp wallabies and possums, using manipulative field studies and/or behavioural analysis of videos of animals at feeding stations.
Clare McArthur

4. Scaling from individuals to groups: does the physiology of individuals determine group membership and populations responses to changing environments?
Many animals associate in groups, and group membership depends on the synchronisation of activity between individuals. Physiological capacities determine activity of animals and its susceptibility to environmental change. The project addresses questions of whether differences in locomotor performance and thermal sensitivity drive segregation of animals (zebrafish or similar) under different flow and thermal regimes.
Frank Seebacher

5. Are cities a hostile habitat for nature?
Urban influences on plant traits and the integrity of insect-plant interactions will be explored.
Dieter Hochuli

6. Botanical explorer - an interactive map, app and trail for the University of Sydney campus
Ever noticed how interesting the plants around you are? This research project will investigate how the plants on campus can be used to enhance student learning by building on a current project to map, photograph and meta-tag the plants on campus. By working with our team you will develop your botanical and project management skills and use your enthusiasm for photography and spending time outdoors in this creative project.
Glenda Wardle

7. Are plants fussy feeders, can they feast on proteins?
More than 90% of the nitrogen in soils is assumed to be unavailable to plants, but are plants really that ‘fussy’ when it comes to dining on nitrogen? This project will investigate if plants can take up nitrogen in the form of proteins.
Charles Warren

8. a) Naiveté and wildlife reintroductions: Do responses of reintroduced native bush rats towards alien black rats develop with time? Or b) Do aliens ever become native? Responses of urban wildlife to dogs and cats in the backyards of Sydney and Hobart
Your choice of project, a or b. a) Naiveté is central to the exaggerated impacts of alien species and hampers the success of wildlife reintroductions, but it is unlikely to last forever. This project aims to understand changes in the behavioural responses towards alien black rats by native bush rats. b) After 4000 years of being in Australia, are dingoes and dogs really native? Cats have been here 200 years, is that long enough for native status? This project will use an online questionnaire to examine the activity of local urban wildlife in Sydney and in Hobart.
Peter Banks

9. Analysis of plant embryo development
Investigate the role of a ribosomal protein in embryo development in the plant Arabidopsis. Molecular biology techniques will be used to generate transgene constructs to test for rescue of a mutant phenotype. Microscopy techniques will be used to examine and compare embryo development in a ribosomal protein mutant with normal wild type development.
Mary Byrne

10. Physiology and behaviour of the shallow water marine crustacean Cirolana harfordi
The isopod Cirolana harfordi is an important part of shallow water marine food webs and amazingly has been recently found to display live birth and to be a social animal that will seek the company of others. A project investigating the behaviour and physiology of this animal in a changing ocean is available.
Murray Thomson

11. Seeking for red-shifted chlorophylls
Many marine cyanobacteria are uncharacterised but a pigment survey analysis has shown that some of them might contain red-shifted chlorophylls. During the summer, you will learn how to culture bacteria, classify using 16s rDNA PCR sequences, extract photopigments and determine the pigment’s photochemical properties. Finally, if the cyanobacterium is a new species, you may be able to name it!
Min Chen

12. The Impact of Climate Change Stressors on Marine Invertebrates
This project will investigate the impacts of ocean warming and ocean acidification in context with near future projections for the NSW coast on marine invertebrates with a focus on echinoderm and mollusc species. The research will entail rearing life history stages (eg. larvae, juveniles=, adults) in ocean change conditions using facilities on campus and the Sydney Institute of Marine Science at Chowder Bay. The goal of the research is to determine which species may be the comparative ‘winners’ or ‘losers’ in the ocean change stakes.
Maria Byrne

Terms and conditions

The purpose of the Division of Natural Sciences Summer Scholarship Program is to provide students with an opportunity to gain access to and engage with academic staff and research projects over the summer holidays. The Summer Scholarship are offered for a maximum of 6 weeks and will be paid at the current Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) rate, which in 2014 is $488 per week. This will be paid to recipients in one installment at the start of the project. The accommodation bursary will also be paid in full in the first week of the project.

The scholarships will be awarded using the following conditions:

  1. Applicants will be required to submit an application.
  2. Applicants must be enrolled on a full time basis and have completed Intermediate Biology and intend to undertake Senior Biology units. Students from other universities in Australia and New Zealand must have completed at least two years of a full time program and be interested in honours or higher degree research.
  3. Applicants must be performing at credit level (AAM 65) or above to be considered for these scholarships.
  4. The scholarships shall be awarded on the basis of academic merit.
  5. Applicants can only receive one Summer Scholarship per year.
  6. The scholarships shall be awarded by the Dean of the relevant Faculty within the Division of Natural Sciences, on the recommendation of the appropriate Head of School.
  7. If a recipient lives outside the Sydney Metropolitan Area, they may also be offered additional funds of up to $250 per week to cover accommodation costs.