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 $2832 (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 and reopen on 2nd of January 2014.)

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 30 August 2013.

Important dates

Applications open: 29 July 2013
Applications close: 4pm, Friday 30 August 2013
Offers made: 30 September 2013
Deadline to accept offer: 14 October 2013



  1. Title: Physiological and behavioural responses of animals to variable climates
    Frank Seebacher
  2. Title: The behaviour and foraging ecology of mammalian herbivores in response to food quality and predation risk
    Clare McArthur
  3. Title: Using state-of-the-art technology for marine ecology and conservation
    Marine benthic dynamics will be assessed via Automated Underwater Vehicles (AUV). This project uses state-of-the-art technology to obtain 3D models of underwater habitats and the information derived is directly used to advice NSW Marine Parks, thus the student will be involved in applied science, which has implications in management. The student will learn from managers and researchers, gaining a multidisciplinary experience that will open many doors.
    Renata Ferrari Legorreta
  4. Title: Ant trail networks: formation and disruptions
    Ant colonies build complex trail networks that connect their nests to food sources. Amazingly, their trail networks can be as efficient as road networks designed by human engineers. How do tiny-brained ants build such efficient and complex networks? This project will study ant trail networks to determine how they form and how they respond to changes and disruptions.
    Tanya Latty
  5. Title: Native bees in community gardens
    Australia is home to 1700 species of native bee, many of which are under threat from habitat loss. Inner city green spaces such as community gardens may provide crucial refuges for threatened bee populations. Which species of bees live in community gardens? How can we design gardens that are attractive to native bees? This project will address these questions by sampling and identifying native bees in community gardens around Sydney.
    Madeleine Beekman
  6. Title: Botany@USYD: an introduction to the plants on USYD campus
    The University of Sydney campus has a diverse flora that, if mapped and metatagged, can provide an excellent learning resource to introduce students (and the general public) to the principles of botany. This summer scholarship program will extend the work undertaken by one of the School's Advanced Botany students and, ideally, will include an introductory vegetation map of the Warrah field station.
    Rosanne Quinnell
  7. Title: First steps: analysis of plant embryo development
    A project is available to investigate the role of a ribosomal protein in embryo development in the plant Arabidopsis. Microscopy techniques will be used to examine and compare embryo development in a ribosomal protein mutant with normal wild type development. Molecular biology techniques will be used to generate transgene constructs to test for rescue of the mutant phenotype.
    Mary Byrne
  8. Title: The secret behind the functioning of animal groups.
    The sight of a flock of birds or a shoal of fish moving in synchrony is one of the most fascinating in nature. The question remains, however, how do they achieve such close co-ordination? Your project will use a combination of experiments on shoals of fish and computerised tracking software to find out how social animals respond to each other and, more broadly, the secret behind the functioning of animal groups.
    Ashley Ward
  9. Title: 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 has been recently found to be a social animal that will seek the company of others. C. harfordi has a live birth reproductive cycle and females carry their young in a marsupium pouch. A project investigating the behaviour and physiology of this animal in a changing ocean is available.
    Murray Thomson
  10. Title: Are cities a hostile habitat for nature?
    Urban influences on plant traits and the integrity of insect-plant interactions will be explored.
    Dieter Hochuli
  11. Title: Do plants have a broad palate?
    This project will use mass spectrometry techniques to address the question of whether plants are restricted to taking up nitrogen in a few simple chemical forms, or if they have a broader palate and can access some of the hundreds of N-containing molecules in soil?
    Charles Warren
  12. Title: Four-lane pile-up: Stopping behaviour in snails and the appearance of aggregation in a marine snail
    It is well understood that aggregations by high-shore snails in the intertidal are caused by trail-following snails colliding with the snail at the front of the trail when the snail stops moving. This project will explore the role of individual identity in the interaction of trail-following and aggregations, using a mixture of field and laboratory experiments.
    Ross Coleman
  13. Title: What are the consequences of predator nutrition for prey selection?
    Testing how the nutritional requirements of predators affect which species of prey they consume in nature.
    Shawn Wilder
  14. Title: Molecular Characterisation of symbiosome membrane transporters.
    You will use yeast complementation to characterize the function of transporters, RNAi to determine their importance to symbiosis and GFP fusions to determine the localisation of the transporter. Expression will be characterised by real-time qPCR.
    Penny Smith
  15. Title: 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
  16. Title: 1001 Genomes Project
    You may have heard of the 1000 Genomes project in which 1000 human genomes are being sequenced. There is a similar project in plants, the 1001 Genomes Project. In this summer scholarship project you will look for evidence of natural genetic variation in plant root systems using the resources of the 1001 Genomes Project. Data will be gathered on the root system phenotypes and correlations with DNA sequence at candidate loci will be made.
    Jenny Saleeba
  17. Title: Impact of diseases on native populations of fish
    Fish diseases have had an impact on native populations of fish. This project aims to contribute to our current understanding of eukaryotic microbial pathogens. It will involve the isolation and characterisation of filamentous microbial pathogen of freshwater fish.
    Osu Lilje
  18. Title: Trapping a queen bee.
    Finding a queen bee in a hive is a pain, but necessary as part of bee management. The project involves trying to find ways to trap queens using pheromone baits and acoustic signalling.
    Ben Oldroyd
  19. Title: Foraging strategies of the endangered Kakapo parrots (Strigops habroptila) from New Zealand.
    This project involves analysis of video footage of breeding kakapo to compare the foraging strategies of different females and relate these to reproductive success.
    David Raubenheimer
  20. Title: Nutritional Ecology of the eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus).
    This project involves a combination of field –based research and laboratory work. The former involves the deployment of “smart collars” to remotely record behaviour, the collection diet samples and the analysis of behavior and diet.
    Gabriel Machovsky-Capuska

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 2013 is $473 per week. This will be paid to recipients in two installments: 50% at the start of the project and the remaining 50% after the third week. The accommodation bursary will 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.