Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scientist Award


The call for applications is currently closed

The 2025 award round is now closed.


The award recognises research in the physical and biological sciences, allowing interdisciplinary and sociocultural research that could straddle the social sciences and humanities, by outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PhD students and early- and mid-career scientists. It aims to support their research and/or the expansion and growth of their research networks and international knowledge exchange through visits to relevant international centres of research. Awards will be for up to $20,000, with additional support provided to attend the Academy's biennial Science at the Shine Dome event.


Applicants must be Australian citizens or permanent residents at the time of application. Applicants should also either be enrolled for a PhD or be within 15 years of obtaining a PhD*.

Where travel to international centres is proposed, it must be for a minimum of two weeks and a maximum of three months duration. Funded activities are normally expected to have been undertaken within two years from the date of award. Awardees may apply for extensions due to extenuating circumstances or to apply for variations to remove or adapt to barriers encountered to their planned research or travel.

Criteria used to assess applications include applicants' research track record relative to opportunity, referees’ reports, budget suitability and justification, and potential for proposed research to benefit the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The last criterion will be judged via a statement explaining how the proposed research will benefit the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples e.g. through a direct benefit to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (fiscal, health, environmental, cultural…) or indirectly through advocacy by the Awardee in encouraging First Nations youth to consider a STEM career and/or develop research capacity.

A Sash Gwion panel painted over early art and hand stencils.
Photo credit: Kimberley Foundation Australia, Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation by Mark Jones.

Applicants must provide a letter from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community or Organisation where they identify and are accepted. This may come from one of, but not limited to, the following:

  • Land Council
  • Prescribed Body Corporate (PBC) or Native Title Group
  • Natural Resources Management Board (NRM Board)
  • Traditional Owner group
  • Elders group
  • A university's Indigenous department

Grants are offered to successful applicants in November each year for projects to be commenced the next year. Funded activities are normally expected to have been undertaken within two years from the date of award. Awardees can apply for project variations if their award proposals are impacted by extenuating circumstance. Where proposals are for visits to relevant international centres of research, the budget for this should not exceed $5,500 of the total being requested. Attendance at relevant conferences is welcomed but must be in addition to a 14 day minimum visit.

If the research proposal includes collaboration with First Nations Knowledge Holders, remuneration for their time is a compulsory budget item. The source of the remuneration funding can be entirely derived from the Award, shared between the Award and applicant’s host institution or entirely from the host institution. For an example, see the Arts Law ICIP information sheet.

Funding may not cover bench fees, managerial costs, insurance or visa costs or primary researcher salaries. The award may be used to fund conference/webinar access support or costs involved in researching and developing digital tools that allow researchers to adapt their research to challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

* The Australian Academy of Science is committed to ensuring that all eligible researchers can be considered for awards and collects career interruption information to assess their opportunity to demonstrate scientific excellence. Accordingly, extensions to the post PhD eligibility requirements for Early and Mid-Career awards will be provided for qualifying career disruptions.

A career disruption involves prolonged interruption to a nominee’s capacity to conduct Full Time Equivalent (FTE) high-level research, either due to part-time employment or absence (for periods of one month or greater) and/or long-term partial return to work, to accommodate carer’s responsibilities, illness or other interruption.

The career disruptions here must have occurred post the date of the letter advising that the PhD thesis was passed and resulted in significantly reduced research productivity or nil research output. Career disruption periods will be taken into account for those who would otherwise be beyond the Post PhD Career Eligibility requirements.

The Australian Academy of Science encourages applications from all genders and from candidates from a broad geographical distribution.

For more information, contact awards@science.org.au.


Applications are to be completed through an online form found by clicking on the Apply button on the left of this web page when the round is open.

Applications must include the following:

  • Letter indicating acceptance by the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Community.
  • Research proposal. Maximum of 1,000 words.
  • Where projects involve collaborations with First Nations Knowledge Holders, provide a brief statement (max. 200 words) explaining how intellectual property ownership will be addressed. If relevant, see AIATSIS Code of Ethics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research and/or Our Knowledge, Our Way Guidelines – CSIRO.
  • One referee report.
  • Itemised budget with brief justification for each item, the names and details of any research funding already received (project title, funding body, amount).
  • Support from your department/division head supporting both your research and this application.
  • Brief CV including qualifications, summary of professional/research experience and publications/presentations. A full publications list is not required. Maximum of three pages using size 12 font.
  • (If applicable) Career disruption information.
  • (if applicable) Host researcher correspondence of support for international travel.

Award conditions

  • Applicants can only receive funding from the same research or travelling research award once in a three calendar year period.
  • Applicants may apply for more than one award but can only receive one Academy travelling or research award per calendar year.

Grants are offered to successful applicants in early November each year for projects/travel to be carried out in the following year.

Applications are assessed based on the assessed competitiveness of the proposal by a committee of scientists with diverse expertise. The Academy is not able to enter into discussion or correspondence regarding the reasons why an application is successful or not.

2024 awardees


  • Dr Justine Clark – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander precision cancer research.
  • Dr Joe Greet – Healing Water Country: developing a Traditional Owner-led billabong health assessment framework.

More about the 2024 awardees

2023 awardees


  • Ms Stephanie Beaupark – to study the colour chemistry of natural dyes from Australian native trees and using an Indigenist methodology involving yarning with other Indigenous natural dye artists and weavers.
  • Ms Michelle Hobbs – to provide new insights into the management of Australian freshwater ecosystems and freshwater mussels.

2022 awardees


  • Dr Jordan Pitt – to look at the interaction between sea ice and ocean waves, in order to improve future climate models
  • Ms Tamara Riley – to understand how the human–animal–environment relationship impacts on Aboriginal communities’ health, and then to develop ‘One Health’ models for use in Aboriginal communities.
  • Ms Vanessa Sewell – to address the problem of vaccinating against drench-resistant sheep parasites.
  • Dr Keane Wheeler – to undertake research to redress inequalities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s health and development.
  • Mr Luke Williams – to evaluate the dietary safety of Australian native foods.

2020 awardees

  • Mr Frank Loban – to visit New Zealand to discuss and learn from fisheries management organisations how they are managing their fisheries, governance framework and indigenous interests.
  • Dr Michael-Shawn Fletcher – to visit Udayana University in Bali to establish a research collaboration and to collect paleoclimatic data that will act as pilot data for another larger research grant proposal in 2020.

Inaugural awardees


Image of the Shine Dome in the above video by Stuart LindenmayerCC BY-SA 4.0

  • Mr Tui Nolan, University of Technology Sydney – to visit the Alan Turing Institute in London to study computational methods that have applications in public health and education.
  • Ms Amy Searle, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute – to attend the Science at the Shine Dome Event in 2019, the annual signature event of the Australian Academy of Science.
  • Mr Bradley Moggridge, University of Canberra – to visit New Zealand to learn how Maori culture has incorporated Indigenous knowledge and values into their water management practice.


© 2024 Australian Academy of Science