The Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship Award


The call for applications is currently closed

The 2025 award round is now closed.


The Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship Award is an annual award of up to $20,000 per awardee to assist PhD students or early career researchers with their research. It provides funding support toward research expenses, courses and the costs of travel. Grants are GST exclusive. 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.

The award is named in honour of the late Dr Maxwell Frank Cooper Day AO FAA who spent a lifetime championing entomology, conservation and forestry, as well as helping other scientists. Through sponsoring this award Dr Day is acknowledging the support that he himself received as a young researcher to travel overseas to gain his PhD at Harvard. Following Dr Day’s strong belief in the strength of an interdisciplinary approach to research, only applicants who are able to demonstrate an interdisciplinary approach to their research will be considered for this award.


  • Applicants must be Australian citizens or permanent residents at the time of application.
  • Applicants should either:
    • be accepted to undertake a PhD (or equivalent research doctorate), have completed their confirmation and be enrolled in their program (at the time of the award closing date*)
    • have held a PhD (or equivalent) for no more than 5 years at the time of the award closing date*

Applicants must demonstrate an interdisciplinary approach to their research work, address all selection criteria and conduct their research in one or more of the biological sciences relating to one or more of the following disciplines:

  1. conservation of Australia’s flora and fauna
  2. ecologically sustainable resource use
  3. environmental protection
  4. ecosystem services (either provisioning services, or habitat and supporting services).

* 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.

Selection criteria

Applicants may use the award in Australia or overseas but must demonstrate that the proposal has direct relevance to Australia in one of more of the four disciplines mentioned above. Successful applications will clearly address all selection criteria.

Eligible expenses

Eligible expenses are all expenses that fall under the following areas of funding:

  • course fees
  • cost of travel to undertake research or attend relevant conferences/workshops
  • Funding may be used towards the costs of fieldwork, equipment, consumables and other research costs not covered from other sources.
  • Funding may NOT be used to cover bench fees, other overhead costs or as a top-up for stipends, personal expenses, salaries or any non-research related costs. 


Applications must include the following:

  • A proposal summarising your chosen area of study/research and why the Max Day Fellowship will be of particular benefit to you. Please refer to the selection criteria section above for information outlining how the proposals are assessed. Maximum of 1,000 words.
  • Itemised budget detailing eligible expenses with brief justification for each item, the names and details of funding already received (funding body, amount).
  • The applicant must show they have been recognised by one or more research institutions, such as their host institution, by the provision of some level of direct financial contribution towards their project (excluding salaries).
  • Brief CV including qualifications, summary of any professional/research experience and publications/presentations. A full publications list is not required. Maximum of three pages using size 12 font.
  • PhD students require a letter of reference from their supervisor confirming and commenting on their existing research. Maximum of one page using size 12 font.
  • Post-doctoral researchers must attach two referee reports to the application. The reports should be addressed to the Awards Committee and should indicate the referee’s knowledge of the applicant’s proposed Max Day Fellowship activities, and the potential benefits of these activities to the researcher and/or the research field. Maximum of one page using size 12 font per report.

Late applications will not be considered and applicants who fail to adhere to the above requirements will not be considered.

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

The successful awardee(s) will be notified of the award by early November for a Fellowship starting up to 12 months from the date of award.

The successful awardee(s) will also be offered travel and accommodation to attend the Science at the Shine Dome event as part of their award.

This award is open to nominations for candidates from all genders.

For more information contact

Award conditions

  • Applicants must commence their research within 12 months of being offered the Fellowship, after which the Fellowship offer will automatically lapse. The Fellowship may be held concurrently with awards or grants from other institutions.
  • Successful applicants must provide a progress report on their research and expenditure to the Academy one year of being awarded the Fellowship and if the project completion date is after this period also a final report at that time.
  • 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.
  • Supporting institutes and awardees are required to ensure that any research they undertake that is funded by the Australian Academy of Science adheres to the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of research, severe breach of these codes may result in the withdrawal of current and refusal of future funding support. Research involving Indigenous Australians must  comply with the Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies.

2024 awardees

Aviya Naccarella, Deakin University: The contribution of mycophagous mammals to ecosystem services and restoration
Dr Elvis Okoffo, University of Queensland: Unmasking the hidden threat: Investigating microplastic pollution in Moreton Bay for a sustainable future

More information on the 2024 Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship Award awardees can be found here.

2023 awardees

Patrick Finnerty, University of Sydney: Neighbourhood watch—using ‘virtual’ neighbours to protect plants from herbivores during habitat restoration and post-fire recovery
Shawn Scott, University of South Australia: Post-fire population response and chytrid occurrence in South Australian frogs

More information on the 2023 Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship Award awardees can be found here.

Previous years

See the list of previous awardees here.


This award has been made available through generous contributions from the following individuals:

Presidents’ Circle (Donations of or valued at $100,000 – $499,000)
Dr Maxwell Frank Cooper Day AO FAA
Dr Jon Day PSM
Mr Doug Hooley PSM

Science Circle (Donations of or valued at $20,000 - $99,000)
Professor Andrew (Frank) Smith FAA

Donations of or valued at $1,000 – $4,999
Emeritus Professor Patrick De Deckker AM FAA HonGSL

Donations of or valued at $500 – $999
Mr Nicholas Benson
Mr Ian Hardy
Dr Laurence Mound

Donations up to $499
Mrs Eliza Allen
Marek Cmero
Dr Peter Coyne
Dr Alana Grech
Professor Alec Lazenby AO
Dr Libby Robin
Ms Suzanna Rumon
Dr Denise Sherer

© 2024 Australian Academy of Science