Theo Murphy Initiative (Australia)

The call for applications are currently closed


Through the Theo Murphy Initiative (Australia), the Academy will conduct up to 4 activities and events annually to support Australia’s early- and mid-career researcher (EMCR) community. The purpose of these activities is to provide tangible benefits to EMCRs to support their careers and ultimately further scientific discovery.

Applications are open to deliver activities in the following formats:

Format Description Examples
High Flyers Think Tank

These are events that bring together EMCRs from a broad range of relevant disciplines to:

Engage in thinking about novel applications of existing science (including social science) and technology to issues of national significance
Identify issues and gaps in current knowledge, and
Propose solutions.

The think tanks are unique opportunities for career development and network creation among the nation’s next generation of research leaders and their institutions. Previous think tanks have culminated in reports offering recommendations for action that have been timely, well received and instrumental in influencing policy development.

Potential reach: 50 - 70 attendees

All Think Tanks

An outcome of the 2017 High Flyers Think Tank ‘Rethinking food and nutrition science’ was the development of a decadal plan for the science of nutrition in Australia.

An important outcome of the 2010 High Flyers Think Tank ‘Searching the Deep Earth: The Future of Australian Resource Discovery and Utilisation’ was the development of UNCOVER, a project to unlock Australia’s  potential mineral wealth
Theo Murphy Frontiers of Science symposium

This is a symposium that brings together the very best EMCRs in Australia in multidisciplinary areas of science to discuss emerging technologies and identify potential opportunities for future research collaboration.

The Theo Murphy Frontiers of Science symposium offers all attendees the opportunity to present their latest research at the event, either as an oral, a 10-minute or a poster presentation.

Applicants are encouraged to incorporate research and career development training opportunities. as part of the symposium program.

Potential reach: 60 - 90 attendees

All Frontiers of Science symposia

Most recent Frontiers of Science symposium focused on healthy ageing and featured training sessions on effectively engaging consumers as part of your research. 
Meeting, conference or training workshops

Activities with a scientific focus that incorporate a degree of interdisciplinarity. These activities could incorporate research and career development training opportunities.

Activities that encourage collaboration between STEM and humanities, arts and/or social sciences will be considered.

Potential reach: 20 – 150 attendees depending the type of activity

Collaboration across Boundaries 2018

Research Data science Winter School

Genomes and Biodiversity: Research and Career Development workshop

E-learning resource for EMCRs

Support to create and deliver an online resource to support the research and career development of EMCRs in Australia. Access to the resource will be free.

The Australian Academy of Science is developing a world-class digital education and collaboration platform  to provide high-quality and immersive professional development training opportunities. . This platform will create an opportunity to deliver online resources that can support the research and career development of EMCRs in Australia.

Proposals for e-learning resources for EMCRs will be hosted in this platform.

Potential reach: over 100 users

STEM Transferable Skills Toolkit program (currently on the second stage of the pilot) 

Add-on to an existing activity or event

Deliver an add-on EMCR program at an existing event.

This is an opportunity to increase the engagement opportunities for EMCRs attending, to provide professional development opportunities and offer mobility grants to support EMCR attendance to the event.

Potential reach: 60 – 200 attendees depending the event 

2018 Cutaneous Biology meeting


Synthetic Biology Australasia 2019 conference
Brand-new activity

A new type of activity, resource or project not listed above that has high relevance for EMCRs.

Activities must not have commercial or for-profit purposes.  

Successful activities will work in conjunction with the Australian Academy of Science’s Secretariat to deliver the activity. Activities will be managed by the Academy in collaboration with the organising committee of the proposal. Successful activities will be branded as part of the Theo Murphy Initiative (Australia), see examples.

Support ranges from AUD $15,000 - $50,000 per activity for direct activity costs, excluding Academy staff time. Please note, financial management of awarded funds will remain with the Academy’s Secretariat.

It is requirement of the Theo Murphy Initiative (Australia) that the selected activities supplement their funds by securing other sources of support.

Applicants are encouraged to read the FAQ and tips for proposals document, download the budget template and the sample application form to help them prepare their application.

If you have any questions about the eligibility of your activity or about any of the formats, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at or 02 6201 9488.

Supporting diversity and inclusion at the Theo Murphy Initiative (Australia) activities

The Australian Academy of Science is committed to support diversity and inclusion in all Theo Murphy Initiative (Australia) activities.

Funding to enable attendance for those participants who may not be able to attend without support, those with caring responsibilities and/or people from traditionally underrepresented demographics will be allocated to all selected activities (if relevant). The funds will be distributed among the selected activities on a needs basis and to reflect the accessibility requirements of each activity.

Guidelines for activity proposals

Please consider the following goals of the Theo Murphy Initiative (Australia) in the preparation of your proposal. The Initiative aims to provide benefits and opportunities to as many EMCRs as possible. Innovative ways to reach broad audiences are encouraged. Where activities include the delivery of a physical event, we aim to hold these in different locations around the country and different times throughout the year. Activities should be offered to EMCRs at low cost. The Initiative aims to support activities which would otherwise not be undertaken. Full funding for activities is not offered; all organising committees, with the guidance of the EMCR unit, must raise additional funds to support their activity.


  • Activities proposed must be designed to provide tangible benefits to Australian EMCRs, however they may also include benefits to international EMCRs and/or non-EMCRs.
  • The Academy defines EMCRs as researchers up to 15 years post-PhD excluding career breaks, irrespective of their type of appointment or type of employer.
  • All proposals must include at least one EMCR Forum member on the organising committee. The EMCR Forum is made up of any person in Australia who self-identifies as an EMCR. It is free and easy to become a member, fill out the membership form.
  • Activities must take place within Australia.  
  • Proposals for e-learning resources must focus on Australian participants.
  • If relevant to the activity, applicants are encouraged to explore digital delivery of programs to maximise reach and provide more equitable access to EMCRs in regional areas.
  • Activities must try to incorporate inclusivity, equity and diversity principles
  • Activities cannot benefit only one organisation.
  • Activities should be offered to EMCRs at an affordable cost. 

Selection criteria

Activity proposals will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • Ability to further scientific discovery in the fields of medicine, science, technology and engineering (STEM)
  • Benefit and provide opportunities to individual EMCRs and the EMCR community
  • Potential reach within the EMCR community
  • Ability to achieve inclusivity, equity and diversity
  • Capacity to raise additional funding to support the activity
  • Degree of interdisciplinarity
  • Potential outcomes of the activity. 

Selection Process

The EMCR Committee of the Academy’s Council will assess all eligible applications using the selection criteria and make a recommendation for funding to the Executive Committee of the Academy and the Royal Society (Australia) Board.

Final decisions will be based upon alignment with the selection criteria, and the Academy’s capacity to deliver the activity within the timeframe. The EMCR Committee of the Academy’s Council will also consider how the activities align and contribute to the strategic goals of the Academy and the EMCR Forum as part of their decision.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome via email in April 2020.

Where activities are highly ranked on selection criteria but are not able to be delivered within the timeframe of the current round, the Academy may choose to work with the committee to deliver the activity in the subsequent round.

Proposal submission and timeframes

Activity proposals should be submitted to the Academy via the online application page by Sunday 15 December 2019.

Go to application page

Please note that the application page does not have the ability to save partial applications. Download the sample application form to prepare your proposal then cut and paste your answers from the sample form into the online portal when you are ready to submit your proposal.

We also encourage you to review the FAQ and tips for proposals.

Proposals due: Sunday 15 December 2019

Successful applicants notified: April 2020 

Granting period: Activities delivered 1 July 2020 – 30 June 2021.

If you experience any problems submitting your proposal or have any questions, please contact the Academy’s EMCR Secretariat as early as possible at or 02 6201 9488.


The Theo Murphy (Australia) Fund was established with the purpose of furthering scientific discovery in the fields of medicine, science, technology and engineering. The fund is made available by the Royal Society of London.

The Theo Murphy (Australia) Fund supports a number of activities annually which provide tangible benefits to Australia’s early- and mid-career researcher (EMCR) community.

Academy events support and promote diversity, equity of participation, intellectual freedom and excellence. Events supported by the Theo Murphy (Australia) fund follow the same guidelines as Australian Academy of Science events. As a condition of participating in an event all delegates, speakers and committee members accept the terms and conditions in the guidelines.

© 2020 Australian Academy of Science