Thomas Davies Research Grant for Marine, Soil and Plant Biology


The call for applications is currently open

Closing date

June 01 2024 - 11:59 PM AEST

The 2025 award round is now open.


The Thomas Davies Research Grant for Marine, Soil and Plant Biology is funded through a generous philanthropic bequest from the estate of the late Thomas Lewis Davies to the Australian Academy of Science. The fund offers annual science grants of up to $20,000 each to early-and mid-career researchers in the field of marine, soil and plant biology. Grants are GST exclusive.

For this grant early-and mid-career researchers are classified as scientists with up to 15 years post PhD experience*. Grants are offered to successful applicants in November each year for projects to be commenced the next year. Funded activities are normally expected to be completed within two years from the date of award. Awardees can apply for project variations if their award proposals are impacted by extenuating circumstance.

* 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.

Eligibility criteria

  • Applicants must be Australian citizens or permanent residents.
  • Applicants should have held a PhD (or equivalent) for no more than 15 years at the time of the award closing date*.
  • Funding may be used towards the costs of research assistant salaries, equipment and other costs not covered from other sources. Funding may not cover bench fees, managerial costs, insurance or visa costs or primary researcher salaries.
  • Grants should be spent within 24 months from the date of award.
  • The work should lead to publication in high quality scientific journals.
  • Successful grant winners will be expected to present annual progress reports starting 12 months from when the award is made using the Academy's grant reporting template. A full report is also required within 3 months of the termination of the research project.
  • 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.


Please submit your application using the Apply button found on the left of this webpage.

Applications must include the following:

  • A research proposal structured under the following headings; aims & background, significance of the research, methodology, management implications of the project. Maximum of 1000 words.
  • Itemised budget with brief justification for each item, the names and details of research funding already received (project title, funding body, amount).
  • Brief CV including qualifications, summary of professional/research experience and publications/presentations. Maximum of three pages using size 12 font.
  • Applicants must submit two referee reports with the application. The reports should be addressed to the Awards Committee and indicate the referee’s knowledge of the applicant’s research and their ability to carry out the project successfully. Maximum of one page using size 12 font for each report.

Late applications will not be considered.

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.
  • 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.

Applications are assessed by a committee of scientists with diverse expertise and 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. 

This award is open to applications from candidates from all genders.

For more information contact



  • Dr Martin Breed, Flinders University: Harnessing the root-associated microbiota of the invasive species buffel grass to improve its management
  • Dr Cheong Xin Chan, University of Queensland: Deciphering the molecular regulations of heat tolerance in a coral algal symbiont
  • Dr Onoriode Coast, University of New England: Exploring acclimation of wheat leaf respiration to warm nights
  • Dr Maria Ermakova, Monash University: Developing a synthetic biology platform for high-throughput genetic engineering of sorghum to sustain crop productivity
  • Dr Zahra Islam, University of Melbourne: The effect of fertilisers on the capacity of soil bacteria to scavenge atmospheric hydrogen
  • Dr Chaoyu Li, University of Melbourne: Unravelling the newly discovered complete ammonia oxidiser (comammox) bacteria in terrestrial ecosystems
  • Dr Mariana Mayer Pinto, University of New South Wales: Interactive effects of light pollution and ocean warming on herbivory in temperate reefs
  • Dr Joanna Melonek, University of Western Australia: Uncovering the molecular function of mTERF proteins in fertility restoration in plants
  • Dr Inka Vanwonterghem, University of Queensland: Mangrove forests’ unseen majority—unravelling microbial diversity, functions and interactions

More information on the 2023 Thomas Davies Research Grant for Marine, Soil and Plant Biology awardees can be found here.

Previous years

Download the list of previous awardees.

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