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Prizes and awards

Mike Smith Student Prize

for History of Australian Science or Australian Environmental History

The National Museum of Australia and the Australian Academy of Science through its National Committee for History and Philosophy of Science awards the $3000 Mike Smith Student Prize for History of Australian Science or Australian Environmental History every two years. 

2017 submissions open

Mike Smith student prize

Award: $3000

Minor prizes may be awarded at the panel’s discretion 

Deadline: 9am AEST Tuesday 4 October 2016

The prize will be awarded for an essay based on original unpublished research undertaken while enrolled as a student (postgraduate or undergraduate) at any tertiary educational institution in the world.

Essays may deal with any aspect of the history of Australian science (including medicine and technology) or Australian environmental history. ‘Australia’ can include essays that focus on the Australian region, broadly defined, including Oceania.

The winning entry may be considered for publication in Historical Records of Australian Science.

Requirements:

  • 4000–8000 words long (exclusive of endnotes)
  • Written in English
  • Fully documented following the style specified for the Australian Academy of Science’s journal, Historical Records of Australian Science
  • Submissions must be accompanied by a letter from applicant’s academic supervisor attesting that the essay meets the eligibility criterion

Full criteria and application information on the Academy of Science website

For more information please email the Academy of Science at ia@science.org.au or phone 02 6201 9456

Previous winners

The Museum and the Academy have awarded the prize from 2006, with the aim of nurturing young scholars and encouraging them to publish their research.

In 2013 the prize was re-named in recognition of Australian archaeologist and Museum Senior Research Fellow Mike Smith.

The award was previously known as the Student Prize for Australian Environmental History and the History of Australian Science. 

Sonya Duus, Alessandro Antonello and Christina Dyson.
2013 Mike Smith prize winners (from left) Sonya Duus, Alessandro Antonello and Christina Dyson. Photo: George Serras.

2013 

First prize: Christina Dyson, PhD candidate in the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, has been awarded the 2013 Mike Smith Prize for her essay, ‘Living fossils and mouth-watering stones: manipulating history in the post-WWII natural Australian plant garden’. Dyson’s essay traces how, between the mid-1940s and the early 1970s, changing perceptions of Australia’s natural landscape, and particularly its ancient character, intersected with a new focus on national identity to foster the idea of the native or ‘bush’ garden.

Runner-up prizes: Alessandro Antonello and Sonya Duus, both from the Australian National University, were jointly awarded the 2013 runner-up prize. Antonello for his essay, ‘”Repelling the assault on the unknown”: Australia and the International Geophysical Year in Antarctica’; and Duus for ‘Contesting coal: echoes through time’.

The judging panel comprised Libby Robin, representing the Head of the National Museum’s Research Centre, Rachel Ankeny, Chair of the Academy’s National Committee for the History and Philosophy of Science, and Rod Home, representing the Academy’s journal, Historical Records of Australian Science.

2011

First prize: Christian O’Brien of the Australian National University’s School of History with the winning essay entitled ‘A brief history of the monsoon’.

Second prize: Sonya Duus of the Australian National University’s Fenner School of Environment and Society with her essay entitled ‘Buried sunshine, sacrifical lands and industrial slaves: an environmental history of coal in Australia’.

Highly commended: Cameron Muir of the Australian National University with his essay ‘Wheat for a white world: social and ecological relationships on the agricultural frontier in the early 20th century’.

Three people stand holding a folder each
2011 student prize winners (from left) Sonya Duus, Cameron Muir and Christian O'Brien. Photo: George Serras

2010

First prize: Luke Keogh of the University of Queensland for his essay entitled ‘Duboisia Pituri - A Natural History’. 

The judging panel was chaired by Dr Rachel Ankeny, the Chair of the Academy’s National Committee for History and Philosophy of Science, Dr Mike Smith from the National Museum’s Centre for Historical Research and Dr Libby Robin, co-editor of Historical Records of Australian Science.

2009

Co-winners Jodi Frawley (University of Sydney) and Benedict Taylor (University of New South Wales).

More on the 2009 winners