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ACIAR Alumni Research Support Facility

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In response to COVID-19, we’re providing new funding to support research led by ACIAR Alumni across the Indo-Pacific.

The Alumni Research Support Facility is a one-off activity that will provide up to AUD $20,000 for small research activities that build resilience and respond to the emerging challenges that COVID-19 has placed on agricultural systems in our partner countries.

The funded projects will be led by ACIAR John Allwright Fellows, ACIAR University of the South Pacific Scholarship Program, Meryl Williams Fellowship, and John Dillon Fellowship alumni, in the planning and execution of the research, with research that is aligned and supportive of their own institution’s research strategies and ACIAR’s country strategies.

We expect around 30 projects will receive funding in the first round, with research proposals that are able to be implemented in a 12-month period. Cross-disciplinary proposals are highly encouraged.

The Research Support Facility is designed to be reflexive to the global pandemic response and seeks to support initiatives that build resilience and respond to the emerging challenges that COVID-19 has placed on agricultural systems in our partner countries.

The Facility will support ACIAR partner institutions to undertake small research activities that:

  1. Provide input into post-COVID-19 research needs, both for their own research institute and for the broader agricultural sector in the researcher’s home country.  
  2. Build the scientific capacity of individual researchers, enhance their career progression, and strengthen links with both organisations and experienced researchers through academic mentoring.
  3. Build the capacity of partner organisations to undertake high-quality research that addresses contemporary challenges in agriculture for development
  4. Support strengthened international agricultural research collaboration where interdisciplinary research is highly encouraged

Given the travel restrictions that researchers are currently facing, we expect most of the research will be based on desktop reviews and secondary data analysis rather than field work.

Research Themes

Research proposals must align with institutional and country-level research objectives and one of the following four research themes:
1.    Impact of COVID-19 responses on regional food supplies response (and recovery post-COVID19)
Emerging issues relating to the challenges that COVID-19 has placed on, for example, agricultural supply chains, agricultural, social and environmental sustainability, food/nutritional security and intra- and international trade in farm products. Research can also consider impacts of COVID-19 responses of governments on value chains, food safety, health and nutrition, logistics and postharvest. 

2.    One Health 
One Health recognises the important connection between humans, animals and the environment to better understand and manage global public health issues such as food safety, antibiotic resistance and zoonotic disease control. Applications aligned with the ‘One Health’ research theme should address an issue at the human-animal-ecosystem interface that is relevant to the COVID-19 response.

3.    Food system resilience 
Research proposals should identify and explore potential pathways for increasing the socioeconomic and ecological resilience of the agriculture sector in the face of external shocks. External shocks can be identified as contemporary disruptions to daily life including that of COVID-19, and natural disasters, or preparatory research for potential future external shocks. 

4.    Research to policy 
Proposals should address ways in which existing research can be better integrated into national policy mechanisms and/or regional governance bodies with a stake in the COVID-19 response. 

Program Structure

Application round 

The program will open for applications on Wednesday 22 April 2020. The support is designed to be complementary to Capacity Building Higher Degree by Research (HDR) programs and only open to researchers who have successfully completed a John Allwright Fellowship, or University of the South Pacific Scholarship and returned to their home country in the past 10 years, or are Meryl Williams Fellows. Applicants must have a minimum Masters degree.

ACIAR alumni who have completed their program within the last 10 years will be asked to submit proposals that align with one of the research themes and is supported by their institution. 

The funding is aimed at developing small-scale research projects in the institution to which the awardees are currently working. Proposals that have the potential to catalyse longer-term local or international support are looked upon favourably. Proposals that link in with active ACIAR projects in the applicant’s home country or in neighbouring countries are welcomed. Applications should be gender-sensitive and where possible women and gender-diverse individuals should be included in the proposal. 

Institutional support 

Applications must demonstrate how the activity will benefit the researcher’s employing institution and must have the approval of the Head of the institution. The research facility is merit-based, and if successful ACIAR will contract the employing institution. At the conclusion of the activity, a detailed report on the outcomes and a report on project expenditure is to be provided to ACIAR. This report must be read and certified by the Director of the awardee’s institution.

Where appropriate, proposals should be discussed with ACIAR Country and Regional Managers. 

Academic panel/Mentors/international collaborator

Researchers will have access to a panel of Australian academics and/or a mentor that will either be selected by the researcher themselves or in collaboration with the relevant ACIAR Research Program Manager. 


Where possible the Research Support Facility aims to support research that has the potential to either be published in an accredited scientific journal, as a book chapter, or as a policy briefing document. Applicants are encouraged to include details of how their research will contribute to the greater body of literature and work in their field(s), and where viable to identify potential areas of publication. 


Applications are open 22 April 2020 and close 22 May 2020. Please note that the selection process is rigorous and only application forms that are properly filled in, and contain sufficient details on the proposed activity, including careful costing, are considered.

Applications for research proposals up to $20,000 will be considered. 
•    First pilot round - Applications due 22 May 2020
•    Full round (TBC) – Applications open 15 August 2020
Budgets can include some or any of the following expenses:
•    Expert input
•    Analyst’s input
•    Analytical/technical software
•    Lab/technical equipment
•    Input time for researcher’s where outside normal responsibilities
•    Editing or proofreading services
•    Translation services
•    Publication costs

Online application form can be found here. 

Downloadable versions of guidelines and form can be found here. Please note you must apply online. Any issues please contact fellowships [at] aciar.gov.au