Alfred Russel Wallace Grants

Operation Wallacea had its inception in the central area of Indonesia known as the Wallacea Region. This biodiversity hotspot derives its name from the great Alfred Russel Wallace and the work he did in the region. 2013 marked the centennial year of the passing of this highly influential biologist and field naturalist (see It was a letter from Wallace to Darwin explaining Wallace’s postulate that evolution was occurring through natural selection that caused Darwin to hurriedly publish his seminal work. Although Wallace always admired the detail and thoroughness of Darwin’s work, he was, by far, the better field naturalist and funded his extensive travels in the Amazon and Malay archipelago by collecting and selling specimens to the Natural History Museum in London. As a result of these extensive travels, Wallace began to observe the puzzling distribution of species and developed fundamental theories about what is today known as the study of biogeography.

Wallace had none of the financial advantages that Darwin had, but was driven by a spirit of adventure, a thirst for knowledge, and a determination to act on those attributes. Operation Wallacea has been taking undergraduates from the US and other countries into the field to help a network of more than 200 academics conduct biodiversity surveys in remote parts of the planet since 1995. Initially, these research programs ran only in the Wallacea region because of its long isolation from continental land masses and high levels of endemic species. However, the programs now run at 25 research sites in 11 countries and are entirely funded by the tuition fees paid by more than 2000 students each year.

In order to encourage undergraduates to follow in the footsteps of this great explorer and naturalist, Operation Wallacea is offering Alfred Russel Wallace Grants. There are two forms of grants, both aimed at students looking to join one of the biodiversity teams working in remote parts of the world in the summer of 2016.

The first is for UK undergraduates, and is sponsored by Premier Oil – there are 10 grants of £1000 available to those students booked onto an Opwall 2016 project to Indonesia as either a research assistant or dissertation student, and currently studying at a UK university.

The second is for US undergraduates – there is 1 grant of $1500, 1 grant of $750, and 3 grants of $500 available. This grant is available for any students enrolled as an undergraduate at a US academic institution, and booked on to any Opwall 2016 project.

In order to apply, please email with the following information:

  • Your name, contact information and name of college or university
  • Details of your Operation Wallacea booking
  • Unofficial transcript from your academic institution
  • Full resume showing academic achievements to date, information on outdoor activities undertaken, and future aspirations
  • Two letters of reference: one of which should be able to attest to your academic abilities and a second who can describe your character (cannot be a family member or close friend).
  • Details of any financial aid or hardship grants received in order to complete college or university
  • A summary in 600 words or less of how, if awarded the grant, the sort of work that you would be doing in the field would mirror the type of field work done by Wallace.  There are going to be clear differences (eg. we don’t shoot specimens for collection by an overseas museum as Wallace may have in his day!) but what we are looking for is evidence of an understanding of the life and work of Wallace and his attention to detail in field observations, understanding of local cultures and customs, and spirit of adventure

Applications for the Alfred Russel Wallace Grant 2016 are now open and the deadline will be February 22nd 2016.

Please note that successful applicants will be invited to attend an Operation Wallacea Trust meeting in November 2016 to personally thank the representative from Premier Oil and give a short presentation on your experience. We will also require a short written article, this piece should be no more than two A4 sheets and will be supplied to Premier Oil for use in their 2016 Corporate Responsibility Report.

The winners of the 2015 US grant were as follows:

1st place ($1500): Lorna McFarlane
2nd place ($750): Caitlin Andrews
3rd place ($500): Jazmine Angela Galarreta
3rd place ($500): Samantha Rajkowski
3rd place ($500): Candice Slosek

The winners of the 2015 UK grant, each receiving £1000, were as follows:

Annabel WalshKing’s College London
Caroline Daumich– Plymouth University
Clara Morriss– The University of St Andrews
Emily Grout– Bristol University
George Myers– University of Oxford
Harry Gray-Cardiff University
Kerris Chainey– Oxford Brookes University
Luke Howard– University of Oxford
Sam Ebdon– The University of Edinburgh
Tammy Schuh- Swansea University