Mertz Fellowship for polar and high altitude research collaboration between Switzerland Australia

Local news, 01.09.2022

The Embassy of Switzerland in Australia, with the support of the Swiss Polar Institute, is launching the Mertz Fellowship programme to promote linkages between Swiss and Australian higher education and research institutions through scientific networking and joint projects. The programme targets early-career researchers from the polar and high altitude science communities in Switzerland and Australia.

Mertz Fellowship
‘The ice cliff at Land's End. Mertz on ski’ © Mertz, Xavier (1913), from the collections of the State Library of New South Wales

About the Mertz Fellowship

The Mertz Fellowship programme is named after Dr Xavier Mertz, the first Swiss polar explorer to set foot in Antarctica and the only non-Australian/British member of the first Australian scientific expedition in Antarctica (1911-1914). The fellowship aims to intensify collaboration and networking between the polar and high altitude science communities of Switzerland and Australia. 

The programme should encourage the mobility of PhD students and early career researchers (see definition below) based in Switzerland or in Australia. It supports their active involvement in polar and high altitude research through short-term exchange visits and joint projects with the aim to develop long-term scientific linkages and partnerships between Switzerland and Australia. 

One AUD 10,000 grant will be made available per year from 2022 onward. The fellowship grant can be used toward travel and costs of living (including accommodation) in order to reach the project objectives.

Applicants are responsible for finding a host institution as well as clarifying the scope of the proposed research project before submitting their application.

The Mertz Fellowship programme is managed by the Embassy of Switzerland in Australia and implemented in collaboration with the Swiss Polar Institute. It is funded by the Swissnex network, part of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). 


Target public and type of applications expected

Any PhD student or early career researcher (maximum 5 years after the PhD award at the time of the proposal submission ) working at a Swiss Institute of Higher Education and/or research facility, including those identified under Article 15 of the Federal Act on the Promotion of Research and Innovation, or at an Australian university or research facility (for reference: list of Australian universities and agencies) is eligible to apply. The nationality of the applicant is not an eligibility criterion.

• Applicants based in Switzerland must propose a project in collaboration with a “host institution” in Australia. 

• Applicants based in Australia must propose a project in collaboration with a “host institution” in Switzerland.  

The call is open to all disciplines interested in polar regions and high altitude area. Interdisciplinary initiatives as well as initiatives from, e.g., Social Sciences, Humanities and Economics, are also encouraged.



To be eligible, proposals must notably respect the call’s general aims, the definition of the call’s target public and bilateral geographic focus as well as the expected format. Applicants are reminded to study the eligibility rules for this call closely. Ineligible applications will not be submitted for evaluation.



A complete application consists of:

1) Completed application form (compulsory - Application form (DOCX, 3 Pages, 64.8 kB))  

2) CV of the applicant, including a publication list (compulsory – free format)

3) Support letter from home institution (compulsory – free format)

4) Support letter from host institution (compulsory – free format)

Letters of recommendation and references relevant to the project can be included. All documents must be saved in PDF with the name of the applicant in the title.

Submission information:

The deadline for submission is 30 October 2022, 11:00pm (CET).



Evaluation criteria:

· Quality of the proposed project (30%)

· Relevance of the proposed project from a collaboration perspective (30%)

· Relevance of the proposed project from a career / capacity building perspective (30%)

· Feasibility (10%)

Evaluation results will be transmitted to applicants at the latest by 30 November 2022. The successful applicant will receive a grant agreement (contract) from the Embassy of Switzerland in Australia specifying the grant’s conditions (reporting, payments, participation in communication activities, etc.).

For any additional information or clarification, please contact: