The Macquarie Undergraduate Research Internship (MURI), founded in 2011 in the Faculty of Arts, is a widening participation strategy to sustain the aspiration of students from equity backgrounds by building social academic capital and sense of belonging through an on-campus paid professional work experience in research in their field.

Now in it’s tenth year, this student-run, student-driven, student-sustained program welcomes students and staff mentors from all faculties.

2020 intern, Alora Cantwell, a third year Biology student completing a Bachelor of Science (pictured here with the 2020 Program Coordinator, Ali Ali), shares her experience:

The calling

As an undergraduate student, I was actively seeking out opportunities and resources to utilise at Macquarie to equip myself when I step out into the “bigger world”. At the time I was anxious as I could not find any vacation programs or internships that offered a research approach as I was interested in research in the Biological Science field. I have this strong inclination to actively seek challenges for my personal and professional development. It is likely I have picked this up from having lived in low-socioeconomic circumstances all my life and having moved to a rural area – I’ve had the time to reflect on the values I hold important.

In turn, to my surprise, the opportunity presented itself as a Facebook notification of an information seminar about the Macquarie Undergraduate Research Internship (MURI) as applications would be opening soon. I was delighted and excited to apply to a program that was student-driven and an avenue into the academic field, “a foot in the door” to meet academics and be a part of a new research project.

Research project

I am grateful to be given the opportunity to work in my department where we study the effectiveness of different anti-predator strategies. I am incredibly passionate about the biological field and highlighting the importance of researching biodiversity and conservation to protect our environment’s future. It is crucial we implement practices into conservation, which in turn, with this project’s methodologies, can shed light on future implications through the uses of Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) and iNaturalist. These sources can also assist in increasing community engagement and spreading awareness of the biodiversity that lives in your backyard.


MURI has given me the opportunity to meet incredible fellow MURI interns who are passionate about their interests and eager to put them into practice. I’m genuinely excited to watch their progress, alongside mine, throughout this journey together and develop skills for the academic and professional world. I’ve been able to share my feelings and experience with others and have entered a learning environment that strengthens and develops skills both professionally and personally.

Drawing from my experiences now in the program, it truly has been an incredible and memorable journey learning a diversity of knowledge from our students-as-partner facilitators Ali, Angelica & Angel; and the staff from across campus who have co-facilitated the workshops.

My academic sponsor is incredibly engaging and supportive of my ideas and encourages my initiative to learn through other aspects of the project.


I’m present this year in MURI’s 10th Anniversary cohort which really accentuates the growth of a student-driven team and the success it has had over the years.

I recommend for those who want to peer into the academic world and get a taste of researching in a field you’re passionate about, go for it! There is an opportunity and experience waiting for you to grab and people who are expressive about the passions you share too.

To the academics, please let your students know the wonders of MURI, sign up as a MURI sponsor & mentor in 2021 today, and pave the way for a future researcher!

Follow Alora’s progress on Twitter: @AloraC99.

Experience MURI

Register now for face-to-face or online attendance at the 2020 MURI Poster Conference on Tuesday 1st December at 11AM (AEST).

Calling for MURI Sponsors & Mentors 2021

If you would like to be a MURI Academic Sponsor & Mentor in 2021, please send your EOI to

Posted by Beverley Miles

Beverley is a Senior Learning Designer in the Academy of Continuing Professional Development in Education, Faculty of Arts. She is the founder of the Macquarie Undergraduate Research Internship (MURI), co-director of the Telemachus Ancient History Mentor Program (Tele's Angels), and member of the Archaeology of Death and Burial TV team led by A/Prof Ronika Power – bringing digital multimodal text types to assessment with Adobe Education.