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, Joanna Cai, a second year Bachelor of Media and Marketing student (pictured here with the 2020 Program Coordinator, Ali Ali, and 2020 Program Facilitator, Angelica Ojinnaka), shares her experience:

The Calling

Being the first in my family to attend university was already a big step for me. I can certainly relate to other students who are new to pursuing tertiary education as it can get overwhelming at times. Even the idea of undertaking academic research was so foreign to me. This is why I wanted to explore what research was like and if it was something I wanted to aspire to after my bachelor’s degree. Being a part of the Macquarie Undergraduate Research Internship (MURI) program offered me this opportunity.

Research Project

I have always had an interest in different cultures, languages, and communities other than my own. My current MURI research project is looking into the geolinguistics of multicultural Australia. Immigration has played a pivotal role in shaping the ways languages have evolved in this country and it is all about re-discovering how the location has influenced the different dialects we all speak. It was an honour to explore my cultural roots through this project as I grew my cultural knowledge of other languages spoken in Australia. Recent events confronted us with issues of diversity representation in the media, segregation between races, and protests amplifying around the world. It is more important than ever to find what is so universal about languages that allow us to better understand humanity as a whole.


So far from my MURI experience, I have learnt a lot about what actually goes behind the scenes in the research field, whether that may be having an online presence or knowing how to use different researching tools provided by the university. I have also met many talented students, MURI interns, who are all working on different interest projects. Some are looking at the meanings behind the Sakura Flower while others are investigating ways to improve the education system. I know I will take these friendships with me as I look forward to their presentations towards the end of the MURI program. 

MURI has given me the opportunity to develop a stronger sense of belonging to the university. My academic sponsors and the staff I have been working with are all so supportive. They have dedicated their time to build my new skills, such as working with GIS (Geographic Information Systems). I would not have known such software and applications without this internship. MURI has made me appreciate the world of academia as a curious student.


Being a part of MURI’s 10th Anniversary cohort highlights the successes of the program for all these years. I would advise future MURI interns to be passionate about what you are working on. It was a great opportunity for me to explore a field outside of my degree that I also had an interest in.

It would also be encouraging to see more academics from all different faculties offer their research projects or their sponsorship of student-initiated research projects. It makes a huge impact on our overall learning experience. I am sure there are many eager students out there waiting to share the same passions as yourself. See you all on the other side of the research world!

Follow Joanna’s progress on Twitter: @TheJoannaCai.

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.