Summer Scholars Program (ANU)

The Australian National University in partnership with the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language intends to offer regular Summer scholarships to several students.

What is the Summer Scholars Program?

A Summer Research Scholarship or Summer Internship at The Australian National University is an exceptional research opportunity for undergraduate and masters coursework students, providing insight into what studying for a graduate research degree is all about. The scholarship or internship package gives you the opportunity to stretch your boundaries by undertaking research projects and activities during the summer.


Applications for this year's program will open 1 August 2017 and close 31 August 2017.

The eight-week program will run between Monday  20 November 2017 and Friday 19 January 2018.

To apply, please go to: 


Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity: the Cootamundra case

The ARC Laureate Project Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity seeks to understand why there is so much more linguistic diversity in some parts of the world than others. A key guiding hypothesis is that the seeds of differential macrodiversity (diversity of languages, and typological features) can be found in differential microdiversity (the degree of internal diversity between speakers in a speech community). It is proceeding through a number of case studies from small languages in high-diversity areas (Arnhem Land, Southern New Guinea, Vanuatu), and two low-diversity controls: Samoa, and a small Australian country town, which can be seen as a local speech community embedded in a national speech community (Australian English) in an international one. At this point in the project we will be initiating our country-town study, and as our site have selected Cootamundra, near Canberra.

Working with the Wellsprings team, the summer school will carry out sociolinguistic interviews in Cootamundra, learn how to transcribe and analyse sociolinguistic data from Australian English, and embed this in the cross-linguistic study of variability. The material obtained will be available for use, if desired, for an honours or Master's thesis. The summer school will also have opportunities to broaden their linguistic outlook through participation in the CoEDL Summer School and the Association for Linguistic Typology's biennial conference, both to be held in Canberra.

Investigating a century of variation and change in Sydney English

Supervisor: James Grama (as part of the Sydney Speaks project, led by Catherine Travis)

A central question in sociolinguistics is how varieties have changed over time, a question which becomes particularly intriguing in contexts that have undergone shifts in linguistic and cultural diversity. Sydney Speaks is a large-scale research project that explores the shape of English spoken in Australia’s most linguistically diverse city over the last century. Working as a member of the Sydney Speaks team, the proposed summer scholar will use a large spontaneous speech corpus of Sydney Siders born between the 1900s and the 2000s to investigate the behaviour of a single feature or a set of features (drawn from any of phonetics, morphosyntax, or discourse). The scholar will gain experience in quantitative sociolinguistic research by contributing to the constitution of the corpus, developing research questions, preparing and analyzing data to answer those questions, and presenting results. Depending on the variable(s) selected for analysis, the scholar will also undergo training to work with computational and statistical tools. Further training opportunities will be available through the CoEDL Summer School, to be held at ANU (27 Nov – 1 Dec). There exists the possibility for the research done to be further developed in Honours, Masters or PhD work.

Applicants with a background in any subfield of linguistics will be considered, but special consideration will be given to those applicants with a working knowledge of sociolinguistics and a background in quantitative methods.

Developing tools for analysis and visualisation

Supervisor: Simón González (as part of the Sydney Speaks project, led by Catherine Travis, and the Transcription Acceleration Project)

Much of the variation in a language is observed in the phonetic system, and capturing this variation is a challenge not just for linguists, but for all those working with speech data. The aim of this project is to develop tools for quantitative analysis and visualisation of linguistic data, based on static and dynamic modeling of acoustic signals. These tools should firstly facilitate and accelerate time-consuming processes required for the study of linguistic variation, and secondly be accessible to researchers who don’t have sufficient knowledge of computational linguistics to conduct the necessary analyses. The proposed summer scholarship will involve working with a phonetician who has programming experience in the development of tools for analysis and visualisation, and conducting and reporting on analyses based on those tools. As well as programming, the summer scholar will gain experience in working with data for sociolinguistic analysis, from data preparation to interpretation and presentation of results. Further training opportunities will be available through the CoEDL Summer School, to be held at ANU (27 Nov – 1 Dec). There exists the possibility for the research done to be further developed in Honours, Masters or PhD work. This summer scholarship is jointly funded by CoEDL and Appen.

In order to participate in this project, the summer scholar should have some background in phonetics, and in programming (preferably knowledge of coding in Python and/or Java).

ANU-CSIRO collaborative Summer Student project - Making the Australian National Herbarium Collection more relevant to Indigenous Australians

Supervisor: Jane Simpson (ANU)  and Linda Broadhurst (Australian National Herbarium)

The Australian National Herbarium (ANH) houses more than 1.1M plant specimens primarily collected from across Australia and Papua New Guinea and is one of the largest collections of plant specimens in Australian. The species names given to these plant specimens are in accordance with well-known scientific and botanical conventions with only a small proportion of the specimens being associated with indigenous names. Adding indigenous names to specimens in the ANH collection is challenging given the complex language landscape that exists across much of Australia and difficulties in linking western and indigenous plant species concepts. But if we do not begin exploring how to connect indigenous names with the ANH plant specimens we risk being unable to make the collection more relevant to Indigenous Australians. This project will explore the opportunities and challenges of adding indigenous names to plant specimens at the ANH such as scoping the published and grey literature, assessing whether any of these resources are suitable as authoritative references for naming plant specimens and what information needs to be associated with plant specimens to provide confidence that the indigenous name has been correctly used. Since this project will be unable to explore the whole of Australia we propose to restrict this research to one-few major plant groups (e.g. acacias and eucalypts) or to a particular region of Australia (e.g. the arid zone).

This project would suit a student with an interest in botany and Indigenous Australian languages.

Bininj Kunwok Language Course project

Supervisor: Jane Simpson ( and Cathy Bow ( 

Senior language owners in West Arnhem Land (NT) have been involved in a trial course development with CoEDL researchers, teaching Kunwinjku language and culture online. Working with Jane Simpson and Cathy Bow, in collaboration with Bininj language authorities via Skype, the student will be involved in the development of course materials for an online course teaching Bininj Kunwok language and culture.

Depending on the student's skills and research interests, tasks may include:

  • Editing audio and video files (including subtitling)
  • Creating course materials in WordPress
  • Exploring options for synchronous language sessions for small groups or individuals

This project would suit a student with an interest in Indigenous Australian languages and language teaching, possibly with a view to further study and involvement in this area. The student will also have the opportunity to learn something of the language.


Central Australian text and Western Desert language work

Supervisor: Jane Simpson ( Nay San (

We are seeking an enthusiastic student to assist with language data analysis and data organisation of Central Australian and Western Desert languages. Depending on the student's skills and research interests, other linguists may be involved in supervision. Tasks may include:

  • Becoming familiar with the basic morphological and syntactic features of Central Australian and Western Desert languages.
  • Organising the structure and building of a multidimensional corpus (dimensions of time, genre, mode and speaker)
  • Assisting with voice and video transcriptions in ELAN and incorporating them into digital dictionaries.

The student will gain knowledge of Aboriginal languages, and skills in language data management,  and develop a potential research area for development in postgraduate study. 

This project would suit a student with a strong background in linguistics. A background in computer science and Indigenous Australian languages would be helpful.

Watch this space, as other projects may be advertised

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University

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