The 2013 Mike Smith prize winners: (left to right) Sonya Duus, Alessandro Antonello and Christina Dyson. Photo: George Serras.

Previously known as the Student Prize for Australian Environmental History and the History of Australian Science.

The National Museum of Australia, in partnership with the Australian Academy of Science, awards the Mike Smith prize to a postgraduate or undergraduate student for an essay based on original research in the fields of environmental history of the history of science in Australia. The Museum and the Academy have awarded the prize annually since 2006, with the aim of nurturing young scholars and encouraging them to publish their research.

In 2013 the National Museum re-named the prize after Australian archaeologist and Museum Senior Research Fellow Mike Smith, in recognition of his contribution to mentoring young researchers. The prize, offering $3,000, will now be awarded every two years.

2013 prize winners announced

First prize: Christina Dyson, PhD candidate in the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, has been awarded the 2013 Mike Smith Prize for her essay, ‘Living fossils and mouth-watering stones: manipulating history in the post-WWII natural Australian plant garden’. Dyson’s essay traces how, between the mid-1940s and the early 1970s, changing perceptions of Australia’s natural landscape, and particularly its ancient character, intersected with a new focus on national identity to foster the idea of the native or ‘bush’ garden.

Runner-up prizes: Alessandro Antonello and Sonya Duus, both from the Australian National University, were jointly awarded the 2013 runner-up prize. Antonello for his essay, ‘”Repelling the assault on the unknown”: Australia and the International Geophysical Year in Antarctica’; and Duus for ‘Contesting coal: echoes through time’.

The 2013 judging panel comprised Libby Robin, representing the Head of the National Museum’s Research Centre, Rachel Ankeny, Chair of the Academy’s National Committee for the History and Philosophy of Science, and Rod Home, representing the Academy’s journal, Historical Records of Australian Science.