Ernst Mayr Travel Grants

The MCZ awards travel grants for research in animal systematics, known as the Ernst Mayr Grants. The principal objective of these grants is to stimulate taxonomic work on neglected taxa. These include taxa with numerous poorly described species, genera and families known to have many undescribed species in institutional collections, taxa for which it is unknown what proportion of the nominal species are synonyms and difficult genera without keys. It is not the aim of these grants to support largely phylogenetic studies of taxa in which the species are reasonably well known, or to support biogeographic studies. The study of type specimens and their correct identification is the greatest need in poorly known taxa. This typically requires visits to other museums, which is what the Ernst Mayr Grants program tries to facilitate. Preference is given to studies that use the MCZ's collections, although applications to work at other museums will be considered. There is enough demand for this support for taxonomic work to make it impossible to also support phylogenetic and other evolutionary studies from the Ernst Mayr Grants.

Typical expenses that may be paid from these grants include travel, lodging, and meals for up to a few weeks while conducting research at the museum(s), reasonable services purchased from the host institution and research supplies. Awards average about $1,000 each and may not exceed $1,500. Recipients will recieve a check from the Bank of America, sent by FedEx. Alternativley, checks can be picked up at the Museum of Comparative Zoology.    

Brazilian researchers please note: The MCZ has established Material Transfer Agreements with multiple institutions in Brazil which allows us to exchange loans. This may impact your proposal by making travel to the MCZ unnecessary. To find out if your institution is eligible to receive specimen loans from the MCZ, please contact Melissa Aja via email or 617.495.2460.


This grant is open to all.


Applicants must complete a standard application form. Applications must be written in English, and include a short project description and explicit statement of goals of the research, itinerary, budget, curriculum vitae and three letters of support. Letters of support may be submitted separately, however must clearly state the name of the applicant.

Applications can be submitted by email or mailed to:

Melissa Aja
Museum of Comparative Zoology
Harvard University
26 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138


Proposals are reviewed twice a year; application deadlines are October 15 and April 1. Awards typically will be announced within two months following the application deadline. Each grantee is required to submit a written report summarizing the scientific accomplishments achieved with the award within one month of travel completion.


Please direct all inquiries to Melissa Aja.