3 PhD positions @ Deakin University – conservation science

3 PhD positions in conservation science

We are currently looking for 3 enthusiastic PhD students for exciting projects in conservation science. The projects are outlined below. More details can be found on A/Prof Emily Nicholson’s lab website, on the selection criteria, the projects and supervision teams.

These projects are largely desk-based (ideal at the moment), but will have strong international and national collaboration networks. Start dates are ASAP – preferably by August/September, but with some flexibility. All three will be funded by Deakin University scholarships, and are open to Australia and international students.

Please note: closing date for all 3 positions is Monday, June 1st 2020.

Project 1: Planning for sustainable development and biodiversity on Indigenous lands

The complexity of planning for sustainable development is exemplified in the Tiwi Islands, 60km north of Darwin in the Northern Territory, Australia. The Tiwi Land Council is seeking to expand economic opportunities for Tiwi communities and to improve social, economic and health outcomes for the Tiwi people, while sustaining the Islands’ unique cultural and biodiversity values.

This project aims to support decision-making on the Tiwi islands, through new methods for collaborative land-use planning that advance knowledge about trade-offs between sustainable economic development and biodiversity conservation on Indigenous lands. Our approach is trans-disciplinary and participatory, integrating Indigenous and scientific knowledge and methods.

This project will:

  1. map past and current distributions of key species, drawing on these different sources, working with Tiwi communities and research assistants, and scientists across Australia, and
  2. develop models of potential future dynamics under scenarios of climate and land-use change, and different management strategies.

Project 2: Improving the implementation and integration of biodiversity risk assessments

The Earth is currently experiencing a global biodiversity crisis. Ecosystems are collapsing and species extinctions are occurring at an unprecedented rate. The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems was developed to assess risks to biodiversity, and is rapidly gaining traction in informing global conservation targets and national assessments of threatened communities. In this project, the PhD student will use a combination of literary synthesis, field work and modelling to explore how the Red List of Ecosystems can be implemented and used to improve conservation outcomes, including developing an understanding of:

  1. how temporal and spatial scale of data influence outcomes of assessments;
  2. how different assessment processes (i.e. the Red List of Ecosystems and the Red List of Threatened Species) work together to enhance conservation decision making;
  3. how Red List assessment can improve management recommendations and outcomes.

Project 3: Connecting biodiversity risk assessment, human well-being and natural capital accounting

Ecosystem degradation and species extinctions are eroding the capacity of the environment to provide essential services that sustain human well-being, economies and social fabrics. Multiple approaches have been developed to assess risks to biodiversity (for example the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the Red List of Ecosystems), to value the benefits it supports, and to account for stocks and flows of the benefits from natural capital to human well-being. These approaches remain largely disparate, with limited exchanges between extensive ecological and economic knowledge bases and data. In this trans-disciplinary project, the PhD student will bring together different knowledge types and theory to improve the monitoring and management of natural ecosystems. The student will:

  1. review the theory and empirical evidence supporting the relationships between ecosystems, benefits they provide and human well-being; and
  2. use novel modelling and statistical approaches, together with several case studies, to bring together the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems approach and the United Nations System of Environmental Economic Accounting (UN SEEA EEA) approach.

By working with leading authors in both the RLE and SEEA approaches, this exciting PhD project will influence global and national policy approaches and measurement standards.

For more available positions within the CIE please visit our Current Vacancies page.

PhD opportunity @ Deakin University (Warrnambool campus) – Conservation genomics of the short-finned eel

PhD opportunity @ Deakin University – (Warrnambool campus)

Conservation genomics of the short-finned eel

The ECOGENETICS LAB is seeking a PhD candidate for a research program aimed at addressing critical knowledge gaps around understanding the resilience of short-finned eel fisheries in south-eastern Australia. The project will have a particular focus on the ancient ‘kuuyang” fishery within the UNESCO Budj Bim Cultural Landscape.

This exciting project will involve a combination of field and lab-based activities, and provides an excellent opportunity to develop key skills and knowledge in conservation and fisheries genomics. The project will be conducted in close partnership with Traditional Owners, local government, and industry.

This project will have three complementary research components:

    1. Undertaking population genomic analyses to gain insights into eel stock connectivity and spatial patterns of recruitment across the species range;
    2. Using eDNA tools to assess patterns of habitat use within catchments;
    3. Applying DNA metabarcoding approaches to assess eel diet based on the genomic analysis of eel stomach samples.

Outcomes from this study will provide new insights into the species life history and a resource for assessing the resilience of eel fisheries to environmental change and informing future management.

The position is based at Deakin’s Warrnambool campus and is available to both domestic and international students. Applicants should have achieved an excellent grade (e.g., H1 or HD) in an Honours or a MSc research program, and proven skills in scientific writing.

We are seeking candidates with an interest and experience in wildlife ecology, fish biology, or ecological genetics (not essential). The successful candidate will be awarded a 3-year PhD scholarship (~AU$28,000 p.a. tax free + $5,000 p.a. scholarship top-up from research partner) through the School of Life and Environmental Sciences.

Contact Dr Adam Miller (a.miller@deakin.edu.au) or vist our lab page (ECOGENETICS LAB) for furture details.

For more available positions within the CIE please visit our Current Vacancies page.

PhD top-up scholarship: How are reptiles affected by the interaction of invasive predators and bushfires?

PhD top-up scholarship: How are reptiles affected by the interaction of invasive predators and bushfires?

Please click here for further information and application details.

The PhD scholar will initiate and conduct research in reptile ecology with a focus on how reptile species and communities are affected by the interactions between invasive predators (foxes and feral cats) and fire. The project is part of an ARC-funded Linkage grant which, in collaboration with the Victorian Government and the University of Melbourne is investigating the effects of landscape scale fox control across replicated forest areas in south-western Victoria. Planned burns in these regions provide the opportunity to measure whether fox control affects reptile responses to fire. Another exciting aspect that this PhD project will be to discover whether predator impacts can be mitigated using constructed shelters in recently burnt environments.

This three-year top-up scholarship is funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage project scheme in a project led by University of Melbourne. The project comes with additional funding to cover research costs and conference participation. The project includes a vibrant supervisory team, including Professor Don Driscoll, Dr Tim Doherty, and Dr Bron Hradsky.

The successful applicant for the top-up will need to apply for a full PhD scholarship in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and the Built Environment, Deakin University shortly after notification of the outcome.

Opportunity: Postgraduate Research Internship in Office of the Chief Scientist for Australia


Location: Canberra, ACT

Duration: 5 months

Proposed start date: Monday 4th June 2018

Applications close: 28 May 2018

Keywords: Analytical skills, Data Visualisation, Report writing, Communication, Team work, Multidisciplinary

Please note: Due to project requirements, students must have Australian Citizenship or Permanent Residency to apply. Any applicants not meeting this requirement will automatically be deemed ineligible for this project.


The Office of the Chief Scientist supports Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO in his role in providing high-level independent advice to the Prime Minister and other Ministers on matters relating to science, technology and innovation. The Chief Scientist is also an advocate for Australian science domestically and internationally.

A STEM literate and capable workforce is a key component to Australia’s present and continued prosperity and is a significant policy priority of the Australian Government. The Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) is one of the primary sources of advice and evidence on Australia’s STEM workforce.

In 2016 the OCS released for the first time a comprehensive examination of Australia’s STEM workforce using the 2011 Census that mapped the outcomes and trajectories of STEM qualified graduates in both higher education and vocational education and training (VET).

The release of the 2016 Census provides an opportunity to both update the previous work and to advance the evidence base for areas of specific policy interest through examining the role of the STEM workforce. The OCS will be working towards the production of the second edition of the Australia’s STEM Workforce report by the end of 2018.

The OCS is seeking a PhD graduate that can provide a high level of analytical capability to undertake a significant part of the analysis and production of the report, working as part of a multidisciplinary team.

Find out more here.

PhD scholarship: Role of incubation behaviour in developmental programming

Based at Deakin University’s Centre for Integrative Ecology with ARC Future Fellow Professor Kate Buchanan
and DECRA fellow Dr Mylene Mariette.

We are seeking an outstanding, highly motivated PhD candidate to work on a new ARC Discovery project “Revisiting the ontogeny of vocal learning in birds: from neuron to fitness”. Previous work by our group has demonstrated the importance of incubation calling behaviour in programming developmental outcomes (Mariette and Buchanan Science 2016). The aims of this PhD research program are to determine how incubation behaviour may determine developmental trajectories and heat adaptation in Zebra Finches. The PhD student will work in a vibrant and productive research team testing the role of incubation behaviour for nest temperature regulation and nestling development. They will conduct behavioural assays, bioacoustics analyses, monitor environmental conditions and assess developmental outcomes for nestlings. There will be the chance to develop skills in assessing physiological condition, gene expression and hormone production.

More information and application details here.

Position available: Associate Research Fellow marine sediment and habitat dynamics

The Associate Research Fellow will initiate and conduct research in the area of marine sediment and habitat dynamics.The position will join Deakin’s Marine Mapping team within the School of Life and Environmental Sciences and will bring the latest marine mapping techniques to Victoria to produce evidence-based predictions of sediment compartment dynamics.

Closing date: 11 May 2018.
Please click here and here to access the full position description and application package.

PhD Scholarship: Seagrass Restoration: Development of methods for the recovery of intertidal seagrass meadows

Seagrass Restoration: Development of methods for the recovery of intertidal seagrass meadows

Overview: As key ecosystem engineers, seagrasses provide a range of important ecosystem services including nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, coastal protection, and providing a structurally complex habitat to a variety of vertebrate and invertebrate species. Given these important roles, there has been increasing concern about the rapid declines seagrass populations are now experiencing globally.

In Western Port (South Eastern Australia), seagrass represents a major marine habitat, however, there has been significant loss of meadows over the last 40-50 years. Efforts to improve water quality and sediment loads in the 1990s and 2000s has seen improvements in the overall condition and extent of seagrass meadows in some parts of the bay, however, natural recovery has been slow and some areas have shown no sign of recovery despite improved water quality. Potential reasons for the lack of recovery in these areas may be the absence of seed banks or propagule supply, or that the local environmental conditions are no longer suitable (e.g. there may have been a change in sedimentary conditions). Rehabilitation and restoration of seagrass through seeds and/or transplant units, provides a mechanism to facilitate reestablishment in areas where natural recovery has not occurred and assist more rapid recovery in areas where natural recovery is occurring slowly.

Proposed research project: This project will develop restoration and recovery methodology for intertidal seagrass meadows in Western Port. The program will use a combination of field based trials and mesocosm experiments based at the Queenscliff marine research station to develop the appropriate methodologies needed for seagrass habitat restoration in Western Port.

The candidate should have a strong academic background in ecological theory, GIS and experience in field ecology. They will need to demonstrate strong writing and quantitative analysis skills and be highly self-motivated. The project is funded for three years; the successful student will be competitive for, and encouraged to apply for, additional internal and external funding sources.

Interested applicants are asked to complete and send the HDR expression of interest form to Craig Sherman (craig.sherman@deakin.edu.au) by 15 April. Successful candidates will then be invited to proceed with a formal application.

Please click here to access the expression of interest form.

Two PhD opportunities in coastal and marine science in Victoria, Australia

Exciting PhD opportunities with Deakin University and The University of Melbourne, Australia.

Along the shorelines of South-eastern Australia, there is concern that a lack of sediment supply, rising sea level and climate change will impact sediment circulation patterns, leading to the destabilization of nearshore-beach-dune systems through erosion, overwash, and backshore transgression. We aim to explore the fundamental interconnectedness that drives shoreline change in Victoria, Australia. Despite the acknowledgment of coastal sediment dynamics being critical to sustainable management knowledge of shoreline behaviour and sediment movement is limited. The determination of sediment volume, type, quantity (i.e. extent and thickness) and morphology will be important to better understand the coastal sediment budgets and shoreline evolution. As a result the Victorian Government, though the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning has formed a partnership with Deakin University and The University of Melbourne to develop the Victorian Coastal Monitoring Program. The aim of this program is to develop predictive models of future shoreline behaviour through understanding sediment dynamics derived from the latest innovative technologies from multibeam and subbottom sonar mapping, citizen-science UAV/Drones and disciplines including remote sensing, marine sedimentology and habitat mapping.

Click here or read below for further information.

Project 1 (Deakin University) Coastal sediment dynamics and the role of benthic habitats and geomorphic characteristics on transport processes:

The project will include seagoing and shore based sampling and make use of a variety of data sources to investigate coastal sediment dynamics. The project will develop novel methods to characterise seafloor substrate and habitat based on high-resolution remotely sensed data to better understand sediment sources and sinks to inform coastal evolution.

Project Aim: The aim of this project is to develop novel approaches to habitat characterisation in the marine and coastal zone using the latest advances in habitat mapping including unmanned aerial vehicles and multibeam echosounders. This project will generate a better understanding of the role of benthic flora and fauna in stabilising sediment surfaces. The project will determine the utility of novel technologies for the fine scale characterisation of geomorphological complexity and community structure in the littoral and sublittoral zone. The project will fill important knowledge gaps regarding sediment source and sinks in forecasting shoreline change.

Submission Deadline: 22th April 2018

Further information and link to application: http://www.deakin.edu.au/courses/scholarships/find-a-scholarship/hdr-scholarship-coastal-sediment-dynamics

Project 2 (The University of Melbourne) Littoral and shallow marine sedimentology of a temperate high-energy shelf:

The project will include seagoing and shore based sampling and make use of a variety of data sources to investigate coastal sediment dynamics. The project will focus on the sedimentology, micropalaeontology, and mineralogy of the shoreline of Victoria, Australia,  in order to quantify the connectiveness between sediment compartments in order to understand past and future coastal dynamics.

Project Aim: The aim of the project is to quantify the compositional and textural characteristics of the Victorian marine zone, from beyond wave base to the coastal dunes. It will identify the connection between sediment source and depositional areas as well as assess the current rates of sediment supply to the coast.

Qualifications: Knowledge of physical geography/marine mapping /geomorphology and/or marine geology. Experience with the temperate marine systems would be an advantage.

Submission Deadline: 22th April 2018

Further information regarding PhD admission at the University of Melbourne: http://science-courses.unimelb.edu.au/study/degrees/doctor-of-philosophy-science/overview

Application process can be found at https://kennedylab.com/2018/03/13/phd-opportunities-in-the-victorian-coastal-monitoring-project/

Informal Enquiries to Daniel Ierodiaconou: iero@deakin.edu.au or David Kennedy davidmk@unimelb.edu.au


Two PhD students wanted to work on an ARC funded project on disease ecology and genomics in parrots

We seek two outstanding, highly motivated PhD candidates to work on the ARC Discovery project ‘Genomic diversity, tolerance and ecology of wildlife disease’ with Professors Andy Bennett and Soren Alexandersen (Deakin and GCEID), Dr Matt Berg (Deakin) and Professor Scott Edwards (Harvard).

Please click here for the full project and application details.

The students will be based at Deakin University, Geelong (near Melbourne, Australia) in a research group in the Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE) and the Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases (GCEID) with opportunities for travel to Scott Edward’s lab at Harvard USA. The research project will commence in January 2018 and students need to start by July 2018, preferably earlier.

PhD-1 This will be focussed on molecular analyses, genomics and associated bioinformatics of both the host and the virus but will also involve field work (to assist with sample collection). The main objectives of this project is to test the role of genetic diversity and genotype rarity in infection, infer the roles of selection and candidate genes, and conduct phylogenetic analyses. The project will be based in Deakin’s CIE, with additional training provided by GCEID and at Harvard University.

PhD-2 This will focus on field ecology and pathology/immunology, with training provided in the CIE and GCEID. The objectives are to investigate the pathological and fitness effects of BFDV infection in rosellas, and to combine these data with quantification of infection levels to evaluate the contributions of resistance and tolerance mechanisms to infection dynamics in this system.

PhD position to study the coastal protection services provided by coastal ecosystems in south eastern Australia

Please click here for full project details and the application process.

This project will: 1) employ field techniques to estimate and monitor wave and erosion reduction through vegetated coastal ecosystems, and 2) incorporate remote sensing and land use data to quantify and map the avoided erosion and storm surge reduction services of these ecosystems in south eastern Australia. This project will provide key information for industry project partners and coastal zone managers in coastal risk assessment and management in south eastern Australia.

Project partners: Deakin University, The Nature Conservancy, Department of Environment Land Water and Planning, Parks Victoria, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries

Value: AUD$26,681 per annum tax free, project support (incl. computer, travel) plus other benefits: http://www.deakin.edu.au/courses/scholarships/find-a-scholarship/rtp-and-duprs

Supervisory team: The project is supervised by academics from Deakin University (A/Prof. Peter Macreadie, Dr Clare Duncan, Dr Paul Carnell, A/Prof. Daniel Ierodiaconou, and Dr Emily Nicholson).

Closing date: The position will remain open until filled. A first assessment of applications will be conducted in late December 2017