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Drought Impacts on Microbial Assemblage Structure and Functional Attributes

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  • Full or part time
    Dr U Nielsen
    Dr T Jeffries
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

We are looking for a highly motivated candidate to undertake a 3-year research-driven PhD program in microbial ecology commencing 2019. The successful candidate will be part of a collaborative project with common goals, but will be encouraged to develop their own research questions with an explicit focus on shifts in microbial assemblages and functional attributes in response to drought. Given the broad scope of the project we encourage applicants with interest and expertise in microbial ecology, bioinformatics, and/or soil ecology more broadly, to apply. The project provides ample opportunity to develop new skills.

The scholarship on offer is part of an exciting new project ‘Causes and Consequences of Biogeochemical Mismatches During Drought’ funded by the Australian Research Council. The overarching goal of the project is to better understand the potential impacts of drought on ecosystem functioning using a combination of tried-and-tested techniques and novel analytical and molecular approaches across multiple sites on six continents. The project will provide empirical information to inform management practices and policy decisions of natural and managed ecosystems under current and future climatic conditions.

The position will be based at the Hawkesbury campus of Western Sydney University, Richmond, NSW, with field work at sites in Australia managed by researchers at WSU and University of Sydney as well as in North America through collaboration with Chief Investigator Prof Osvaldo Sala at Arizona State University.

The Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (HIE) is a research institute within Western Sydney University. HIE has rapidly become a research leader in environmental and ecological research, with a strong reputation for delivering research outcomes of the highest quality. HIE is home to a team of over 50 academic research scientists and more than 80 PhD students, with access to a unique suite of world-class research facilities.

What does the scholarship provide?

- Domestic students will receive a tax free stipend of $26,694 per annum and a funded place in the doctoral degree.
- International students will receive a tax free stipend of $26,694 per annum. Those with a strong track record will receive a fee waiver. -- All International students are required to hold an Overseas Student Health Care (OSHC) policy covering the duration of their studies in Australia. The HIE will provide funding for a single Overseas Student Health Cover policy.
- The project will also provide substantial benefits in terms of additional operational funding for project fieldwork and data collection, and travel and conference attendance.


We welcome applicants from a range of backgrounds, who are keen to apply their skills to the project topic. The successful applicant should:
- Hold qualifications and experience equal to one of the following (i) an Australian Bachelor Honours degree, (ii) coursework Masters with at least a 25% research component, (iii) a Research Masters degree or (iv) equivalent overseas qualifications.
- Demonstrate strong academic performance in microbial biology/ecology, bioinformatics, or soil ecology more broadly.
- Be enthusiastic and highly motivated to undertake further study at an advanced level.
- Possess excellent written and verbal communication skills.
- Have proven data analysis experience.
- International applicants must also meet English language proficiency

How to apply

- Contact Dr Uffe Nielsen ([Email Address Removed]) to discuss your eligibility, the project requirements and your intention to apply. Alternatively, Dr Thomas Jeffries [Email Address Removed] or Dr Yolima Carrillo [Email Address Removed].
- Complete the application form via the link http://
- Compile your CV, contact information for two referees and a one-page proposal stating how your research interests align with the project aims.
- Ensure all documentation is certified according to Western Sydney University requirements.
- All applications and supporting documentation must be submitted directly to the Graduate Research School as follows:
- Use the email subject line: Application_2019_092_HIE
- Submit to [Email Address Removed]

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