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Evolutionary history and conservation of Australian plant biodiversity

Project Description

The Macroevolution & Macroecology Group is seeking expressions of interest for a PhD research project in the area of phylogenetics, macroevolution, diversification and conservation. Using the diverse Gondwanan plant family Proteaceae as an empirical case study, this project aims to explore the role of rapid evolution of climatic and environmental niches in the geographic expansion and diversification of plants. The project is expected to make a substantial contribution to the theoretical understanding of evolutionary radiations, the geographic distribution of diversity, and the determinants of commonness and rarity in plant species.

The project is based in Canberra at the Research School of Biology, ANU, and is primarily computational/analytical. The project will help you develop advanced skills in programming and cutting-edge methods for modelling and analysing spatial biodiversity and environmental data (GIS), genomic data, niche modelling, and macroevolutionary inference. There is plenty of scope for a creative and motivated student to take this project in different directions and explore different questions.

The Macroevolution & Macroecology Group ( includes academics, postdocs and students working on a wide range of projects in large-scale ecology and evolution, from plant diversification and mammal extinction risk to human language diversity. We have plenty of expertise in computational analysis and programming to support new students, and the Division of Ecology & Evolution is a recognized world-leading department for phylogenetics, macroevolution and biodiversity research.

The Division of Ecology & Evolution

The Division of Ecology and Evolution within the Research School of Biology ( provides an outstanding research environment with a world-class reputation. We work hard to provide excellent supervision and we take pride in providing an atmosphere that values intellectual rigour, inclusion, mentorship and fun. Graduate research students are well supported through internal funding, including for conference travel, and our research facilities are second to none. We have a thriving community of PhD students and Postdoctoral Fellows from around the world. Our graduates go on to productive careers in many areas of science and beyond.

Canberra and The Australian National University

The ANU campus is situated in the heart of Australia’s capital city, Canberra, which is ranked as the third best city in the world according to Lonely Planet (2018) and is Australia’s most liveable city (Life in Australia Report 2019). The ANU has an international reputation for research excellence and is ranked among the best universities in the world (QS World University Ranking 2019).

Funding Notes

Candidates: These scholarships are only open to citizens and permanent residents of Australia and New Zealand. ANU scholarships are highly competitive, and cover all fees and a ~$27K stipend. In order to be put forward, you will need outstanding undergraduate marks and a first class honours or Masters by research (or be expecting to gain one by the end of 2019) or equivalent research experience.

Expressions of interest: Please send in a CV, academic transcripts, a brief description of your research experience and interests and what appeals to you about this project, to .

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