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   Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

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  Prof J Powell  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


The Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (HIE) is offering a research scholarship to a highly motivated PhD candidate to join a newly funded ARC Research Hub on Nutrients in a Circular Economy (NiCE). The NiCE Hub brings together researchers from multidisciplinary fields at several leading Australian universities and is partnered with industry, working towards building a circular economy for nutrients to grow our food.

Today’s wastewater systems—built in the 20th century—operate under a view of urine as a pollutant rather than a resource for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Pressure from increasing urban population, increasingly stringent discharge regulations on nutrients and the impacts of climate change all now create an urgent need for change. To derive maximum benefit from the nutrients in urine-based fertilisers while also minimising potential negative impacts, we need to understand the behaviour of processed urine and its derivatives in the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. We also need to know how urine-based fertilisers compare to conventional fertilisers for their ability to promote healthy plants and produce other desired outcomes, including carbon farming and reduced environmental losses.

The HIE is a research institute within Western Sydney University. The HIE has rapidly become a research leader in environmental and ecological research, with a strong reputation for delivering research outcomes of the highest quality. The project will be based at the HIE with the opportunity to work with other members of the broader NiCE Hub, including those optimising fertiliser products and those focused on whole-of-system economics and socio-cultural barriers to change.


• Domestic candidates will receive a tax-free stipend of $30,000(AUD) per annum for up to 3 years to support living costs, supported by the Research Training Program (RTP) Fee Offset.

• International candidates will receive a tax-free stipend of $30,000(AUD) per annum for up to 3 years to support living costs. Those with a strong track record will be eligible for a tuition fee waiver and an Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) Single Policy

• Substantial benefits ($6,000 per annum) in terms of 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 key issues in environmental sustainability. In particular, the project is suitable for candidates with strong interests in soil science, plant and rhizosphere microbiology and plant nutrition.

The successful applicant should:

• hold qualifications and experience equal to one of the following (i) an Australian First Class Bachelor (Honours) degree, (ii) coursework Masters with at least 25% research component, (iii) Research Masters degree, or (iv) equivalent international qualifications.

• demonstrate strong academic performance in subjects relevant to soil science, plant ecology, microbiology and/or biogeochemistry.

• have an understanding of the importance of soil fertility and how anthropogenic activities affect it.

• have excellent organisational skills, demonstrate a keen eye for detail and be able and willing to conduct fieldwork.

• be willing and capable to learn analytical techniques applicable to plant and microbial ecology, geochemistry and ecological statistics/modelling.

• be enthusiastic and highly motivated to undertake further study at an advanced level.

International applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency.


Complete the application via the link :

Follow the step-by-step instructions on the how to apply for a project scholarship

• Note: You do not need to complete 'Step 5: Submit an online application for admission' when applying for this scholarship. You must complete 'Step 6: Submit an online application for a project scholarship'.

Incomplete applications or applications that do not conform to the above requirements will not be considered.

For questions and advice about the research project, please contact the Lead Researcher; Professor Jeff Powell: [Email Address Removed]

For questions and advice about the application process, please contact the Graduate Research School: [Email Address Removed].

Use the email subject line: Application PS2022_015_HIE

Closing date: 30 September 2022

*Applications close at 11.59pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST).

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