The sterile insect technique (SIT) is an environment-friendly and effective control strategy for insect pests and vectors. SIT requires the mass-release of sterile insects that mate with individuals of the target pest population, effectively stopping their reproduction. SIT requires good knowledge of the target pest and the optimisation of mass-rearing conditions in order to cost-effectively deliver high-quality SIT insects.
The Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (HIE) of Western Sydney University is looking for a highly motivated and qualified candidate for a 3-year PhD research project. This studentship is part of a new research program established within the SITplus consortium co-funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia and several industry and research partners. SITplus aims to develop and improve SIT for Queensland fruit fly (Qfly), Australia’s most significant horticultural pest species, and is linked to the recently established national SIT Qfly production facility in Port Augusta, South Australia.
This PhD project will investigate Qfly pupation biology and ecology. Pupation is part of complete metamorphosis as a key evolutionary innovation of insects, with little-studied yet massive changes in morphology, physiology, microbiomes and behaviour. In nature, late Qfly instar larvae pupate in the soil, but little is known about the details of Qfly pupation biology and ecology. For SIT, mass-rearing requires a pupation substrate. Vermiculite is commonly used, but is relatively expensive. Furthermore, the separation of pupae from vermiculite by sieving, and its recycling can cause dust as an operational health issue. This project will study Qfly pupation biology and ecology in natural environments, assess optimal densities and climatic conditions in controlled environments, and test alternative pupation substrates (sand and plant-derived fibres) to evaluate their impact on Qfly life history traits, performance and health.
The position is based at the Hawkesbury campus of Western Sydney University, Richmond, New South Wales. Our collaborating partners are Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA), the national SIT Qfly facility and other SITplus consortium partners.
What does the scholarship provide?
- Domestic students will receive a tax free stipend of $30,000 per annum and a funded place in the doctoral degree.
- International students will receive a tax free stipend of $30,000 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 insect or animal physiology, insect ecology, insect pathology, soil zoology or related field(s).
- preferentially have some experience with life history experiments, metabolic profiling, insect rearing, and/or molecular diagnostic tools.
- 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 Associate Professor Markus Riegler [email protected]
to discuss your eligibility, the project requirements and your intention to apply.
- Complete the application form via the link http:// bit.ly/2LSXhbU
- 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_2020_008_HIE
- Submit to [email protected]