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Saving Our Species: Adaptive Capacity To Climate Change

About This PhD Project

Project Description

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.

We are looking for a highly motivated and qualified candidate for a 3-year PhD program of research commencing in 2019. This studentship is part of an exciting new research programme established under the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage ‘Saving Our Species’ initiative, investigating the adaptive capacity of threatened species and ecological communities to climate change.
This project aims to quantify the genomic adaptation of woody plants to climate and droughts. Rare species are thought to have limited capacity to respond to climate change in part due to narrow climatic distributions. Given increasing documentation of drought impacts on natural forests, an understanding of the underlying genetic variation determining physiological tolerance to drought is urgently needed for trees. The proposal will develop genomic predictions of drought tolerance in eucalypts through a comparative physiological and genomic approach. Importantly, this research will estimate the vulnerability of rare species to the increased frequency and intense of droughts under climate change. The outcomes will quantifying adaptive capacity in rare trees to prioritise conservation efforts and improve adaptive management strategies.

The position is based at the Hawkesbury campus of Western Sydney University, Richmond, NSW. The candidate will work in collaboration with the University of New England and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (Science Division and NPWS) to achieve key fundamental and applied outcomes in evolutionary ecology and conservation biology.

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 population genetics, evolutionary biology and/or molecular ecology.
- 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 Paul Rymer () to discuss your eligibility, the project requirements and your intention to apply. Alternatively you may contact Dr Collin Ahrens ().
- Complete the application via the link
- 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_070_HIE
- Submit to

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