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Thermal Biology and Conditioning of Queensland Fruit Fly

About This PhD Project

Project Description

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. Mass-rearing conditions of SIT insects affect their health and field performance. Temperature is particularly important for insect development, and exposure to temperature extremes during development can influence life history traits, performance and health.

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 thermal biology, conditioning and sensitivity of Qfly across its development in the context of life history theory and SIT applications. Exposure to different temperature regimes and extremes during critical developmental stages of Qfly (e.g. egg, larva, pupa) will affect performance of adult SIT flies. It can potentially prime Qfly to withstand stress, or, conversely, negatively affect performance and health (e.g. via viruses naturally present in some fly populations). This project will improve the mass-rearing of SIT Qfly, and is essential for any future application of temperature sensitive genetic sexing strains of Qfly. It will also contribute to research on life history trait evolution in fruit flies.

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 or related field(s).
- preferentially have some experience with life history experiments, 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 to discuss your eligibility, the project requirements and your intention to apply.
- 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_2020_007_HIE  Submit to

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