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   Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

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  Prof S Power  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Maintaining productive, functional ecosystems in a changing climate is a key challenge for grassland managers, especially in the context of increasingly frequent and severe droughts and heatwaves. To achieve sustainable pasture production and climate mitigation by 2030 – a key goal of the livestock industry - requires new knowledge of plant responses to climate extremes and the role that management plays in pasture persistence under future climates. Management choices relating to the intensity and timing of grazing can significantly influence plant carbon budgets, diverting belowground carbon reserves to drive new aboveground growth following biomass removal. Given that carbon storage in roots and crowns is a plant strategy providing resilience in the face of climate-associated disruption to photosynthesis and growth, there is a clear trade off between grazing (or harvesting) offtake and species’ resilience (recovery potential) following climate extremes. This project will investigate the ecological mechanisms underlying responses of key pasture grasses and legumes to altered rainfall patterns in combination with elevated temperatures, focusing on links between carbon allocation and climate resilience.

We are looking for a highly motivated and qualified candidate for 3-year PhD program of research at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (HIE), Western Sydney University, commencing in spring 2022. This studentship is part of a new research project investigating the impacts of climate extremes on the productivity, nutritional and chemical characteristics, and persistence of perennial legumes and pasture mixtures. The student project will involve research at our state-of-the-art PACE experimental field facility with field-based data collection – potentially including remote sensing approaches - at producer demonstration sites across New South Wales, to achieve novel scientific insight that can inform stakeholder decision-making for climate resilient pasture grasslands. The successful applicant will join a vibrant, multidisciplinary team of researchers based at the Hawkesbury Campus of Western Sydney University, and engage with industry partners and project stakeholders. Applications are open to international candidates as well as Australian or New Zealand citizens or permanent residents of Australia.


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 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 the field of plant or ecosystem ecology.
  • demonstrate a willingness to undertake field-based research and engage with growers at sites across NSW.
  • be enthusiastic and highly motivated to undertake further study at an advanced level.
  • possess excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • ideally hold a current driver’s licence.

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 Sally Power: [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_047_HIE

Closing date: 31 August 2022

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

Funding Notes

• 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
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