Projects on offer

PhD project opportunities (James Cook University, Australia): 

Population connectivity of Antarctic marine invertebrates

The Southern Ocean is poorly studied in terms of the potential dispersal routes and barriers to connectivity for benthic marine species. A lack of understanding about spatial genetic structure limits our knowledge of connections between proposed ecoregions and also to limits our ability model potential changes in distributions in response to climate change.  This project will use population genomic techniques to identify pathways and barriers to dispersal and will investigate environmental features that affect multiple species. Identifying specific versus general dispersal barriers can be useful to inform spatial resource management.

This project may incorporate some Antarctic fieldwork and will also build upon data already collected from Antarctica.

This PhD project will investigate various aspects of the evolutionary history of Southern Ocean taxa. Broader investigations of Southern Ocean ecology will be shaped by the student’s interests, but may focus on:

• phylogeography and population genomics
• systematics and phylogenetics
• selection and adaptation

The student will be based in the Department of Marine Biology and Aquaculture at James Cook University, Townsville, Australia, under the supervision of Assoc Prof Jan Strugnell and will be co-supervised by Dr Nerida Wilson (Western Australian Museum).  The student will receive expert training in fieldwork, laboratory and bioinformatics skills.

Requirements: 

The successful applicant will have a First Class Honours (or equivalent) in biological science or a related field and will pick up extra points in the scoring system if they have a first authored paper. Preference will be given to those applicants with previous experience in genetics and/or evidence of strong technical and laboratory skills. Journal publications in these fields are desirable but not essential.  Applicants must apply by August 7.

Applicants will need to apply for a JCU competitive Research Scholarship and should be familiar with the Higher Degree by Research Requirements.

Funding: $28,092 pa for 3.5 years (tax exempt), comprising both an APA stipend (2020 rate) and a $1,500 pa top-up provided. Field and laboratory expenses will be supported by the broader project.

Contact: 
Interested applicants should send their 1) CV, 2) academic transcript and 3) a short (max. 1 page) letter outlining their suitability and interest in the project to Assoc. Prof. Jan Strugnell (jan.strugnell@jcu.edu.au) and Dr Nerida Wilson (Nerida.Wilson@museum.wa.gov.au)

Understanding population connectivity and demographic expansion of introduced Chital deer

In Australia, introduced deer species present a major threat to agriculture and the environment through competition for forage, as vectors of disease, damage to crops, modification of vegetation structure and composition, dispersal of weeds, and as a road hazard. Given that several Australian deer populations are currently expanding in abundance and geographic range, it is imperative that scientists understand how, when, and why these expansions occur. This ARC funded project proposes to use population genomics to determine current patterns of population connectivity, investigate historical patterns of population expansion, and understand how landscape and environmental variables influence gene flow.

This PhD project will employ the latest genomic and bioinformatics techniques in order to investigate connectivity, demography, and adaptation in Chital deer in North Queensland, Australia. Opportunities for field work will be available.

The student will be based in the College of Science and Engineering at James Cook University, Townsville, Australia (under the supervision of Assoc Prof Jan Strugnell, Dr Ben Hirsch, and Prof Lin Schwarzkopf) and supported by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant. The student will work closely with stakeholders from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (Queensland) and the Department of Primary Industry and Resources (NSW).

Requirements: 

Applicants must be competitive for an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA). Domestic applicants should have a First Class Honours (or equivalent) in biological science or a related field, while international applicants should have a Masters by Research. Preference will be given to those applicants with previous experience in genetics and/or evidence of strong technical and laboratory skills. Journal publications in these fields are desirable but not essential.  Students must apply by July 31, 2020 to commence early 2021.  Please note that an opportunity also exists to commence the PhD project in 2020 for domestic students or international students currently residing in Australia.  In this instance please apply by 30 June, 2020. 

Applicants will need to apply for a JCU competitive Research Scholarship and should be familiar with the Higher Degree by Research Requirements.

Funding: $28,092 p.a. for 3.5 years (tax exempt), comprising an APA stipend (2020 rate). Field and laboratory expenses will be supported by the broader project.

Contact: 
Interested applicants should send their 1) CV, 2) academic transcript, and 3) a short (~1 page max) letter outlining their suitability and interest in the project to Dr Ben Hirsch (ben.hirsch@jcu.edu.au), Assoc Prof Jan Strugnell (jan.strugnell@jcu.edu.au) and Prof Lin Schwarkzopf (lin.schwarzkopf@jcu.edu.au)