Division of
Natural and Applied Sciences

PhD scholarship opportunity: Phytophthora management for Australian threatened species (Sydney, Australia)

Infection of native plants by Phytophthora cinnamomi (Pc) is a key threatening process and drives loss of biodiversity. This includes threatened plants that are sensitive to the pathogen as well as fauna that then face habitat loss. Once established, Pc is practically impossible to eradicate and methods for enhancing plant resistance to Pc are extremely limited. One such method is the chemical phosphite, but its use in Australia is off-label as we are missing important data on its efficacy for Pc management, its effects on native vegetation and its impact on nontarget organisms in soil such as mycorrhizal fungi. Alternatively, some soils appear to be naturally suppressive of Pc, which may be due to their unique chemistry or biology but the exact mechanisms and, therefore, ways to transfer this property to other soils is unknown. 
 
Trials are needed to address these gaps, so we are seeking to recruit a PhD candidate to work on endangered species at Mount Imlay National Park (https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/mount-imlay-national-park ) in SE NSW where there are multiple species under threat from Pc, including Eucalyptus imlayensis, Boronia imlayensis and Hibbertia circinata. There is currently an open call for scholarship applications at Western Sydney University and the opportunity to apply for top-up funding of the scholarship from the Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens. This project will provide opportunities to collaborate with researchers and threatened species managers across the ANBG, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Saving Our Species program. 
 
The student will be based at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/hie ). The scholarship base is $31,500 per year, tax-free, for three years in a funded placement with additional funding for research expenses. International applicants will be eligible for a tuition fee waiver. 
 
For more information, including scholarship inclusions and how to apply, please contact Jeff Powell (jeff.powell@westernsydney.edu.au).