PhD Research Project: Understanding the biogeochemistry of engineered hydrochar in soil

We are currently seeking a PhD candidate to work on understanding the biogeochemistry of hydrochar interaction with soils. This is part of a larger project aimed at developing new technologies for transforming the organic residues from red meat processing into soil amendment products that can promote soil nutrient storage, improve plant growth, and actively mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. This project is guided by principles of the circular economy and are part of a new initiative to promote sustainability in regional food production.


The PhD project will look at designing "engineered" soil amendment products and then testing how these products affect soil chemistry and microbiology. The candidate will be expected to contribute to the design and implementation of their project, and lead publications arising from their work. The project will involve lab and field work (often intensive and sometimes in remote areas), as well as active engagement with regional industry. The appointed student will be trained in cutting edge analytical techniques including stable isotope tracing, laser spectroscopy, numerical modeling, and molecular characterisation.


Southern Cross University is a young and ambitious Australian university, powered by passion to deliver the best learning, teaching and research possible. Our graduates stride a global stage with confidence as proud alumni. Studying at Southern Cross combines a rare privilege of being surrounded by ambitious students, amazing and dedicated colleagues and an environment of stunning natural beauty. We create and apply knowledge in partnership with our communities in fields that are regionally relevant and globally significant. Southern Cross University was ranked as one of the Top 200 Young Universities in the Times Higher Education World University ranking (2022) and received the highest rank of "well above world standard" in 14 key research disciplines in the most recent national research excellence assessment, including Environmental Science and Management, Earth Sciences, and Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy.

Candidates will be based at Southern Cross University's principal campus in Lismore (near Byron Bay), in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales, Australia. Lismore is just two hours drive from Brisbane, and a little over one hour from the Gold Coast. The Northern Rivers region is a great place to live, with a sub-tropical climate, some of the best beaches and surfing in the world, great fishing and scuba diving, and breathtaking wilderness areas. Added to this, the quality of life in the region is high and the cost of living relatively low.


Applicants must have a Masters degree in a relevant discipline. Applicants whose first language is not English are also required to meet English Language Proficiency requirements (an International English Language Test Score (IELTS) Academic (or equivalent) equal to or above 7.0, with a minimum 7.0 in Writing and no other band less than 6.5).

Scholarships provide a tax-free annual stipend of $28,597 for 3.3 years. Interested applicants should send a CV and short (< 1 page) statement highlighting their research background, and interests in this field, to Dr Dirk Erler ( The closing date for applications is 31st Oct 2022. Starting date is early 2023 if possible.

posted: 29 September 2022     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.