Fully funded PhD scholarship in forest biogeochemistry and microbial greenhouse gas mitigation

PhD Scholarship: Barking up the right trees - a microbial solution for our methane problem. This Southern Cross University 3.4-year fully funded PhD project supports an Australian Research Council DECRA project investigating the role of tree-dwelling microbial communities in mitigating greenhouse gasses.

Background: In the context of climate change, trees perform a critical climatic function in sequestering atmospheric carbon via photosynthesis. Although wetland forests can capture large amounts of carbon, wetland trees can also emit the potent greenhouse gas methane to the atmosphere, via their stems. Wetland tree bark was recently shown to contain unique and diverse microbial communities, capable of oxidising/consuming methane. The role of tree bark-associated microbiome in regulating other climate-active trace gasses such as hydrogen and carbon monoxide, in addition to methane, is currently unknown.

Project aim: This project aims to unveil the microbial diversity and metabolic capabilities of bark-dwelling microbial communities in Australian forests including mangroves, wetlands and rainforests. Combining cutting-edge molecular and biogeochemical approaches, this project aims to characterise and quantify trace gas oxidation rates of various forest bark microbiomes. The anticipated outcomes include fundamental knowledge surrounding bark-associated microbial trace gas oxidation within global biogeochemical cycles, and insights into their response to climatic variables.

Location: The project will be based at the Northern Rivers campus of Southern Cross University, situated on the beautiful North Coast of NSW, close to Byron Bay. The candidate will work within the vibrant and collaborative Catchments, Coasts and Communities Research Cluster: https://www.scu.edu.au/research/catchments-coasts-and-communities They will also have access to state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure and will work with a multidisciplinary, collaborative and diverse team of post-graduate, post-doctoral and senior biogeochemists.

Requirements: Master's degree or equivalent in biogeochemistry, environmental science, or microbial ecology. Excellent oral and written communication skills in English. Strong experience with field measurements, laboratory work, and data processing. Good teamwork abilities.

Additional experience:

  • Prior research and fieldwork experience
  • Experience in microbial ecology, genomic sequencing and downstream analysis
  • Capacity to learn forestry and biogeochemistry techniques such as soil, aquatic and tree-stem greenhouse gas
  • measurements.

Eligibility: The successful candidate will receive a PhD stipend at the RTP rate of AU$32,192 per annum (2024 rate indexed annually) for three years and three months and will need to meet the entry requirements to enrol in a PhD at Southern Cross University on a full-time basis: https://www.scu.edu.au/graduate-school/higher-degrees-research/doctor-of-philosophy/ . The candidate must have a bachelor's degree (plus Honours, 2nd class or above) or a Master's degree featuring a relevant research component.

Prospective candidates who are interested in this opportunity are kindly requested to submit a cover letter, CV (including at least 2 references), and transcripts to Dr Luke Jeffrey - scu24031@earthworks-jobs.com. For more information or to apply for this PhD Scholarship opportunity, please also email the above.

Co-supervisors may include Prof. Damien Maher and Dr. Judith Rosentreter. The application deadline is April 20th, 2024. Anticipated starting date being mid-late 2024 (negotiable). Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

posted: 15 March 2024     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.