PhD Project: Linking spatial movements and social contacts to understand transmission of Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease

Opportunity Type: 
Student Opportunity
Closing Date: 
Thursday, May 30, 2019


School of Natural Sciences (Biological Sciences), University of Tasmania
I am looking for a highly motivated and qualified candidate for a 3-year PhD program of research at the University of Tasmania, commencing in 2019.

The project is part of an international, transdisciplinary research program on evolution in the devil—Devil Facial Tumour Disease host—pathogen system involving ecologists, epidemiologists and genomicists at the University of Tasmania, Griffith University, Washington State University and the University of Idaho, funded by a grant from the US National Institute of Health/National Science Foundation.

Tasmanian devils are threatened by transmissible cancer, devil facial tumour disease (DFTD), which has spread to almost their entire geographic range and has caused more than 90% population decline. A gap in knowledge for wildlife diseases globally, and DFTD specifically, is how the spatial connectivity between individuals at large landscape scales maps onto the social contacts between individuals at a local scale that lead to transmission. To understand how the disease spreads across the landscape requires integrating data on who-contacts and bites-who in the population with finescale information about how individuals move at landscape-scale throughout the year.

The project integrates spatial and social data to understand disease transmission and spatial spread. The field project involves placing collars on the adult population of devils at field sites with different histories of time since disease outbreak. The collars will record both the location of the animals and the identity of any other collared devils that come within close range. The field sites are in remote but beautiful locations in Tasmania. The statistical methods will involve constructing social networks and analysing movement data.

Applications are open to international candidates as well as Australian or New Zealand citizens or permanent residents of Australia. The position is based at the University of Tasmania in Hobart.

Applicants should discuss their suitability and interests with Associate Professor Menna Jones(

Contact the Graduate Research School at

Please submit an Expression of Interest to apply for a scholarship as soon as possible using the on-line application form at

Closing date: 30 May, 2019