Photo: Kristian Bell

PhD Opportunities in the genetics of climate change adaptation in Great Barrier Reef corals

PhD Opportunities in the genetics of climate change adaptation in Great Barrier Reef corals

We are seeking expressions of interest for PhD positions working under the supervision of scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (Dr. Line Bay), the University of Queensland (Prof. Cynthia Riginos, Dr. Cheong Xin Chan), and Southern Cross University (Dr. Emily Howells).

Global warming and associated changes to earth’s climate threaten the survival of corals worldwide. Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef has experienced multiple episodes of severe and widespread bleaching. Thus, it is becoming increasingly urgent to determine how quickly corals can adapt to elevated temperatures and other environmental stressors. A large-scale integrative project is underway as part of the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program that will use whole genome sequencing of multiple coral species in association with the examination of physiological phenotypes, microhabitats, and geography to advance our understanding of the genetic basis of heat adaptation in GBR corals.

PhD projects will be part of this larger research program. Students will take primary responsibility for sub-elements of this broader project such as focusing on the physiology, quantitative genetics, and seascape genomics of coral hosts and their symbionts. There is considerable scope for students to develop additional projects depending on their specific interests. Competitive applicants will have demonstrated relevant research experience encompassing some combination of a) marine field work involving diving for research, b) experience undertaking physiological experiments on corals or related taxa, c) advanced training in evolution and genetics (Masters or Honours degree with associated publications), d) experience with bioinformatics and computer scripting (R, python, perl or other relevant language). Note that we do not expect applicants to have experience in all of these areas.

Full funding (living expenses and fees) for strongly qualified applicants will be provided by UQ (for one domestic or international student) and SCU (for one domestic or international student). Strongly qualified domestic applicants (Australian and New Zealand) must be eligible for the Australian Research Training Program scholarship or other stipend funding. Applicants should be available to start their studies in January 2021, although delays may be unavoidable due to COVID travel restrictions.

Expressions of interest should be submitted via the RRAP portal by August 21 2020 with a single PDF file that includes: a brief cover letter/statement of interest and experience (1 page maximum), a CV including the names and contact details of 3 referees (2 pages max), and an academic transcript.

Please tag your submission with “PhD in Genetics of climate-change adaptation”.

Short listed candidates will be contacted and video interviewed in the first week of September.

Email enquiries can be directed to