Two PhD scholarships: carbon biosequestration in freshwater wetlands

, , AU

Background: A great opportunity to study wetlands in Australia. We are seeking to appoint two motivated and suitably qualified PhD candidates to conduct research exploring aspects of carbon biosequestration and greenhouse gas emission in freshwater wetlands in coastal and inland Australia.

One PhD position will be based at Southern Cross University and the other at Deakin University. Both Universities offer access to cutting-edge facilities and equipment ideally suited to this project.

Southern Cross University has a strong biogeochemistry group and has attained the highest ranking in Australia in the field of geochemistry, which is the primary discipline area of this scholarship. The University is located in sub-tropical northern NSW and the region offers a high quality of life.

Deakin University is Australia’s 8th largest university and ranks in the top 3% of universities globally. The PhD position in microbial ecology will be based within Deakin’s Blue Carbon Lab:

The research team is a young and dynamic group of Australian Research Council fellows focused on Environmental biogeochemistry and Aquatic ecology disciplines. Websites: ; ; ; ; ;

Project summary:

Wetlands are among earth’s most efficient ecosystems for carbon sequestration, yet this capacity can be offset by emission of methane. The balance between carbon storage and methane emission influences whether wetlands are net sinks for carbon. Redox cycling of sulfur and iron in wetlands can greatly inhibit methane emission, yet the precise biogeochemical processes and their efficiency are very poorly constrained due to a lack of studies -especially in seasonally dynamic Australian freshwater wetlands.

The project will combine direct determination of methane / CO2 emission with independent quantification of soil carbon accumulation rates in freshwater wetlands. In addition, this project will also explore the potential opportunity to exploit natural, bacterially-mediated biogeochemical processes to suppress methane generation in freshwater wetlands and thereby maximise their net carbon sequestration efficiency.

Candidates will be expected to contribute to the overall project and undertake / participate in both controlled laboratory-based studies and field-based investigations in Australian coastal wetland systems under varied seasonal conditions


  • A first class honours degree or Masters degree or equivalent in Environmental Geochemistry or Microbial Ecology.
  • The applicant’s qualifications should include experience studying environmental systems via field or laboratory experiments.
  • Very high degree of proficiency in both written and spoken English (strict criteria apply for non-native English speakers).
  • Experience in collecting field data and capacity to undertake independent fieldwork.
  • Capacity to implement research in collaboration with a range of stakeholders (government agencies, private landholders, conservation groups etc.).
  • The applicant’s academic background must be strong enough to qualify her/him for a scholarship, stipend and fee (tuition) waiver.
  • Applicants are advised to see information on the respective University websites to evaluate her/his prospects.
  • Citizenship: This position is open to domestic and international applicants.

Funding and inquiries:

Successful candidates will be offered a full-time PhD position. One position will be located at Southern Cross University and the other located at Deakin University. Contingent on satisfactory performance, this will be extended to a total period of 3 years, with the specific intent that a PhD thesis is submitted within this period.

The project includes a 3-year scholarship ($28,000 AUD pa) and an additional stipend to cover research costs of up to $5000 AUD pa will be available. The positions are fully funded and associated with an Australian Research Council Linkage Project awarded to
Prof. Scott johnston, Prof. Issac Santos, Dr Peter Macreadie, Dr Damian Maher and Prof. Edward Burton.

For informal inquiries about the position or to apply, email both Prof. Scott johnston:
[email protected] and Dr Peter Macreadie [email protected]

Applications must include a CV, academic grade transcripts, copies of previous research outputs and a cover letter outlining a summary of your research experience, your reasons for wanting to do a PhD and information on how your skills will be relevant to the project.