PhD Scholarship: Groundwater Characterisation Project via GlobalAcademyJobs

University of Queensland

The Sustainable Minerals Institute

The Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) at The University of Queensland (UQ) is a world leading research institute dedicated to finding knowledge-based solutions to the sustainability challenges of the global minerals industry. Our purpose is to develop practical solutions to the challenges of operating sustainably in the resources sector. We have a unique inter-disciplinary approach including expertise in engineering, science and the social sciences. Our expertise which comes from experience across the research, government and industry sectors is genuinely independent and objective. Our work covers all facets of the life of mine from geology, to minerals extraction, water management issues, minerals processing, workplace health and safety, mine rehabilitation, energy, community engagement and operational risk management.

Information about the Institute may be accessed at the web site .

An opportunity exists for a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) candidate within the Sustainable Minerals Institute at The University of Queensland to work within the Regional Water and Land Resources Program in conjunction with the Centre for Coal Seam Gas. The Program generally conducts research and training on water and land management from site to regional scales, covering four areas of research:

  1. Mine site hydrology and landscapes. This includes work on site water balances, evaporation, cover design and assessment, spoil heap hydrology and seepage assessment.
  2. Regional water and land resources. This includes work on climate change impacts, rainfall modelling, groundwater recharge, groundwater use, catchment hydrology, and cumulative hydrological and water quality impacts.
  3. Water accounting and reporting, and the socio-economic dimensions of water management. This includes water accounting, hydro-economic analysis and water and communities.
  4. Regional planning tools. This includes developing GIS tools and spatial data sets to elucidate the footprint, costs and benefits of mining and offsetting, in particular considering cumulative impacts.

The Role

The successful candidate will have the opportunity to undertake a full-time or part-time PhD within the Groundwater Use Characterisation Project funded by the UQ Centre for Coal Seam Gas. The student will work on understanding variations in stock and domestic water use, and application to groundwater models.

The project will address lack of knowledge about groundwater extraction rates in sparsely metered pastoral agricultural regions of Australia. The project will develop understanding of the spatial and temporal variations in extraction rates, between properties and between bores on properties, and the drivers of these variations. This will be approached by statistical analysis of metered extractions, surveys of water users, and critical review of analytical models. The new understanding will be used to develop new, or adjust existing, models of extraction rates for individual bores and for whole properties. The project will be built around and contribute to the maintenance of an existing metering program, consisting of approximately 40 meters installed across south-east Queensland.

The Person

Applications are invited from outstanding graduates in groundwater-related fields who have relevant experience, are motivated to join a dynamic research group and have flexibility and interest in going to the field once a year. 

This PhD opportunity is offered to international and domestic students who are self-funded or have been awarded a scholarship (e.g. CSC) and have great motivation to complete a full-time or part-time PhD degree. The project has funding for a top-up scholarship if the student is full-time and the project will also support field work including maintenance of meters, collecting data and engaging with landowners as well as approved conference presentation and publication costs.The part time degree is designed such that it can accommodate the schedule of a working professional who wishes to upgrade their qualifications to PhD.

Applicants must fulfil the PhD admission criteria for the University of Queensland, including English language requirements, and demonstrate excellent capacity and potential for research. Demonstration of research ability through publication output in peer reviewed international journals is desirable.

The candidate must be able to work cooperatively with a range of land owners/managers and have excellent communication skills. The candidate should have basic statistical skills and preferably be comfortable with GIS and spatial data analysis techniques and software.

The candidate must be able to spend at least 3 weeks per year in the field conducting field-based components of the research, including assisting in running the metering program.

The University of Queensland values diversity and inclusion and offers flexible working arrangements. Applications are particularly encouraged from women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

PhD Admission

Applicants must note that selection by SMI for participation in this research project and admission to UQ are two separate processes. The applicant who successfully applies to this PhD research project opportunity will then be required to apply to the UQ Graduate School for admission.

SMI will assist the successful applicant with their application for admission, but note that a successful application to SMI for this research project does not guarantee a successful application to the UQ Graduate School for admission.

For further information on PhD entry requirements, admission and scholarships, please visit the UQ Graduate school website on applying for a higher degree by research at


To discuss this role please contact the Project Leader, Professor Neil McIntyre [email protected]

To discuss the UQ Graduate School application for admission process, please contact the SMI Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Office at [email protected].