Interested in joining us?

Two PhD scholarships for coral larval restoration projects on the Great Barrier Reef 

We are seeking excellent PhD candidates for two research projects about using coral larvae for restoration on the Great Barrier Reef. The candidates will be supervised by Professor Peter Harrison (Southern Cross University) and co-supervised by Dr Christopher Doropoulos (CSIRO).

The Great Barrier Reef and other reefs around the world are under increasing pressures from climate change and direct human impacts, leading to ongoing loss of foundation corals and capacity for recovery through sexual reproduction and recruitment. There is an urgent need to restore resilient coral populations to ensure sufficient breeding corals are present on reefs to restore larval supply and increase coral recruitment.

The Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP) is underway on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and is designed as a large-scale collaborative research and development program to develop, test and assess innovative interventions to enhance reef resilience and sustain ecological functions and values. Moving Corals, a subprogram of RRAP, and is a reef-based R&D project that aims to develop cost-efficient, large-scale production of billions of genetically diverse coral larvae to be used for direct restoration. Larvae with enhanced environmental tolerance will be harvested from coral spawn slicks and reared at sea, for transfer and settlement onto damaged reef areas to catalyse coral restoration, adaptation and reef recovery. The Moving Corals larval restoration program is co-led by coral reproduction and ecology experts Professor Harrison and Dr Doropoulos, in partnership with robotics expert Professor Matt Dunbabin (QUT).

The PhD projects will focus on one of the following research areas, with scope for additional related research within these fields:

  1. mass coral larval culture and treatments for on-reef restoration
  2. mass deployment, settlement, and recruitment dynamics for on-reef restoration

We are seeking two outstanding PhD candidates to work with the research team on this exciting project. Preference will be given to candidates with an excellent academic record, strong diving experience, and a collaborative team-focused perspective, who would be available to work in Australia and dive on Great Barrier Reef sites by early 2021. Scientific Diver qualification (or willingness to obtain this) will be required for research and diving work on the Reef. Students will be enrolled through the Higher Degree Research Training Program at Southern Cross University and will be encouraged to apply for a competitive Research Training Program (RTP) PhD scholarship that provides a living allowance of AU$28,092 per annum, indexed annually. RTP APPLICATIONS CLOSE 18 OCTOBER 2020. RTP application forms are available at https://www.scu.edu.au/graduate-school/forms-and-documents/

Primary contact: Peter Harrison peter.harrison@scu.edu.au

Secondary contact: Christopher Doropoulos  christopher.doropoulos@csiro.au

Research Scientist - Benthic Invertebrate Reproductive and Larval Ecology

As our Research Scientist – Benthic Invertebrate Reproductive and Larval Ecology you will lead and facilitate relevant research across the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program. In this exciting role you will work independently to design and develop research, contribute to ongoing projects through collaboration and student supervision and contribute to the development of proposals. Using aquarium and field experiments, and existing ecological data, you will examine how structural, bio(chemical) and/or ecological factors influence the capacity of reefs to recover and develop practical solutions to overcome bottlenecks for coral holobiont partners under current and future projected conditions.

Apply now and join a world leading organisation with attractive working conditions. The successful candidate will be rewarded with:

• AIMS AOF Level 5 Salary ($105,706 to $115,882 pro-rata/per annum)

• 15.4% superannuation

• Generous leave provisions

• Part-time 58.75 hrs per fortnight, 2-year opportunity (with possibility of extension)

• Located in Townsville, Queensland

About You

You will have earned your PhD and possess considerable postdoctoral experience that demonstrates your substantive work on the biology, ecology, and/or physiology of benthic sessile reef invertebrates, with a focus on reproduction and larval ecology. Then, relying on your expertise, you will significantly contribute to the design of high-impact research towards innovative Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program objectives. Your ability to meet AIMS’ field work requirements including boating and diving will allow you to participate in reef-based research on the Great Barrier Reef.

Next Step

Further information about this exciting and challenging opportunity is outlined in the Candidate Information Pack which is available to download below. If, after reviewing the position description included in the Candidate Information Pack, you believe that your qualifications, experience and professional capabilities will enable you to successfully the deliver the position responsibilities, we would be very interested in hearing from you.

Below you will also find our Recruitment Application Guide which details the necessity to submit your statements addressing your suitability against the selection criteria which are detailed in the Candidate Information Pack.

Shortlisted applicants may be asked to complete a personal outlook analysis questionnaire using the Birkman Method.

Position enquiries can be directed to Dr Line Bay on l.bay@aims.gov.au.

Applications close: Friday, 25 September 2020 (12pm – Midnight (AEST))

To be considered for this opportunity applicants must be an Australian Citizen, Australian Permanent Resident, or hold a valid Australian Working Visa.

Candidate information pack

Application guide

Experimental research technicians, field technicians and field and SeaSim research assistant

Experimental Research Technicians:

  • 21417 Aquaculture – Optimising Coral Propagation at Scale (Full-Time 2-year opportunity)
  • 21418 & 21433 Enhanced Corals and Treatments – Selective Breeding for Assisted Gene Flow (Full-Time 2-year opportunities)
  • 21419 Microalgal Culturing (Part-time 2-year opportunity – 36.75 hours per fortnight)
  • 21422 Aquaculture – Deployment Devices (Full-Time 2-year opportunity)
  • 21432 Aquaculture – Optimal Biotic Conditions (Full-Time 2-year opportunity)
  • 21434 Aquaculture – Biological and Environmental Drivers (Full-Time 2-year opportunity)

Field Technicians:

  • 21412 & 21431 Coral Aquaculture and Deployment and Enhanced Corals and Treatments (Full-Time 2-year opportunities)

Field and SeaSim Research Assistant:

  • 21411 Eco-RRAP (Full-Time 2-year opportunity)

In these roles you will provide technical assistance with laboratory and field research activities including spawning, propagation, experimental set-up and maintenance, data collection, and data and laboratory analysis, maintenance, and management. You will also contribute to the writing of procedures, reports, and scientific manuscripts. In undertaking these activities you will also have access to AIMS’ National Sea Simulator, a world-class marine research aquarium facility for tropical marine organisms.

Please refer to the Candidate Information Pack below for further details regarding each position, including the Position Description.

Apply now and join a world leading organisation with attractive working conditions. The successful candidates will be rewarded with:

  • AIMS AOF Level 3 salary ($66,089 to $74,468 per annum)
  • 15.4% superannuation
  • Generous leave provisions
  • 2-year opportunities
  • Appointments to commence between November 2020 and January 2021
  • Located in Townsville, Queensland

About You

Underpinning your suitability for these opportunities will be your tertiary qualification and research experience in marine science, coral biology, ecology, evolution, or similar. You will also have the ability to meet the key and additional essential selection criteria for the position/s you are interested in applying for.

Next Step

Further information about these exciting and challenging opportunities is outlined in the Candidate Information Pack which is available to download below. If, after reviewing the Candidate Information Pack, you believe that your qualifications, experience and professional capabilities will enable you to successfully deliver the position responsibilities, we would be very interested in hearing from you.

For your application to be considered you must follow the “How to Apply” instructions detailed in our Candidate Information Pack. To assist you with your application, we suggest that you also download and review our Recruitment Application Guide which is available below.

Please complete only one application form noting the positions are you are interested in applying for in order of preference. Your application will be considered for each position selected.

Shortlisted applicants may be asked to complete a personal outlook analysis questionnaire using the Birkman Method.

Position enquiries can be directed to AIMS Recruitment on recruitment@aims.gov.au.

Location: Townsville. Applications close Monday 5 October 2020.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science is Australia’s tropical marine research agency.

Candidate information pack

Application guide

 

RRAP postdoctoral fellowship opportunities

Opportunities exist with AIMS to lead and conduct high quality research across various projects in the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program. There are currently 4 Postdoctoral Fellowship opportunities available for the following research projects:

  • 21415 Postdoctoral Fellowship – Assisted Evolution via Hybridisation
    • Interspecific hybridisation as a tool to enhance coral climate resilience
    • 3-year opportunity commencing October/November 2020
  • 21416 Postdoctoral Fellowship – Assisted Evolution of Coral Algal Symbionts
    • Enhancement of coral thermal bleaching tolerance via experimental evolution of algal symbionts
    • 2-year opportunity with the potential for extension - commencing October/November 2020
  • 21420 Postdoctoral Fellowship – Adaptation Genomics of Corals
    • Physiological and genomic markers of heat and bleaching tolerance
    • 3-year opportunity commencing January 2021
  • 21421 Postdoctoral Fellowship – Coral Reproductive Ecology
    • Identifying environmental and biological drivers of post-deployment coral survival
    • 2-year opportunity with the potential for extension - commencing October/November 2020

You will conduct research across key areas that span the ecology and evolution of coral holobiont partners. You will take a hands-on role in aquarium and field-based experiments (as required) and will conduct high quality statistical analysis of quantitative and ecological data. Your ability to meet AIMS’ field work requirements including boating and diving will allow you to participate in reef-based research on the Great Barrier Reef.

You will also play a leading role in the internal and external communication of the projects key research and will present scientific findings through the production of scientific reports, papers and presentations. You will have a high level of autonomy and will also collaborate as part of a team on new and on-going research projects, including the supervision of students.

Please refer to the Candidate Information Pack below for further details regarding each Postdoctoral Fellowship position, including the Position Description.

Apply now and join a world leading organisation with attractive working conditions. The successful candidates will be rewarded with:

  • AOF Level 4 Salary ($87,189 to $95,915 per annum)
  • 15.4% superannuation
  • Generous leave provisions
  • Appointments to commence between October 2020 and January 2021, neg.
  • Located in Townsville, Queensland

About You

Underpinning your suitability for these opportunities will be your PhD qualification in a relevant discipline, preferably in marine biology, ecology, evolution, or genetics. You will also have the ability to meet the key and additional essential selection criteria for the position/s you are interested in applying for.

Next Step

Further information about these exciting and challenging opportunities is outlined in the Candidate Information Pack which is available to download below. If, after reviewing the Candidate Information Pack, you believe that your qualifications, experience, and professional capabilities will enable you to successfully deliver the position responsibilities, we would be very interested in hearing from you.

For your application to be considered you must follow the “How to Apply” instructions detailed in our Candidate Information Pack. To assist you with your application, we suggest that you also download and review our Recruitment Application Guide which is available below.

Please complete the application form for these opportunities by selecting the Postdoctoral Fellowship position/s you are interested in applying for in order of preference. Your application will be considered for each position selected.

Shortlisted applicants may be asked to complete a personal outlook analysis questionnaire using the Birkman Method.

Position enquiries can be directed to Recruitment on recruitment@aims.gov.au.

Applications close Sunday 11 October 2020.

Candidate information pack

Application guide

Two PhD scholarships: join a team investigating methods to reduce coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef

We are seeking high performing PhD candidates for research projects which investigate various technologies with potential to reduce bleaching stress on corals during marine heatwaves. The candidates will be supervised by Dr Daniel Harrison (Southern Cross University) and depending on the project, co-supervised either within Southern Cross University and/or by researchers at the University of Sydney, Queensland University of Technology, Sydney Institute of Marine Science, University of Melbourne, CSIRO, Monash University, or the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 

The Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP) is a large-scale collaborative research and development program to develop, test and assess innovative interventions to enhance reef resilience and sustain ecological functions and values. The Cooling and Shading sub-program is focused on evaluation and development of interventions to reduce coral bleaching stress across multiple scales, ranging from individual high value reefs right up to the scale of the entire GBR ecosystem. This program incorporates fundamental science on atmospheric – radiation – ocean – coral interactions as well as applied science and engineering in the development and testing of innovative coral conservation approaches. Possible interventions we are researching include creating sea fogs, reflective ocean surface films, or microbubbles to cool and shade corals for short periods right through to conducting marine cloud brightening over large portions of the reef during the summer to increase cloud reflectivity and lower ocean sea-surface temperatures. Modelling undertaken during the RRAP feasibility stage has identified large-scale cooling and shading methods as among the most promising prospective technologies for improving the trajectory of reef health over the coming decades if accompanied by strong global emissions reductions. However, for any of these ideas to move from concept to implementation, the engineering feasibility, efficacy, benefits, risks, and costs must be comprehensively evaluated.

The PhD projects will each focus on one of the following research areas, with scope for additional related research within the sub-program or wider RRAP program:

1.         Atmospheric and ocean sampling from manned and unmanned aircraft to answer fundamental science questions around atmospheric - ocean processes over the reef and support the development of atmospheric-based bleaching interventions.

2.         Engineering systems research and development of sub-micron seawater spray generation equipment required to conduct real-world field testing of the marine cloud brightening concept. This includes design work, laboratory, land based and at sea field testing.

3.         Using regional and global atmospheric and ocean models to assess both the potential benefits and risks of engineering strategies for coral ecosystem conservation.

4.         Combining field measurements, satellite remote sensed data sets and ocean biogeochemical modelling of the Great Barrier Reef to investigate the impact of atmospheric processes on coral mass bleaching events and the locations where cooling and shading interventions can best be targeted.

Successful PhD candidates will be based at the National Marine Science Centre (NMSC), located in Coffs Harbour. As well as a world-class research facility, the NMSC is adjacent to awesome surf beaches, spectacular rainforest and the stunning Solitary Islands Marine Park. You will have the opportunity to work on a large multi-million-dollar four-year research project with a ground-breaking international team that has a strong record of world first achievements. For example our team includes engineers that designed the “Deepsea Challenger” a manned submersible piloted by film director James Cameron to the deepest part of the ocean, the team which currently holds the world record for the longest hybrid multi rotor ‘drone’ flight at over 8 hours, and the researchers that conducted the world’s first outdoor technology test of cloud brightening.

Applications are open to both Science and Engineering graduates. Preference will be given to candidates with an excellent academic record, strong mathematics / computational / programming / engineering skills, and a collaborative team-focused perspective, who would be available to study in Australia by early 2021. You should possess a driving desire to innovate and explore the boundaries of what is possible. The projects will require a willingness to travel and conduct fieldwork in remote locations aboard research vessels at sea and remote research stations within the Great Barrier Reef.

Students will be enrolled through the Higher Degree Research Training Program at Southern Cross University and will be encouraged to apply for a PhD scholarship that provides a living allowance of AU$28,092 per annum, indexed annually. Scholarship APPLICATIONS CLOSE 18 OCTOBER 2020. Scholarship application forms are available at https://www.scu.edu.au/graduate-school/forms-and-documents/. Beyond this date, expressions of interest will still be accepted and may be considered for subsequent rounds.

Expressions of interest should be submitted to Dr Daniel Harrison daniel.harrison@scu.edu.au with subject line “PhD Application for Cooling and Shading sub Program”.  Please attach 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.

To be considered for other PhD or MSc opportunities with the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program, also submit an enquiry form at www.gbrrestoration.org/enquiry-form indicating your interest area, and use the Subject title: PhD Application for Cooling and Shading Sub-Program.

PhD opportunities to investigate the dynamics of macroalgal assemblages on coral reefs

We are seeking expressions of interest for PhD positions working under the supervision of scientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University (Prof Andrew Hoey), the Australian Institute of Marine Science (Dr Katharina Fabricius) and potentially other partnering institutions including CSIRO and University of Queensland.

Global warming and local anthropogenic stressors have caused marked declines in coral cover and changes in the structure and functioning of reef ecosystems globally. Coral cover on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has declined due to the combined effects of multiple bleaching events, severe tropical cyclones and outbreaks of Crown-of-Thorns starfish. The increasing frequency and intensity of these disturbances has led to concerns that coral reefs may be overgrown by macroalgae that rapidly colonise dead coral skeletons. It is becoming increasingly important to understand the spatial and temporal dynamics of macroalgal assemblages on coral reefs, and to determine how different attributes of macroalgal assemblages influence key macroalgal and coral demographics, ecological processes and interactions, and the recovery potential of reefs.

We are seeking two to three PhD students to investigate the dynamics of macroalgal assemblages on coral reefs. Students will take primary responsibility for different sub-elements of this broader project such as the spatio-temporal dynamics of ephemeral and perennial macroalgal assemblages along environmental gradients, effects of macroalgae on coral demographics, and ecological feedbacks. There is scope for students to develop additional projects depending on their specific interests. Competitive applicants must have a qualifying degree (Masters or Honours degree) and will have demonstrated relevant research experience encompassing some of the following: i) marine field work involving research diving, ii) experience in designing and executing field experiments on macroalgae and/or benthic invertebrates, iii) strong scientific writing skills, and iv) strong numerical skills including handling of large data sets and familiarity with the use of R or other statistical packages.

The research will constitute part of the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program and will be based in Townsville. Preferred starting date will be in quarter 1 of 2021. Please note that eligible students need to be able to move to Townsville under current COVID-19 restrictions.

If interested and eligible, please contact Prof Andrew Hoey Andrew.hoey1@jcu.edu.au  and/or Dr Katharina Fabricius k.fabricius@aims.gov.au. APPLICATIONS CLOSE 28 September 2020.

 

PhD scholarships - Genetics of climate-change adaptation in Great Barrier Reef corals   

We are seeking expressions of interest from domestic (Australian and New Zealand) students 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. 

Strongly qualified applicants will be encouraged to apply for an Australian Research Training Program scholarship. Applicants should be available to start their studies in January 2021. 

Expressions of interest should be submitted via the RRAP portal https://www.gbrrestoration.org/en_US/enquiry-form and to emily.howells@scu.edu.au by 21 SEPTEMBER 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”. Email enquiries can be directed to emily.howells@scu.edu.au 

Five PhD positions: social dimensions of reef restoration and adaptation

Outstanding PhD candidates are sought to join a multi-institutional team of social scientists from CSIRO, James Cook University, Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland contributing to the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP), Stakeholder and Traditional Owner and Engagement Subprogram. RRAP is believed to be the world’s largest research and development program dedicated to helping a major ecosystem survive climate change. The Stakeholder and Traditional Owner Engagement Subprogram aims to facilitate the design and implementation of best-practice, place-based, engagement opportunities for Reef Traditional Owners, communities and stakeholders while, at the same time, building understanding of public perceptions of reef restoration and adaptation, the distribution of risks and benefits arising from intervention R&D and implementation, and opportunities to deliver positive community and stakeholder impacts.

 

Prospective PhD projects include:

 

  1. ENG01: Extreme event exposure and perceptions of environmental risk. Through ethnographic research in Far North Queensland, this project will explore relationships between community identity, sense of place, exposure to severe coral bleaching and other extreme events, and perceptions of environmental risk. Supervisors: Prof Stewart Lockie, JCU; Assoc. Prof Karen Vella, QUT.

 

  1. ENG02: Governance of reef restoration and adaptation and social perception of risk. This project will examine decision-making cultures and alternative governance models for managing large scale risks in order to identify design principles and an evaluation framework to monitor and evaluate decision-making. Supervisors: Assoc. Prof Karen Vella, QUT; Dr Maxine Newlands (JCU).

 

  1. ENG03: (Social) media representation and social acceptance of reef restoration and adaptation. Discourse analysis of conventional and social media will track both sentiment toward reef restoration and adaptation and the signifiers or meanings most commonly associated with restoration and adaptation. Supervisors: Dr Maxine Newlands, JCU.

 

  1. ENG04: Restoration and adaptation as scientific boundary objects. This project will examine the extent to which concepts of restoration and adaptation enable integration of knowledge and resolution of competing perspectives across sectoral and disciplinary boundaries. Supervisors: Prof Stewart Lockie, JCU; Dr Bruce Taylor, CSIRO.

 

  1. ENG05: Understanding public and community responses to large scale ecological restoration of the GBR. This project draws on existing and future large scale quantitative surveys to document public attitudes and expectations about restoration and how it is managed. This includes identifying key drivers of trust and tracking key influences of those attitudes and expectations over time. Supervisors: Prof Brent Ritchie, UQ; Dr Justine Lacey, CSIRO.

 

Please note candidates are welcome to propose additional projects linked to program objectives and the candidate’s own capabilities and interests. Supervisory arrangements for all topics are subject to approval and confirmation by the partner universities.

 

Candidates must be eligible for entry to a Doctoral program and to apply for a competitive postgraduate research scholarship at one of the partner universities.

 

Expressions of interest should be submitted to Professor Stewart Lockie stewart.lockie@jcu.edu.au. Please attach 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 include the statement “Application for <Project Code> <Project Title>” on the email subject line. To be considered for other PhD or MSc opportunities with the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program, also submit an enquiry form at www.gbrrestoration.org/enquiry-form indicating PhD or MSc and your interest area, and use the Subject title: Application for <Project Code> <Project Title>.

 

Expressions of interest will be accepted on a rolling basis but applicants are advised to note scholarship deadlines for each of the partner universities. Scholarship information can be found at:

For more information please contact:

Prof Stewart Lockie stewart.lockie@jcu.edu.au

Two PhD scholarships assessing ecological limitations to early coral recovery on the Great Barrier Reef 

Two PhD student scholarships are available at The University of Queensland (UQ) to study the ecological drivers of coral population bottlenecks and limitation to early coral recovery on the Great Barrier Reef. The candidates will be supervised by Professor Peter Mumby (UQ) and Christopher Doropoulos (CSIRO), with collaborators from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). The positions are available to both domestic and international applicants, starting in early 2021.

 

The scholarships are part of the Ecological Intelligence for Reef Restoration (EcoRRAP) Subprogram of the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP), which brings together Australia’s coral reef research community to help the Great Barrier Reef resist, adapt to, and recover from the impacts of climate change.

 

The PhD projects will focus on one of the two following research areas, with scope for additional related research within these fields:

 

Project 1: Drivers of coral survival during the early stages of reef recovery 

It is vital to understand the natural recovery processes across coral reefs, which include the size, density, and species of coral in different environments. This information will inform the design of restoration strategies to maximise their effectiveness.

 

Project 2: Critical population thresholds to ensure coral recovery

The cumulative impact of multiple disturbances, including coral bleaching, are reducing the density of coral populations. Yet the density of corals will influence the success of fertilisation after they undertake mass spawning. This project identifies critical thresholds of coral density required for successful reproduction and recruitment.

 

We are seeking two outstanding PhD candidates to work with the research team on this exciting project. Preference will be given to candidates with an excellent academic record and those willing to conduct extensive field work, with particular interests in experimental design and statistics, coral demographics, recovery and resilience, climate change, and restoration. Collaborative team-focused attitudes will be highly beneficial to participate in this multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional effort. Scientific Diver qualification (or willingness to obtain this) will be required for research and diving work on the Reef.

 

Students will be enrolled through the Higher Degree Research program at The University of Queensland and will need to apply for competitive PhD scholarships that provide living allowances of AU$28,092 per annum, indexed annually. APPLICATIONS CLOSE 30 SEPTEMBER 2020. Further information is available at: https://scholarships.uq.edu.au/scholarship/phd-scholarships-reef-restoration-and-adaption-program#qt-scholarship_tabs-foundation-tabs-1

 

Primary contact: Professor Peter Mumby p.j.mumby@uq.edu.au

Secondary contact: Dr Christopher Doropoulos christopher.doropoulos@csiro.au

Three PhD scholarships in coastal engineering and coastal science on coral reef hydrodynamics and coral rubble dynamics

Three four-year Ph.D. student scholarships are available to study hydrodynamics, wave forces and coral rubble dynamics on coral reefs. The scholarships are part of the Rubble Stabilisation Subprogram of the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program, which brings together Australia’s coral reef research community to help the Great Barrier Reef resist, adapt to, and recover from the impacts of climate change.

The scholarship stipends are up to $35,000 per annum and are open to domestic Australian students (citizens or permanent residents) only at this time.

Two scholarships are within the School of Civil Engineering (SCE) and one within the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (SEES) at The University of Queensland. There will be close collaboration with other research groups within the university, other universities and the Australian Institute of Marine Science. The three scholarships are closely linked, and provide opportunities for laboratory work in wave flumes and fieldwork in the Great Barrier Reef, in addition to theoretical and numerical modelling.

The projects build on previous and ongoing research on coral reef hydrodynamics within the schools, for example the World Bank Capturing Coral Reef Ecosystem Services project.

These project are focused on the problem of coral rubble and how to stabilise it. Natural and man-made disturbances of coral reefs can result in functioning and diverse coral reefs being damaged and, in some cases, partly or fully reduced to fields of rubble. The surface and substrate of these rubble fields can be unstable and mobile, and this lack of stability combined with frequent motion strongly inhibits the ability of young corals to recruit back onto reefs and thus aid reef recovery. One strategy to improve overall coral cover and reef health is through restoring these rubble fields to the point where recruitment can commence, and new corals established. However, rubble stabilisation is presently in its infancy in terms of an operational restoration method for coral reefs. Equally important is  identifying the reefs most vulnerable to rubble formation and which of those reefs have underlying wave regimes that make presence of mobile rubble a persistent hindrance to recovery, and thus can benefit most from restoration strategies.

These three projects aim to identify reefs where rubble is most likely to be generated through cyclone disturbance, crown-of -thorns starfish invasions and/or coral bleaching events, each of which can generate different rubble volumes and characteristics. In addition, they will aim to identify where the hydrodynamic conditions can maintain or continue to mobilise rubble, preventing stabilisation and thus hindering coral settlement and recovery.

Project 1 (RS-001) (supervisors Prof Tom Baldock (SCE), Dr David Callaghan (SCE), Dr Daniel Harris, (SEES)).

This project aims to assess how dead coral converts to rubble as a function of the physical environment, and determine the forces acting to mobilise the rubble. This will involve field and laboratory measurements and include an assessment of the hydrodynamic forces required for damage and breakage for different types of corals, both live and dead. Structural and hydrodynamic testing of specimens will assess mechanical properties and force coefficients. This will provide parameters for hydrodynamic-structural modelling for mapping risk of breakage and rates of rubble generation, using hydrodynamic models from Project 2. The possibility of regeneration of dynamic rubble from rubble that has bound and stabilised will be assessed in laboratory settings, by determining the strength of specimens that have naturally bound in field conditions. This will be performed through both mechanical strength testing and during dynamic motion induced by hydrodynamic flow fields. Laboratory work (and field work in conjunction with project 3) will be conducted with hydrodynamic sensors and tagged rubble of different types and sizes, with associated local hydrodynamic measurements used to calibrate and verify hydrodynamic and force models.

Project 2 (RS-003a) (supervisors Dr David Callaghan (SCE), Prof Tom Baldock (SCE), Dr Daniel Harris, (SEES))

Extensive near-reef and on-reef wind wave modelling has been undertaken across the Great Barrier Reef and Capricorn Bunker Group to characterise the exposure of every reef to non-cyclonic and cyclonic water waves, a significant driver of coral morphology and habitat development. Such large-scale modelling ignores the reef structure itself, including particulars regrading coral geometry and its impact on forces transmitted to coral rubble. This project will integrate laboratory and field measurements into a predictive approach for estimating coral rubble stability through multi-scale CFD modelling from coral structure (a few centimetres), habitat (a few metres) and reef form (10s of metres to kilometres). This coral stability approach will convert these large-scale wave predictions into coral rubble stability mapping useful for assessing where coral resilience works will provide maximum benefit. To be able to effectively incorporate validation data, the scholar will be involved in designing/planning and obtaining data from laboratory experiments and field collection campaigns principally led by project 1 and 3 scholars and aimed at understanding mechanism critical for coral rubble dynamics over its life cycle.

Project 3 (RS-003b) (supervisors Dr Daniel Harris (SEES), Dr David Callaghan (SCE), Prof Tom Baldock (SCE))

This project is field based and aims to assess the dynamics of coral derived rubble in natural settings and provide “real world” context to the research conducted in the physical (Project 1) and numerical (Project 2) modelling projects. The deployment of equipment will be used to measure the in situ hydrodynamic processes acting on rubble beds and to monitor the movement and/or stability of coral rubble of different types and sizes. This will “ground truth” the hydrodynamic conditions that move and transport rubble in natural settings which will be used to verify the findings from the laboratory studies (Project 1). Identifying the environmental and geographic setting in which rubble movement was observed (e.g. interlocked or free moving, fore-reef slopes or reef flats), in addition to hydrodynamic conditions, will provide further context to the likely dynamics of rubble in coral reef systems. This will enable the application of our understanding of rubble dynamics developed in this project to a wide range of coral reef settings via the use of numerical models (Project 2).

APPLICATIONS CLOSE 30 SEPTEMBER 2020

Further information and enquiries

Please contact Professor Tom Baldock for further information (t.baldock@uq.edu.au) and also submit an enquiry form at https://www.gbrrestoration.org/enquiry-form indicating PhD and interest in the Rubble Stabilisation projects.