Scholarships

Australian Government Research Training (RTP) Domestic and International Stipend Scholarships - Opening Soon!

The Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship for Domestic and International applicants will open mid-August 2019 for 2020 admission.

Application forms and further information will become available closer to the date.

Alternatively funded scholarships available: 


Name of ScholarshipClosing Date

Contact

Scholarship in Cannabis bioinformatics - PhD

Establishing infrastructure and analysis pipelines for Cannabis genomics and genetics

Background: 

Cannabis sativa is a versatile fast-growing, herbaceous, annual plant that has been domesticated and cultivated since at least 8000 BC for food, fibre and medicine. Depending on its use it’s currently being referred to as Industrial Hemp (IH) or Medicinal Cannabis (MC).

Industrial hemp (IH) has been grown in trials in most states of Australia and is currently expanding for both food and fibre production. By 2024 the Australian industrial hemp industry is expected to turn over >$10 million annually.

Medicinal Cannabis (MC) produces a unique class of chemically diverse and therapeutically valuable secondary metabolites that interact with the human endocannabinoid system, referred to as cannabinoids.  Australia’s regulatory framework for MC and reputation as a ‘trusted source’ provide a solid opportunity to supply fully legal, pharmaceutical grade MC products globally. The Australian MC industry comprises >26 licensees to date and is predicted to grow to a worth of >$3.5 billion by 2028.

While both the Australian IH and MC industries are rapidly expanding, they currently lacking a solid scientific basis from which Research and Development into the crop can be carried out. Particularly genetic and genomic information is limiting. There is no recognized platform dedicated to the systematic investigation of the Cannabis genome and Cannabis genetic diversity, neither for Australia nor globally. While improved reference genomes for both IH (Finola) and MC (Purple Kush) have recently been published (Laverty et al 2019) the assemblies need much improvement and proper annotation is missing. There are no established variant calling pipelines for the highly heterozygous crop and efforts into assessing genetic diversity and levels of relatedness within the wealth of available cultivars are just beginning.      

This project aims to: 

  • Generate an improved Cannabis genome for SCU in close alignment with international efforts (improved annotation, improved assemblies, incorporation of transcriptome and proteome data)
  • Establish information and computational/analyses infrastructure for a Cannabis ‘omics hub’ (bioinformatics and analysis tools for Cannabis genomics and genetics)
  • Establish a robust framework for Cannabis diversity analysis and allele mining (high density GBS data, resequencing data, variant calling pipeline, linking to analysis and visualization tools)
  • Establish a portal for the Cannabis genetic resource center (data basing and visualization). 

Southern Cross University has been working alongside the IH and MC industries for more than a decade, maintaining and characterising genetic resources in respect to chemotype diversity. SCU features a unique combination of secure facilities for growth and chemical analysis of Cannabis, including access to range of diverse germplasm. In terms of bioinformatics resources, Southern Cross Plant Sciences (SCPS) has a flexible platform of high capacity and dedicated computing servers for bioinformatics. These include multi-CPU, high memory, large capacity storage virtual machines, and a hardware-accelerated sequence alignment server, all hosted in the secure SCU Data Centre. All data are backed up off-site in real time. As a node of EMBL-Australia and the emerging Australian BioCommons (ABC), we are working to have increasing access to generic bioinformatics-enabled Cloud resources, and participate in ongoing and future activities of ABC (e.g. Galaxy Australia, data/ systems standardization and interoperability initiative).

 Refs:

  • Welling MT, Shapter T, Rose TJ, Liu L, Stanger R, King GJ (2016) A Belated Green Revolution for Cannabis: Virtual Genetic Resources to Fast-track Cultivar Development. Frontiers in Plant Science. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.01113
  • Laverty, K. et al. (2018). A physical and genetic map of Cannabis sativa identifies extensive rearrangement at the THC/CBD acid synthase locus. Genome Research. doi: 10.1101/gr.242594.118.
  • The Australian BioCommons: https://www.bioplatforms.com/biocommons/
  •  The Generic Model Organism Database Project : http://gmod.org/wiki/Main_Page
  • SNP-Seek Database Project: http://snp-seek.irri.org
  • Germinate generic plant genetic resources database project: https://ics.hutton.ac.uk/germinate/ 

Experimental approaches:

The project will focus on bioinformatics approaches, heavily relying on the SCPS computational infrastructure and publically available datasets. In addition novel genotyping (GBS-based), re-sequencing and RNAseq data will be generated (for objectives 1 and 3).

The work will include:

  • Critical review of existing relevant peer-reviewed scientific literature
  • Use SCU computational facilities (SCPS bioinformatics servers) to build portals and pipelines and refine for production.
  • Generate high density genotyping by sequencing and resequencing data for variant analysis and allele mining approaches.
  • Adapt and adopt existing bioinformatics solution if possible and develop novel ones were are gaps are identified
  • Link into existing Cannabis ‘omics’ network, strengthen collaborations and contribute to international efforts
  • Attend local and international bioinformatics and genomics conferences. 

Training:

This studentship would be suitable for a graduate in biological sciences ,specializing in bioinformatics and will provide training in:

  • Adoption/use and deployment of open-source bioinformatics analysis software and pipelines
  • Data management and system development practices to enable Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable (FAIR) data/systems
  • Working with a commercial company involved in breeding (data management)
  • Working with a technology-oriented start-up company (data management)
  • Exploration of data analytics tools that may involve machine learning and image processing technologies
  • Statistical analysis
  • Report writing 

In addition, this PhD candidature will be managed within the SCU postgraduate training programme in Plant Science Innovation (https://www.scu.edu.au/research-centres/southern-cross-plant-science/postgraduate-training-program/), which provides opportunities to benefit from a broader range of professional training alongside the focused research project.

Scholarship: SCU scholarship for 36 months at $28,000 per annum

This project will be based at SCU’s campus in Lismore, NSW, Australia.

2 August 2019 

Associate Professor Tobias Kretzchmar  

tobias.kretzschmar@scu.edu.au 

 

Scholarship in Cannabis tissue culture - MSc. 

Establishing robust tissue culture protocols for Cannabis sativa

Cannabis sativa is a versatile fast-growing, herbaceous, annual plant that has been domesticated and cultivated since at least 8000 BC for food, fibre and medicine. While being shunned and highly regulated for nearly a century, there has been a growing interest in re-establishing Cannabis as a broad acre and horticultural crop.

While the Australian Cannabis industries are rapidly diversifying and expanding, they are currently lacking a solid scientific basis from which Research and Development into the crop can be carried out. As an obligatory outcrossing crop Cannabis exhibits high levels of heterozygosity associated with high rate of phenotypic plasticity and in-line phenotypic variation. This makes genetic resource management, particularly the long term conservation of specific lines challenging, since they do not perform true to type and thus cannot be propagated and stored as seed. While propagation through vegetative cuttings is commonly practiced for Cannabis, it has severe limitations in respect to scaling-up and long term maintenance of valuable germplasm. Tissue culture approaches have the potential to overcome these limitations and further provide an environment free of disease and pest pressure and keep materials in a perpetual juvenile state.      

 This project aims to: 

  • Develop tissue culture standard operating procedures (SOP) for rejuvenation, micropropagation and long-term maintenance culture of Cannabis sativa
  • Develop tissue culture standard operating procedures (SOP) for callus induction and shoot/root regeneration of Cannabis sativa 

Southern Cross University has been working alongside the Australian Cannabis industries for more than a decade, maintaining and characterising genetic resources in respect to chemotype diversity. SCU features a unique combination of secure facilities for growth and chemical analysis of Cannabis, including access to range of diverse germplasm.

Experimental approaches:

The project will focus on plate based (and possibly liquid media-based) tissue culture approaches, testing a variety of relevant parameters. 

The work will include:

  • Critical review of existing relevant peer-reviewed scientific literature
  • Use SCU secure Cannabis tissue culture facilities to develop and test SOPs for a variety of tissue culture application (test media composition, hormone composition, light, temperature, subculture frequency etc.).
  • Test different tissues (mature seed, immature embryos, apical meristems and nodal meristems) for suitability of different tissue culture applications.
  • Particularly for the callus-based protocols test a range of diverse germplasm for susceptibility/recalcitrance of shoot and root generation with aim to identify the most suitable cultivar and associated SOP.

Training:

This studentship would be suitable for a graduate in biological sciences and will provide training in: 

  • Experimental design and process development around tissue culture
  • Working with a commercial company
  • Working with a highly regulated crop
  • Working in a sterile environment
  • Basic molecular biology
  • Basic statistical analysis
  • Report writing

In addition, this MSc candidature will be managed within the SCU postgraduate training programme in Plant Science Innovation (https://www.scu.edu.au/research-centres/southern-cross-plant-science/postgraduate-training-program/), which provides opportunities to benefit from a broader range of professional training alongside the focused research project.

SCU scholarship for 18 months at $27,596 per annum.

This project will be based at SCU’s campus in Lismore, NSW, Australia.

This project is carried out in an industry context and co-funded by the industry partner Vir Pharma.

2 August 2019 

Associate Professor Tobias Kretzchmar  

tobias.kretzschmar@scu.edu.au 

Industry PhD Scholarship Opportunity

Trace elemental and isotopic signature in hominid teeth

Key words: Human evolution, geochemistry, isotopes, trace elements, primate, teeth, fossil, archaeometry, archaeogeochemistry

Project details:

In teeth, mineralisation of enamel and dentine occurs incrementally and thus retains a sequential record of an individual’s early-life chemical exposure - both external and internal (e.g., metabolites). The well-preserved elemental and isotopic signals in fossil teeth have been used to reconstruct trophic levels, diet and migration patterns of early hominins and even in some cases the breastfeeding history of late Pleistocene Homo and extant apes. Reconstructing the isoscape (or exposome) of extinct species and in particular the nursing history is extremely valuable to better understand the early life signal of species that composed the broad primate evolution sequence, including for clarifying when the characteristic early weaning and late maturation of modern humans evolved.

This project aims to improve our understanding of the ecological setting of key primate species of the past few million years using high resolution laser-ablation inductively plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS) as well as other characterisation techniques. We seek a PhD student to work on improving the methodology and protocols of LA-ICPMS mapping and isotopic ratio analyses, while investigating early-life events of key fossils. The PhD student will work alongside a team of scientists from Australia, USA, Germany, France, China and South Africa who will contribute and provide guidance on characterisation techniques, trace element and isotopic analyses, dental anatomy, and primate evolution.

We are seeking a graduate with a strong academic record with experience in archaeometry, geochemistry, chemistry and/or biochemistry and either knowledge or a strong interest to work on human/primate evolution problematic. The student should have robust computer skills. Experience with coding in matlab or R is a plus. There is also a large probability to participate in field work campaign in Africa and/or Asia.

Eligibility: 

Admission to candidature is granted to students who possess a Bachelor’s degree with first or second class honours, or a Masters degree with the relevant research component.

Location: Lismore Campus

How to apply:  Send your resume, transcripts, certificates and relevant publications (if any) in one PDF file to via email to: renaud.joannes-boyau@scu.edu.au

  1. Outcome of expression of interest: You’ll be notified of the outcome of your expression of interest by email.
  2. Interviews: If your expression of interest is successful, you will be invited to attend an online interview for both the scholarship and for the PhD candidature. Instructions will be provided in the invitation.

PhD stipend of 3 year duration to support living costs, rate increased annually.  The 2019 rate is $27,596 per year (indexed annually). Co-funded by Agilent Technologies Australia Pty Ltd and Southern Cross University.

1 August 2019 

Dr Renaud Joannes-Boyau renaud.joannes-boyau@scu.edu.au

 

Industry PhD Scholarship Opportunity

Reconstructing Identities and Perceptions of Dementia: Digital Life Storybooks

Project details:

Digital storytelling is a form of film narrative that uses media technology such as still photos, sound, music, and videos to create digital life stories.  Research suggests there are important benefits of this form of storytelling for persons with dementia, including enhanced relationships, enjoyment and communication.

The purpose of this project is to explore and understand the experience and benefits of utilizing digital life storybooks among residents with dementia, as perceived by the storytellers themselves, their family and care staff.

In this research, the digital stories will be created collaboratively with persons with dementia and supported by staff in the aged care facility. The innovative project offers an opportunity for a candidate with a background in health sciences or digital media.

The project is linked to Sawtell Catholic Care of the Aged Care and provides an excellent opportunity to gain experience in working in the aged care environment.

Eligibility: Admission to candidature is granted to students who possess a Bachelors degree with first or second class honours, or a Masters degree where at least half of the assessment was based upon a thesis or dissertation. Open to Australian citizens and permanent residents, and New Zealand citizens only.

Location: Coffs Harbour Campus in partnership with Sawtell Catholic Care of the Aged

How to apply:  Send your resume, transcripts, certificates and relevant publications (if any) in one PDF file to via email to: marie.hutchinson@scu.edu.au.

  1. Outcome of expression of interest: You’ll be notified of the outcome of your expression of interest by email.
  2. Invitation to attend an interview: If your expression of interest is successful, you will be invited to submit a formal application and attend an interview for both the scholarship and for PhD candidature. Instructions on how to apply will be provided in the invitation.

PhD stipend of 3 year duration. The 2019 rate is $27,596 per year (indexed annually).

Friday 26th July 2019

 

Professor Marie Hutchinson marie.hutchinson@scu.edu.au 

Linkage Scholarships - Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) 

3-year PhD scholarship stipend at the current Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) base rate (AU$27,596 per annum in 2019 - indexed annually).

Successful contracted ARC Linkage project (LP19) round project where Southern Cross University is the lead.

For an overview of industry schemes/main funding sources where our industry partners can leverage from please see Overview of Industry Schemes

NB:  All Scholarship applications need to be assessed and approved by the DVC Research and the Dean, Graduate Studies.

 

Graduate School

hdrscholarships@scu.edu.au  

New Project Scholarships - Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) 

3-year PhD scholarship stipend at the current Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) base rate (AU$27,596 per annum in 2019 - indexed annually) for successful projects where the external funding amount to SCU (net) is a minimum of $150K total within 3 years.

(New contracted projects where net cash allocation to SCU is a minimum of $150K total within a 3-year timeframe.)

For an overview of industry schemes/main funding sources where our industry partners can leverage from please see Overview of Industry Schemes.

NB:  All Scholarships applications need to be assessed and approved by the DVC Research and the Dean, Graduate Studies.

 

Graduate School

hdrscholarships@scu.edu.au

 

Co-Funded Scholarships - Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) 

Co-funded 50% of a post-graduate Scholarship stipend (2 years for Masters or 3 years for PhD) at the current Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) base rate (AU$27,596 per annum in 2019 - indexed annually), where an external funding body on a Category  2 or Category 3 project co-funds 50% of the total scholarship stipend.

(New contracted project 50% co-funding from an external source on a Cat 2 or Cat 3 project Not applicable to Cat 1 or Cat 4 projects)

For an overview of industry schemes/main funding sources where our industry partners can leverage from please see Overview of Industry Schemes.

NB:  All Scholarships applications need to be assessed and approved by the DVC Research and the Dean, Graduate Studies.

 

Graduate School

hdrscholarships@scu.edu.au

 

 

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