Scholarships at SCPS

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Scholarships Currently Available

The 2020 Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship round has opened and will close at midnight on the 13 October 2019. This provides a living allowance of AU$28092 per annum (2019 rate indexed annually). This includes the International Fee Offset and Stipend Scholarships which are available to international applicants only.  Please contact a member of Plant Science academic staff to discuss details of your proposed project area and application

PhD Scholarships available

1.     Establishing infrastructure and analysis pipelines for cannabis genomics and genetics

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.

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)

Scholarship: SCU scholarship for 36 months at $28,092 per annum
Supervisor: Associate Professor Tobias Kretzschmar
Deadline for applications: 22 November 2019


MSC Scholarship Available

MSc Scholarship in reducing the generation time of Passionfruit 2019-2021 - Establishing protocols for rapid generation advancement in passionfruit.

Passionfruit (Passiflora edulis) is a fast-growing vine that has been domesticated and cultivated only relatively recently as a source of fruit for fresh consumption and extracted pulp which can be preserved.

The Australian industry has existed for at least 60 years with a focus on supplying fresh fruit to the local market. Two genetically different forms of Passiflora edulis have been scientifically described – Passiflora edulis f. edulis, which is usually described as ‘purple’ passionfruit and P. edulis f. flavicarpa, ‘yellow’ passionfruit. Australian growers obtain better prices for the more familiar purple coloured fruits, which are now sourced from vines which are a combination of the two forms after hybridisation in Australia in the 1970’s. Lines with flavicarpa genetic background are known as “Panama types” in the industry and these can have dark coloured fruits. Differences between typical ‘purple’ vines and Panama types include: fruit size (purple smaller), fruit colour (Panama variable - yellow, red or brown), method of propagation (Panama by seed) and reliance on rootstock (purples are grafted onto Panama seedlings as a fungus resistant rootstock by necessity). 

 This project aims to:

  • Develop procedures to grow passionfruit in soil-free media in a polytunnel with fertigation in small spaces
  • Develop procedures to reduce time to flowering and/or viable seed production from fruit from polytunnel grown vines.

Supervisor: Dr Peter Bundock, please send your application, CV and academic transcript to
Scholarship: SCU scholarship for 18 months at $28,092 per annum


Honours Scholarships available

1.     Understanding the biochemical basis for the delicious taste and smell of coffee

Coffee is one of the most commercialised and widely consumed food products in the world. The Australian coffee market is worth approximately 2 billion dollars and the average per capita consumption is about 2 kg coffee per year. However, 99% of the coffee consumed in Australia is grown overseas and imported as green beans ready for roasting.  Flavour is the most important coffee quality and mainly influenced by specific chemical components in the coffee bean. The aim of this project is to develop and optimise an efficient analysis method to detect key chemicals responsible for the variation of coffee flavour. This important method and information can later assist us to choose the best tasting coffee varieties to be grown in Australia.  This project will utilise the new liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS) platform available at Southern Cross Plant Science to analyse flavour chemical components in coffee.

Supervisor: Dr Lei (Ben) Liu, please send your application, CV and academic transcript to
Scholarship: $5000 stipend and must enrol at session 3, Nov 1st, 2019.

2.     Lipid changes during macadamia nut development

Macadamia nut generates the greatest farm-gate value in the Northern Rivers region. Although over 70% of a macadamia nut weight is oil, most of the oils in the nut are healthy monounsaturated lipids. Macadamia nuts may reach their maximum size 5 months after flowering and continue to accumulate lipids in the nut kernel after this time. However, little is known about the lipid composition/classes (e.g. phospholipids and triacylglycerols) during the maturation of macadamia nuts. The aim of this study is to develop a new lipidomics approach whereby we investigate lipid changes during macadamia nut development. Understanding the lipid changes during macadamia nut maturation may help to inform at what time in development is the nut at the best eating quality. This project will utilise the new liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS) at Southern Cross Plant Science to develop a lipid analysis platform for macadamia nut research.

Supervisor: Dr Lei (Ben) Liu, please send your application, CV and academic transcript to
Scholarship: $5000 stipend and must enrol at session 3, Nov 1st, 2019.



Enrol online at SCU

Course codes:

  • MSc: 1257251 (CRICOS Course 077723F)
  • PhD: 1407253 (CRICOS Course 077724E)

For more information please contact:

Dr Ben Liu
t: (02) 6622 3211