Applications for this PhD have now closed.
Location Western Sydney University, Graduate Research School
App. deadline 31/03/2017
  • Scholarship available
Project ID 2017-006
Eligibility Open to international applicants

Functional Genomics of C4 Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is the biological process used by all plants to transform light into chemical energy and produce carbohydrates for growth. Carbon fixation using the C4 photosynthesis process is a more efficient pathway for concentrating carbon dioxide, benefiting plants that evolved to survive the harsher climates such as those found in Australia. The ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis ( aims to use photosynthesis research to increase the yield of important food crops thereby addressing global food shortages in a changing world climate. Our group at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment is responsible for exploiting the natural diversity among C4 crops (e.g., corn and sorghum) and grasses and dissecting the molecular pathway of C4 photosynthesis by taking advantage of cutting-edge physiological, molecular and genomic approaches.

This PhD project will focus on the fine dissection of enzymes regulating the activity of C4 photosynthesis by taking a transcriptomic and/or a functional genomic approach to knockdown and overexpress key genes using models such as Setaria viridis and Arabidopsis thaliana.

The successful applicant will be based in Sydney, Australia at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, which hosts 50 scientists and 55 PhD students, comprising one of the highest concentrations of environmental researchers in Australia. These molecular agriculture and plant physiology projects will suit an ambitious early career scientist who is willing to take advantage of a truly inspiring time in plant biology.

The student will be incorporated in the ANU-led ARC Centre Excellence, working closely with leading C4 photosynthesis experts Professors Susanne von Caemmerer and Robert Furbank from the Australian National University, and be supervised by Associate Professor Oula Ghannoum (Photosynthesis) together with a multidisciplinary team composed of research-intensive faculty who are world experts in their fields (

» Domestic students will receive a tax free stipend of $30,392 per annum and a funded place in the doctoral degree.
» International students will receive a tax free stipend of $30,392 per annum. Those with a strong track record may receive a fee waiver.
» Funding is available for project costs and conference travel.

The successful applicant should:

» be able to showcase an exceptional interest in plant biology;
» demonstrate excellent academic performance in one or more of the following areas: molecular biology, genomics, DNA engineering or plant transformation (functional genomics); microscopy, statistics or cell biology (physiology)
» hold qualifications and experience equal to an Australian First Class Bachelor Honours degree or equivalent overseas qualifications and be enthusiastic and highly motivated to undertake further study at an advanced level
» have good communication skills and be creative
» International applicants must also demonstrate a high level of proficiency in the English language. Please refer to the English language requirements at


» Applicants should discuss their eligibility and interests with Associate Professor Oula Ghannoum at

» Contact the Graduate Research School to discuss enrolment and scholarships at

» Please submit an application form, CV, names and contact information of two referees, and a one-page document stating how your research interests align with the project's aims.

» The application form can be downloaded from:

Closing date: 31 March 2017

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Further Information / Application Enquiries

Ms Tracy Mills
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