Applications for this PhD have now closed.
Location University of Technology Sydney, Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster
App. deadline 01/08/2018
  • Please enquire for further details
Eligibility Australian residents only

Discovering how reef-building corals tolerate hypoxia exposure

Oxygen availability fundamentally sustains life on Earth, fuelling aerobic metabolism to produce energy. However, dissolved oxygen content of the oceans has already substantially in the last 50 years from climate change and as waters are increasingly affected by stressors that subject organisms to periods of hypoxia (e.g. eutrophication), where oxygen availability falls below levels that sustain optimal functioning. Shallow tropical reefs already experience routine oxygen depletion and therefore under immediate risk from accelerating hypoxia exposure – as yet we have no knowledge of how dissolved oxygen regulates the functioning of reef-building corals, the oxygen limits that sustain ‘normal’ coral functioning, or the mechanisms corals employ to tolerate and potentially acclimatize to hypoxia exposure. Improved monitoring of coastal reef health using oxygen-sensing arrays rests on bridging this fundamental gap in knowledge.

A multi-disciplinary project funded by the Australian Research Council will therefore focus, for the first time, on whether and how corals of the Great Barrier Reef tolerate hypoxia exposure, led by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS; A/Prof David Suggett and Dr Mathieu Pernice) in collaboration with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST, Red Sea Research Center; Prof Christian Voolstra) and the University of Copenhagen (UoC; Prof Mickael Kuhl). Within this project, we are offering two PhD scholarships:

  1. PhD1 (UTS, UoC): Reconciling coral hypoxia thresholds with changes in growth morphology and environmental history through micro-scale oxygen dynamics.
  2. PhD2 (UTS, KAUST): Revealing the mechanistic basis for coral hypoxia sensitivity versus tolerance through coupled metagenomic- metabolomics platforms.


  • Domestic students (or international students with a tuition fee waive).
  • Have completed a Bachelor of Science degree with first class honours or Master of Science by research, or be regarded by the university as having an equivalent level of attainment.

Selection Criteria

  • Expertise in and knowledge of coral and associated microbial biology, as well as of physiology and oxygen sensing (Phd1) or bioinformatics and metabolomics (PhD2).
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills, with a preference for proven ability of scientific publication.
  • High level of motivation and enthusiasm.
  • Capacity to conduct experiments in both laboratory (aquarist) and field (coral reef) settings.
  • Ability to commence studies by March 1, 2018 (PhD1) or August 1, 2018 (PhD2).

Value and Duration

The successful candidate will be awarded $26,300 AUD per annum over 3 years.

How to Apply

Send your CV and a 1-page expression of interest for the PhD you are interested in below:

  1. PhD1 to A/Professor David Suggett -
  2. PhD2 to Dr Mathieu Pernice -

Applications close March 1, 2018 (PhD1) or August 1, 2018 (PhD2).

Please Note: Should this listing mention details of an available scholarship, it is your responsibility to confirm the specifics with the university / institute prior to applyiing. Terms and conditions are in some cases subject to change and are not always reflected immediately within listings.

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Further Information / Application Enquiries

A/Prof David Suggett