Applications for this PhD have now closed.
Location La Trobe University, Animal, Plant and Soil Science

PhD Scholarships at AgriBio, La Trobe University (Animal, Plant, Soil Science)

PhD Studentships

The Department of Animal, Plant and Soil Sciences at La Trobe University has several PhD studentships (fees and stipend) available. These can be in any area of our research. Current interests include: 

-      The La Trobe Medicinal Agriculture Hub is a flagship ARC-funded research centre ( The team includes leading companies in the medicinal cannabis and alkaloid poppy fields, partnered with several academic labs. We have several PhD projects available that are focused on improving productivity of these industries. Projects range from basic to applied science, involving diverse approaches such as agronomy, biochemistry, cell and tissue specific genomics and advanced chemistry. Email -

-      Enhancing food production is an urgent global priority and we are focused on enhancing legume production, since this: (i) provides a healthy source of protein for humans, (ii) forms a symbiosis with bacteria that fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, which reduces our reliance on expensive nitrogen fertilizers and (iii) reduces atmospheric and groundwater pollution.  Penny Smith’s lab are trying to identify genes that underpin the regulation of nitrogen fixation in legumes, as well as its relationship to other limiting nutrients like phosphorus.  Email –

-      Seed storage proteins are mobilised upon germination and used to fuel the early stages of seedling growth. Using a combination of genetics, cell biology and biochemistry, this project in Tony Gendall’s lab will investigate the role of proteases in germination.  Email –

-      Caixan Tang’s interests include soil acidity and acidification, plant-soil interactions, rhizosphere chemistry and plant root exudation, subsoil constraints, and nutrient dynamics in natural and agro-ecosystems.  Email –

-      Cell walls enabled plants to colonise land and survive in a range of different environments. The wall is the key structural element in plants, controlling strength, rigidity and flexibility and, in turn, the texture of edible plant parts. The cell wall/cell surface is also a key sensor of the external environment. Tony Bacic and Monika Doblin are interested in understanding all aspects of wall biology with the aim of engineering walls “fit for purpose” biotechnologically!  Email –

-      Ever wondered how a venus fly trap senses the touch of a fly and shuts its trap to capture it? Kim Johnson’s lab investigates the pathways downstream of a key cell surface sensor in plants that feels touch and responds to change plant growth.  Email –

-      Jim Whelan’s lab conducts extensive research in agricultural bioscience, including diverse aspects of plant energy metabolism such as the impact of energy and stresses on plant quality and yields and the effectiveness of phosphate fertilisers on specific plants and in current agricultural practices.  Email –

-      James Hunt is an agronomist and crop physiologist specialising in water limited productivity of dry-land cropping and mixed farming systems. His research focuses on using combinations of management and genetics to increase productivity and profitability of grain based farming systems.  Email –

-      Mat Lewsey’s lab ( studies plant genomics and epigenomics, applying systems biology and phenomics approaches to understand internal signalling and environmental interactions. Most recently we have investigated how seeds wake-up by activating their genome during germination, and how plant shoots send signals to control DNA methylation in roots.  We have also developed high-throughput plant imaging (phenomics) approaches that we use to investigate genotype-phenotype interactions. Finally, we study alkaloid poppy biotechnology for pharmaceuticals. Email –

-      Kim Plummer’s lab investigates host specificity determinants of apple and pear scab fungi.  Students will us a systems biology approach to reveal factors involved in pathogenicity, host recognition and host resistance responses in apple and pear scab fungi (Venturiaspp). Assays will be conducted to elucidate functions of pathogen gene candidates that have been identified using: comparative genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics and cytology, of a range of infection scenarios (resistant and susceptible interactions).  Email –

-      Travis Beddoe has extensive interests in biochemistry and crystallography, as well as livestock-pathogen interactions.  Email –

-      Warwick Grant’s lab primary research is on onchocerciasis (river blindness) a parasitic disease that is the world's second leading infectious cause of blindness.  The primary focus is in sub-Saharan Africa, where millions of people are at risk of contracting the disease.  Email –

-      Mucosal IgA plays a key role in resistance to nematode infection; the aim of this project is to determine the mechanism of action and the molecular targets. The research in Mike Stear’s lab will lead to better methods of diagnosis and disease control.  Email –

We are based at The Centre for AgriBioscience (AgriBio), Bundoora. This is a 25 year partnership between government, university and biotech companies in one environment to develop and drive innovative research in sustainable agriculture to meet the increasing demands for food with a growing world population.

La Trobe University is one of Australia’s research leaders and the largest provider of higher education to regional Victoria. We are ranked in the world’s top 400 universities by all three major independent ranking agencies, and moved to #56 in the Times Higher Education Young Universities Rankings. 

La Trobe is recognised nationally and internationally
 for high-quality teaching and research.
In the most recent Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) assessment, La Trobe ranked equal best university in Australia for Biological Sciences and the best university in Australia for Agricultural and Veterinary Studies.

The deadline for domestic applicants is 31st October and for international applicants 30thSeptember. To qualify for a full fees and stipend scholarship, applicants must have La Trobe University H1 honours or equivalent. 

Studentships will be for an early 2019 start, except for projects in Medicinal Agriculture, which would start mid-2019. Interested applicants can contact supervisors directly via the relevant email address provided above or enquire with the Graduate Research School (GRS). Formal applications will need to be submitted by clicking on this link  Further information can be found on the following links.

Further information can be found on the following links.

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.

See our full disclaimer

Further Information / Application Enquiries

Dr Mathew Lewsey