FEIT Research Project Database

A spatial network approach to maintaining river basin ecosystem values and managing hydrological threats

Project Leader: Angus Webb
Staff: Avril Horne, Angus Webb
Collaborators: Julian Olden (University of Washington)
Primary Contact: Avril Horne (avril.horne@unimelb.edu.au)
Keywords: catchment management; environmental hydrology and water resources; environmental water; network science; water resources
Disciplines: Infrastructure Engineering

An exciting PhD project is available for a motivated and suitably qualified candidate to undertake original research in a multi-disciplinary area.  You will work with a dynamic and industry-aligned team to explore the potential to apply conservation planning principles to water resource management. Your findings will inform the water industry and contribute to the international body of knowledge.  You will be supervised by Dr Avril Horne and A Prof Angus Webb (University of Melbourne), and Prof Julian Olden (University of Washington). 

Project description:  Many freshwater ecosystems are in decline because of anthropogenic disturbances including extractions for human consumption, exotic species invasions, and river regulation for power generation or water security.  Climate change has the potential to further exacerbate tradeoffs between water for human uses and water for the environment.  This project will explore the potential of adopting spatial network and conservation planning techniques within the field of water resource management.  The project would adapt existing methods from conservation planning to prioritize decisions around environmental water use, infrastructure locations and agricultural development.

Eligibility:Australian, US, and international students are eligible to apply. Candidates must be eligible to apply for an Australian Government Research Training Program Stipend Scholarship (4-year degree or Masters) and be highly competitive for that award (approximate weighted average over final two years of study of >82% for local applicants or >88% for international applicants). Applicants will be assessed on their scholarship score and relevant skills and previous experience. Selection criteria include outstanding written communication skills, demonstrated competency in ecology, hydrology or natural resource management, and experience with mathematics or statistics.  Industry experience is preferred, and female and indigenous applicants are highly encouraged to apply.

PhD conditions:The successful applicant will receive a stipend of $31, 200 AUD p.a. tax-free plus an additional $5,000 p.a. top up scholarship.  The candidate will enter the PhD program within the Water, Environment and Agriculture Program of the Melbourne School of Engineering (https://eng.unimelb.edu.au/industry/water#research). You will commence the PhD in 2021 and be enrolled on a full-time basis. Australian PhD candidatures run for 3-4 years full time, and candidates are given considerable intellectual freedom to pursue their individual interests. This is backed up by considerable professional development opportunities, including presenting at local and international conferences, specific training courses, and limited paid work in consulting-style projects or teaching. As the PhD will be co-supervised by Julian Olden, the candidate will have the opportunity to spend 12 months or more of their candidature based in the Olden Lab at The University of Washington (https://depts.washington.edu/oldenlab/).

Enquiries:For further information about this opportunity and the expression of interest process described below please contact Dr Avril Horne (avril.horne@unimelb.edu.au), Department of Infrastructure Engineering, University of Melbourne.

Expressions of interest:

Expressions of interest close Friday July 17, 2020, 11:59pm AEST (earlier applications preferred).

Please email Dr Horne the following

  • A cover letter including responses to the selection criteria listed above.
  • Your CV.
  • Transcripts from your degrees, along with information on the grading system used. This is necessary for us to understand whether you will be competitive for an AGRTP scholarship.
  • A half to one-page statement on your motivation for undertaking a PhD, your research history and experience, including any particular experience particularly relevant to this project, and any preliminary ideas about research specializations within the broad project description above.

Please do not apply directly with the University at this stage. We will select a preferred candidate, who will then apply for University of Melbourne scholarship funding through the standard competitive scholarship selection processes. That application will be due by 28 August 2020.

Further information: https://eng.unimelb.edu.au/industry/water#research https://depts.washington.edu/oldenlab/