Optimal photosynthetic traits on ecological time-scales

Optimal photosynthetic traits on ecological time-scales


Science and Engineering

Project Name

Optimal photosynthetic traits on ecological time-scales

Project Description

A 3 year PhD scholarship is available for a bright and energetic candidate to join Prof. Ian Wright’s plant ecology group at Macquarie University. In our research we investigate the functional ecology and ecological strategies of plants –  the “how and why” of differences among species in their structural, chemical and physiological traits – and the implications of this variation for larger-scale processes. For this we use a variety of approaches, ranging from fine-scale anatomical or physiological studies to global-scale analyses of trait variation. We run fieldwork in a variety of systems, from the wet tropics to temperate woodlands to the arid zone.

The successful candidate will work closely as part of a larger team led by Wright and by Prof. Colin Prentice (Imperial College London), on the project “Optimal photosynthetic traits on ecological time-scales”. Our research is building new theoretical and empirical understanding of plant ecology/ecophysiology, providing foundations for a new generation of global vegetation models.

Ideally this position will include a substantial fieldwork component, measuring ecophysiological traits at sites in eastern Australia. Possible topics include:

  • The role of soil nutrition in shaping photosynthetic trait variation.
  • How the interplay between photosynthetic and hydraulic strategies potentially generates trait variation among coexisting species.

Within that framework, the PhD candidate would be expected over time to develop their own research directions.

Previous experience in measuring plant physiological properties would be highly regarded. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are essential, as is a demonstrated ability to conduct high quality, independent research (e.g. as part of a research Masters-level degree). Experience in writing up previous research for journal publication will be highly regarded.

Other important information:

The successful candidate must commence at Macquarie University before 15th December 2018.

This scholarship is open to both domestic and international applicants


Professor Ian Wright

This scholarship is available to eligible candidates to undertake a direct entry 3-year PhD program.

The scholarship is comprised of a Tuition Fee Offset and a Living Allowance Stipend. The value and tenure of the scholarship is a “MQRES” full-time stipend rate of $27,082 per annum (in 2018 tax exempt for up to 3 years - indexed annually).

Applicants will need to complete a HDR Candidature and Scholarship Application Form via the Online Application System and arrange for two academic referee reports to be submitted to the Higher Degree Research Office. Further information can be found on the How to Apply page.

To be eligible for a scholarship, applicants are expected to have a record of excellent academic performance and preferably, additional relevant research experience and/or peer-reviewed research activity in line with the University’s scholarship rating guidelines. Refer to the Rating Scholarship Applicants section for more information about these guidelines.

Macquarie University will advise the successful applicant of entitlements at the time of scholarship offer..

Please quote the allocation number on your application.

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