2 x PhD (HDR) Scholarships: Functional Genomics of C4 Photosynthesis & Physiology of C4 Photosynthesis


Closing date: 31 March 2017

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(opens in a new window) 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.

Two PhD Projects

Two PhD projects are available at the Western Sydney University node of the ARC Centre of Excellence.

Functional genomics of C4 photosynthesis

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.

Physiology of C4 photosynthesis

This PhD project will investigate the role of stomata and leaf structure in regulating photosynthesis and water use efficiency in C4 crops and grasses exposed to environmental change and extremes. The project will combine leaf gas exchange and stable isotopes analyses with leaf anatomy and stomatal morphology and electrophysiology.

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.(opens in a new window)

What does the scholarship provide?

  • 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.(opens in a new window)

How to apply

Applications close 31 March 2017

The application form can be downloaded: www.westernsydney.edu.au/graduate_research_school/grs/scholarships/current_scholarships