The costs and consequences of antimicrobial resistance in microbial communities

Project opportunity

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

Ecological theory provides a powerful framework for understanding the competitive balance between sensitive and resistant bacteria, and therefore the evolution of resistance (Letten et al, 2021). The primary goal of this project is to go beyond the theory and test how well we can predict the evolution and persistence of resistant bacteria in microbial communities under the highly variable environmental conditions typical of most microbial systems (from soils and water to the gut). This is critical not only for our fundamental understanding of microbial competition and evolution, but also ultimately for the identification and development of new ecologically-aware strategies for managing resistance.

A wide variety of investigatory approaches fall within the scope of the project including high throughput screening and competition assays, molecular work, mathematical modelling, and computer simulations. The PhD student will have ample room to take the project in a more experimental or computational/theoretical direction depending on their interests and background. This is to say that highly motivated students that are primarily interested, or have a strong background, in either empirical or computational/theoretical research are both encouraged to apply. Similarly, the project is suitable to students coming from a microbiology or molecular background interested in ecological and evolutionary research, or those coming from an ecological or evolutionary background who are interested in bringing their knowledge to microbial systems.

Scholarship value

As a scholarship recipient, you'll receive: 

  • living stipend of $32,192 per annum tax free (2023 rate), indexed annually
  • tuition fees covered
  • single Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)


Dr Andrew Letten

School of Biological Sciences


Preferred educational background

Your application will be assessed on a competitive basis.

We take into account your

  • previous academic record
  • publication record
  • honours and awards
  • employment history.

A working knowledge of laboratory research, experimental evolution and/or mathematical modelling would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of ecology, evolutionary biology, microbiology or molecular biology and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of R or Python programming and ecological and/or evolutionary theory is highly desirable.

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2023. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date.

If you are an international applicant, you may need to apply much earlier for visa requirements.

How to apply

You apply for this project as part of your PhD program application.

View application process