How does rapid evolution affect ecological dynamics in an era of global environmental change?

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.

Our international team of ecologists and evolutionary biologists based at prestigious universities in Australia, the USA, and Canada has a fully-funded (including both salary and research funds) PhD project exploring how rapid evolution influences population dynamics in an era of global environmental change.

Understanding why population sizes of plants and animals rise and fall is a fundamental problem in ecology, and underpins our ability to predict environmental impacts, and to manage threatened, harvested and pest species. Dominant explanations for the rise and fall of species have focused on environmental impacts and species interactions but have typically excluded the ability of species to rapidly evolve to changing conditions. This project will combine theory, lab and field experiments, and molecular tools to understand when and how rapid evolution affects the dynamics of plants and animals in an era of global environmental change.

The project will focus on species in subtropical freshwater ecosystems in Southeast Queensland, Australia. These systems provide wonderfully challenging opportunities for combining theory, observations, and experiments to discover how nature works. And importantly, freshwater ecosystems are, per unit area, the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, yet they remain under explored, underappreciated, and under threat.

Students on this project will receive world class training at the cutting edge of eco-evolutionary biology, will have the opportunity to develop strong professional networks nationally and internationally, and will be ideally placed to pursue a career in the university, government, or private sectors.

The successful candidate will join a young but experienced team of ecologists and evolutionary biologists to work on a funded Australian Research Council Discovery Project “How does rapid evolution affect the dynamics and stability of ecological communities?” The student will be based in the School of Biological Sciences at The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia and will be supervised by Dr Simon Hart and Dr Masato Yamamichi. Students will be co-advised by scientists at MIT (Assoc. Prof Serguei Saavedra), the University of British Columbia (Assist. Prof Rachel Germain), and the University of Arkansas (Prof. Adam Siepielski), and will have opportunities for international travel.

The University of Queensland is a research-intensive University and our School comprises more than 100 academic and postdoctoral research staff, and ~200 higher-degree research students. The student and project will benefit from the School’s formidable research expertise in ecology, evolutionary biology and genetics, physiology, and mathematical, statistical and computational biology. According to the latest Center for World University Rankings by Subject, the School is a global leader in biodiversity conservation (ranked #1), marine and freshwater biology (ranked #3), ecology (ranked #6), and environmental science (ranked #6). And the beach is pretty close.

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 Simon Hart

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 ecology and/or evolution with a strong quantitative focus, molecular genetics, R and/or python, as well as field, laboratory, and other molecular, mathematical and/or computational skills would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of quantitative ecology and/or evolution and the potential for scholastic success.

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2024. 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