Predicting and preparing for the unfolding evolution of SARS-CoV-2

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.

SARS-CoV-2 is the cause of current COVID-19 pandemic which has already infected >270 million people and killed >5 million of them. Currently deployed and future vaccines are likely to significantly decrease the burden of pandemic, however, new viral variants are emerging that are less susceptible to vaccine-induced immunity. Hence, deeper understanding of what drives viral evolution under the pressure of vaccine-induced immune responses is needed to predict and prepare for the emergence of future variants and inform development of more effective vaccines. The project will employ deep mutational scanning methodology to identify changes in the viral spike protein responsible for altered susceptibility to vaccine-induced antibodies. The implications of identified changes on the properties of spike protein and viral susceptibility to vaccine-induced antibodies will be investigated using structural analysis and various functional assays. The findings will be critical for predicting viral changes that are likely to emerge in the landscape of vaccinations and provide invaluable information for pre-emptive development of vaccines that will be able to minimise future emergence of vaccine-resistant variants.

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)


Professor Alexander Khromykh

School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences


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 virus replication, virus-host interactions, antibody responses, viral evasion of immune responses and structural biology of viral proteins would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

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

A background or knowledge of virology, immunology, molecular biology and structural biology is highly desirable.

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