The Spatial Epidemiology Laboratory at the University of Queensland seeks a PhD student to work on an exciting new project: forecasting ecosystem responses to environmental change

There is a growing consensus that using models to anticipate the future is vital to mitigate the impacts of environmental change on ecosystems. Yet most ecological models are one-off attempts to predict what ecosystems might be like in many years or decades. This makes it hard for decision-makers to use these models. It also favours models that are not easily scrutinised and improved. A new international study will use an iterative cycle to 1) forecast how species occurrences and abundances will change over short timescales; 2) use predictions to inspect model failures and 3) improve models so that we can continue to learn. This represents a new way of thinking in ecology that, like weather forecasting, has the power to advance our understanding of ecological processes.

The candidate will work within a vibrant team to tackle two major questions in ecological modelling:

  1. When can multivariate models improve forecasts of species distributions, abundances and biodiversity compared to simpler models?
  2. What aspects of models and data control forecast uncertainty across space and time?

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant’s previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history. Skills in quantitative analysis, ecological modelling, forecasting or statistical programming are highly desired. To verify whether you meet the Academic Entry Requirements refer to: https://future-students.uq.edu.au/study/programs/doctor-philosophy-7501#overview.

Benefits of the project

The student will be based at The University of Queensland within the School of Veterinary Science, supervised by Dr Nicholas Clark and Associate Professor Ricardo Soares Magalhães. The candidate will also work with a diverse group of international researchers. Support will be given by partners at the Ecological Forecasting Initiative and the Spatial Epidemiology Laboratory, including assistance in data analysis, model building and communication.

This PhD scholarship is funded by the Australian Government, providing a tax-free PhD stipend of $28,597 per annum tax free (2021 rate). The scholarship is for three years, with two possible six-month extensions. Funds are also available for the student to attend scientific conferences and workshops.

How to enquire

For more information and to submit an expression of interest, please contact Dr. Nicholas Clark at n.clark@uq.edu.au. The expression of interest should include a cover letter and CV including names and contact details of 3 referees (2 pages max) and an academic transcript. Short-list applicants will be interviewed (via video conferencing if necessary) to better determine the applicant’s fit, motivations and capabilities. More details of the project are found here: https://graduate-school.uq.edu.au/project/forecasting-ecosystem-responses-environmental-change

COVID-19 information

With current travel bans extending the timeframe for international applicants to commence, UQ will only accept on-shore (domestic and international) applicants for this scholarship. If the commencing candidate is onshore but interstate, they will be required to come to Queensland to begin.

Expressions of interest will close when the position has been filled, but the successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date.