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The eXtreme Plant Ecology Research Teamin the Centre for Integrative Ecologyis seeking a PhD candidate to contribute to an Australian Research Council funded research program aimed at enhancing the resilience of Australian alpine plant communities through strategic restoration practices.

The Australian Alps are recognized as one of the world’s major biodiversity hotspots and critically vulnerable to climate change.Alpine plant communities are already showing signs of climate stress, are under threat from exotic pest plants and animals, and are recovering from a legacy of stock grazing. As a result, large areas of alpine environments require ongoing restoration works across National Parks and Alpine Resorts. There is urgent need for progressive management strategies to maximise restoration success through consideration of future soil water availability, plant thermal tolerances, and the adaptability of functionally important plant species. To bolster the resilience of alpine landscapes under climate change; we must understand the interactions between the physical and biological processes underpinning the health of alpine environments and adaptability of alpine plant communities

An excellent PhD candidate with a background in ecological science and/or botany is sought to join an exciting project, co-funded by the Centre for Integrative Ecology and the Australian Research Council and our industry partners Parks Victoria, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Mount Hotham Alpine Resort and Southern Alpine Resort Management Board, and will make use of the Australian Mountain Research Facility. Depending of the project scope, the candidate will have a unique opportunity to focus on aspects of:

  • Plant water relations and ecophysiology
  • Plant regeneration and recruitment
  • Seed ecology
  • Snow ecology
  • Plant thermal tolerance

 The results of the project will assist alpine land managers choose the right species for restoration projects, thereby building resilience into these vulnerable environments  

The candidate will join the new and supportive eXtreme Plant Ecology Research Team at Deakin Burwood campus, and will be jointly supervised by Susanna Venn, Adam Miller, John Morgan (La Trobe University) and Adrienne Nicotra (Australian National University). Applicants are expected to have an excellent grade (e.g., H1 or HD) in an Honours or a MSc research program, and proven skills in scientific writing. We are seeking candidates with a specific interest and experience in plant ecology, botany, or plant ecophysiology and will be hosted by the Centre of Integrative Ecology and the School of Life and Environmental Sciences. An anticipated commencement date is October 2020 or early 2021.

Prospective students can apply for a Deakin University Postgraduate Research Scholarship which are offered on a competitive basis, based on past research history (Masters or Honours degree results), peer-reviewed publications and the candidate’s skill-set. A stipend of AU$27,596 is available for a maximum of 3 years, and a re-location allowance for interstate or international candidates for singles and families from AU$500-$1500 may also be offered.

Please get in touch with us for more information:

Susanna Venn (Susanna.venn[at] or Adam Miller (a.miller[at]












Future students:

If you’re thinking about honours, masters or a PhD in community plant ecology, plant recruitment dynamics, vegetation patterns across environmental gradients or snow ecology, please email me. I support students who are keen to work in the field, have a passion for natural landscapes and their conservation, and who want to develop their science writing and analytical skills.


Current students:


Casey Gibson (PhD) University of New South Wales How will less snow in the landscape affect the growth and reproduction of Australian alpine plants?



Casey in winter-mode


Emma Sumner (Deakin University). Emma is testing the interactive effects of heat, frost and drought on Australian alpine plants in the Snowy Mountains and the Bogong High Plains



Jerónimo Vazquez Ramirez (Deakin University) Jerónimo is investigating the resilience of alpine vegetation with climate change by focussing on the early life-history stages of alpine plants and how they cope with heat, frost, drought and fire.


Past students:

Dr Ben O’Leary – Ben studied through Monash University the ecology, management and restoration of ecological communities affected by Pittosporum undulatum Vent. across Victoria, Australia.  photo