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PhD Scholarship: Evaluating Riparian Buffer Zones in Temperate Streams


Barwon Water


Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria

Salary etc:


$115,000 Scholarship Package over 3 years

Start Date: Semester 1, 2021 (ie., T1, March 2021)


  • Open to applicants currently based in Australia (this includes all permanent residents, and international citizens on suitable visas).
  • Applications will be considered from candidates who will be located in Australia by the commencement of T1, 8 Mar 2021 (at the latest).
  • Interested Honours Students (2020) are encouraged to apply (consideration for Covid disruption will be made, including any delays to results / graduation).


As Australia and the world confront the challenges of climate change and a growing population, water resource management has never been more important. Research will play a large role in helping shape and manage water resources, now and into the future, particularly in Australia, where water resources are scarce and highly variable.

This PhD-level research is sponsored by Barwon Water Corporation and Deakin University’s ‘Centre for Regional and Rural Futures’. We are seeking a suitably qualified environmental scientist/engineer with skills in ecological assessment, particularly ecological restoration, hydrogeology, microbiology and/or environmental engineering to undertake research to assess changes in water quality and ecological parameters associated with restoration of the riparian zone of a stretch of the upper East Barwon River, located in the Otway hinterland of Victoria’s south-west.

Based out of Deakin’s award-winning Geelong campus, the applied research is complementary to an existing river restoration and water security project led by Barwon Water that aims to restore water flow entitlements through the removal of non-native plant species (Salix spp., willow), streambed stabilisation, revegetation and stock-exclusion measures. The research will contribute new knowledge toward the concept of Ecologically Functional Riparian Zones, with a focus on comparing water quality and ecological variables before, during and after restoration activities.The project is open to domestic and international students, and would be well suited to mid-career NRM or water professionals looking for a stimulating change, or to provide a competitive career edge.

Project Outcomes

  • Assessment of changes in physico-chemical (dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity & temperature) and water quality (nitrogen and phosphorous) before and after completion of restoration works.
  • Assessment of changes in microbial assemblages (main focus = E. coli) before and after completion of restoration works.
  • Assessment of changes in other biological assemblages before and after completion of restoration works (e.g. fish, macro-invertebrate or riparian vegetation).

PhD Benefits

  • Work collaboratively with the Victorian Water sector, Deakin University, and Water Research Australia (WaterRA);
  • Professional networks & partnership opportunities, including WaterRA Professional Development Support;
  • Attractive and competitive PhD Scholarship package (see below);
  • A combination of both pure and applied science to address a real world problem and contribute new knowledge to field of ecology;
  • Multidisciplinary research with the potential to design novel experimental tests to answer industry-based problems;
  • Mix of laboratory and fieldwork. Working in agricultural landscapes and spectacular forested catchments in the Otway hinterland; and
  • Guide future water resource management decisions and engage in critical environmental research.

Scholarship Package

  • $115k PhD Scholarship Package that includes:
    • Stipend, $90,000 (across 3 years);
    • Operating Allowance up to $15,000 (across 3 years);
    • Conference Support: $5,000 (across 3 years);
    • Professional Development Support: $5,000 (across 3 years); and
    • University post-graduate fee waiver.   

How to apply:

View details

Date published:


Closing date:


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