HDR Scholarship

  • Phd
  • up to
  • 31 October 2022

Soil organic matter (OM) plays a critical role in ecosystem services provided by soils. This is not only because soil OM determines soil health and maintains fertility to support ecosystem productivity, but also soil OM can be managed as a potential C sink for atmospheric CO2 via C sequestration. Soils store the largest organic carbon (C) stock with around 700 Pg of C in the top 30 cm of soil or around 1500 Pg of C to a depth of 1 m, which is about three times of C in plant and animal biomass combined. However, not all soil organic C are stable, some of them can be particularly labile and lost back to the atmosphere. Thus, there is an increasing interest in a more detailed understanding of the mechanisms controlling both the turnover and stabilisation of soil organic C. It has been suggested that organic C bound by clay minerals (i.e. metal oxides, oxyhydroxides, and hydroxides) are key processes to the stabilisation of soil organic C. Therefore, the overall aim of this proposed study is to investigate the soil organic C stabilisation potential of kaolinite and related iron (Fe) oxides that are bi-products of kaolinite mining. A good understanding of the stabilization mechanisms in Western Australian soils will help adopt management practices to sequester C, improving soil structure, water holding capacity and mitigate of greenhouse gas emissions.


  1. Applicants must hold a First or Upper Second-Class Bachelor's degree, or a MSc degree in a related science field (soil science, ecology, agriculture, environment---with emphasis in laboratory and field experimental methods), with a Merit and a minimum average grade of 65% and substantial research component.
  2. Applicants must be driven and determined to successfully undertake a higher degree program. They must possess ability and confidence to self-manage and execute tasks individually, work well under supervision, be open to feedback and input from others, and ability to collaborate, negotiate, influence, and inspire others.
  3. Applicants must demonstrate: • good understanding of soil chemistry, soil mineralogy and soil carbon science, • good understanding of experimental design and using modern statistical software (e.g. R), • aptitude for soil analytical methods and laboratory, glasshouse, and field experimentation • excellent written and communication skills • disposition for scientific communication, writing and publication.

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The scholarship provides a living stipend of $ 28,854 p.a., based on full-time study for a maximum of 3.5 years.


If this research excites you, and your skills and experience are a good fit for this specific project, please prepare your application as follows:

  1. Prepare your academic transcripts as per Eligibility Criteria 1. 
  2. Write a maximum of half-page (A4 single spaced) personal statement that demonstrates Eligibility Criteria 2. 
  3. Write a maximum of one-page (A4 single spaced) summary of work that best demonstrates Eligibility Criteria 3. 
  4. Prepare your curriculum vitae and publication list (if you have one), 
  5. Propose the names, telephone number and email of two academic references, 
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