QUT School of Mathematical Sciences PhD international awards in Australia

  • Phd
  • $28,597 p.a. + student fee sponsorship
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Mathematical modelling of ecosystem feedbacks and value of information theory

Ecosystems respond to gradual change in unexpected ways. Feedback processes between different parts of an environment can perpetuate ecosystem collapse, leading to potentially irreversible biodiversity loss. However, it is unclear if greater knowledge of feedbacks will ultimately change environmental decisions. The project aims to identify when feedbacks matter for environmental decisions, by generating new methods that predict the economic benefit of knowing more about feedbacks. Combining ecological modelling and value-of-information theory, the outcomes of these novel methods will provide significant and broad environmental benefits, by enabling managers to make informed decisions and stay one step ahead of potential ecosystem collapse.
This project would particularly suit a candidate who is interested in applying and advancing their quantitative skills to solve challenging environmental problems. The project will build upon and expand your skill set by involving a combination of the following: development and proposal of new mechanistic models, numerical simulation using ordinary and/or partial differential equations, computational methods for Bayesian inference, and/or value-of-information theory. Experience in coding in a relevant programming language (e.g. MATLAB, R, C++) would be advantageous. You will also gain experience in working and communicating with researchers from multiple disciplines outside of your field, further diversifying your potential career pathways post-PhD.
There are multiple case studies from across the globe (collaborative partners in Australia, Europe and North America) that will be examined in this project, depending on your preference and interest. These case studies include marine ecosystems (coral reefs, seagrass, calcifying algae), invasive freshwater weeds, and threatened bird species.
Depending on the case study/studies chosen, you have the opportunity to collaborate with and/or present results to applied mathematicians, statisticians, economists, ecologists and decision scientists both within QUT and from external institutions.
This project is funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award. Two PhD scholarships are available. Applications will remain open until both positions are filled.
For further information, contact Dr Matthew Adams.


You must:
  • meet the entry requirements for a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • reside in Australia (due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, only candidates located in Australia can apply)

Essential criteria
  • An Honours degree, Masters of Philosophy degree or equivalent in Applied Mathematics, Quantitative Ecology, Economics, Engineering, or other relevant quantitative discipline

Desirable criteria
  • Experience in coding in a relevant programming language (e.g. MATLAB, R, C++)
  • An interest in communicating with a multidisciplinary team of researchers


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  • The successful applicant will receive a living allowance of AU$28,597 per annum (full-time, indexed annually) for 3 years.
  • The scholarship is for full-time study and can be used to support living costs.
  • A six-month extension to the scholarship is also possible, subject to approval by QUT.
  • International students will also be considered for a tuition fee sponsorship.


  • Apply for a research degree.
  • If your application matches the project's needs, you will be invited to apply for a Doctor of Philosophy at QUT.
  • If your expression of interest is accepted, you'll be invited to submit a full application, including a research proposal, to finalise your application. You must be accepted into QUT’s Doctor of Philosophy program to receive this scholarship.
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