SCU Environmental Geochemistry of Antimony PhD international awards

  • PHD
  • $28,597 p.a. + tuition fee waiver

Southern Cross University is offering a PhD scholarship to study the geochemical behaviour of antimony in environmental systems.

These PhD positions will be based within the Environmental Geochemistry & Mineralogy group of Prof Ed Burton (Environmental Geochemistry and Mineralogy Group (EGM)). This group forms part of the vibrant Southern Cross GeoScience research centre, based at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus in eastern Australia. Further details on the benefits of living and working in this beautiful part of the world can be found at Southern Cross GeoScience - Future students.

Background: Antimony is a critical mineral resource which plays a rapidly growing role in our daily lives, yet it is also an environmental pollutant of increasing global concern. This project aims to advance our understanding on antimony’s environmental geochemistry by carefully unravelling interactions with the iron cycle in soils and related geo-environmental systems. This will build on recent world-class research described in:

Antimony and arsenic speciation, redox-cycling and contrasting mobility in a mining-impacted river system;

Antimony Sorption to Goethite: Effects of Fe(II)-Catalyzed Recrystallization;

Antimony mobility in sulfidic systems: Coupling with sulfide-induced iron oxide transformations;

Reductive transformation of birnessite and the mobility of co-associated antimony;

Seasonal Temperature Oscillations Drive Contrasting Arsenic and Antimony Mobilization in a Mining‐Impacted River System; and

Antimony mobility in reducing environments: The effect of microbial iron(III)-reduction and associated secondary mineralization.

Activities: This scholarship and associated funding represents an opportunity to complete a PhD and conduct a program of research at the interface of environmental geochemistry and soil/water science.  As part of a larger team, the successful candidate will contribute to the development of novel approaches to investigate the environmental behaviour of antimony in contaminated soil, sediment and aquatic systems. You will conduct laboratory experiments and field studies on how mineral-microbe interactions influence antimony behaviour, using state-of-the-art experimental and analytical techniques including stable isotope tracers, synchrotron spectroscopy, Mössbauer spectroscopy, and others. You will also have the opportunity to travel the world in order to work with our collaborators in Europe, Asia and North America, and to present your discoveries at international scientific conferences.

Outcomes: At Southern Cross University, we are committed to provide our students with expert knowledge and practical experiences that equip them for their future roles as leaders in their discipline and community. Our PhD projects are embedded in cutting-edge research that answers unsolved questions and applies knowledge in new, creative and practical ways. The specific outcomes from this PhD will have direct implications for rehabilitation of antimony-contaminated landscapes, safe disposal of hazardous antimony-bearing wastes and sustainable exploitation of valuable antimony reserves. More broadly, this project will expand our understanding of the effects of environmental change on metal-mineral interactions in soil systems, and will allow better management of chemicals in the environment.

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The ideal candidate is highly motivated for scientific research in environmental geochemistry and soil/water science with a special interest in water quality, soil contamination and environmental sustainability. The successful applicant will need to meet the entry requirements to enrol in a PhD at Southern Cross University on a full-time basis, including a second-class Honours degree (or above) or a MSc degree (or equivalent) in environmental sciences, soil sciences, geo-ecology, geology, geochemistry, mineralogy, chemistry, chemical engineering or a related natural science discipline. Good knowledge of spoken and written English as well as excellent communication and team skills are expected. This PhD position is open to international applicants from all counties, in addition to Australian and New Zealand citizens.

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Successful candidates will be offered a PhD stipend (for a 3 year duration at the Australian Research Training Program rate; the 2021 rate is $28,597 per year, indexed annually), plus a tuition fee-waiver and an additional stipend to cover research costs.


Applicants are asked to submit an expression of interest, which must include a CV, copies of previous research outputs and a cover letter outlining a summary of your research experience, your reasons for wanting to do a PhD and information on how your skills will be relevant to the project (email to This project aims to officially start in the first quarter of 2021, but there is some flexibility with the exact starting date (upon mutual agreement). Applications will remain open until filled in 2021.

Applicants are welcome to contact Prof Ed Burton ( for an informal discussion and any further information about this opportunity.

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