Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation PhD Scholarships - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation PhD Scholarships

EOI period has ended. Not currently accepting applications.

Open to Newly commencing domestic applicants
Program  Doctor of Philosophy
Scholarship Value

$38,597 per annum (2021 rate), indexed annually.

Benefits include:

  • $28, 597 per annum (indexed annually) Research Training Program Stipend for 3 years with the possibility of a 6-month extension in approved circumstances
  • $10,000 per annum NBRF top-up scholarship for 3 years
  • Research Training Program Fees Offset Scholarship for the duration of the program.
Closing date 30/07/2021

The University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) in partnership with Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation (NBRF) have established funding to support high achieving domestic students wanting to undertake a Research Doctorate in the areas of Marine, Land, Wildlife, People & Economy. The Noosa Biosphere Reserve is part of a global network of over 700 reserves worldwide and 1 of 4 in Australia, connected under the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves. USC is seeking Expressions of Interest from prospective students interested in working on the following projects:

The Blue Biosphere: understanding human-wildlife interactions with iconic marine species in Noosa Biosphere Reserve


A diverse array of iconic marine species including whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles, rays, teleost fish and seabirds use the inshore waters of Noosa Biosphere Reserve (NBR). Iconic marine species are a major component of the biological diversity which the NBR seeks to conserve, and an integral part of the appeal of the NBR to visitors. However, there has yet been little formal study of how iconic marine species use the Blue Biosphere of the NBR. This project will provide new understanding of the marine biodiversity of the NBR through an integrated assessment of how marine species use the reserve, the factors underlying human-wildlife interactions, and the regional socio-economic value of conservation of these charismatic animals.

Using a range of cutting-edge technologies and techniques including high-resolution drone imagery, animal tagging and tracking technologies, hydrophones and passive acoustic monitoring devices, shore-based observations using theodolite tracking, and satellite oceanography, we will provide new insight into how iconic marine species use the waters of the NBRF. The project will address the trends and patterns in how marine species use inshore habitats through the annual cycle, linking datasets describing animal presence or movements with analyses of environmental variability. To provide insight useful for conservation and management of these iconic species in the NBR, we will provide insight into the factors underlying human-wildlife interactions, including responses to underwater noise, collision risk with watercraft, and entanglements in shark-control nets. The project will also seek to provide a quantitative assessment of the economic and socio-economic value of iconic marine species in the NBR, highlighting the contribution of marine wildlife ecotourism to the regional economy in this important tourism hub.

Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate for this project will have experience and skills in the following areas:

  • Interest or experience in animal movement, acoustic telemetry, marine vertebrate ecology and conservation.
  • Skills and experience in spatial analysis, Geographic Information Systems and image analysis.
  • Quantitative skills in numerical ecology.
  • Proficiency in programming in a language common in numerical ecology e.g. R, Python, MatLab or Julia. R preferred.

Supervisory Team

Dr. Kylie Scales

Dr. Ross Dwyer

Dr. Bonnie Holmes

Dr. Javier Leon

Contact Person

For questions about this project or to submit your Expression of Interest, direct your enquiry to Dr. Kylie Scales.

Forest conservation and restoration planning for wildlife and people in the Noosa Biosphere Reserve


The PhD project will work with the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation and other associated local groups and organisations, to review and revise plans for forest conservation and restoration in the Noosa Biosphere Reserve. Focussing on one of Australia’s most iconic regions for wildlife, tourism and economic development, the PhD will include conservation planning, social and ecological survey, forest restoration, networking with multiple conservation stakeholders, and publishing articles in international scientific journals. The PhD will be based in the world-leading USC Forest Research Institute.

The work will begin with development of a conceptual conservation model, through initial consultation with the current reserve management team, Noosa Council, local people, Indigenous communities, businesses, tourists and other stakeholders. The model and further consultations will then use newly developed techniques to determine a set of biological, socio-economic and governance indicators for use by the Noosa Biosphere Reserve management team to measure success towards achieving targets. Indicator selection will be driven by the integrated conservation and development needs of the reserve, which we expect will include interaction with the reserve by local people, businesses and tourists, along with key plant and animal groups. The student would then work with reserve staff and local communities to gather baseline data on all of the selected indicators, and to specifically evaluate the performance of local farm forestry and conservation revegetation in restoring lowland subtropical rainforest, and protecting key fauna and flora (e.g. koalas and other iconic/declining species).

The work will be overseen by a supervisory team comprising researchers of international standing in conservation science, ecology, social science, forestry, conservation planning and Indigenous land management, with experience in all relevant methods for engagement, strategizing, evaluation, data analysis and monitoring. The team will also draw from extensive expertise from multiple disciplines relevant to this field of research, from across the USC Forest Research Institute and School of Science, Technology and Engineering and from various international research networks such that the work has global significance for advancing the field of conservation science in general.

Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate for this project will have experience and skills in the following areas:


  • Experience of ecological survey
  • Excellent and professional interpersonal skills
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Good statistical analysis skills
  • Understanding of the goals of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserves


  • Masters degree
  • Authorship of a peer-reviewed publication
  • Practical experience in forest revegetation and forestry assessment

 Supervisory Team

Associate Professor Andy Marshall

Mark Annandale

Dr. John Meadows

Dr. Romane Cristescu

Contact Person

For questions about this project or to submit your Expression of Interest, direct your enquiry to Associate Professor Andy Marshall.

Glossy Black-Cockatoo nesting and feed-tree ecology monitoring


Habitat destruction, modification and fragmentation have compromised the persistence of native species globally and in Australia. High rates of human population growth and urbanisation in SE QLD are representative of these threats to biodiversity conservation. While many species are at threat, those that have specialised habitat or dietary niches are particularly vulnerable. The Glossy Black Cockatoo (GBC) is an iconic species and is known as the world’s fussiest parrot due to its extreme dietary specialisation. This characteristic, alongside threats associated with human induced environmental impacts mean that its ongoing persistence is precarious. Our team has undertaken previous research on the species in the Noosa Region (a known hotspot of Glossy Black Cockatoo activity), and our collaborative network includes the Glossy Black Conservancy. This study would involve nesting and feed-tree ecology and monitoring (including habitat protection and restoration) within a landscape ecology framework in order to delineate steps towards preservation of this iconic species (including within the Noosa region) as a contribution to biodiversity conservation.

Supervisory Team

Dr Gabriel Conroy

Associate Professor Steven Ogbourne

Dr Daniella Teixeira (UQ)

Contact Person

For questions about this project or to submit your Expression of Interest, direct your enquiry to Dr Gabriel Conroy.

Seaweed restoration for healthy coasts and coastal communities


This is a fully funded PhD project to assess whether habitat restoration is the touchstone to reconnect people to nature, with measurable benefits for both local communities and local ecosystems in the Noosa Bioregion. The candidate will restore subtropical seaweed forests to the Noosa coastline, where canopy-forming fucoid forests have almost completely disappeared since the 1980s. Whilst not the most glamorous of marine creatures, seaweed forests are among the most important, supporting coastal biodiversity through their provision of habitat and food.

The candidate will work with Noosa locals and community groups to understand attitudes to restoration, whether education of the science supporting restoration alters these attitudes and to prioritise areas for restoration within the biosphere. The candidate will continue to engage with locals as citizen scientists to carry out restoration works and ultimately measure restoration success. Furthermore, the candidate will – as a part of a multidisciplinary team - assess whether there are physical, psychosocial or microbiological health benefits for volunteers participating in restoration, thereby tangibly linking people and land to water and wildlife.

Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate will have demonstrated academic excellence in ecology, biology or a related discipline relative to career stage and a strong commitment to improving the world with science. The ideal candidate will have the capacity to work with a diverse range of people and stakeholders as part of a large, multidisciplinary team. Strong quantitative, statistical and programming skills (preferably R) are desirable and the candidate must have fieldwork experience and an interest in broader communication of research findings.

Supervisory Team

Dr. Alexandra Campbell

Dr. Libby Swanepoel

Professor Nick Paul

Contact Person

For questions about this project or to submit your Expression of Interest, direct your enquiry to Dr Alexandra Campbell.


For enquiries specific to a project listed here or to submit your expression interest form, please direct your enquiry to the contact person listed under the project you wish to apply for.

For enquiries related to the scholarship application process, please direct your enquiry to

Terms and Conditions

Scholarships governed by the Research Training Program Scholarship Schedule of Conditions.

  • Be accepted into a Higher Degrees by Research program at the University of the Sunshine Coast
  • Not have an equivalent qualification to the one for which they are currently applying
  • Have a First-Class Bachelor Honours Degree, or show equivalent level of achievement with other academic qualifications or professional research experience
  • Applications can only be accepted from Domestic students
Selection criteria
  • Undergraduate degree
  • Research training degree (First Class Honours or equivalent)
  • Research publications
  • Professional research experience
  • Any additional criteria that maybe listed under the project information