The Blue Biosphere: understanding human-wildlife interactions with iconic marine species in Noosa Biosphere Reserve – PhD scholarship with the Noosa Reserve Foundation | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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The Blue Biosphere: understanding human-wildlife interactions with iconic marine species in Noosa Biosphere Reserve – PhD scholarship with the Noosa Reserve Foundation

Expression of interest are open

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

$44,449.95 per annum (2024 rate), indexed annually.

Benefits include:

  • $34 449.95 per annum (indexed annually) UniSC base rate Stipend for 3 years with the possibility of a 6-month extension in approved circumstances
  • $10,000 per annum NBRF contribution of scholarship for 3 years
  • UniSC Fees Offset Scholarship for the duration of the program.
Closing date 05/12/2023



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:


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.
  • Field skills appropriate to vessel-based work and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operation.

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.


  • 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
Eligible programs
Doctor of Philosophy
Number available

This will be a two-stage application process: Stage 1 - Expression of Interest

  • Interested applicants should email a completed Expression of Interest (EOI) form together with any supporting documents to the contact person listed on the project.
  • Each supervisory team will review EOI’s submitted for their project and make a recommendation to the scholarship selection panel for shortlist.
  • If shortlisted, you will be invited for interview by the scholarship selection panel.
  • The preferred applicants will then be invited to formally apply for the PhD program and Scholarship.

Stage 2 - Formal application (only if you have been invited to apply)

 *scholarship offer is subject to applicant meeting the eligibility requirements for entry into a higher degree by research program at USC.