HDR Scholarship - Wildlife to Wellbeing; the multiple values of citizen science and new technology. A unique cross-disciplinary PhD opportunity

Applications now open

A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'HDR Scholarship - Wildlife to Wellbeing; the multiple values of citizen science and new technology. A unique cross-disciplinary PhD opportunity'.

Research topic

Biodiversity, including our native plants and animals, faces many threats, with many species undergoing severe declines. Arresting these declines requires up-to-date knowledge of changes in biodiversity and a solid engagement of society with nature. TechnEcology’s vision is to generate a wildlife monitoring revolution that engages the community, with quantifiable environmental, health and economic benefits.

This is a truly cross-disciplinary PhD project, with supervision from five distinct discipline areas.  The PhD will draw its data from a citizen science project and social surveys that TechnEcology is leading with partners in the Arthur Rylah Institute, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and Land for Wildlife.

Project aim

Don Driscoll and Euan Ritchie, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, will supervise the ecological analysis of reptile and/or small mammal data, addressing the question of how small vertebrates respond to time since fire, habitat condition and context, and community composition (potential species interactions).  The data for this chapter will be collected using automated cameras and also used for the machine learning part of the project.

Seng Loke and Thahn Nguyen, Information Technology, will supervise a chapter that uses machine learning algorithms to help automate some of the analysis.

Justin Lawson and Rebecca Patrick will supervise a chapter that evaluates the health and wellbeing benefits of citizen science activity, and the extent to which citizen science can enhance engagement with nature.

Helen Scarborough and Shuddah Rafiq, Business and Law faculty, will supervise an economics chapter focussing on cost-benefit analysis of the citizen science approach to gathering data and achieving social outcomes.

Toija Cinque and Sean Redmond, Arts and Education, will supervise a chapter on citizen science, conservation and technology. The chapter will assess and review the empirical data through the lens of contemporary governmentality and the roles that screen-based technologies play in ecological activism.  The chapter seeks to address the question of what roles do screen-based technologies play in positively effecting and shaping citizen science?

The successful candidate will work closely with the project team, ensuring the different aspects of the project are feasible, even though the candidate is not expected to be an expert across all fields.  The data sets used for the project are already well planned and resourced, with data collection beginning in early 2019.

Important dates

Applications close 5pm, Thursday 31 January 2019.


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $27,596 per annum tax exempt (2019 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate or overseas
  • International students only: Tuition fee and overseas health coverage for the duration of 4 years

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be either a domestic or international candidate
  • meet Deakin's PhD entry requirements
  • be enrolling full time and hold an honours degree (first class) or an equivalent standard master's degree with a substantial research component.

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page for further information.

Essential criteria include:

  • One or more peer reviewed publications or other substantive public outputs.
  • Experience in collecting and analysing data from one or more of the relevant fields.
  • Capacity to implement research in collaboration with a range of stake-holders (government agencies, private landholders, conservation groups etc.).
  • Strong written communication skills in English language, including the capacity to write research results into papers for peer-reviewed journals.
  • Evidence of capacity for cross-disciplinary research spanning two or more of the focal areas (Ecology, Information Technology, Health, Economics, Social research).

Desirable criteria include:

Strengths in some or all of the following fields would be an advantage:

  • First author peer reviewed publications
  • Familiarity with, and capacity to implement, quantitative and qualitative analyses
  • Training and experience that spans science and humanities
  • Engagement with the media
  • Previous experience with citizen science projects

How to apply

Learn more about submitting a successful application on the How to apply page.


Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Prof Don Driscoll

Prof Don Driscoll
Director, Centre For Integrative Ecology
Email Prof Don Driscoll
+61 3 9251 7609