HDR Scholarship - Development of the avian clock

Applications now open. A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'Development of the avian clock'.

Project Supervisor

Additional Supervision

A/Prof Frederic Gachon (University of Queensland)


Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus

Research topic

We are seeking an outstanding, highly motivated PhD candidate to work on a new project examining the role of photoperiod in determining the ontogeny of the avian clock, as well and the timing of life events, such as hatching and reproduction in wild zebra finches. The student will build on our earlier work demonstrating the fundamental role which early life conditions play in determining developmental programming for later life conditions.

The student will quantify the role of photoperiod for reproductive timing, running a common garden experiment quantifying gene expression, development and behaviour. The work will involve remote fieldwork, catching wild birds to relocate to breed in captivity. The student will be working under local ethics permission to collect tissues from embryonic birds and whilst supported would need to be personally responsible for some limited euthanasia and sample collection.

The PhD student will work in a vibrant and productive research team testing the role of environmental cycles for early avian development. The student can potentially learn a range of molecular techniques, endocrine and behavioural assays, neural gene expression and genomics analyses to assess physiological processes, as well as functional impacts. The student will be based at Deakin University, Geelong and co-supervised by A/Prof F Gachon (University of Queensland).

Project aim

The student will address the following aims:

  1. What factors contribute to determining the development of the avian clock prior to hatching?
  2. How does latitude program the timing of reproductive events in an opportunistic breeder?
  3. What physiological mechanisms may explain population differences in reproductive timing?

Important dates

Applications close 5pm, Friday 15 September 2023


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $33,500 per annum tax exempt (2023 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate
  • International students only:  Tuition fees offset for the duration of 4 years. Single Overseas Student Health Cover policy for the duration of the student visa.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be a domestic or international candidate. Domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship.
  • 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.

Additional desirable criteria include:

  • must have an interest in birds and hold a full driving licence.
  • will be required to work in remote areas, with appropriate support.
  • will be required to perform limited euthanasia of embryos or adult birds to enable tissue collection.

How to apply

For further information to apply, please email Prof Kate Buchanan with a statement of your interest in the project, detailed CV including contact details for two referees and the SEBE expression of interest found below. The successful student must start in Australian before 31st Dec 2023.


Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Prof Kate Buchanan or A/Prof Frederic Gachon

Prof Kate Buchanan
Email Prof Kate Buchanan
+61 3 522 71321

A/Prof Frederic Gachon
Email A/Prof Frederic Gachon
+61 7 334 62017