HDR Scholarship - Sustainable farming

Applications now open. A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'Sustainable farming'.

Research topic

Australian farm dams have some of the highest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per area among freshwater ecosystems. In Victoria alone, we estimated they release over 4,800 tonnes of CO2‐equivalent each day, which is 4.5% of all the State’s agricultural emissions. These recently discovered emissions are triggered by fertiliser and manure run-off increasing nutrients and creating the ideal conditions for the production of methane (CH4) – a gas with 20-30 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide (CO2).

There is an exciting opportunity to join the Blue Carbon Lab (Deakin University) in collaboration with Sustainable Farms (Australian National University) to investigate the effects of enhancing farm dam conditions on their methane emissions. This fully funded PhD scholarship will allow the successful candidate to carry out research on sustainable farming. The topic will involve field campaigns, site monitoring, compile and analyse data from the field, remote sensing, and GIS.

Project aim

This PhD project will aim to address the following aspects:

  • Capture spatial and temporal variability in greenhouse gas emissions among farm dams
  • Investigate the role of biotic (e.g., vegetation) and abiotic (e.g., climate) factors on greenhouse gas emissions
  • Determine the impact of management interventions (e.g., fencing) and land use type (e.g., livestock, crops) on greenhouse gas emissions
  • Analyse the role of microbial communities on methane emissions

To learn more, visit the Australian Farm Dams website.

The laboratory
Deakin University’s Blue Carbon Lab is a multi-disciplinary research group at the forefront of global efforts to improve lives and livelihoods sustainably. We led the first study reporting unusually high methane emissions from farm dams (Ollivier et al. 2018). We also delivered a continental-scale map of farm dams in Australia (Malerba et al. 2021). We have collaborative partnerships and projects across 30 countries and are recognised as world leaders in the science underpinning natural climate solutions.

The candidate will work in close collaboration with the Sustainable Farms project at Australian National University. The Sustainable Farms project is among Australia’s leading research groups in sustainable farming. In recent years, several farmers invested to enhance the conditions of their farm dams. The team at Sustainable Farms has been monitoring the positive effects of management interventions at farm dams on biodiversity, water security, and farming productivity. For the past two years, Sustainable Farms and Blue Carbon Lab worked together to show that enhancing farm dams can also reduce methane emissions. The successful candidate will further improve our understanding of the drivers of methane emissions at micro and macro scales. To learn more, visit the Enhance farm dams website.

Important dates

Applications close 5pm, Monday 26 September 2022


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $28,600 per annum tax exempt
  • 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 either a domestic or international candidate. Domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship. Please note preference will be given to students currently residing in Australia.
  • 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:

  • Experience publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journal (preferably as first author)
  • Familiar with the statistical software R (or similar)
  • Experience in carrying our research in environmental sciences, ecology, or similar
  • Experience with spatial modelling or remote sensing
  • Please note we are unable to provide individual feedback on competitiveness. The following features were common among successful PhD candidates at the Blue Carbon Lab: (a) A first-authored paper in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, (b) first class Honours/Masters, (c) strong quantitative skills, and (d) experience working in similar topics.

How to apply

Please email a CV and cover letter to Dr Martino Malerba. The CV should highlight your skills, education, publications and relevant work experience. The one page cover letter should outline your interest, previous experience and technical skills (including experience with statistical package R or similar). If you are successful you will then be invited to submit a formal application.


Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Dr Martino Malerba or Prof Peter Macreadie

Dr Martino Malerba
Email Dr Martino Malerba
+61 3 924 45995

Prof Peter Macreadie
Email Prof Peter Macreadie
+61 3 924 43749