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at the interface of physics & neuroscience



Fluorescence is a prominent trait of Great Barrier Reef corals, colouring their tissues with a variety of proteins of the GFP (green fluorescent protein) family. These proteins are some of the most widely known fluorescent markers used to identify gene and protein expression and dynamics.

Their function in marine organisms is still poorly understood although they are known to be important in light modulation of coral tissues to optimise photosynthesis of symbiotic microalgae. Furthermore, the expression of GFP-type protein genes varies across coral populations, life-history stages, and is strongly regulated in response to environmental perturbations, such as seawater warming.


Supervised by Dr Alexie Papanicolaou and Dr Anya Salih, this project will use molecular, genomic, optical and experimental methods to investigate the function of GFP-type proteins in corals by exploring their gene expression in response to environmental variables. Genomic techniques will be applied to various aspects of fluorescent protein study – sequence, structure and evolution to interpret their function. Confocal microscopic techniques, such as lifetime imaging and FRET, will be used at the WSU Confocal Bioimaging Facility.


The successful candidate will have their own scholarship and be able to direct their studies. Training will be provided in a range of optical technique (fluorescence wide-field and confocal imaging, spectroscopic analysis) with field-work conducted at the Great Barrier Reef Heron Island Research station. The Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (HIE) is a research-intensive institute within the Western Sydney University with a focus on climate adaptation and agricultural research. Our research has been graded the top grade of 5* in the national ARC-ERA assessments. The HIE houses a team of over 50 researchers and over 80 PhD students with access to a unique suite of world-class research facilities (



» Domestic candidates will receive a tax-free stipend of $30,000 per annum for up to 3 years to support living costs, supported by the Research Training Program Fee Offset.

» International candidates will receive a tax-free stipend of $30,000 per annum for up to 3 years to support living costs. Those with a strong track record will be eligible for a tuition fee waiver for up to 3.5 years. International candidates are required to hold an Overseas Student Health Care (OSHC) insurance policy for the duration their study in Australia. This and other immigration costs are not covered by the scholarship, the candidates can fund it through their stipend.

» The project would fund all relevant operating costs & travel.


We welcome applicants from any country with a strong background in coral reef biology, microscopy, or genomics. The successful applicant should:

» have good communication skills, be creative, and have a commitment in developing their research skills further

» hold qualifications and experience equal to one of: an Australian First Class Bachelor (Honours) degree or equivalent overseas qualification, coursework Masters with at least 25% research, Research Masters (M. Res. or M. Phil.)

» have conducted at least 9 months of research project work as evidenced by relevant employment, or a research-intensive degree (e.g. in Honours, Masters in Research, M. Phil), or peer-reviewed publications in a recognised journal

» international applicants must demonstrate a high level of proficiency in the English language

» We are an equal opportunities employer and encourage scientists from under-represented groups to apply


1. By the 12th of April 2019, applicants should email a CV including contact details of two research-related referees to Anya Salih to discuss the opportunity and alignment (

2. The best applicant will be supported to produce a full application form with a one-page research proposal by the 1st of May 2019. Outcomes are advised by the 21st of June 2019.

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