PhD Scholarship Opportunity- Amphibian Reproductive Technologies


Students are invited to apply for a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) scholarship developing reproductive technologies for the conservation of Australian frogs

About the Scholarship

Dr Aimee Silla from the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences (SEALS) at the University of Wollongong is seeking to award a PhD scholarship for a project ‘Using Evolutionary Theory to Fast-track the Development of Protocols for the Hormonal Induction of Gamete-Release and Cold Storage of Sperm’.

Students will be supervised by Dr Aimee Silla and A/Prof Phillip Byrne from the University of Wollongong and Dr Justine O’Brien from Taronga Conservation Society Australia.

Project Information

Unprecedented rates of species’ decline are threatening global biodiversity. Among vertebrates, amphibians have been most severely impacted with an estimated 41% of species at risk of extinction. Proactive conservation actions are urgently required to assist species recovery and to slow declines. Conservation breeding programs have been established for a number of threatened amphibian species globally. Reproductive technologies, such as hormone therapy, cold storage of sperm, sperm cryopreservation, and in vitro fertilisation (IVF), have enormous potential to enhance the propagation and genetic management of threatened amphibians. However, the incorporation of these technologies into conservation breeding programs has been slow as a result of i) high species-specificity of optimal protocols, and ii) trial-and-error approaches. This is less than ideal as there is a race against time to develop reproductive technologies for an increasing number of threatened species. Incorporating evolutionary theory into the study of amphibian reproductive technologies promises to increase our capacity to predict sperm-release responses and sperm performance, and identify genetic incompatibilities that may compromise fertilisation success and offspring viability.

The project will involve fieldwork in various locations throughout NSW working with a diversity of frog species. There will also be opportunities to work with endangered frog species housed at Taronga Zoo. We are seeking applications from highly motivated individuals with a desire to contribute to the conservation of Australia’s unique frog diversity.


The Scholarship is for three years full-time with a tax-free stipend of $28,597 pa (indexed annually).

Conditions for Application

  • Students will be required to commence their Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Wollonong in 2022.
  • Applicants are expected to commit to full-time study and have the capacity to be based at the Wollongong campus (with travel to various field locations, as well as Taronga Zoo, Sydney for discrete research periods).

Selection Criteria

  • Applicants should hold an Honours 1 or Masters by Research, and undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline (Zoology, Conservation Biology or Biotechnology).
  • Field and Laboratory research experience
  • Experience with statistical techniques
  • Experience collecting/housing amphibians is desirable but not essential
  • Peer-reviewed publications are desirable, but if you excel in other areas this is not a strict requirement
  • Our research team promotes equity and diversity and applicants from a diversity of backgrounds are encouraged to apply


Applicants should send a CV with the name/s and contact details (email address and phone number) of two referees (including at least one previous research supervisor), a <one-page statement outlining relevant research experience, and a <one-page research proposal. Please format as a single document (pdf or word doc) and EMAIL along with a copy of your academic transcript.

Submit applications or enquiries to: asilla@uow.edu.au with “PhD scholarship” in the subject line. Note incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

Applications Close

Applications close February 7th, 2022

Additional Opportunities

In addition to the above scholarship to be awarded by Dr Silla, we are also seeking interest from students to apply for university funded scholarships to commence projects ‘Refining Sperm Cryopreservation Protocols for the Conservation of Australian Anurans’ and ‘Investigating how Parental Genetic Quality and Genetic  Incompatibility Affects Fertilisation Success and Offspring Viability’.  If you are interested in applying for one of these projects please contact us no later than September 24, 2021 to discuss the application process.