PhD Scholarship Opportunity


The Evolution and Assisted Reproduction Laboratory (EARL) is seeking interest from students passionate about the conservation of Australia’s threatened frog species to apply for a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) scholarship for a project focussed on using artificial fertilisation technologies to assist amphibian genetic management.

About the Scholarship

Dr Aimee Silla and A/Prof Phillip Byrne from the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences (SEALS) at the University of Wollongong are seeking to award a PhD scholarship for a project “Using artificial fertilisation technologies as a tool for the genetic management of amphibians”.

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. Artificial fertilisation (AF, also known as IVF) is increasingly being used to assist with the propagation of threatened amphibians. Surprisingly, the potential for AF to be used as a tool for genetic management has largely been overlooked. AF can be used to facilitate quantitative genetic studies that provide critical insights into the genetic control of fitness-determining traits. Knowledge gleamed from such work has a key role to play in (i) testing the genetic compatibility and combining ability of populations targeted for the augmentation of populations; and (ii) testing the genetic compatibility of animals contributing to conservation breeding programs (CBPs). This project will investigate the use of AF to facilitate more precise genetic management of threatened amphibian species.

The project will involve fieldwork in various locations throughout NSW working with a diversity of frog species. There may also be opportunities to work with endangered frog species in collaboration with our partners. 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 Wollongong in July 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 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 Australian 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), and a short (max one-page) statement outlining your relevant research experience and reasons for interest in the project. 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 AND pbyrne@uow.edu.au with “PhD scholarship” in the subject line. Note incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

Applications Close

Applications close March 21st, 2022

Additional Opportunities

In addition to the above scholarship to be awarded by Dr Silla and A/Prof Byrne, we are also seeking interest from students to apply for university funded scholarships to commence projects developing amphibian assisted reproductive technologies, investigating the evolution of gamete morphology and investigating the evolution of mating systems in Australian frogs.  If you are interested in applying for a PhD in one of these research areas please contact us no later than September 1, 2022 to discuss the application process.