Reducing harm from novel psychoactives

Novel Psychoactive Substances: Understanding consumer preferences; reducing adverse health effects and predicting the market

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

Over the past decade there has been an explosion of entirely new substances released into the recreational drug market, coined “Novel Psychoactive Substances” (NPS). Most of these have had no human safety testing; some have been embraced by consumers (e.g. mephedrone), many have been short-lived, some have had devastating consequences (e.g. deaths from potent fentanyl analogues). This project aims to 1. Develop new consumer focused tools to understand both the desirable and undesirable effects of particular substances, with an aim of predicting which substances will expand in use and which will ‘fail fast’, which is helpful for focussing drug market monitoring and early warning health systems; 2. Develop databases and resources for consumers and health agencies that profile subjective effects of NPS and provide health evidence and harm reduction advice. You will collaborate with international experts in this field and interact with multiple national projects as part of this work.

Primary Supervisor

Meet A/Prof Raimondo Bruno


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Ability to code in programs such as r or python or the interest in learning
  • As long as the candidate meets the general criteria for entering a PhD program at the university of Tasmania the scope for candidate backgrounds is broad and we would welcome applicants with backgrounds in public health, computing, information technology, psychology, sociology, and medicine among many others

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, A/Prof Raimondo Bruno, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including contact details of two referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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