IC with ICP-MS for Elemental Speciation

Elemental Speciation in Agricultural Soils, Plant Materials and Environmental Sediments using Ion Chromatography Hyphenated with Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectroscopy

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International


$36.161pa for 3.5 years

About the research project

The toughest analytical science challenges typically require advanced analytical technologies to acquire the desired solutions. In the field of separation science this inevitably involves hyphenated technologies, specifically the combination of chromatography and mass spectrometry hyphenation. To advance this technology to its full capability our ARC Training Centre for Hyphenated Analytical Separation Technologies (HyTECH) utilises the collaborative strength of academic, industry and end-user partnerships.

We are seeking outstanding graduates with an interest in solving fundamental and technical challenges in analytical science, with a focus on delivering analytical solutions and impact to technology end-users. HyTECH students will receive a competitive post-graduate stipend, contribute to a program of cutting-edge industry focused research, be supported with a substantial annual program of early career researcher professional development, and over the course of their candidature spend a minimum of twelve months placement within the facilities of one or more of the project’s supporting partner organisations.

High-performance suppressed ion chromatography (IC), utilising the very latest high-efficiency ion-exchange column technology has yet to be fully exploited and explored for metal speciation and separation studies of many varied complex systems of environmental and industrial significance, such as soils and sediments, plant materials and foodstuffs, particularly when hyphenated with the latest and most advanced detection capability, herein delivered with inductively coupled plasma triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (Thermo). The combination (hyphenation) of these two state-of-the-art analytical technologies provides a unique capability and opportunity to study and quantify trace metal speciation in complex systems, not previously possible. The project will, in collaboration with industry partners (both technology providers and end-users) develop new and improved IC separation methods for target metal (and non-metal, e.g. organo-phosphates) species and couple those high-resolution separations with element-specific ultra-sensitive MS detection.

Organo-metallic species of industrial and environmental significance, iron, tin, lead, selenium, arsenic, uranium, thorium, chromium etc., will all be within the scope of this project, and developed methods applied to mapping distribution in sediment cores, plant materials (incl. foodstuffs) and agricultural soils.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Brett Paull


The successful applicant will receive a scholarship which provides:

  • a living allowance stipend co-funded by ARC of $36,161 (2023 rate, indexed annually) per annum 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.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


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

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applications are open to Domestic/ International/ Onshore applicants
  • Applicants should meet normal University of Tasmania PhD entry requirements
  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

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 essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Suitable for graduates with degrees in: Chemistry (preferably Analytical), or any Earth, Environmental, Marine, or Food Science discipline, with significant analytical chemistry experience
  • Collaborative and multidisciplinary team-player mentality

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • A strong interest and experience in the biogeochemistry and speciation of trace elements in environmental, plant and foodstuff materials would be desirable
  • Demonstrable laboratory and analytical instrumental skills
  • Demonstrable research communication skills e.g. research thesis, published papers, conference presentations

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Prof Brett Paull to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • 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.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 25 September 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

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

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