Soil Health Chip

Soil microbial health indicators and prototype 3D printed sensor development

Degree type


Closing date

6 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

This project aims to address costly and time-consuming conventional laboratory soil health measurements and provide affordable rapid in-field solutions for farmers without sacrificing the determination accuracy.

This project will develop an innovative, field-based tool kit to rapidly determine soluble soil organic matter and key biological functions. This will be achieved by extending the current colourimetric protocols to include measurements of enzyme activity, soluble organic carbon, and additional biologically mineralised nutrients via a rapid field-based soil testing 3D printed 'lab-on-a-chip' technology.

The colour results will be captured using a smartphone camera with an application that will automatically convert them into quantitative information using 'lab-on-a-phone' technologies. The prediction accuracy will be improved significantly by minimising the impact of interferences using chemometric methods. Thus, the project will advance the current soil measurement technology and provide novel, affordable and rapid in-field measurement tools for day-to-day use.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Fernando Maya Alejandro


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 $28,854 per annum (2022 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.


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

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • 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:

  • Appropriate degree and/or equivalent experience in analytical chemistry

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience in 3D printing
  • Experience in Soil Analysis

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Fernando Maya Alejandro to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. 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 2 x 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 by the advertised outcome date.

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