Arctic-Antarctic sedaRNA

Reconstructing polar marine ecosystems and functions using novel palaeogenomics techniques

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

Polar regions play a key role in the regulation of the global biogeochemical cycles and climate systems, and accelerated rates of change experienced in both the Arctic and Antarctic prompt urgent investigations into interactions between the ocean, cryosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. Palaeoecological studies are particularly useful in this context, because they can provide information about long-term impacts of environmental change on the biosphere for ground truthing and constraining contemporary models of ecological change. This project will investigate both sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA) and RNA (sedaRNA) from the Arctic and the Antarctic to investigate past ecosystem change and function. While sedaDNA have been increasingly used over the last few years, the application of sedaRNA techniques for the study of ecosystem function is completely novel and underexplored. Specifically, this project will focus on a) collection of new sediment material from the Arctic during IODP Exp. 403, b) extraction of ancient DNA and RNA from the newly collected Arctic as well as from existing Antarctic marine sediment cores, and c) place this data into an environmental context using geochemical proxies, such as the oxygen isotope records from the same sites. This research will provide novel insight into marine ecosystem adaptation to environmental change in two similar but spatially remote regions that are both extremely vulnerable to contemporary climate change.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Linda Armbrecht


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 $31,500 per annum (2023 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.

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
  • Applications are open to applications from (ancient environmental DNA/RNA, geochemistry) discipline background only
  • 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:

  • Understanding of aquatic, polar and/or marine ecosystems
  • Expertise with sedimentary ancient DNA/RNA lab work and lab work troubleshooting
  • Expertise with geochemical analyses
  • Experience in bioinformatics and bioinformatics troubleshooting
  • Willingness and good teamworking ability to undertake weeks-long fieldwork on board research vessels at high latitudes
  • Good communication skills (written and oral)

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Familiarity with working in sterile laboratory environments, such as in a forensic or ancient DNA facility
  • Proficiency in R
  • A good understanding of statistics and experience in applying them

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Dr Linda Armbrecht 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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