Iron and Antarctic phytoplankton

Environmental heterogeneity of iron speciation and implications for the ecophysiology of East Antarctic phytoplankton

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Ice-covered Antarctic regions play key roles in global ocean circulation, marine productivity and the cycle of climate active gas like carbon dioxide. The micronutrient iron limits phytoplankton growth and the effectiveness of the biological pump of carbon in the Southern Ocean. However, sea ice is an iron-rich environment, fertilizing surrounding waters during melting and leading to large ice-edge blooms. While advances have been made on determining the chemical speciation of iron, uncertainties remain on how iron speciation affects Antarctic phytoplankton growth (i.e., the 'bioavailability' of ligand-bound iron). Similarly, little is known about sea-ice algae and under-ice phytoplankton iron requirements, limiting our ability to predict how the ongoing changes in sea ice extent will modify the carbon cycle in the Southern Ocean.

This project will extend our understanding of iron bioavailability in ice-covered waters. The candidate will have the opportunity to participate on a marine science voyage onboard RSV Nuyina, near the Denman Glacier region. Through a combination of field-based bioassays, laboratory-based phytoplankton culture experiments, and characterisation of iron-binding ligands across different bioregions, this project will produce new data in this rapidly evolving field of research. The successful applicant will join an active team within ACEAS/AAPP, working on important aspects of ocean/ice biogeochemistry and phytoplankton physiology.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Pauline Latour


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.

This project is part of the ARC Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science (ACEAS). Candidates will be considered and assessed for ACEAS top-up scholarship eligibility (valued at $5,000 per annum for 3.5 years) upon ranking of the applicants by our GRCs and alignment of the project with ACEAS.

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:

  • Applications are open to applications from oceanography/biogeochemistry 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:

  • Biological and/or analytical chemistry background

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience with trace metal analyses (ICP-MS and CLE-CSV), data processing using R, MATLAB or similar

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 Pauline Latour 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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