Pathogen Surveillance in seabirds

Vectors and victims: Pathogen Surveillance for Australia’s Threatened Marine Birds

Degree type


Closing date

1 July 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Australia is globally connected through the flyways of migrating birds, including millions of seabirds and shorebirds along our eastern coastline. These aggregations of coastal birds are vulnerable to potentially devastating disease outbreaks, but there is a critical lack of knowledge regarding current pathogen distributions in this group. In this PhD, you will use cutting-edge genomic detection methods to identify pathogens within marine birds and develop ongoing disease monitoring priorities. You will use genomic sequencing and bioinformatics approaches to carry out a systematic survey of bacterial, viral and eukaryotic pathogens within coastal bird colonies, including a variety of threatened and declining seabirds and shorebirds, including migratory species. Ultimately, this project aims to establish disease surveillance priorities to direct ongoing monitoring of pathogens and improve our ability to quantify and predict changes in wildlife disease prevalence in space and time. This project will include the opportunity for fieldwork at seabird and shorebird colonies. All seabird species in this project are subject to management across state and federal management plans and you will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with project stakeholders.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Jane Younger


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.


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:

  • 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 animal ecology and marine ecosystems
  • Experience in bioinformatics
  • Knowledge of molecular techniques
  • A good understanding of statistics and experience in applying them

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Expertise with molecular lab work and lab work troubleshooting
  • Proficiency in R, Python, Linux
  • Fieldwork experience
  • Knowledge of metagenomics

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Jane Younger or Lauren Roman 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 01 July 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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