Southern Ocean sedaDNA

The influence of paleo-climatic changes on Southern Ocean biodiversity

Degree type


Closing date

10 October 2022



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Comparative palaeoecological studies are a valuable source of long-term data on biodiversity responses to environmental change that can provide important insights into future climate change responses. Paleoecological studies of marine taxa have been challenging, however, with recent technological advances in sedimentary ancient DNA research (sedaDNA), such studies can now be realised. This project will utilise genetic sequence data extracted from sediment cores collected at various sites in the Southern Ocean. These sedaDNA datasets were generated using metagenomic shotgun and/or RNA based hybridisation-capture techniques, both methods are commonly used in ancient DNA research to capture very degraded and fragmented sequences. The project will focus on (1) developing bioinformatic approaches for analysing and validating vertebrate and microbial DNA from sedaDNA, and (2) reconstructing millennia-scale records of biodiversity presence at key sites in the Southern Ocean and placing these into context with palaeoclimatic records in order to identify key environmental drivers associated with shifts in biodiversity communities. This research will provide novel insight into the past effects of climate change on biodiversity in the Southern Ocean, and will result in advances in bioinformatic approaches for ancient DNA analyses.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Linda Ambrecht


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:

  • Applications are open to Domestic and International applicants
  • 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
  • Experience in bioinformatics and bioinformatic troubleshooting
  • A good understanding of statistics and experience in applying them
  • Communication skills (written and oral)

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Expertise with molecular lab work and lab work troubleshooting
  • Familiarity with working in sterile laboratory environments, such as in a forensic or ancient DNA facility
  • Proficiency in R

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 Linda Ambrecht 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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