Thermal stress in Atlantic salmon

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Summer sea temperatures in Tasmanian coastal waters reach the upper thermal limits for Atlantic salmon farming which can result in lost fish productivity, disease susceptibility, and mortality. Interestingly, not all fish display the same response. Variation in growth and welfare is frequently observed within production cohorts indicating different physiological responses to thermal stress. This PhD project will investigate the physiological impacts of thermal stress in Atlantic salmon with a particular focus on the brain.

The brain and kidney, through the hypothalamus-pituitary-inter-renal (HPI) axis, are central to the stress response, cortisol release, and immune system regulation in fish. Investigation of brain gene expression in response to thermal stress may provide novel insights into how we may modulate these pathways. With an increased understanding of the modulation of the HPI axis and heat stress-affected pathways in Atlantic salmon, novel molecules or dietary interventions that attenuate this response could be developed.

The PhD candidate is expected to analyse a wide range of samples including archive samples from relevant experiments, as well as samples from new experiments and from fish commercially sourced.

This PhD project is prestigious and in honour of Dr Harry King who was a widely respected aquaculture biologist and left an indelible mark on the Atlantic salmon industry as a research scientist and farm manager. A fully funded scholarship by the "Dr Harry King Memorial Scholarship" will provide the opportunity to begin a career in salmon physiology and continue Harry’s work to build fundamental knowledge on environmental impacts upon salmonid physiology and to apply impactful solutions to aquaculture production. The successful applicant will be embedded in an emerging salmon research team of academic and industry leaders inclusive of IMAS, CSIRO, Tassal, Huon Aquaculture, and BioMar.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Gianluca Amoroso


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.

If successful, applicants will also receive a top-up scholarship of $2,500 per annum for 3.5 years. This scholarship is funded from the Dr Harry King Memorial Scholarship, which is a scholarship program for the benefit of outstanding students undertaking PhD studies in scientific research in the field of sustainable aquaculture (including salmon production) at the University of Tasmania.

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:

  • Molecular biology proficiency at Honours/Masters level
  • Experimental design and statistical analysis
  • High-level written communication and ability to publish research
  • Handling and sampling experimental animals

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Bioinformatic 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 Gianluca Amoroso 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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