Exposure to fire smoke in early life

What are the long-term cardio-respiratory effects of exposure to smoke from a coalmine fire in early life?

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Exposure to air pollution causes more than 7 million premature deaths every year. Inhaling poor quality air has been shown to cause significant respiratory and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. However, most of the data comes from chronic exposure to air pollution over long periods of time. The health effects of exposure to short-duration, high-intensity air pollution are less clear and there are very few studies that have assessed the long-term health effects of exposure when it occurs early in life. This is particularly important as extreme air pollution events, such as landscape fires, will increase in frequency in the coming years as a result of climate change.

The Hazelwood coal mine fire in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, was ignited by an ember from a local fire on February 9th, 2014. Due to the underground nature of the fuel source, and the low oxygen environment, the fire caused extremely poor air quality in the local community and was difficult to extinguish. The Early Life Follow-up (ELF) study was established to assess the long-term health effects of early life (in utero and in the first year of life) exposure to emissions from this fire. We have assessed lung and vascular function in children in the ELF cohort in 2017 and 2020. The aim of this PhD project is to collect additional clinical data in the ELF cohort in 2023 to determine whether there were longitudinal developmental impacts of exposure to the coalmine fire in early life. The project will involve collecting lung function data in young children and analysing these data, along with vascular function, to map growth trajectories in these critical physiological systems. The project requires a sound understanding of physiology and capability in quantitative data analysis.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Graeme Zosky


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.

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:

  • Honours/Masters (Research) Degree with a background in biomedicine, physiology or similar

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Strong analytical capacity

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, Prof Graeme Zosky 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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