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Geography and Spatial Sciences Research

Banner Image: Hobart. Credit: Tourism Tasmania and Luke Tscharke.

Our research is world-leading, building on decades of pioneering research in Geography, Environment and Spatial Sciences. We undertake research addressing problems of direct societal significance by harnessing the value of spatial data and integrating with human geography, physical geography, and environmental studies.

Our ideas, and the new knowledge that flows from them, influence scientists, industry and policymakers globally and makes a difference locally. Our past and present scholars have helped establish the global permaculture movement, the world’s first green political party, the scientific basis for establishing Tasmania’s World Heritage Areas, novel drone technology for understanding our changing planet, and the first agreed estimate of Greenland and Antarctica’s contribution to sea-level change.

National and global research rankings point to the quality of what we do. Our research in Geography and Environmental Studies is ranked in the top 200 in the world, while our Spatial Sciences research is within the global top 50. Our discipline contributes heavily to nation-leading rankings in Environmental Science and Management, Geomatic Engineering (Surveying and Spatial Sciences) and Geophysics.

Our research themes

Within Geography and Spatial Sciences our four research themes align to our focus on geospatial analysis, environmental values, place, governance, social and institutional change, policy, management, planning and decision-making.

  Study with us

Take your research degree with us at Geography and Spatial Sciences. Our expertise covers earth observation and spatial analysis techniques, human geography, physical geography, and environmental studies. Within these fields, you can join our existing projects or propose your explorations, whether creative, theoretical or industry/practice-focused. Your thesis may be based on the rich environmental culture of our island laboratory of Tasmania or other regions, drawing on our global experience and expertise. You’ll be joining researchers who are constantly developing theoretical, design-based, collaborative and participatory models of research practice to answer problems of direct societal significance.

Available Research Degree Projects

A research degree candidate may develop their own research project in collaboration with their supervisor or apply for one of our available projects below:

Applicants interested in a specific project should first contact the supervisor listed and then find out more about our Entry Requirements, Scholarships if relevant, and then Apply Now.

Closing Date

30 May 2020*

Applicants should contact the primary supervisor, and submit their Expression of Interest (EOI) and Application as soon as possible.

*unless filled earlier

The Research Project

Dr Kate Booth is inviting expressions of interest from those interested in undertaking a PhD. Located within one of the strongest geography schools in Australia, potential co-supervisors include:

Kate’s research is underpinned by an interest in place and places and the possibility of political dissent. Her work spans economic, social and cultural geography, and planning. She supervises students with a wide range of perspectives and topics. Working with Kate will allow you to define and develop your own area of interest. In addition, joining Kate’s team provides access to:

  • Tourism Tracer – world-first tracking and survey data of tourist movements within Tasmania. This rich dataset offers opportunity for analysis and critical interpretation in light of theories of space and place, mobility studies, and science and technology studies. Tourism Tracer is led by Dr Anne Hardy (University of Tasmania).
  • When Disaster Strikes: Geographies of Under-insurance – ground breaking research on the co-production of insurance in everyday life and in the context of socio-natural change. Team members: Dr Kate Booth, Professor Bruce Tranter and Chloe Lucas (University of Tasmania), Dr Christine Eriksen and Dr Eliza de Vet (University of Wollongong), and Associate Professor Shaun French (University of Nottingham, UK).

Eligibility

The following eligibility criteria apply to this project:

  • The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international candidates
  • The degree can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis
  • Applicants must already have been awarded a First Class Honours degree or hold equivalent qualifications or relevant and substantial academic research experience evidenced by peer-reviewed publications
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate strong research and analytical skills

Candidates from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Knowledge and skills that will be ranked highly include:

  • Background in human geography
  • Demonstrated capacity in critical thinking
  • Evidence of an ability to understand, apply and critique theory

More Information

Please contact Dr Kate Booth for more information.

Closing Date

31 December 2020*

Applicants should contact the primary supervisor, and submit their Expression of Interest (EOI) and Application as soon as possible.

*unless filled earlier

The Research Project

Governments and communities have invested large amounts of project funds and efforts in vulnerability assessment and planning for adaptation to climate change. This research project investigates the long term effectiveness of this investment in improvement of resilience, reduction of vulnerability, and effectiveness of the adaptation options.

Eligibility

Please refer to the Entry Requirements for a Doctor of Philosophy degree.

Candidates from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

More Information

Please contact Joanna Ellison for more information.

Closing Date

18th December 2020*

Applicants should contact the primary supervisor, and submit their Expression of Interest (EOI) and Application as soon as possible.

*unless filled earlier

The Research Project

The concept of place attachment describes how strongly people connect to place to distinguish between the physical resources provided by place (dependence) and the emotional and symbolic relationships people form with place (identity). Over the past decade, the measurement and mapping of the core dimensions of place attachment has been initiated through the concept of landscape values, thereby operationalising the place concept for land-use planning at multiple spatial scales. The mapping of landscape values has emerged as a key research method for identifying important areas for conservation and sustainable development but has yet to be explored in the context of places at risk of loss from climate change.

The impacts of climate are inherently spatial and the effects will be felt heterogeneously across a population both due to the spatial location of impacts and the socio-demographics of the population. This PhD project will examine concept of ‘place’ and what types of responses of loss may be felt by the community as places are impacted. This may include approaches such as mapping landscape values with public participatory GIS (PPGIS), qualitative interviews to understand why particular places are significant, surveys or interviews to explore what experiences of loss the population has experienced as places have been impacted historically, and spatial mapping of how predicted impacts of climate change overlap with landscape values.

Supervisory team will include co-supervisors Dr Rebecca Harris, Distinguished Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick, Professor Elizabeth Lester
External collaborators include Distinguished Professor Greg Brown

Eligibility
  • Degree-level undergraduate education in conservation, ecology, economics, geography, spatial sciences or a related subject
  • Spatial analysis skills (e.g. training in GIS, remote sensing) (desirable)
  • Statistical analysis skills (desirable)
  • Social science or communications related training (desirable)
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Applicants from variety of disciplines are eligible to apply

See the following web page for entry requirements: www.utas.edu.au/research/degrees/what-is-a-research-degree

Assessment Criteria
  • Applicants will be assessed and ranked according to the quality of their basis for entry research degree and institution, prior peer-reviewed publications, academic awards, project-specific skills, training or relevant industry experience, referee’s reports and supervisory support.
Application Process

Applicants who require more information or are interested in this specific project should first contact the listed Supervisor. Information and guidance on the application process can be found on the Apply Now website.

Information about scholarships is available on the Scholarships webpage.

More Information

Please contact Vanessa Adams for further information.

Closing Date

30th June 2020*

Applicants should contact the primary supervisor, and submit their Expression of Interest (EOI) and Application as soon as possible.

*unless filled earlier

The Research Project

This project will tackle the strategic management of environmental risks such as invasive plants with a particular focus of invasive plants in the Kimberley region. The project will aim to identify optimal management strategies for management of weeds that increase management costs and pose risks to biodiversity and traditional use. To tackle this challenge we will undertake a Rapid Prototyping exercise (Blomquist 2010) to identify focal weeds that pose the greatest combined challenge for multiple species and objectives (including management cost, biodiversity risks and traditional values), and where the greatest long term benefits could be achieved (e.g. through eradication) across the region.

This project is in collaboration with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (main co-supervisor Megan Barnes).  We will collaboratively formulate management alternatives with Kimberley staff, local managers from other agencies and other stakeholders, to inform a scenario analysis approach underpinned by an existing general spread risk model (Adams 2015, Adams 2016) parameterised with Kimberley and invasive species experts to inform identification of optimal management strategies and key risks.

Eligibility
  • Quantitative modelling and statistical skills
  • Spatial analysis skills and familiarity with ArcGIS
  • Familiarity with programming languages such as Java are favourably weighted

See the following web page for entry requirements: www.utas.edu.au/research/degrees/what-is-a-research-degree

Application Process

Applicants who require more information or are interested in this specific project should first contact the listed Supervisor. Information and guidance on the application process can be found on the Apply Now website.

Information about scholarships is available on the Scholarships webpage.

More Information

Please contact, Vanessa Adams for further information.

Closing Date

14th February 2020

Applicants should contact the primary supervisor, and submit their Expression of Interest (EOI) and Application as soon as possible.

The Research Project

This project aims to develop a better understanding of what features attract people to urban green spaces (to encourage their use), and whether these features significantly compromised the conservation value of these environments. The project will explore the synergies and trade-offs of human-made infrastructure (e.g. walking paths, night lighting and recreational features) in urban green spaces for human engagement and wildlife conservation. This will be done by working in collaboration with local stakeholders to evaluate the effectiveness of current green space initiatives. This project will focus on regional cities and aims to make recommendations for urban planning and regional development that positively improve human health and wildlife conservation outcomes. Supervisors are Dr Dave Kendal and Dr Emily J Flies, Other possible supervisors include: Dr Pauline Marsh, Dr Penelope Jones, Dr Kate Booth

Eligibility
  • Relevant research experience
  • First class honours in a relevant discipline

See the following web page for entry requirements: www.utas.edu.au/research/degrees/what-is-a-research-degree

Application Process

Applicants who require more information or are interested in this specific project should first contact the listed Supervisor. Information and guidance on the application process can be found on the Apply Now website.

Information about scholarships is available on the Scholarships webpage.

More Information

Please contact, Dave Kendal for further information.

Closing Date

31st May 2020*

Applicants should contact the primary supervisor Arko Lucieer, and submit their Expression of Interest (EOI) and Application as soon as possible.

*unless filled earlier

The Research Project

This PhD project will focus on the development of a hyperspectral imaging sensor for a new stratospheric drone platform, also known as a high-altitude pseudo satellite (HAPS). The PhD is part of a larger research project funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Scheme and in collaboration with the British Ordnance Survey and Astigan (https://astigan.uk/), a company which is developing the HAPS platform. The PhD project will assess/analyse aspects of sensor integration, fusion with GNSS/IMU position and attitude data, georeferencing, data storage and transmission, and environmental impacts on sensor data quality. Applications of hyperspectral remote sensing from the HAPS platform include ecosystem monitoring, precision agriculture, forest management, disaster response, and Antarctic science. This is a unique and exciting opportunity to be involved in a state-of-the-art project, and to be part of the TerraLuma research group (https://terraluma.net/) at the University of Tasmania advancing drone remote sensing. The PhD project comes with a funded PhD scholarship and operational support for equipment, airborne testing, and travel. Application from those with foundations in a range of disciplines are welcome! Applicants are encouraged to contact Professor Arko Lucieer (Arko.Lucieer@utas.edu.au) before submitting an application.

Eligibility

The following eligibility criteria apply:

  • The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international candidates.
  • The degree must be undertaken on a full-time basis.
  • Applicants must already have been awarded a First-Class Honours degree or hold equivalent qualifications, such as a research Master's degree or a coursework Master's degree with a substantial research component awarded high marks, or relevant and substantial research experience in an appropriate sector.

Candidates from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds are eligible to apply.

Please see the following web page for entry requirements: https://www.utas.edu.au/research/degrees/what-is-a-research-degree

Assessment Criteria

The following criteria will be used to competitively assess applicants for this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate strong research and analytical skills, evidenced by a publication record and/or substantial research thesis in a relevant area.
  • Background in technical aspects of remote sensing and/or sensor development.
  • Demonstrated experience with hyperspectral imaging sensors and data processing.

Application Process

Applicants who require more information or are interested in this specific project should first contact the listed Supervisor. Information and guidance on the application process can be found on the Apply Now webpage.

Information about scholarships is available on the Scholarships webpage.

More Information

Please contact Arko Lucieer for more information.

Closing Date

15th May 2020

Applicants should contact the primary supervisor, and submit their Expression of Interest (EOI) and Application as soon as possible.

The Research Project

Reflecting the strategic focus of the College of Sciences and Engineering on climate change and sustainability, this project explores the role of emotions in shaping understandings of and responses to global environmental futures. Based in qualitative methodologies and building on recent geographical and sociological research on emotion and affect, the project challenges dominant representations of emotions as a primarily personal and private experience that lies outside the remit of the physical and social sciences. Rather, understanding feelings as a key constitutive aspect of social discourse and practice, this project seeks to understand how knowledge, emotion and action are co-produced in the context of growing awareness in the 21st Century of the extent of human transformation of the biology and geology of the Earth. Encapsulated in the figure of the Anthropocene, this awareness is prompting new expressions of feeling about what comes next. This project will contribute important new insight into the role of emotions in co-constituting different futures.

Eligibility
  • The project is open to Australian and New Zealand (domestic) candidates and to International candidates
  • Research must be undertaken on a full-time basis
  • Applicants must already have been awarded a first-class Honours degree or hold equivalent qualifications or relevant and substantial research experience in an appropriate sector
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate strong research and analytical skills

Applicants from the following disciplines are eligible to apply:

  • Geography
  • Sociology
  • Environmental Studies

See the following web page for entry requirements: www.utas.edu.au/research/degrees/what-is-a-research-degree

Application Process

Applicants who require more information or are interested in this specific project should first contact the listed Supervisor. Information and guidance on the application process can be found on the Apply Now website.

Information about scholarships is available on the Scholarships webpage.

More Information

Please contact, Aidan Davison for further information.

  Partner with us

Geography and Spatial Sciences seeks to broaden our impact by partnering with government agencies, not-for-profits and industry.

There are many ways to engage with us. We excel in industry collaborative research focused on risk associated with climate change, remote sensing (including sensor calibration), geodetic positioning (e.g., offshore platforms), and insurance issues associated with natural disasters. We are eager to engage with local and regional councils and planning authorities to help make regional cities better places to live and work.

You’ll have access to our expertise across all our domains of research – spatial sciences, planning, and physical, environmental and human geography - and especially our expertise in complex problems that defy simple reduction.