Biologically informed control of Gummy Stem Blight in cucurbits; Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment; Lead Researcher: Associate Professor Jonathan Plett

About the project: The Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (HIE) is offering a research scholarship to a highly motivated PhD candidate to work on a project focussed towards improving production of vegetable crops and trialling technologies for early detection and control of Gummy Stem Blight (GSB). The project is co-funded by the CRC for Future Food Systems, Perfection Fresh Australia, and Western Sydney University.

The student will test and pilot fast detection procedures for GSB with the aim of giving growers a suite of options to test for the presence of the pathogen prior to disease being evident. The project will investigate novel means of controlling the pathogen through targeted repression of key disease developmental pathways and manipulation of the plant’s natural resistance pathways.

Outcomes of the project will support sustainable production of cucurbits for our industry partners, and open new pathways of investigation that will enable breakthroughs in pathogen control that could be cross-applicable to other important cucurbit diseases in the larger vegetable production sector.

The Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (HIE) is a research institute within Western Sydney University. The HIE has rapidly become a research leader in agronomic and plant-microbe research, with a strong reputation for delivering research outcomes of the highest quality. The project will be based at HIE with the opportunity to work with industry professionals.

What does the scholarship provide?

  • Domestic candidates will receive a tax-free stipend of $35,000(AUD) per annum for up to 3.5 years to support living costs, supported by the Research Training Program (RTP) Fee Offset.
  • International candidates will receive a tax-free stipend of $35,000(AUD) per annum for up to 3 years to support living costs. Those with a strong track record may be eligible for a tuition fee waiver.
  • International candidates are required to hold an Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) insurance policy for the duration of their study in Australia. This cost is  covered by the scholarship.
  • Support for conference attendance, fieldwork and additional costs as approved by the Institute.

Eligibility criteria

We welcome applicants from a range of backgrounds, who are keen to apply their skills to key issues in developing sustainable and cost-effective means of controlling plant pathogens in vegetable production. In particular, the project is suitable for candidates with strong interests in plant pathology, integrated pest management, and/or plant chemistry.

The successful applicant should:

  • Hold qualifications and experience equal to one of the following (i) an Australian First Class Bachelor (Honours) degree, (ii) coursework Masters with at least 25% research component, (iii) Research Master’s degree, or (iv) equivalent overseas qualifications.
  • Demonstrate strong academic performance in subjects relevant to plant pathology, molecular biology, and/or agriculture or horticulture.
  • Have an understanding of the importance of plant pathology and integrated disease management, ideally within a glasshouse setting
  • Be willing to learn analytical techniques applicable to plant pathology, molecular biology and integrated disease management.
  • Be enthusiastic and highly motivated to undertake further study at an advanced level.
  • International applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency.(opens in new window)

How to apply

Follow the step-by-step instructions on the how to apply for a project scholarship

  • Note: You do not need to complete ‘Step 5: Submit an online application for admission’ when applying for this scholarship. You must complete ‘Step 6: Submit an online application for a project scholarship’.

Incomplete applications or applications that do not conform to the above requirements will not be considered. For questions and advice about the research project, please contact the Lead Researcher;
Associate Professor Jonathan Plett:

Applications close 31 October 2023

*Applications close at 11.59pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST).

Scholarship reference code: PS2024_013_HIE

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