The Lizard Island Doctoral Fellowships program supports field-intensive research at Lizard Island Research Station (LIRS) by outstanding PhD students worldwide. Since its inception in 1984, 74 PhD students have been supported. The program is funded by the Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation (LIRRF) through its members and friends including some specific donations and bequests.

Up to four new fellowships are offered for 2023. The closing date for applications is 7 October 2022.

  • Lizard Island Doctoral Fellowship is funded by members and friends of the LIRRF.
  • Ian Potter Doctoral Fellowship at Lizard Island is funded by The Ian Potter Foundation.
  • Zoltan Florian Marine Biology Fellowship is funded by a bequest from the late Zoltan Florian who was a skilled microscopist and long-term supporter of the work at Lizard Island Research Station.
  • Gough Family Doctoral Fellowship is funded by family members of the late John Gough AO, OBE who was a governor of The Ian Potter Foundation and a wonderful supporter of LIRS.

Applications are assessed by a panel of Australian Museum scientists that includes members of the LIRRF Science Committee. Full applications may be reviewed externally. A single application will be considered for all available fellowships.

Fellowship details

Funding is provided for field expenses at LIRS over one, two or three years as required. Salary is not provided. Additional funding may be awarded to fellows in the second or third year of their fellowship to present their Lizard Island research at an international conference .

The maximum value of each 2023 fellowship is AU$14,300 including GST per year for up to three years. This amount has increased substantially this year in recognition of the increasing need for 3-person dive teams. Projects that do not require diving should limit their request to $11,000 including GST. The value of the conference travel award is up to an additional AU$4,000.

Fellowship funds must be spent on field work at LIRS. Allowable expenses include bench fees, travel, freight, and field/lab consumables.

Fellowship funds may not be used for salary, for living expenses (such as food while at Lizard Island), for equipment other than research consumables, or for research or travel by the fellow's PhD supervisor (or any other more senior researcher) except as outlined below. The fellow's university may not deduct a fee for administering the fellowship.

Purpose: The fellow must conduct field-intensive research at the Lizard Island Research Station (LIRS) that will form a substantial part of his or her thesis.

Field work duration: The fellow must spend substantial time in the field at LIRS for which bench fees at the current applicable rate must be paid. The minimum time is an average of 100 person nights at LIRS per year. For example, a 50-night trip by two people meets the 100 person night requirement. Projects that require diving may need a 3-person team. The time requirement for such projects is at least 130 person nights per year. The annual budget for non-diving projects is up to $11,000 including GST and for diving projects is up to $14,300 including GST.

Timing: The first field trip using fellowship funds must not start before April 2023. Any funds unspent at the end of each fellowship year must be returned to LIRS unless carry-over arrangements are approved.

Supervisor involvement in field work: If the fellow's supervisor or any other senior researcher wishes to accompany the fellow on field trips to Lizard Island, fellowship funds may not be used to cover any part of that person's travel costs. They may be used to pay bench fees for the supervisor or other senior researcher at the student assistant's rate for up to 5 days over the life of the fellow's project, providing that the senior person is actually assisting the fellow on those days rather than conducting his/her own research. Bench fees for any additional days spent at LIRS by the senior researcher must be paid at the current rate applicable to researchers and that amount may not be paid from fellowship funds.

Conference travel award: Fellows who have been awarded two or three years of funding may apply in their second or third year for up to $4,000 additional funding to assist them to present their research at an international conference. Conference funding is not offered to one-year fellows.

Progress and reporting: Funding in the second and third years, if awarded, is subject to suitable progress. Reporting, outreach and acknowledgement conditions will be detailed in a contract with each successful applicant.

Feedback: Feedback will not be provided to unsuccessful applicants.

At the time of applying, applicants must:

  1. be accepted into a PhD program for a project that requires substantial field-based research at a coral reef location, and
  2. show that they can support themselves for the duration of the requested fellowship period by, for example, having a stipend from a scholarship or other source.

Applications from people who do not meet these criteria will not be considered further.

  1. The applicant meets the eligibility criteria.
  2. The application is of high quality, including spelling, grammar, meets word restrictions, provides information in the required manner, the funding request is consistent with the remaining duration of the PhD, and similar things.
  3. The applicant has an excellent academic record.
  4. The applicant has high research output in relation to career stage.
  5. The project makes good use of LIRS facilities, requiring an average of at least 100 person nights (for non-diving projects) or 130 person nights (for diving projects that require a 3-person team) at LIRS per year of funding to conduct field-intensive research which may include aquarium-based research.
  6. Projects for which LIRS is the primary research base will be given preference.
  7. The applicant has relevant research and field work experience.
  8. The significance and innovative approach of the project.
  9. The project is feasible within the limitations of budget and safety regulations.
  10. Fellowship funds will be used efficiently (e.g. travel costs are minimised).
  11. There is an actual or potential source of additional funding if the fellowship does not cover all planned costs, or there is a plan for amending the proposal if such additional funding doesn't become available.

Preliminary applications

Preliminary applications must be submitted online:

Online preliminary application form for 2023 doctoral fellowships

The online form requires upload of a separate Word-based form:

Preliminary project information form

Preliminary applications will be assessed against selection criteria 1-7 only.

Invited full applications

Highly ranked preliminary applicants will be invited to submit a full application and full applications will only be accepted from those people.

Full applications must be supported by a letter from the applicant's primary supervisor which has been endorsed by the head of the university department where the applicant is enrolled. The letter must support the research proposal including the proposed field work at Lizard Island.

Full applications may be sent for external review and will be assessed against all selection criteria.

The full application form for 2023 will be posted here soon. Last year's is retained as a guide until then.

Full application form for 2022 doctoral fellowships

Information for completing applications

To assist in preparing your application, please consult other sections of this website to learn about LIRS facilities and the number of assistants you will need to bring to comply with scuba diving and boating regulations. Where your own institution's requirements differ from those of LIRS, the most conservative will apply. Note that diving at LIRS in teams of two can only be done with written permission from the project leader's home institution. You are welcome to contact LIRS with any queries.

Indicative costs for bench fees, travel between Cairns and Lizard Island, and barge freight are provided below for planning purposes. Please use these rates when preparing your budget estimates.

Indicative rates including GST (AUD)
2023 2024 2025
Bench fee (per person per night)
- Applicant 61.00 $63.50 66.00
- Assistant 56.00 $58.00 $60.50
Airfare, Cairns/Lizard/Cairns $790.00 $820.00 $855.00
Barge freight, per piece $20.50 $21.00 $22.00
Relevant dates
7 October 2022 Closing date for preliminary applications
3 November 2022 Invitations made to submit full applications
24 November 2022 Closing date for full applications
31 January 2023 Offer made to successful applicants
1 April 2023 Funds available


Dr Lyle Vail and Dr Anne Hoggett, Directors
Lizard Island Research Station
Phone: + 61 7 4060-3977

Past doctoral fellows

Fellows' project titles and summaries are provided in LIRS Reports in the year that the fellowship is awarded. That is the year prior to the one listed in the Honour Roll below.

Doctoral Fellows Honour Roll
Year Name University Fellowship
2022 Joshua Connolly James Cook University Lizard Island
2022 Eric Fakan James Cook University Gough Family
2022 Juliano Morais James Cook University Ian Potter
2022 Valerio Tettamanti University of Queensland Zoltan Florian
2021 No awards due to COVID-19 pandemic
2020 Sterling Tebbett James Cook University IanPotter
2020 Makeely Blandford James Cook University Lizard Island
2019 Jessica Bellworthy Bar Ilan University, Israel Raymond E. Purves Foundation
2019 Catheline Froelich University of Wollongong Zoltan Florian
2019 Tim Gordon University of Exeter, UK Ian Potter
2019 Kelly Hannan James Cook University Lizard Island
2018 Viviana Brambilla St Andrews University, UK Ian Potter
2018 Claudio Brandao University of Aveiro, Portugal Lizard Island
2018 Jose Paula University of Lisbon, Portugal Lizard Island
2018 Robert Striet James Cook University Lizard Island
2018 Zegni Triki University of Neuchatel, Switzerland Lizard Island
2017 Alexia Graba-Landry James Cook University Lizard Island
2017 Renato Morais Araujo James Cook University Lizard Island
2017 Damaris Torres-Pulliza Macquarie University Ian Potter
2016 Zoe Loffler James Cook University Ian Potter
2016 Jamie McWilliam Curtin University Lizard Island
2015 Steve Doo University of Sydney Ian Potter
2015 Maria Palacios James Cook University Ian Potter
2014 Lauren Nadler James Cook University Lizard Island
2014 Davina Poulos James Cook University Ian Potter
2013 Fabio Cortesi University of Basel, Switzerland Lizard Island
2013 Martina Prazeres University of Queensland Ian Potter
2013 Hanne Thoen University of Queensland Lizard island
2012 Oona Lonnstedt James Cook University Ian Potter
2012 Dominique Roche Australian National University Lizard Island
2012 Justin Welsh James Cook University Lizard Island
2012 Sharon Wismer University of neuchatel, Switzerland Lizard Island
2011 Sandra Binning Australian National University Ian Potter
2011 Jessica Stella James Cook University Yulgilbar
2010 Darren Coker James Cook University Ian Potter
2010 Chris Goatley James Cook University Lizard Island
2009 Rebecca Fox James Cook University Lizard island
2009 Alicia Crawley University of Queensland Ian Potter
2008 Roberta Bonaldo James Cook University Lizard Island
2008 Jacob Johansenn James Cook University Lizard Island
2008 Vanessa Messmer James Cook University Ian Potter
2007 Adel Heenan University of Edinburgh, UK Lizard Island
2007 Michael Holcomb Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA Lizard island
2007 Andrew Hoey James Cook University Ian Potter
2007 Tom Holmes James Cook University Lizard Island
2006 Lynda Curtis University of Queensland Ian Potter
2006 Nicole Patten Southern Cross University Lizard Island
2005 Stefan Walker James Cook University Lizard Island
2005 Marian Wong James Cook University Lizard Island
2004 Cathie Page James Cook University Lizard Island
2003 Line Bay James Cook University Lizard island
2003 Chris Fulton James Cook University Lizard Island
2002 Justin Becker University of Queensland Lizard Island
2001 Rebecca Fisher James Cook University Lizard Island
2001 Heather Petterson James Cook University Lizard Island
2000 Ulricke Siebeck University of Queensland Lizard Island
1999 Jackie Wolstenholme James Cook University Lizard Island
1998 Nick Gust James Cook University Lizard Island
1997 Andrew Baker University of Miami, USA Lizard Island
1997 Philip Munday James Cook University Lizard Island
1996 Bryce Stewart James Cook University Lizard Island
1995 Ilona Stobutzki James Cook University Lizard Island
1994 Vicki Hall James Cook University Lizard Island
1993 Alexandra Grutter James Cook University Lizard Island
1993 Dirk Zeller James Cook University Lizard Island
1992 Vicki Nelson James Cook University Lizard Island
1991 Alison Green James Cook University Lizard Island
1990 Campbell Davies James Cook University Lizard Island
1989 Mark McCormick James Cook University Lizard Island
1988 Julian Cayley James Cook University Lizard island
1987 Kendall Clements James Cook University Lizard Island
1986 Maria Milicich Griffith University Lizard Island
1985 Geoffrey Smith Griffith University Lizard Island
1984 John Chisholm James Cook University Lizard Island
1984 Roland Pitcher Griffith University Lizard Island