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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, 78 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.
For 2024, we are pleased to announce a new joint fellowship for research to be conducted both at Lizard Island and at the Minderoo Foundation Exmouth Marine Laboratory (MERL) in Western Australia. The Australian Museum is thrilled to be partnering with the Minderoo Foundation to continue our work on protecting marine biodiversity, environments and ocean health. The purpose of this fellowship is to support research, conservation and critical capacity building in research training more broadly across Australia with the aim to produce science-based outcomes for Australia, coast to coast.
Below is a full list of fellowships available to begin in 2024. The closing date for applications is 13 October 2023.
- 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 which is a major supporter of LIRS.
- 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 LIRS.
- 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.
- Joint Minderoo Foundation and LIRRF Doctoral Fellowship is funded jointly by the Minderoo Foundation and by members and friends of the LIRRF.
Applications are assessed by a panel of Australian Museum scientists that includes members of the LIRRF Science Committee. Applications for the new Joint Minderoo Foundation and LIRRF Doctoral Fellowship will be assessed by scientists at Minderoo Foundation in coordination with LIRRF and the Australian Museum. Applications may be reviewed by external parties.
One application will be considered for all available fellowships - there is no need to submit multiple applications. However, only those that propose work at both LIRS and MERL will be considered for the joint fellowship.
Funding is provided for field expenses at LIRS (and at MERL, if required) 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 PhD research at an international conference.
The maximum value of each 2024 fellowship (other than the Joint Fellowship) is AU$14,300 including GST per year for up to three years. However, projects that do not require diving should limit their request to $11,000 including GST. The value of the international conference travel award is up to an additional AU$4,000.
The Joint Minderoo Foundation and LIRRF Fellowship offers the same level of funding for the LIRS component as the other Lizard Island fellowship, plus the same amount for the MERL component (excluding the travel award). The maximum value is thus $28,600 including GST per year for up to three years, plus up to $4,000 for travel to present at an international conference in the second or third year. The LIRS and MERL amounts will be paid to the successful applicant's institution separately by the Australian Museum and the Minderoo Foundation, respectively.
Fellowship funds must be spent on field work at LIRS, and at MERL if applicable. 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 in the field), 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 LIRS and, if applicable, at MERL ) that will form a substantial part of their thesis.
Field work duration: The fellow must spend substantial time in the field at LIRS and, if applicable, at MERL, 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.
Applicants for the Joint Fellowship should plan to spend a similar amount of time at MERL as at LIRS.
Timing: Each fellowship year runs from 1 April to 31 March. The first field trip using fellowship funds must not start before April 2024. 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, 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 assisting the fellow on those days rather than conducting their 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:
- be accepted into a PhD program for a project that requires substantial field-based research at a coral reef location, and
- 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.
- The applicant meets the eligibility criteria.
- 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 considerations.
- The applicant has an excellent academic record.
- The applicant has high research output in relation to career stage.
- 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. Applications for the Joint Fellowship must demonstrate a similarly high level of usage of MERL.
- Projects for which LIRS is the primary research base will be given preference, except applications for the Joint Fellowship, in which case LIRS and MERL should be the two primary research bases.
- The applicant has relevant research and field work experience.
- The significance and innovative approach of the project.
- The project is feasible within the limitations of capability, time, budget and safety regulations.
- Fellowship funds will be used efficiently (e.g. travel costs are minimised).
- 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 must be submitted online:
The online form requires upload of a separate Word-based 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. Full applications will only be accepted from those invited applicants.
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 LIRS and, if applicable, at MERL.
Full applications may be sent for external review and will be assessed against all selection criteria.
Information for completing applications
To assist in preparing your application, please consult other sections of the LIRS website and, if applicable, the MERL website to learn about available facilities. This will allow you to determine the number of assistants you will need to bring to comply with scuba diving and boating regulations and any experimental needs. Where your own institution's requirements differ from those of LIRS or MERL, 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. For the MERL, a team of three (two divers and a deck supervisor) is the minimum dive team size requirement under WA Regulations. You are welcome to contact LIRS or MERL with any queries. Contact information is provided below.
Indicative costs for field trips to Lizard Island are provided in the table below for planning purposes. Please use these rates when preparing your budget estimates.
Bench fees at MERL in 2023/24 are provided separately below. These may be waived in some instances but please prepare your application for a Joint Fellowship assuming that full fees will be applied. For future years, assume that charges will increase with inflation.
Commercial flights operate in and out of Exmouth (Learmonth) on Qantas Airways only. Please refer to the Qantas website when preparing your submission.
|Bench fee (per person per night)|
|Barge freight, per piece||$21.00||$22.00||$23.00|
|Full access to aquaria and molecular labs:|
|- Researcher||$125 per day|
|- Student||$75 per day|
|- Commercial user||$250 per day|
|Accommodation||$80 per person per night|
|Mid-sized vessel (1+4 pax or 1+5 pax)||$500 per day plus fuel at cost|
|Skipper||$350 per day|
|13 October 2023||Closing date for preliminary applications|
|30 October 2023||Invitations made to submit full applications|
|24 November 2023||Closing date for full applications|
|31 January 2024||Offer made to successful applicants|
|1 April 2024||Funds available|
Dr Kate Quigley (Principal Research Scientist)
Phone: +61 (0)447 845 795
Kate Kiefer (MERL Research and Operations Manager) or
Nikki DeCampe (MERL Research Technical Manager)
Minderoo Exmouth Research Laboratory
2 Truscott Crescent, Exmouth, W.A., 6707
Phone: +61 (0)417 721962
Past doctoral fellows
|2023||Casey Bowden||James Cook University||Ian Potter|
|2023||Abigail Shaughnessy||University of Queensland||Gough Family|
|2023||Juan Carlos Azofeifa Solano||Curtin University||Raymond E. Purves Foundation|
|2023||Devynn Wulstein||University of Hawaii||Lizard Island|
|2022||Joshua Connelly||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|