How to Apply

REGISTER YOUR INTEREST

Applicants for Toronto and Melbourne jointly awarded/dual PhD projects should:

  • Identify a project of interest
  • Register their interest via an email to the project supervisor based at the University of Melbourne, including the following information:
    • Name, contact details
    • Joint PhD project of interest
    • Cover Letter, CV and Transcript
    • Any supporting documentation

Note, all applicants are required to meet the entry requirements for a PhD at both partner universities to be considered.

CHECK ADMISSION CRITERIA

Minimum entry requirements for a PhD at Melbourne are summarised on the course website of the relevant faculty of your University of Melbourne supervisor:

Important:

  • The University of Melbourne: visa and English language requirements
  • More information on Toronto’s admissions information, policy and relevant regulations coming soon

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

All participants have access to living allowance and mobility support for the duration of the program.


Discovery of invertebrate attractants and toxins from diverse Actinomycetes

This PhD project will be based at the University of Toronto with a 24 month stay at the University of Melbourne.

Project Description:

Actinomycete bacteria are prolific producers of an astounding array of small molecules, known as specialized metabolites. These chemicals feature prominently in clinical medicine as antibiotics, antifungals, immunosuppressants and anticancer agents, and many also have effects on other organisms, including as insect attractants or toxins.

Interestingly, there are several examples of actinomycetes forming mutually beneficial associations with invertebrates. For example, leaf-cutter ants cultivate antibiotic-producing actinomycetes that in turn produce a range of antibiotics to protect the ants’ fungal food source from infection or from being out-competed by other microbes. Likewise, Philanthus wasps coat their larvae in antibiotic-producing Streptomyces bacteria to protect them from infection with other microbes. However, many examples also exist of actinomycete-derived molecules that are specifically toxic to invertebrates. The best known example is avermectin produced by the actinomycete Streptomyces avermitilis, which is highly toxic against parasitic worm species and has been used in the developing world to almost eradicate human onchocerciasis (river blindness). While some work has been performed on a range of Streptomyces species and their interaction with insects, the story is far from complete and further opportunities exist, especially among less-well studied actinomycetes to identify invertebrate attractants and toxins.

This project will use a several insect model systems to investigate attractant and repellant (or toxic) phenotypes of ~1000 individual actinomycete isolates. Individual actinomycetes producing the desired phenotype will be selected and the responsible compounds will be isolated and have their structures fully elucidated. At the same time, the selected isolates will have their genomes sequenced to inform the development of mutant strains that will connect genes to molecules. We anticipate this project will provide a range of previously unseen invertebrate-active compounds, potentially providing a pathway for their further development and use in the clinic.

Supervision Team:

Prof Justin Nodwell (University of Toronto)

Dr Sacha Pidot (University of Melbourne)

How to Apply

If you are interested in this opportunity, read the application guidelines before contacting the supervisors.


Effector-Effector Interplay and Coxiella Pathogenesis

This PhD project will be based at the University of Melbourne with an initial stay of 18-24 months at University of Toronto.

Project Description:

The bacterium responsible for Q fever, Coxiella burnetii, causes disease by replicating to high numbers inside human cells. In order to achieve this Coxiella has evolved to become an innovative cell biologist. The pathogen establishes a replicative vacuole inside human cells by injecting virulence proteins, termed effectors, into the host to manipulate a variety of host functions. To date, ~150 effectors have been identified yet we understand very little about how they function individually and as a collective cohort during infection. The traditional understanding of bacterial effector proteins is that they act on host targets however we are developing a compelling body of evidence to demonstrate that some effectors influence infection by acting on other effectors. This post-translocation level of effector regulation is an unexplored yet integral component of understanding host-pathogen interactions.

This project will use a systems-based approach to define physical interactions between important effector proteins, determine the role these interactions play during infection and use cell biology and biochemical approaches to decipher the function of interacting effectors. The research will shed light on Coxiella pathogenesis and the complex cross-talk between the large cohort of effector proteins.

Supervision Team:

Dr Hayley Newton (University of Melbourne)

A/Prof Alexander Ensminger (University of Toronto)

How to Apply

If you are interested in this opportunity, read the application guidelines before contacting the supervisors.


Defining the zinc homeostasis mechanisms of Klebsiella pneumoniae and their role in host-pathogen interaction

This PhD project will be based at the University of Melbourne with an initial stay of 18-24 months at University of Toronto.

Project Description:

Klebsiella pneumoniae is a globally significant multi-drug resistant pathogen. Our recent studies investigating the chemical biology of this bacterium have identified numerous uncharacterised pathways involved in the acquisition of the essential metal zinc from the host.

This project will provide the first descriptions of these pathways and how they contribute to the growth, virulence and antibiotic resistance of K. pneumoniae. The outcomes of this study will provide information essential to exploiting nutrient dependency in breaking multi-drug resistance in K. pneumoniae and other Gram-negative bacteria.

Supervision Team:

A/Prof Christopher McDevitt (University of Melbourne)

A/Prof Trevor Moraes (University of Toronto)

How to Apply

If you are interested in this opportunity, read the application guidelines before contacting the supervisors.


Understanding the pathogenesis of postmenopausal knee osteoarthritis at the subchondral bone and cartilage interface using MRI and CT imaging

This PhD project will be based at the University of Toronto with a 24 month stay at the University of Melbourne.

Project Description:

This PhD project is focused on understanding how the cartilage and bone within the knee joint interact in postmenopausal women with knee osteoarthritis, over the short and long-term.

It will use clinical imaging techniques to examine these relationships earlier on in the disease process and measure trajectories of change in each of bone and cartilage tissues over time. It will then study the same bone-cartilage relationships in advanced-stage disease patients by using the bone and cartilage specimens removed after total knee replacement surgery. This excised sample will allow the PhD student to conduct indepth analysis into microstructures of the cartilage and bone to seek specific patterns of damage. The project will also link information about fracture risk and the sex hormone estrogen, which declines after menopause, to the bone and cartilage properties that were observed in both imaging and excised specimen analyses.

The PhD student will learn to do programming in Python to conduct automated image analysis, advanced statistical procedures to study unique patterns of change, lab-based imaging and cellular analysis techniques to evaluate micro-structures and damage. The combination of benchside and bedside analyses will compose high quality evidence to support hypotheses related to the way osteoarthritis among postmenopausal women may be related to the loss of estrogen and accompanied deterioration of musculoskeletal tissues.

In addition to receiving an education on lab, clinical, statistical, and analytical skills, the PhD student will be enrolled in a Rehabilitation Sciences program that will teach the student about basic theories and methods of study design, expose them to rehabilitation science investigations, and promote discussion among peers on topics that relate to joint health. They will also be enrolled in the Collaborative Program in Musculoskeletal Sciences at UofT which provide additional courses on basic sciences of bone, muscle and joint biology, seminars on other PhD students’ work in similar fields, and opportunities to collaborate across departments. They will gain further insight and challenges to their PhD project through this additional educational component.

This PhD project forms part of a cluster collaboration between UofT and UofM where the complementary PhD project will study a similar research question, but using experimental methods on mice with and without having their ovaries removed to simulate menopause. This PhD student will share their learned skills, study findings, and future directions with both UofT and UofM teams, to inspire further collaborations that bridge benchside and bedside investigations. It is expected that the entire cluster team will meet on several occasions during this collaborative program, but also at annual international conferences beyond the term of this program.

Supervision Team:

A/Prof Andy Kin On Wong (University of Toronto)

Dr Kathryn StokDr Katie Davey (University of Melbourne)

How to Apply

If you are interested in this opportunity, read the application guidelines before contacting the supervisors.


Mechanisms driving osteochondral remodeling in a postmenopausal animal model using longitudinal contrast enhanced micro-computed tomography

This PhD project will be based at the University of Melbourne with an initial stay of 18-24 months at University of Toronto.

Project Description:

This PhD project is focused on mechanisms driving osteochondral remodeling in a postmenopausal animal model using longitudinal contrast enhanced micro-computed tomography. It will be based in the Integrative Cartilage Research Group, Department of Biomedical Engineering at The University of Melbourne. The ICR Group is interested in developing, refining, and using biomedical engineering tools and concepts, to explore and understand the effects of mechanics on living musculoskeletal systems on the molecular, cellular, and organ level of organisation, while maintaining a philosophy of respect and compassion for all human and animal life.

In this project, the student will use and expend preclinical imaging techniques for live imaging of the osteochondral interface. These techniques will be used to explore the genetic and biochemical determinants that mediate subchondral bone and cartilage remodelling in the knee joint of a postmenopausal OA mouse model. The project will also involve image processing of 3D datasets for characterisation of arthritis.

The PhD student will learn to programme in Python to conduct automated image analysis, advanced statistical procedures to study unique patterns of change, lab-based imaging and cellular analysis techniques to evaluate micro-structure and damage. The combination of lab-based and computational analyses will provide high quality evidence to support hypotheses related to mechanisms involved in driving osteoarthritis and the combinatorial role of estrogen loss.

Prior to arriving at the University of Melbourne, the student will be enrolled in the Collaborative Program in Musculoskeletal Sciences at the University of Toronto, which provide courses on basic sciences of bone, muscle and joint biology, image processing, seminars on other PhD students’ work in similar fields, and opportunities to collaborate across departments. They will gain further insight and challenges to their PhD project through this educational component.

This PhD project forms part of a cluster collaboration between UofT and UofM where the complementary PhD project will study a similar research question using clinical imaging methods with postmenopausal women. This PhD student will share their learned skills, study findings, and future directions with both UofT and UofM teams, to inspire further collaborations that bridge benchside and bedside investigations. It is expected that the entire cluster team will meet on several occasions during this collaborative program, but also at annual international conferences beyond the term of this program.

Supervision team:

Dr Kathryn Stok, Dr Katie Davey (University of Melbourne)

A/Prof Andy Kin On Wong, Prof Mohit Kapoor (University of Toronto)

 

How to Apply

If you are interested in this opportunity, read the application guidelines before contacting the supervisors.


Development of a Soil-Specific CPT Interpretation Method for Partially Drained Penetration

This PhD project will be based at the University of Toronto with a 16 month stay at the University of Melbourne.

 Project Description:
University of Toronto and University of Melbourne will be co-admitting an outstanding PhD student to conduct leading-edge research on an important geotechnical problem regarding interpretation of in-situ state of silty materials such as mine tailings. The successful applicant will be admitted into a program that includes stays at both institutions, with funds available to cover the cost of travel in addition to the normal research funding. The applicant will be awarded degrees from both institutions upon successfully completing their program requirements. The four-year PhD program includes taking courses at University of Toronto and conducting mostly analytical research at both universities. The ideal start time is September 2021.

Tailings storage facilities (TSF) are man-made earth structures used for storing mining waste, comprised of fine minerals and water left behind during the extraction process. They exist at the intersection of economics, safety, and sustainability. The mining industry needs better engineering practices for assessing and improving existing TSFs, designing new TSFs, and disposal processes motivated by: recent liquefaction-induced catastrophic failures of TSFs, economic challenges demanding reductions in tailings disposal costs, and evolving regulatory and social pressures to improve the safety and sustainability of tailings storage. Non-plastic granular soils, such as tailings, can lose all or part of their strength in a process called liquefaction. Soils’ resistance to liquefaction mainly depends on how densely-packed their particles are. Liquefaction potential is assessed by estimating soil density from its resistance to a penetrating probe. The Cone Penetration Test (CPT) is the predominant site characterisation tool since it provides a wealth of information with fast and inexpensive application. The cone penetration process has a complicated interaction with the pore water in often silt-rich tailings, because the rate of generation of excess pore water pressures due to the penetration and the rate of dissipation of the pressure away from the cone tend to be comparable in tailings. This makes interpretation of CPT results particularly challenging. University Melbourne and University of Toronto have joined forces to produce tailings-specific CPT interpretation methods by accounting for the complicated nature of soil, and interaction of soil, water and the advancing cone.

 

The jointly supervised PhD student will accomplish the following objectives through their work at both universities:

  • Months 0-8, Toronto
    • Course work and comprehensive exam
  • Months 9-24, Melbourne
    • Developing a coupled CPT model in ABAQUS
  • Months 25 to 48, at Toronto
    • Validating the results of the model against available experimental data
    • Performing parametric studies to understand various influences on CPT response
    • Developing interpretation method

 

Supervision Team:
A/Prof Mason Ghafghazi (University of Toronto)

A/Prof Yinghui Tian, Dr Shiao Huey Chow, (University of Melbourne)

 

How to Apply
If you are interested in this opportunity, read the application guidelines before contacting the lead supervisor.

Applications close February 22, 2021


Effect of partial drainage on plate anchor capacity in sand

This PhD project will be based at the University of Melbourne with an initial stay of 20 months at the University of Toronto.

Project Description:
University of Melbourne and University of Toronto will be co-admitting an outstanding PhD student to conduct leading-edge research in offshore geotechnical engineering. The successful applicant will be admitted into a program that includes stays at both institutions, with funds available to cover the cost of travel in addition to the normal research funding. The applicant will be awarded degrees from both institutions upon successfully completing their program requirements. The four-year PhD program includes taking courses at University of Toronto and conducting numerical and experimental research at both universities. The ideal start time is September 2021.

The recent growth in offshore floating renewable energy devices requires economic anchor solutions for sand. Plate anchors can represent such solution, although their response to realistic loading under offshore conditions still requires a more robust understanding, particularly under partially drained conditions imposed by rapid loading rates (e.g. under severe storm condition). Partial drainage (or the worst case scenario of undrained condition) occurs when the water in the porous sand skeleton is unable to drain away upon loading, resulting in a rapid increase of pore water pressure or generation of excess pore water pressures. The reduced drainage has a significant effect on the sand strength, which, in turn, affects the capacity of plate anchors. To date, there is limited numerical capability in simulating partially drained capacity of plate anchors in sand. The numerical modelling will be able to unveil the pore pressure distribution and failure mechanism during partially drained pull-out of the anchors – insights that underpin understanding but are difficult to obtain through other techniques.

This project aims to investigate the effect of partial drainage on plate anchor capacity in sand using numerical and experimental approaches. The specific aims of this project, along with the research methodology and timeline/location of the research, are:

  • Months 0-8, Toronto
    • Course work and comprehensive exam
  • Months 9-20, Toronto
    • Developing a coupled plate anchor model in commercial software, ABAQUS.
  • Months 21-48, Melbourne
    • Performing experimental study of partially drained plate anchor pull-out tests in sand for validation of numerical results
    • Performing numerical parametric studies to understand various influences on plate anchor response

The outcomes of the project will be integrated into an accessible design tool to enable better predictability of anchors capacity under partial drainage in sand in engineering practice.

Supervision Team:
Dr Shiao Huey ChowA/Prof Yinghui Tian (University of Melbourne)

A/Prof Mason Ghafghazi (University of Toronto)

How to Apply
If you are interested in this opportunity, read the application guidelines before contacting the lead supervisor.

Applications close February 22, 2021. 


A computational analysis of library classification through time

This PhD project will be based at the University of Melbourne with an initial stay of 24 months at University of Toronto.

Project Description:

This PhD project jointly offered by the University of Toronto (UofT) and the University of Melbourne (UoM) will provide training and research opportunities for a student applicant in the area of computational cognitive linguistics. The student will work under the joint supervision of faculty members from both institutions and will spend two years at each institution.

The project is a large-scale computational analysis of human categorization. We will take library classification as a case study, and will draw on data from thousands of libraries to explore how book classifications have emerged over time. The first part of the project will explore the extent to which existing models of categorization and cultural evolution can account for library classification. The second part will focus on classification bias, and will use computational methods to identify ways in which classification systems such as the Dewey Decimal system can be adjusted to better represent the diversity of materials in library collections worldwide.

The PhD program will commence in 2021 and has an expected duration of 4 to 4.5 years, with full financial support including tuition, stipend, and relevant travelling expenses. The student will begin coursework and research at UofT for an initial period of 2 years, and then proceed to further research and dissertation work at UoM to complete the program.

The applicant should have obtained a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree by January 2021 in an area related to the project (e.g. computer science, cognitive science, psychology, or linguistics). The applicant should have a general interest in the area of cognitive linguistics, and strong programming skills are essential. A background in natural language processing is desirable but not essential. UofT and UoM are both committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion and applicants from diverse and underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

Supervision Team:

A/Prof Charles Kemp (University of Melbourne)

A/Prof Yang Xu (University of Toronto)

How to Apply

If you are interested in this opportunity, read the application guidelines before contacting the supervisors.


A computational analysis of conceptual combination through time

This PhD project will be based at the University of Toronto with a 24 month stay at the University of Melbourne.

Project Description:

This joint PhD project from the University of Toronto (UofT) and the University of Melbourne (UoM) will provide training and research opportunities for a student applicant in the area of computational cognitive linguistics. The student will work under the joint supervision of faculty members from both institutions and spend two years at each institution.

The proposed PhD project will develop a computational approach to investigate the process of conceptual combination, particularly how compound words are formed over time in natural languages. The goal of this project is to characterize the regularities in compound formation, and the extent to which they might inform the principles and automated processing of emergent compounds across languages.

The PhD program will commence in 2021 and has an expected duration of 4 to 4.5 years, with full financial support including tuition, stipend, and relevant travelling expenses. The student will begin coursework and research at UofT for an initial period of 2 years, and then proceed to further research and dissertation work at UoM to complete the program.

The applicant should have obtained a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree by January, 2021 in computer science or cognitive science. The applicant should have a general interest in the area of cognitive linguistics, with proficiency in programming and computational skills in probabilistic modelling and natural language processing. UofT and UoM are both committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion and applicants from diverse and underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

Supervision Team:

A/Prof Yang Xu (University of Toronto)

Dr Lea Frermann (University of Melbourne)

How to Apply

If you are interested in this opportunity, read the application guidelines before contacting the supervisors.


Number of posts found: 14