PhD scholarship in plate-plume interactions

Postgraduate research scholarship at the EarthByte Group

Up to $84,000 stipend scholarship to support a PhD student to research plate-plume interactions.





$28,000 pa (for up to 3 years)

    • Full-time PhD student at the School of Geosciences
    • Hold an honours or master’s degree

How to apply

Send expressions of interest to Dr Maria Seton <>

Project description

This scholarship aims to support a student undertaking a PhD within the EarthByte Group in the School of Geosciences, Faculty of Science, with a focus on tracking plate-plume interactions in the seas off eastern and southern Australia. 

A major challenge in the earth sciences is to understand how the Earth’s deep interior communicates with the surface and how this interaction causes major planetary-scale disruptive events. One of the world’s most extensive but little explored intraplate volcanic fields, encompasses eastern Australia, Zealandia and Antarctica and includes three age-progressive trails offshore and the world’s longest continental hotspot trail. These trails record the motion of the Australian plate over persistent sources of magma within the mantle, providing an excellent natural laboratory to explore the inter-relationships between plume activity and plate tectonic motions. Using advanced plate modelling workflows with an unprecedented dataset of volcanic rocks from three age-progressive seamount chains in the waters off eastern Australia, you will develop new detailed reconstructions of the numerous blocks and basins that were involved in the last stages of continental break-up between Australia-Antarctica-Zealandia and assess the interplay between continental rifts, mid-ocean ridges and plume activity in the Tasman and Corals seas. Depending on your interest and skill-set, the project could also involve numerical modelling of plate-plume interactions. This forms part of a collaborative project involving colleagues from the University of Tasmania (Australia), Northwest University (China), Ecole Normale Superieure (France) and Oregon State University (USA). Cross-institutional travel will be encouraged and supported (travel restrictions pending). Fieldwork on marine research expeditions may be available to interested students.

Who’s eligible

  •  Applicants who have either a conditional or unconditional offer of admission for full-time studies in a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) within the Faculty of Science at the University of Sydney
  • Applicants must be Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents or New Zealand citizens, with an unconditional offer of admission for full-time studies in a PhD within the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney
  • Applicant must hold an honours degree (First Class or Second Class upper) or a Masters Degree in geoscience or equivalent with a substantial research component, or equivalent

Selection criteria

The successful applicant will be awarded the Scholarship on the basis of:

  • academic merit,
  • area of study and research proposal,
  • curriculum vitae,
  • prior research outputs,
  • a proven ability to work as part of a team
  • a track record of completing tasks against deadlines, and
  • a personal statement which demonstrates excellent communication skills