Gippsland - PhD and HDR (Industry) scholarships

Federation University is seeking PhD candidates and Masters by research candidates for fully-funded projects co-designed and co-supervised by local industry partners and leading academics at Federation University. Projects will be supported by the Morwell Innovation Centre.

Successful applicants will be based at Federation University’s Gippsland Campus at Churchill and work with the Morwell Innovation Centre. They will receive a scholarship of $30,000 per calendar year in partnership with Federation University and Destination Australia.

Successful applicants will also have the opportunity to participate in an industry-based internship.

Current project opportunities

These opportunities are open to suitably qualified people with relevant academic qualifications and demonstrated fundamental technical knowledge (e.g., community engagement, soils testing, robotics engineering, etc.) relevant to the application domain of each project.

Specific skills and interests relevant for each project are listed below.

Please direct any questions regarding the projects to the first listed supervisor in the project description.

PhD: Leadership and knowledge transfer between Traditional Owner groups and land management practitioners

Supported by

Working closely with Traditional Owner groups in Gippsland, this PhD project will explore effective, respectful and culturally appropriate ways to connect Traditional Knowledge holders with land management practitioners, with the intention to build capacity and capability in Indigenous land management methods in the Gippsland region and to identify pathways for Traditional Owner groups to participate more fully in future land management decisions in the region, for example in the context of mine site rehabilitation and land restoration in the Latrobe Valley.

Student profile

Applicants should meet Federation University entry requirements, with an undergraduate degree in Indigenous studies, cultural heritage, environmental science, or a related discipline. An equivalent combination of working in a relevant industry, study and previous research experience, or acknowledged Traditional knowledge will also be considered. Indigenous candidates or students able to demonstrate a high level of cultural awareness are strongly preferred.

Supervisory team

Federation dupervisors: Dr Jess Reeves

Industry supervisor: Patrick Maiden, Daniel Miller

Masters by research: Living organic fertiliser

Supported by

OPAL and Mainstream Aquaculture are developing the world’s largest land based barramundi aquaculture facility, to be located adjacent to the Maryvale pulp and paper mill (in Latrobe Valley). This project will explore the potential of by-products from the fish farm farm as living fertiliser, and whether there is potential to build a pathway to a circular economy by integrating aquaculture by-products with waste streams from other local industries, including e.g. compost from the pulp and paper mill or from agriculture.


This Masters by Research project will specifically address the following objectives.

  • Chemical characterisation of by-products from fish farm and exploration of application to e.g. soils as fertiliser
  • Assessment of waste streams of other industries for incorporation into by-product development and refinement
  • Technical and economical quantification and upscaling as part of a circular economy approach

Student profile

Applicants should meet Federation University entry requirements, with an undergraduate degree in process/chemical/environmental engineering, biology or a related discipline. An equivalent combination of working in relevant industry, study and previous research experience can also be considered.

Supervisory team

Federation supervisors: Prof Thomas Baumgartl

Industry supervisor: Craig Bosch

Masters by research: Improving the quality of wood pellets by incorporating renewable by products

Supported by

Aim and objectives

The aim of this Masters by research project is to investigate manufacturing improvements to the quality and value of wood pellets by incorporating other renewable by-products.

The project will specifically address the following objectives.

  • Evaluate a range of pulp industry by-products to investigate the potential benefits of blending with sawdusts before and after their pelletisation.
  • Determine if the controlled use of these additives can tailor key commercial parameters including pellet density, strength, moisture resistance and calorific value.

Student profile

Applicants should meet Federation University entry requirements, with an undergraduate degree in agriculture, science, engineering or a related discipline. An equivalent combination of working in a relevant industry, study and previous research experience can also be considered.

Supervisory team

Federation supervisors: Assoc/Prof Vince Verheyan, Dr Alicia Reynolds

Industry supervisor: Paul Griffin

PhD: Robotics for crop harvest and farm automation

Supported by

    The utilization of robotics and its associated algorithms improves the efficiency, functionality, intelligence, and remote interactivity of harvesting in complex agricultural environments. Machine vision and its associated emerging technology promise huge potential in advanced agricultural applications. However, machine vision and its precise positioning still have many technical difficulties, making it difficult for most harvesting robots to achieve true commercial applications. This research project will be investigating robotic technologies and algorithm for crop harvesting at Bulmer Farms and automation of agricultural operations to improve efficiencies.

Aims and objectives

Appreciate farm robotic technologies to improve the efficiencies and growth, in farming in the Bulmer Farms, Victoria.

The project will specifically address the following objectives.

  • Investigation and identification of robotic crop harvesting techniques
  • Development of robotics and associated algorithms for automation of agricultural operations

Student profile

Applicants must have an undergraduate degree (preferably 1st Class Hons or MSc/ MPhill) in Mechatronics or Robotics Engineering, or a related discipline and appropriate English Language qualifications. An equivalent combination of working in a relevant industry, study and previous research experience will be an added qualification.

Supervisory team

Federation Supervisors: Dr Gayan Appuhamillage, Prof Joarder Kamruzzaman, Dr Linh Nguyen

Industry supervisor: Alexandra Keith

Students are expected to get involved with fieldwork in Bulmer Farms and conduct lab-based research at the Institute of Innovation, Science and Sustainability in Federation University, Gippsland Campus, VIC.

Scholarship details

Scholarship amount: $30,000 per annum*, funded by Federation University and Destination Australia Scholarship program.

Fees: Up to $32,000 per annum covered by a Research Training Program Fee-Offset Scholarships (domestic students).

Applications are now open.


Scholarship applicants must be eligible to undertake a PhD. Applicants must verify that they meet the eligibility requirements outlined on the Graduate Research School website before they apply.

If you are making a case for Honours equivalence, in order to demonstrate your eligibility, please ensure that you provide detailed information to support your case.

Applications are open to Australian citizens and permanent residents.


  • Students are expected to commit to full-time study for the duration of their candidature.
  • Scholarships are for a period of three years and extension to scholarships will not be granted.
  • Successful scholarship applicants must reside in or relocate to the Gippsland region and study on campus and on location with their industry partner.
  • Successful scholarship applicants may have the opportunity to participate in an internship period.
  • Successful scholarship applicants must formally assign, in advance, all rights, title and interest they may have in any IP developed to the University prior to commencing a project.

Successful applicants of the Masters by Research projects cannot transfer to a PhD and retain their scholarship. Should they choose to transfer to a PhD, all scholarship entitlements will be ceased.

View the general conditions for Federation University HDR Scholarships on the Graduate Research School website. Where these conditions differ to those on this form, the conditions outlined for this specific scholarship take precedence.

How to apply

Applicants who do not complete all steps will not be considered.

Step 1: Follow the application process outlined at: How to apply

Step 2: Provide a 1000-word statement covering the following areas:

  • Discuss your motivations for applying for this PhD scholarship, and your intended outcomes (both for yourself (personally and professionally), and for the sector)
  • Discuss some of the key existing research literature which impact this topic area
  • Discuss your relevant background and experience as they are relevant to the project
  • Discuss how an internship may positively impact on your project and future career.
  • Discuss potential challenges and how you might overcome them
  • Applicants are not required to provide a 250 Project Summary.

    Step 3: Complete the Scholarship Expression of Interest Form