5 Year Research Fellow Position, with Tenure Potential

Period: 1st September 2019 – 31st August 2024 (five years), with expected conversion to continuing employment on presentation of a portfolio to the Head of School on the last six (6) months of the contract

Level: B or C, depending on experience


We are delighted to offer an exciting postdoctoral (and long-term career) opportunity in tropical forest ecology and restoration funded through the University of the Sunshine Coast and Australian Research Council. The successful candidate will work within an international team of researchers with more than 30 years of experience in measuring, monitoring and analysing dynamics and recovery of tropical forests and their structure.

Liana growth following extensive forest clearance is slowing or reducing tree growth and productivity across the tropics, with significant consequences for the global carbon sink, biodiversity and other ecosystem services. However, at the same time, lianas are an integral part of forest ecosystems, contributing to nutrient cycles, animal diets and protecting forests from damage. Therefore, the overall aim of the postdoctoral project is to use vegetation plot data to measure and model the dynamic relationship between trees and lianas and interactions with climate and human disturbance, to determine global consequences for forest biodiversity, biomass and forest successional trajectories. The initial focus of this position will be on the generation of a new global database of forest:liana vegetation plots, through development of new and pre-existing agreements with scientists from across the world. The second focus will be on the collaborative development and adaption of a dynamic vegetation model to specifically include mechanisms of liana:tree growth feedbacks. A third focus will be to determine the potential forest management and economic implications.

The position is advertised as part of FoRCE (see ‘About‘). The work will primarily be based at the University of the Sunshine Coast (Australia), but with 1-3 months secondment to acquire new plot data and to co-ordinate and upload the FoRCE plot data to ForestPlots (www.forestplots.net) at the University of Leeds (UK), and field visits to our primary field sites in the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania and Wet Tropics of Australia. The project will interact with complementary projects implemented by three PhD students located in these biogeographic regions, contributing to the evidence base in this newly emerging field.

The position will be based at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), within the Tropical Forests and People Research Centre (https://bit.ly/2SSxkMR), the largest research centre for forestry research in Australia. USC is a research-oriented university rated “well above world standard” in the fields of forestry, ecology, and environmental management (ERA 2018). The successful candidate will work directly with Associate Professor Andy Marshall (PI of the FoRCE project; Line manager of this position) and Dr Marion Pfeifer at Newcastle University, UK (Co-I of the FoRCE project). The project itself benefit from input and guidance provided by a world-leading team of collaborating scientists with expertise in tropical forest ecology (Prof Oliver Phillips, Leeds), restoration and landscape ecology (Prof Robin Chazdon, USC) and tropical forest management and socio-economics (Prof John Herbohn, USC).


  • Communicating with multiple researchers to establish data agreements for the collation of tree and liana vegetation plot data, from study sites across the world;
  • Development of a new dynamic vegetation model to determine liana-tree interactions and their influence on forest recovery from human disturbance;
  • Analysis of data to produce peer-reviewed scientific articles in top-tier journals;
  • Development of new grant proposals for continuation of work beyond the postdoctoral period;
  • General assistance to the PI in the fulfilment of research objectives of the broader FoRCE project.

Essential Criteria:

  • Completion of a doctoral qualification in a relevant field or equivalent accreditation and standing;
  • Excellent publication record in relevant, high-impact, peer-reviewed journals;
  • A proven track record of developing new mathematical models through programming;
  • Experience with the development or handling of large databases;
  • Advanced spatial analysis skills using either R, Python, Matlab or GIS software;
  • Experience of working in a diverse and interdisciplinary research team;
  • Membership of and sound connections with relevant professional bodies and community groups and/or in professional practice;
  • Strong personal qualities and collegial approaches that contribute to the development and maintenance of a positive academic environment and the development of new partnerships;
  • The desire to participate in academic development activities and continue to learn and improve as an effective academic;
  • Experience in conducting fieldwork in tropical environments;
  • Proven ability to meet deadlines and complete independent work.

Desirable Criteria:

  • Previous experience with dynamic vegetation models;
  • Experience of working in tropical forests.

Application Guidelines:

To appear here soon.


Associate Professor Andy Marshall, amarsha1@usc.edu.au


Friday 31st May 2019