Summer Scholarships with the School of Geosciences

The Division of Natural Sciences at the University of Sydney offers a variety of Summer Scholarship opportunities for students in the 2nd or 3rd year of their undergraduate degree.

Summer Scholarships are a great way to gain research experience and an insight into research process while working alongside our leading scientific researchers. Research projects are available in most disciplines for a duration of between 4-6 weeks over the Summer holiday period (November-February).

The program is open to both current University of Sydney students as well as students from other Australian Universities. Each scholarship is valued at $497 (in accordance with APA rate) per week for the duration of the project.

Students living outside of metropolitan Sydney may also be eligible for an additional scholarship - valued at $250 per week for the duration of the Summer Scholarship project - to assist with travel and relocation costs.
If you would like to apply for this, please make sure you email nikki.montenegro@sydney.edu.au

Who can apply?

  • Applicants will be required to submit an application.
  • Applicants must be enrolled on a full time basis and be in least their second or third year of their degree program.
  • Applicants must be performing at distinction level (AAM 75) or above to be considered for these scholarships.
  • The scholarships shall be awarded on the basis of academic merit.
  • Applicants can only receive one Summer Scholarship per year.
  • The scholarships shall be awarded by the Dean of the relevant Faculty within the Division of Natural Sciences, on the recommendation of the appropriate Head of School.
  • If a recipient lives outside the Sydney Metropolitan Area, they may also be offered additional funds of up to $250 per week to cover accommodation costs.

How do I apply?

Please email your application form to the supervisor offering the scholarship and also to .

Deadline: August 28, 2015

What projects are being offered?

The ‘collapse’ of Angkor: vulnerability of civil infrastructure to cascading failure

Supervisor: Dr Dan Penny, Professor Mikhail Prokopenko

Complex networks can be unstable. In some cases, small perturbations can ‘cascade’ through the entire network, causing catastrophic failure. Such complex infrastructural networks are a fundamental part of contemporary urban life, upon which we rely directly for services as diverse and critical as power, transport, and data. Far from being purely an issue for modern urban communities, however, instances of infrastructural failure may be observed in ancient urban environments. Angkor, the capital district of the sprawling Khmer kingdom between the 9th and 14th centuries C.E., was the largest pre-industrial city on Earth in terms of its infrastructure, and its collapse and abandonment appears to have been associated with damage to its complex system of water management infrastructure.

This project will analyse spatial data acquired as part of the University’s Greater Angkor Project in order to determine how vulnerable water management infrastructure may have been to cascading failure. Based in Geosciences, the successful student will work closely with staff from the University’s Complex Systems Research Group (Faculty of Engineering and IT) and the Department of Archaeology (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences) to code spatial (map) data for subsequent numerical analysis and modelling. The project will require familiarity with ArcGIS, and may form the basis of a Honours or MSc (Research) project in 2016, and will develop toward one or more peer-reviewed publications.

Send your application to:
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Sustainable Building Design for Sydney

Supervisor: Prof Phil McManus

This project is about sustainable building design, including both new and existing buildings. The research is to investigate contemporary work in life cycle analysis, retrofitting and the quantification and ratings systems used to measure sustainable building design. The research is intended to provide an overview of contemporary practice in the world, but with particular relevance to the Sydney situation. It is envisaged that the output will be a document of use to local governments and that has potential to form the basis of an academic publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Send your application to:
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ISO37120 and Sustainable City Indicators

Supervisor: Prof Phil McManus

This project will develop work on comparative sustainability indicators for cities. The research shall contribute to a programme that is about developing urban sustainability. It will involve a literature review of recent Australian and international work, particularly developments in ISO 37120 and understanding how this new standard is being received in Australia. The project will possibly include some initial fieldwork research in Australia that will contribute towards the preparation of a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Send your application to:
AND

Human Rights and Environmental Protection

Supervisor: Dr Jo Gillespie

This scholarship will work on a research project that links human rights to sustainable conservation practices. The research shall contribute to a programme that is investigating whether human rights based approaches might aid conservation programmes in a Southeast Asian setting. Fieldwork has been conducted and data have been collected from village communities of the Boeung Tonle Chhmar protected area of the Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia. In this summer scholarship project you will explore these data to answer big-picture questions about whether abstract human rights might act to guide concrete environmental reform in this internationally recognised Ramsar-listed protected area location. Your work will contribute towards preparation of a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Send your application to:
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Submarine Landslides on the east Australian margin

Supervisors: A/Prof Tom Hubble

This scholarship is linked with research projects investigating geological, sedimentary, geotechnical, and hazard characteristics of submarine landslides on the Australian eastern seaboard.

As part of a long-term study looking at these processes, students will use a combination of newly acquired high-resolution multibeam, seismic, and sedimentological data to test geological and geotechnical models explaining the causes, consequences and frequency of submarine landslide events.
Students will examine data collected from the deep marine research voyage onboard Australia's Marine National Facility research vessel, the RV Investigator, including sediment cores and dredges, and remote sensing bathymetric and seismic surveys.
The scholarship will involve the preparation of a research report related to a specific topic developed in consultation with A/Prof Hubble. It is expected that this will prepare the scholarship recipient to develop this focus into an Honours project in 2016.

Send your application to:

Numerical Simulation of Papua New Guinea Fold and Thrust Belt

Basin Genesis Hub Supervisors: Sabin Zahirovic, Luke Mondy, A/Prof Patrice Rey, Prof Dietmar Müller

Industry contact: Dr Kevin Hill (Oil Search)

In the PNG Fold Belt, it is postulated that the oil traps associated with anticlines formed above old normal faults in basement. The project consists in performing a series of numerical simulations (using Underworld) to test this hypothesis. Specifically the project aims at recovering from the simulation a model of mechanical stratigraphy appropriate to PNG Fold and Thrust Belt. The project benefits from a series of analogue experiments performed at the Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP).

Send your application to:
AND

Dynamic ups and downs of mountain belts

Supervisors: Dr Nicolas Flament, Dr Simon Williams, Prof Dietmar Müller

The effect of the convecting mantle on the subsidence and uplift of sedimentary basins (dynamic topography) is well-established. New research suggests that mantle flow also plays a significant role in mountain-building. This effect has so far been overlooked. This project will explore the dynamic topography component related to the building of the world’s largest orogenic belt – the Alpine-Himalayan Belt. As part of this project you will build a deforming plate model of the Alpine-Himalayan Belt and use a well-established dynamic Earth models to simultaneously quantify the contributions of the deformation of the lithosphere and of mantle flow to the evolution of topography.
The project will involve analysing the topography and its rate of change predicted by global mantle flow models, and comparing them to geological constraints. This will require the use of analytical skills, basic scripting (in shell, python or other) and the use of various software skills, including GPlates and the Generic Mapping Tools (GMT). Part of a large industry collaboration (Basin Genesis Hub), this project will prepare students both for working in the exploration industry as well as for a research-oriented career in government agencies or universities.

Send your application to:
AND

Exploring the tectonic controls on Earth’s climate over the last 60 million years

Supervisors: Dr Maria Seton and Prof Dietmar Müller

Oceanic gateways are narrow, shallow, or diffuse connections between neighbouring oceans and focal areas for the large-scale exchange of water, heat, salinity, nutrients and genes between ocean basins. They are the product of very slow tectonic processes occurring over tens of millions of years, becoming wider and deeper during protracted periods of continental break-up, and eventually lead to the establishment of deep-water flow between ocean basins. Over the same period, other ancient gateways have closed, forming oceanic barriers, prohibiting exchange between oceans. The best-known examples of oceanic gateways are those that developed during the Cenozoic Era (~last 60 million years), a period of Earth’s history characterised by a general cooling of our planet. Plate tectonic movements leading to the opening and closing of oceanic gateways have been identified as a potential key factor in modulating Cenozoic climate by inducing a change in ocean circulation and the distribution of heat, moisture and CO2 in the world’s oceans and atmosphere. The apparent coincidence between the opening and closing of gateways and abrupt climate shifts further enhanced this idea. In this project, you will assess the effect of differing oceanic gateway and barrier morphologies and timings on ocean circulation patterns using a simple global climate modeling application.

Send your application to:
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Post-tectonic landscape recovery

Basin Genesis Hub Supervisors: Dr Tristan Salles, Patrice Rey

During orogenic periods, the fragmentation of landscapes into myriad of small drainage basins favours the multiplication of ecological niches, driving species differentiation and favouring biodiversity. In contrast, following a period of orogenesis landscapes return to steady-state equilibrium through erosion and sediment accumulation. During these periods of tectonic quiescence, drainage basins growth larger and the connectivity of ecosystems increases favouring the competition of species. This project examines, through numerical modelling, the recovery of landscape following orogenesis.

Send your application to:
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Mantle convection and Australian landscape evolution

Supervisors: Dr Tristan Salles, Dr Nicolas Flament, Prof Dietmar Müller

It has long been identified that continents tilt as they drift over the convecting mantle. Australia is an ideal continent to study this process because it has undergone little tectonic deformation since the Jurassic. The aim of this project is to model the evolution of the Australian landscape over the last 150 Myr from a history of varying climate, sea level and mantle-driven dynamic topography.
The project will involve analysing the time-dependence of erosion and drainage patterns, and to compare them with denudation rates and paleo-drainage from paleogeography and the sedimentary record in key basins. This will require the use of analytical skills, basic scripting (in shell, python or other) and the use of the surface-process code Badlands. This project will prepare students both for working in the exploration industry as well as for a research-oriented career in government agencies or universities.

Send your application to:
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Agri-food Value Chains in Indonesia

Supervisor:

This scholarship is linked with research projects that are exploring the changing nature of global value chains in the food and agriculture sectors of Indonesia. Some possible themes to explore will include: i) Geographical Indications as a development tool; ii) Sustainability programs in the commodity sector; iii) Farmer linkages with specialty coffee roasters; and iv) Global integration in the Food Processing sector. The scholarship will involve the preparation of a research report related to a specific topic developed in consultation with Dr Neilson. The student will accompany Dr Neilson on a field trip to Indonesia in January 2016, and it is expected that this will prepare the scholarship recipient to develop this focus into an Honours project in 2016.

Send your application to:
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Food security in rural Myanmar

Supervisor:

In this Scholarship, you will work with a team of researchers funded by the Australian Research Council to undertake a household-based survey of food security in rural Myanmar. At this stage, the research team is proposing to undertake a preliminary screening survey of households in January-February 2016. If this timing is confirmed (it still depends on some permits and approvals being issued) you will join our team in Myanmar and take part in the data collection. The project will pay for airfares and some in-country support costs. If the household survey is delayed, you will work in Sydney with the research team analysing data from previous household surveys in Myanmar and synthesising research literatures. Either way, it is envisaged that the successful candidate will be positioned to conduct their own Myanmar-based fieldwork in 2016 as part of an Honours project that will be supported by the research team and will complement the ARC project.

Send your application to:
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The Political Economy of Environment and Development in India

Supervisor:

This scholarship is intended for any student considering undertaking Honours in Geography on a field-based project in India. You will accompany A/Prof Pritchard and other University of Sydney academic staff to India in February for the purpose of fine-tuning an Honours research proposal. This trip to India will take place concurrent with the India Field School for senior undergraduate students. In consultation with A/Prof Pritchard, you will (i) prepare a background research report; (ii) meet with relevant gatekeepers to facilitate your Honours project, and (iii) participate in various student-led activities occurring in the context of the Field School. Airfares to India will be covered separate to this Scholarship.

Send your application to:
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