Lizard Island Doctoral Fellowships, Australia

Publish Date: Jul 15, 2015

Deadline: Sep 11, 2015

Fellows are outstanding PhD students who conduct field-intensive coral reef research at Lizard Island.

Now accepting applications for 2016!


The Lizard Island Doctoral Fellowship has been funded by the Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation since 1984.

The Ian Potter Doctoral Fellowship at Lizard Island has been funded by The Ian Potter Foundation since 2006. 

Both Fellowships support field-intensive coral reef research at the Lizard Island Research Station by outstanding PhD students based at any university worldwide. Funding is for field expenses for one, two or three years as required. Salary is not provided. Additional funding may be awarded to Fellows in the second or third year of the Fellowship to present their research at an international conference.

Applications are assessed by a panel of Australian Museum scientists and includes members of the LIRRF Science Committee. Full applications are reviewed externally. A single application will be considered for both fellowships.



For students enrolled at an Australian university, the maximum value of each 2016 Fellowship is AU$8,500 plus GST per year for up to three years. For students enrolled at overseas universities, the amount includes GST. Overseas students may be awarded an additional $1,000 per year to contribute towards their higher travel costs. Additional funding of up to $4,000 may be awarded to Fellows in the second or third year of funding to present their research at an international conference. 

Allowable expenses

Fellowship funds must be spent on field work at LIRS including bench fees, travel, freight, and equipment. They may not be used for salary, for living expenses (such as food while at Lizard Island), or to support research or travel by the fellow's PhD supervisor or any other more senior researcher except as outlined below.

Conditions of Award

  • The Fellow must conduct field-intensive research at the Lizard Island Research Station (LIRS) for an average of at least 100 person days per year of funding. Most projects require at least one assistant so this usually means that the Fellow and an assistant must both work at LIRS for an average of at least 50 days per year. Bench fees at the current applicable rate must be paid to LIRS for these visits. If an average of 100 person days per year are not used by the end of the Fellowship period, an amount equal to the value of the unused days at the student rate must be returned to LIRS.
  • The first field trip using Fellowship funding should not be planned to start before April 2016. 
  • If the Fellow's supervisor or any other senior researcher wishes to accompany the Fellow on field trips to Lizard Island, Fellowship funds may not be used to cover any of that person's travel costs. They may be used to pay bench fees for the supervisor or other senior researcher at the student assistant's rate for up to 5 days over the life of the Fellow's project, providing that the senior person is actually assisting the Fellow on those days rather than conducting his/her own research. Bench fees for any additional days spent at LIRS by the senior researcher must be paid at the current rate applicable to researchers and that amount may not be paid from Fellowship funds.
  • Each year during a field trip, the Fellow is required to make an oral presentation at LIRS about his/her research.
  • A progress report must be submitted each year, including details of expenditure and revised budget estimates for the coming year(s). Subsequent funding depends upon suitable progress.
  • Any funds unspent at the end of each Fellowship year must be returned to LIRS unless carry-over arrangements are approved.
  • Each year, the recipient is expected to provide an illustrated blog posts or a short video for the AM web site about their research at LIRS.
  • Fellows who have been awarded two or three years of funding may apply at the beginning of the second year for up to $4,000 additional funding to assist them to present their research at an international conference. Conference funding is not offered to one-year Fellows. 
  • A bound copy of the Fellow's thesis must be lodged in the Station's library.

Selection criteria

  1. Quality of the application, including spelling, grammar, providing information in the required manner, consistency of the funding request with the remaining duration of the PhD, and similar things.
  2. The applicant has been accepted into a PhD program by the application date to undertake field-based coral reef research.
  3. The applicant has a stipend from a scholarship or other source for the duration of the requested Fellowship period, as at the date of application.
  4. The applicant has an excellent academic record. 
  5. The applicant has high research output in relation to career stage.
  6. The project makes good use of LIRS facilities, requiring an average of at least 100 person days at LIRS per year of funding to conduct work that would be more difficult at other research facilities.
  7. The applicant has relevant research and field work experience.
  8. The project is feasible within the limitations of budget and safety regulations.
  9. Efficient usage of Fellowship funds.
  10. There is an actual or potential source of additional funding if the Fellowship does not cover all planned costs, or there is a plan for amending the proposal if such additional funding doesn't become available.

Preliminary applications

Preliminary applications must be submitted on the form provided (see link below), as an email attachment in Word or rich text format using the font settings in the original form.

Preliminary applications will be assessed against selection criteria 1-6 only. 

Invited full applications

Highly ranked preliminary applicants will be invited to submit a full application and full applications will only be accepted from those people. Full applications must be submitted on the form provided (see link below), as an email attachment in Word or rich text format using the font settings in the original form. Use photographs and other illustrations only if essential.

Full applications must be supported by a letter from the head of the university department where the applicant is enrolled. The letter must support the research proposal including the proposed field work at Lizard Island. 

Information for completing applications

To assist in preparing your application, please consult other sections of this web site to learn about LIRS facilities and the number of assistants you will need to bring to comply with the Station's scuba diving and boating regulations. You are welcome to contact LIRS with any queries. 

Indicative costs for bench fees, travel between Cairns and Lizard Island, and barge freight are provided below for planning purposes. Please use these rates when preparing your budget estimates.

Applicants based at Australian universities have different tax status to those based at overseas universities. Australian students can plan expenditure of Fellowship funds of up to $9,350 per year including GST. Overseas students can plan to spend only $8,500 per year including GST. However, overseas students may be awarded an additional $1,000 per year to contribute towards their higher travel costs. International airfares are not subject to GST. 

Indicative rates including GST (AUD) 2016 2017 2018
Bench fee (per person per night)
- Applicant
- Assistant



Airfare, Cairns/Lizard Island/Cairns $505 $600 $650
Barge freight, Cairns/ Lizard Island
(per piece, large grocery box size)
$18 $19 $2

Relevant dates

11 September 2015 Closing date for preliminary applications
9 October 2015 Invitations made to submit full applications
23 October 2015 Closing date for full applications
30 January 2016 Offer made to successful applicants
1 April 2016 Funds available to begin field work at Lizard Island

Late applications and those in which word and page allowances are exceeded will not be considered. Receipt of applications will be acknowledged by return e-mail. If you do not receive acknowledgement within three working days of sending your application, please contact the Research Station.

LIRS is not obligated and in most instances will not provide feedback on unsuccessful applications.


Dr Lyle Vail and Dr Anne Hoggett, Directors
Lizard Island Research Station
Phone: + 61 7 4060-3977

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