Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Plant Functional Ecology

Sydney, Australia
01 Mar 2018
End of advertisement period
12 Apr 2018
Academic Discipline
Life sciences, Biological Sciences
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time
  • New directions in plant functional trait research
  • Work as part of a world-class research team
  • Three years fixed-term with attractive salary package

The Role

We are seeking a talented, highly motivated and field-experienced Postdoctoral Research Fellow to join Professor Ian Wright’s research group at the Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Australia. We are a leading research department, conducting research at all levels of biological organisation and across diverse taxa. Macquarie University has a vibrant and leafy campus, located in the north-west of Sydney, one of the world’s most inspiring cities.

In the Wright Lab we investigate the functional ecology and ecological strategies of plants –  the “how and why” of differences among species in their structural, chemical and physiological traits – and the implications of this variation for larger-scale processes. For this we use a variety of approaches, ranging from fine-scale anatomical or physiological studies to global-scale analyses of trait variation. We run fieldwork in a variety of systems, from the wet tropics to temperate woodlands to the arid zone.

The successful candidate will work closely as part of a larger team led by Professor Wright and Professor Colin Prentice (Imperial College London). Our research is building new theoretical and empirical understanding of plant ecology/ecophysiology, providing foundations for a new generation of global vegetation models. This position will include a substantial fieldwork component, measuring ecophysiological traits at sites across eastern Australia.

In this project “Optimal photosynthetic traits on ecological time-scales” our principal goals are to:

  • Test new quantitative predictions for the primary climatic controls on photosynthetic capacity.
  • Develop and test theory regarding the role of soil nutrients in shaping photosynthetic trait variation.
  • Develop and test theory for how trait variation among co-occurring species reflects the interplay between photosynthetic, hydraulic and nutrient acquisition strategies.

We have opportunity to appoint a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with substantial experience in measuring plant ecophysiological traits under field conditions. The Fellow would be expected to have three or more years relevant experience, post-PhD, and an excellent publication record. There will be opportunity to contribute to undergraduate teaching of plant sciences, and to co-supervise Masters or PhD students.

Selection Criteria

To be considered for this position you must respond to the Selection Criteria in a separate document submitted as part of the application process.


  • PhD in plant ecology/ecophysiology/physiology
  • Significant experience measuring photosynthesis using a LI-6800 or similar equipment, under field conditions
  • Demonstrated ability to undertake data analysis and interpretation
  • Proven ability to publish in the international peer­-reviewed scientific literature
  • Demonstrated ability to work as a part of team and meet tight deadlines
  • Current driver’s licence


  • Experience measuring plant hydraulic properties
  • Experience in supervising field and laboratory research assistants and volunteers

Additional criteria for Senior Research Fellow (level C)

  • Demonstrated ability to attract internal and external funding for research
  • Experience in writing and delivering lectures on plant ecology or ecophysiology, and teaching practical classes and tutorials

Salary Package: 

  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow (level B) from $99,879 to $118,174 (level B) p.a, plus 17% employer's superannuation and annual leave loading.
  • Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow (level C) from ($121,953 - $140,246) p.a, plus 17% employer's superannuation and annual leave loading. Candidates at this level will have 8+ years experience post-PhD.

Role Specific Enquiries: Professor Ian Wright, via e-mail or call +61 2 9850 4228.

General Recruitment Enquiries: Diane Abinoja at

Appointment Type: Full-time, fixed-term (3 years).

Applications close: Thursday, 12 April 2018 at 11:55pm AEST

Macquarie University is an EO Employer committed to diversity and social inclusion. Applications are encouraged from people with a disability; women (particularly for senior and non-traditional roles); Indigenous Australians, people who identify as GLBTI; and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Applications need to be submitted through the Macquarie University online recruitment system. Where circumstances such as disability or remote location prohibit your access to our online system please contact the enquiries person listed in this advertisement for assistance.

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