Research students wtih Sydney Harbour in background

We are an energenic research group passionate pushing the boundaries of knowledge to shape more equitable and effective humaintarian response, disaster risk reduction, and climate change adaptation. Located within the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Sydney, you’ll have access to expansive resources to develop research skills.

Open Positions

Background

The Asia-Pacific region lost USD 1.5 trillion due to disasters over the last five decades. As a percentage of GDP, disasters cause more damage in the region than in the rest of the world combined (UNDRR, 2020). The human cost of disasters is also immense, claiming more than 1.2 million lives globally over the last two decades (CRED and UNDRR, 2020).

Rapid and unchecked gains in development mean that the creation of new disaster risk has the potential to outpace efforts to mitigate losses (UNDRR 2021). If disaster losses are to be reduced, it is important that we look past merely reducing risk to also understand how that risk is created. Key to this puzzle is a complex web of relations among the engineering, organisational, and social conditions in communities. This research seeks to investigate the causal pathways that emerge from these conditions to lead to infrastructure disaster risk creation, and strategies to counter rising risk. Drawing on case sites in Indonesia, the Philippines, or other country settings in the Asia-Pacific region – this project will interrogate risk creation processes at the local scale to inform strategies for governments and organisations to build more resilient communities.

The PhD candidate will be based in the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Sydney under the supervision of Dr Aaron Opdyke. The scholarship is being funded by the Faculty of Engineering.

Eligibility

Required Qualifications
  • Bachelor degree in related field (e.g. civil engineering, urban planning, geography);
  • Eagerness to work in a multidisciplinary, multi-cultural team;
  • Good written and oral communication skills;
Preferred Qualifications
  • Masters degree in related field (e.g. civil engineering, urban planning, geography);
  • Previous related work or volunteer experience in international contexts, particularly in the Philippines or Indonesia;
  • Previous experience with qualitative methods;
Other Information

The position will require extended periods of international fieldwork. Candidates must be able and willing to travel and live overseas outside Australia (up to a maximum 12 months over the PhD).

The preferred start date is 1 March 2023 (or earlier).

Benefits

A full scholarship is available with a stipend valued at $36,207 anually (2023 rate) up to 3.5 years in addition to full tuition valued at $51,000 per year (indicative only for international students).

In addition to the living stipend, the candidate will receive extensive support for research training and professional development. The School of Civil Engineering offers $2,500 at the start of candidature for a new computer and/or other technology resource needs and $2,000 each year to support fieldwork, attendance at conferences, and other research-related expenses. Competitive funding up to $3,500 annually is also available through the University of Sydney Postgraduate Research Support Scheme.

How to Apply

Please email a cover letter, CV, copies of academic transcripts to Dr Aaron Opdyke (aaron.opdyke@sydney.edu.au). The deadline to apply is 23 December 2022. Shortlisted applicants will be contacted for interviews shortly thereafter. Applications received after the deadline will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

Background

The speed and intensity of climate change is poised to reshape the landscape of displacement contexts in the Global South, challenging the established body of knowledge on disasters and humanitarian emergencies. While temporal and spatial tensions have always been at the core of migration scholarship, as governments and organisations develop places of refuge, climate change is placing new pressures on both temporary and permanent settlements as well as disrupting conventions of whether proximity to home environments matter. This project will examine places of refuge in complex displacement contexts, asking how the complicating factor of climate change influences: 1) the design of places of refuge and 2) the societal institutions therein that are altered by complex displacement.

Empirical research for this project will be undertaken in Southeast Asia and/or South Asia.

The MPhil candidate will be based in the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Sydney. The candidate will be co-supervised by Dr Aaron Opdyke in the School of Civil Engineering and Dr Susan Banki in the Discipline of Sociology and Criminology. The scholarship is being funded by the Sydney Environment Institute.

Eligibility

Required Qualifications
  • Bachelor’s degree in related field (e.g. civil engineering, sociology, geography);
  • Eagerness to work in a multidisciplinary, multi-cultural team;
  • Strong written and oral communication skills;
Preferred Qualifications
  • Previous related work or volunteer experience in international contexts;
  • Previous experience with qualitative methods;
Other Information

The position will require up to three months of international fieldwork, likely in Southeast Asia and/or South Asia. Candidates must be able and willing to travel and live overseas outside Australia (up to a maximum 12 months over the PhD).

The preferred start date is February 2023 (or earlier).

Benefits

A scholarship is available with a stipend valued at $35,905 for 1 year. Tuition will be covered by an RTP tuition fee offset for eligible Australian citizens and permanent residents or New Zealand citizens.

In addition to the living stipend, the candidate will receive extensive support for research training and professional development. The School of Civil Engineering offers $2,500 at the start of candidature for a new computer and/or other technology resource needs and $2,000 each year to support fieldwork, attendance at conferences, and other research-related expenses. Competitive funding up to $3,500 annually is also available through the University of Sydney Postgraduate Research Support Scheme.

How to Apply

Please email a cover letter, CV, copies of academic transcripts to Dr Aaron Opdyke (aaron.opdyke@sydney.edu.au). The deadline to apply is 23 December 2022. Shortlisted applicants will be contacted for interviews shortly thereafter. Applications received after the deadline will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

Benefits - Why Join Us?

Technical Expertise

Gain research skills that position you as a global leader in disaster and climate change research. You’ll have access to coursework, equipment, and advising that equips you to learn advanced analysis techniques.

Action Research

Our work engages with communities, governments, and organisations to co-produce knowledge. You’ll have the chance to work on research with real-world impact to address complex problems.

A Dynamic Team

Join a cohort of transdiscplinary research students working to tackle some of the most pressing global challenges. You’ll be supported with an unparalleled peer network that is multi-cultural and inclusive.

A Liveable City

Sydney consistently ranks among the top 10 most liveable cities globally. Soak up over 300 days of sunshine, bask on iconic beaches, and embrace being at the centre of a multi-cultural hub.

How to Apply

You should email Dr Aaron Opdyke (aaron.opdyke@sydney.edu.au) with a short statement of interest, CV, and copies of academic transcripts as a first step to discuss your research interests. As part of your formal application you will need to prepare a research proposal which outlines your planned research – you should consult the University of Sydney Research Proposal Guidelines when preparing. Proposed topics should relate to one of primary themes of the Lab. For further details, please see the University of Sydney Admission Office for steps to apply for admission.

Please note that ME and MPE projects will be emailed out by the Capstone Project Coordinator prior to the start of semester you are commencing CIVL5020/5021/5022/5222/5223. Please ensure that you promptly contact Dr Aaron Opdyke (aaron.opdyke@sydney.edu.au) to discuss your interests as there are may be a limited number of places available. You will be provided a list of potential projects, but you are also welcome to propose your own within our lab’s themes.

Please note that honours projects will be emailed out by the Honours Coordinator prior to the start of semester you are commencing. Please ensure that you promptly contact Dr Aaron Opdyke (aaron.opdyke@sydney.edu.au) to discuss your interests as there are may be a limited number of places available. You will be provided a list of potential projects, but you are also welcome to propose your own within our lab’s themes.

If you are looking for short-term opportunities with our lab, between semester breaks, the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sydney runs a Vacation Research Internship Program during a winter program (June to August, approximately 6 weeks) and a summer program (December to February, approximately 8 weeks). Projects associated with our lab will be listed under the supervision of Dr Aaron Opdyke (opportunities may not always be included from our lab).

Scholarships and Funding

In addition to specific project openings shared above, prospective PhD students may be eligible for scholarships from the University of Sydney through the Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) which covers tuition fees, Overseas Student Health Cover (HSHC), and a stipend of $36,207 p.a. (2023 rate), for up to 3.5 years. More information can be found at the University of Sydney Scholarships Office. Please contact Dr Aaron Opdyke to discuss funding opportunities further.