PhD Scholarship in Digital Connectivity and Big Data Analytics in Agriculture

We are seeking up to four highly motivated PhD candidates to study at Murdoch University on solutions to digital agriculture issues with the Australian food industry.


We are seeking up to four highly motivated PhD candidates to study at Murdoch University on solutions to digital agriculture issues with the Australian food industry.

Murdoch University is part of a Digital Agricultural Collaboration (DAC) between universities, the Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development (DPIRD) and industry collaborators to facilitate adoption of digital technologies in Western Australia.

One of the activities in the DAC is a collaboration between Nokia, Pivotel and DPIRD to develop sensor-networks for environmental monitoring. Agricultural management is a key issue for sustaining future production and with better connectivity and decision-making tools for managing micro-climates within paddocks and farms, smarter decisions can be made to optimise production.

For the adoption of smart technology to occur, technological solutions need to be developed to transfer and process sensor information rapidly and securely for opportunistic decision making.

Scholarship 1

Utilising the latest in telecommunication technologies – Nokia NDAC/IMPACT technology and Pivotel mobile technology – and the research capacity from Murdoch University and DPIRD to develop micro-sensors (battery powered) that can stream data securely via mobile networks or drones flown overhead. This research will include evaluating secure data processes for storing and transferring micro sensor data via mesh networking of micro-sensors to conserve energy.

Scholarship 2

Work on processing of thermal and multi/hyperspectral imagery (e.g. collected using Nokia and Pivotel technology) for understanding thermal properties of crop canopies in agricultural areas. This will heavily leverage advanced image processing and AI machine learning techniques. The project will also include evaluating the effectiveness of on-ground, drone and satellite imagery.

Scholarship 3

Evaluate embedded IoT for near real-time (edge) decision making. This will likely be done with moveable micro sensors using robotic techniques to target opportunistic events in landscapes. For example, this may be done via drones shifting sensors based on an AI information system to provide increased precision about a specific geographic location when a cold/frost event is occurring. The candidate will need to develop an in-depth understanding of big data analysis and building smart knowledge based and IoT embedded cloud ecosystems.

Scholarship 4

This PhD scholarship focusses on the automated collection of environmental datasets that complement genomics research by using drones and environmental sensors and through the use of automation software, ML, and AI. The successful candidate will develop analytical skills in glasshouse automation through collaboration between Murdoch University's and the Kazusa DNA Research Institute in Japan and field-based research at Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. It is essential that the candidate has a demonstrated, genuine interest in Japanese culture and be able to speak basic Japanese before applying.

Our research team is already working in various aspects of digital agriculture which is led by Prof Michael Jones, Prof Simon Cook, Prof Dean Diepeveen and A/Prof Ferdous Sohel including academic support from DAC/industry researchers.

Murdoch University is a research-led internationally recognised University, and the researchers here address some of the major challenges of the 21st Century. Murdoch University’s distinctive research agenda informs leaders, nurtures innovative thinkers and inspires problem-solvers who are capable of tackling the most pressing regional and global challenges. Our world-leading research in sustainable development and renewable energy is being applied to some of the most pressing real world challenges of our time, by skilled researchers who perform and deliver in the most highly demanding work environments.

Funding bodyMurdoch University
Study levelPhD
Value (including stipends, expenses and top-ups)A full-time scholarship will carry a stipend of $27,596 per year with annual increments. Applications for a further $10,000 per year funding will be submitted after enrolment.
Duration and start date3 years with the potential to apply for 6 months extension.
The position will be filled as soon as possible.
Application criteria

The successful candidate will:

  • Have completed a Masters by research degree or a high level (H1) Honours degree (or equivalent) in the last 5 years in Information Systems or Agriculture.
  • Have previous experience with IoT-device software and/or implementing applications for agricultural systems
  • Be able to demonstrated ability to work under broad direction, exercise initiative in undertaking responsibilities and work effectively as a team member.
  • Have well-developed interpersonal skills and the ability to work effectively as a member of an interdisciplinary and collegial team.
  • Demonstrate high levels of written and oral communication skills in English.
Apply byAugust 30th, 2019 or until sufficient applications have been received for each position
To applyTo apply, interested candidates are invited to send their Curriculum Vitae, a 1-2 page outline of: their research skills, publications, and a summary of their goals for a PhD, along with the names and contact information of three referees to Prof Michael Jones M.Jones@murdoch.edu.au and Prof Dean Diepeveen D.Diepeveen@murdoch.edu.au
ContactProf Michael Jones M.Jones@murdoch.edu.au and Prof Dean Diepeveen D.Diepeveen@murdoch.edu.au