The Choat Lab

Plant Hydraulics and Water Relations

Join Us

We are always looking for new people to join the lab! There are numerous ways that you can participate in research at HIE including volunteering on projects, undertaking postgraduate studies, or engaging in research exchange visits. Further details can be found on the HIE website here. From time to time we advertise postdoctoral and technical positions associated with the lab here.

New PhD Scholarship available!

We are now seeking a highly motivated PhD student to contribute to a new Australian Research Council Discovery project that aims to resolve a number of long-standing questions regarding hydraulic function of plants: at what point in the process of water stress do emboli form in xylem conduits? How do plants recover from these drought-induced disruptions to water transport?

In the project, the student will utilize cutting edge non-invasive imaging techniques to study the dynamics of drought-induced cavitation in plants. These techniques allow unambiguous measurement of how cavitation is propagated within and between different plants organs (leaves, stems, roots). These measurements will be used to establish thresholds in lethal water stress for a range of plant species.

The student will be based at HIE but will be expected to travel to the University of Tasmania for collaborative work with A. Prof. Tim Brodribb during the course of the project. There will also be opportunities for travel to France for collaborative work with Dr Sylvain Delzon and Dr Herve Cochard (INRA), and Dr Philippe Marmottant (CNRS).

To apply for this scholarship please contact me at

Further details on the application process can be found here.

Applications close on 31 March 2017.


There are currently a number of projects open for volunteer assistance. These include investigating the resilience of Australian native tree species to drought and examining the plasticity of hydraulic traits across environmental gradients. These projects involve field work in remote locations and offer the opportunity to see some of Australia’s unique ecosystems and species.

Postgraduate Study – PhD

There are a number of scholarship options available from UWS and external funding agencies to undertake a PhD project in my lab. Please contact me before applying to discuss the suitability of your application and potential projects.

Scholarships options from UWS:

  • Australian Postgraduate Awards (APA)
  • UWS Postgraduate Research Awards (UWSPRA)
  • International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (IPRS)

The APA is only open to domestic students and but UWSPRA and IPRS scholarships are available to international students. There are two rounds for application each year – July and October. More information on applications can be found on the UWS website here.

Other scholarship options:

  • Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship: these scholarships provide financial support for Australian and international postgraduate students. Scholarships for international students cover tuition and provide a stipend for up to 4 years. Applications are due in June each year. More details on the application process can be found here.

Research Exchange Visits to HIE

The Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment will again seek funding applications from high quality, energetic researchers to support collaborations between the HIE and other research institutions commencing in late 2015. An attractive stipend will support travel and living expenses for the duration of the exchange for academics/students to visit the HIE. Applications for Exchange Program funds are open to academic staff, postdoctoral fellows, postgraduate students. The duration of the visits can be short term (1-3 months) or long term (up to 12 months). More details on the application process can be found on the HIE website here.

Postdoctoral Research Fellowships

There are currently no postdoctoral fellowships available from my lab. They come up periodically and will be advertised here and on the UWS website. There are some opportunities to apply for fellowships at UWS through external funding agencies. These include:

  • Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) fellowships. These fellowships are available to researcher up to 5 years after completing their PhD and run for 3 years. Further information on this program can be found on the ARC website here.
  • Alexander von Humboldt Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship. As a Humboldt fellow I am able to host German researchers in my lab supported by the Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship. The fellowships are available to postdoctoral researchers (up to 4 years after completing a doctorate) for a duration of 6 to 24 months and for experienced researchers (up to 12 years after completing a doctorate) for 6 to 18 months duration. Further information on these fellowships can be found on the Alexander von Humboldt website here.