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The Lizard Island Doctoral Fellowships program has operated continuously since 1984 and has supported field work by 65 PhD students. It is funded by the Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation and its donors. This year we are please to announce an additional fellowship, thanks to a bequest from Zoltan Florian. There are now three named fellowships within the program with identical conditions.

The Lizard Island Doctoral Fellowship is funded from many sources within the Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation. More than one such fellowship is offered for 2019.

The Ian Potter Doctoral Fellowship at Lizard Island is funded by The Ian Potter Foundation. One new Ian Potter Doctoral Fellowship is offered for 2019.

The Zoltan Florian Marine Biology Fellowship Fellowship is largely funded by a bequest from the late Zoltan Florian whose career as a microscopy expert intersected with LIRS over many decades. The first such fellowship is offered in 2019.

The 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 their 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 all available fellowships.


For students enrolled at an Australian university, the maximum value of each 2019 Fellowship is AU$8,700 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 field/lab consumables. They may not be used for salary, or for living expenses (such as food while at Lizard Island), or for equipment other than consumables, or to support research or travel by the fellow's PhD supervisor or any other more senior researcher except as outlined below. The Fellow's university may not deduct a fee for administering the Fellowship.

Conditions of Award

  • Applicants must be enrolled in a phD program at the time of application and have a stipend that covers living costs for the duration of the fellowship.
  • The Fellow must conduct field-intensive research at the Lizard Island Research Station (LIRS) that will form a substantial part of his or her thesis.
  • The Fellow must spend an average of at least 100 person days per year of funding conducting research at LIRS. 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.
  • The first field trip using Fellowship funding should not be planned to start before April 2019.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Funding in the second and third years, if awarded, is subject to suitable progress.
  • Reporting, outreach and acknowledgement conditions will be detailed in a contract with each successful applicant.
  • Any funds unspent at the end of each Fellowship year must be returned to LIRS unless carry-over arrangements are approved.

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. Projects for which LIRS is the primary research base will be given preference.
  7. 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.
  8. The applicant has relevant research and field work experience.
  9. The significance and innovative approach of the project.
  10. The project is feasible within the limitations of budget and safety regulations.
  11. Efficient usage of Fellowship funds (e.g. travel costs are minimised).
  12. 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 1-8 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.

Full applications will be sent for external review and assessed against all selection criteria.

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 $9,570 per year including GST. Overseas students can plan to spend only $8,700 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.


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


Preliminary application form for 2019 fellowships

Full application form for 2019 fellowships

Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation

The Ian Potter Foundation

Zoltan Florian

Indicative rates including GST (AUD)
Bench fee (per person per night) 2019 2020 2021
- Applicant $58 $60 $62
- Assistant $53 $55 $56
Airfare, Cairns/Lizard Island/Cairns $720 $740 $760
Barge freight, Cairns/ Lizard Island (per piece, large grocery box size) $16 $17 $18
Relevant dates
31 August 2018 Closing date for preliminary applications
28 September 2018 Invitations made to submit full applications
12 October 2018 Closing date for full applications
30 January 2019 Offer made to successful applicants
1 April 2019 Funds available to begin field work at Lizard Island