Dear Colleagues,

A 3 year fully funded PhD is available at MIRI/ Malaysia  and Perth, WA Australia at  Curtin University.

Available to Malaysian/ Australian and International applicants.

The student will spend 6 months in Miri/ Malaysia & 6 months at Bentley campus, Perth, WA, Australia per year.

Expertise in either Chemistry/Analytical Chemistry/ Organic Geochemistry/ Microbiology/ Geology/ Environmental science – a first class Hons degree or equivalent  is required.  Excellent written and communication skills and ability to work in a multidisciplinary research environment and within a team.

Excellent knowledge of Chemistry and/ or Geochemistry.

Students will visit the unique rain-forest of Borneo and Mulu caves

Mulu Park - The official website for Mulu World Heritage Area<>
Welcome to Mulu World Heritage Area. Climbing through expansive cave systems or perhaps somewhere in between, Mulu will tantalize your senses and leave you wanting to discover more.

The key organic geochemical facilities necessary to complete this project are available at WA-Organic and Isotope Geochemistry Centre (WA-OIGC)

Underpinning the project will be the innovative application of frontier instrumentation that have largely been acquired by ARC funding successes. Examples of instrumentation include, GC×GC TOFMS to resolve many of the components of complex samples e.g. land plant biomarkers that co-elute on 1 dimensional GC-MS), HY-PY to selectively cleave biomarkers bound in kerogen and isolate charcoal of samples  and GC-MS systems to analyse VOCs in drip water.  Three compound specific isotope facilities for C, H and N of individual biomarkers/organic molecules are available in WA-OIGC. LC-MS Orbitrap is available for analyzing intact and bound lipids. WA-OIGC hosts dedicated core logging and storage facilities, along with wet sedimentology preparation space and a contemporary wet chemistry laboratory. In addition the applicant will also carry out paleogenomic research.

Title: Mulu Cave stalagmite molecular records of Quaternary ecosystem-climate interactions


Mulu National Park is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, the only one in the state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo. “The geological Melinau Formation contains a remarkable concentration of caves, revealing a geological history of over more than 1.5 million years” (UNESCO, 2017). It is a key tourist asset of Sarawak. The caves are also a vital resource for various lines of research. While a variety of research by teams from around the world have been active in the area for some decades, much remains to be discovered. In particular, the ability to reconstruct ecosystem-climate interactions using stalagmite fossil records has yet to be explored. The molecular paleobiodiversity proxies to be developed through this project will inform about Holocene changes in precipitation regimes and how this affected the vegetation in this tropical biodiversity hotspot. Records of fire history (natural and from anthropogenic sources) are lacking in this region and thus the project will involve method development and analyses of compounds indicative of burning in drip water, stalagmites and in soil material. The historical record of vegetation changes due to climate fluctuations will also be established using both lipid biomarkers and preserved ancient plant-specific barcoding genes. Furthermore, this project will also explore to what extent cave microbial biofilms are trapped inside speleothems during their development and if the fossil microbial biodiversity can provide detailed information about past changes in precipitation regimes. The proposed research is of economic and societal relevance since the amount of precipitation Borneo receives, is regulated by the location and strength of deep convection in the West Pacific Warm Pool, which in itself is strongly controlled by the strength of one of the World’s largest climate phenomenon, the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Due to global change, the frequency and strength of El Niño phenomena are thought to be increasing and long-term geobiological records from speleothems spanning key past dry vs. wet climate intervals are urgently needed to understand the impact of this anticipated future climate change on terrestrial ecosystems.

Please can interested applicants send full CV and names of two referees to [log in to unmask] and [log in to unmask] and [log in to unmask]

Further information about the MIri campus  and PhD enrolment can be obtained from Dean of Research and Development Miri:     email  [log in to unmask]



Kliti Grice


John Curtin Distinguished Professor | WA-OIGC/School of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Director of WA-OIGC |  Building 500 room 2116

Curtin University

Tel | +61 8 9266 2474

Fax | +61 8 9266 9266

Email | [log in to unmask]

Web |

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