PhD Scholarship in theory and modelling of ice-shelf disintegration

Applications close
Open until filled
Payment per year
$28,092 (2020 rate)
Up to 3.5 years for a PhD
Postgraduate Research
Australian Citizens
Australian Permanent Residents
New Zealand Citizens
Permanent Humanitarian Visa Holders
International Students
Type of Scholarship
Available In
Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences
Available To

The Scholarship is funded by the Australian Research Council and the University of Adelaide to support a full time PhD student who will undertake research modelling ice shelf vibrations forced by ocean waves, following recent evidence that waves triggered the catastrophic ice shelf disintegrations around the Antarctic peninsula over the past two decades (Massom et al, 2018, Nature).

You will be based at the University of Adelaide in the School of Mathematical Sciences, working under the supervision of A/Prof Luke Bennetts, and within an international and multidisciplinary research team. Your research will contribute to the ARC Future Fellowship project:

Integrating rifts and swell in the mathematics of ice shelf disintegration. Antarctic ice-shelf disintegrations have the alarming potential to cause rapid sea level rise, through accelerated discharge of the Antarctic Ice Sheet and initiating runaway Ice Sheet destabilisations. The project aims to develop a mathematical model of swell-induced ice-shelf vibrations in a coupled ocean–shelf 3D framework, focusing on interactions between vibrations and the rift networks that characterise outer shelf margins before disintegration. Accurate, efficient solutions will be developed by fusing powerful approximation theories, and validated by numerical solutions. The model will be combined with state-of-the-art data to predict trends in Antarctica’s remaining ice shelves and indicate potential future disintegrations.

The following topics are available for the PhD project:

  • Coupled shelf vibration and rift propagation mathematical modelling.
  • 3D numerical modelling of shelf vibrations.
  • Matched asymptotic modelling of shelf vibrations.

The project is appropriate for those interested in dynamics, modelling and computation, and application to Antarctic science. Applicants should hold an Honours degree in Applied Mathematics, Physics, Mechanical Engineering, Ocean Engineering or a related field. Programming skills in MatLab or equivalent are desirable.

The projects involve collaborations with experts in mathematical modelling and Antarctic science in Australia (including the Australian Antarctic Division and Bureau of Meteorology) and overseas (including Colorado, Harvard and Princeton). Funding is included for research stays with collaborators and to participate in domestic and international research conferences.

Eligibility: Applicants must be Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia or international students who are acceptable as candidates for a PhD degree at the University of Adelaide.

To be eligible you will need to:

  • Fulfil the minimum English language requirement. This is mandatory and cannot be waived.
  • Be assessed by the Adelaide Graduate Centre as meeting all conditions for admission to the Doctoral program.
  • Be willing to provide your personal details to the institutes by way of a Student Deed Poll.
  • Not hold a qualification at the same or at a higher level than the research higher degree program you are undertaking.
  • Not be receiving a living allowance award, scholarship or salary providing a benefit greater than 75% of the RTP Scholarship living allowance rate (AUD 28,092) to undertake the research higher degree program.

Detailed information about the entry requirements for Higher Degrees by Research at University of Adelaide are available from the Adelaide Graduate Centre’s website.

Applicants requiring a tuition fee waiver must (i) meet the University’s conditions of admission, and (ii) are expected to have completed a relevant Bachelor’s degree with 1st Class Honours, or a Masters’ degree that contains a significant research component with equivalent academic performance. Outstanding international applicants who are eligible for admission and have achieved a 1st Class Honours grade or Masters’ degree equivalent may also qualify for a tuition fee waiver, as approved by the Faculty.

Stipend:  The scholarships will be for up to 3.5 years and have a stipend of $28,092 (Indexed annually) per annum. It is likely to be tax exempt, subject to Taxation Office approval. 

Contact Person A/Prof Luke Bennetts, School of Mathematical Sciences, Tel (08) 83133143, Email


Application is a two stage process:

1. Application for Admission must be submitted using the Online Application Form available at: Please indicate the name of the scholarship in the research interests field in the online application form.

2. Please email a summary of your application for admission to A/Prof Luke Bennetts, ( with “Application for PhD in Integrating rifts and swell in the mathematics of ice shelf disintegration” in the subject heading.  You can request a copy of your application summary by emailing with the subject heading 'Request for application summary'.