This is an exciting opportunity for a Postdoctoral Research Fellow to focus their efforts on developing their expertise and emerging research profile in modelling plant physiology. At this level it is expected that the incumbent will contribute to service and engagement roles and activities.

The research project

QAAFI and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), with funding from Hort Innovation, have committed to undertake a long-term research program to transform the productivity and profitability of fruit tree crops in Australia through intensification.

This project seeks to adapt some of the underlying principles and practices from intensive temperate fruit tree crops to less intensely farmed subtropical and tropical avocado, macadamia and mango orchards.

Key Research Components (KRCs) of the project are:

1. Vigour management: control by rootstock induced growth reduction and enhanced reproductive development, and/or by canopy manipulation; rootstock breeding and evaluation; and growth regulator application.

2. Architecture: understanding natural development patterns and fruiting; manipulation by pruning and/or training and associated responses of flowering and fruiting.

3. Canopy light relations: quantifying the role of light in canopy functions like flowering and fruiting; optimisation by pruning and/or training and associated responses of carbon partitioning.

4. Crop load: understanding and managing crop load and associated effects on floral initiation, fruit set, irregular bearing; and practical methods for load management.

Field trials will focus on applying our increasing understanding of the key research components to develop modern, highly productive planting systems that can be adopted by industry. Members of the research team include breeders, physiologists, horticulturalists and computational modelling researchers, located in research centres across Queensland, including Brisbane, Bundaberg, and Mareeba. Although this position will be based at UQ, St Lucia, it will underpin many aspects of this project.

Computational modelling will play an integrative role, providing a scaffold through which information can flow among the researchers working on different species and KRCs. The iterative process of modelling and plant-based research will escalate the development of better or more focused research questions, leading to plant-based experiments that can answer these questions in the shortest turn-around time.

Key responsibilities include, but are not limited to:  

1. Research

  • Review existing analysis of architecture and adopt and/or develop prototype models of architectural development.
  • Analyse architectural data from commercial and field systems trial plants to refine the prototype models for our varieties and for high-density orchards.
  • Liaise with researchers and students to define questions to be answered and hypotheses to be incorporated in relation to mechanisms at work in their experimental studies.
  • Build and parameterise mechanistic plant models, developing new modelling techniques as required, e. g., using approaches based on functional-structural plant models or process-based models.
  • Provide visualisations and statistical output for verification, confirmation of hypotheses and validation.
  • Design and undertake virtual experiments, providing feedback to team members in the field.
  • Produce and maintain well-documented, readable code for models and associated programs.
  • Publish in the appropriate scholarly journals.
  • Work with and potentially train or supervise colleagues, postgraduates, and collaborators at diverse locations across Queensland, involving travel at least twice annually.

2. Supervision and Researcher Development

  • Contribute to the effective supervision of Honours and Higher Degree by Research students (as appropriate).
  • Report regularly and in appropriate formats to the supervisor, team and stakeholders and contribute to the broader goals of the program.
  • Perform a range of administrative functions within the program, including contributing to annual reports as required.

3. Citizenship and Service

  • Demonstrate citizenship behaviours that align to the UQ values.
  • Shows leadership of self through collaboration and active participation in priority activities for the unit.
  • Provide support to other academic positions and unit operations as needed during other team members absences.
  • Contribute to internal service roles and administrative processes as required, including participation in decision-making and service on relevant committees.
  • Collaborate in service activities external to the immediate organisation unit.
  • Begin to develop external links and partnerships by cultivating relationships with industry, government departments, professional bodies and the wider community.

4. Other

Ensure you are aware of and comply with legislation and University policy relevant to the duties undertaken, including but not exclusive to:

About You

  • Possess (or be in the process of obtaining) a PhD in an area of plant physiology, horticulture or computational plant science.
  • Demonstrated plant modelling skills, e. g., functional-structural plant models or process-based models.
  • Demonstrated understanding of the basics of tree physiology.
  • Demonstrated statistical and analytical skills.
  • Knowledge of L-systems, C++, Python, and/or R.
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct research independently and collaboratively.
  • High level interpersonal and communication skills, including the ability to work collaboratively in multidisciplinary teams.
  • Evidence of publications in reputed refereed journals and presenting at conferences.
  • High levels of personal integrity, transparency and capability.

What We Can Offer  

This is a full time, fixed term position for up to 2 years at Academic Level A.

The full-time equivalent base salary will be in the range $72,144.35 – $96,530.67 plus super of up to 17%. The total FTE package will be in the range $84,408.89 – 112,940.88 per annum.  

For further information about UQ’s benefits, please visit Why Work at UQ and review The University of Queensland’s Enterprise Bargaining Agreement 2018-2021.  


To discuss this role please contact Dr Inigo Auzmendi Migelena:

For application queries, please contact stating the job reference number in the subject line.  

Want to Apply?  

All applicants must supply the following documents:  

  • Cover letter addressing Selection Criteria (see About You section)  
  • Resume  

To satisfy pre-requisite questions and ensure your application can be considered in full, all candidates must apply via the UQ Careers portal by the job closing deadline. Applications received via other channels, including direct email, will not be accepted.  

About The Selection Process  

The University of Queensland is committed to ensuring all candidates are provided with the opportunity to attend the panel interviews, however, for those candidates who are unable to attend in person, video interview options will be available.     

Other Information

Visa sponsorship maybe available.

We value diversity and inclusion, and actively encourage applications from those who bring diversity to the University. Our Diversity and Inclusion webpage contains further information if you require additional support. Accessibility requirements and/or adjustments can be directed to

If you are a current employee of the University, or hold an unpaid or affiliate appointment with the University, please login to your staff Workday account and visit the internal careers board to apply for this opportunity. Please do NOT apply via the external job board.


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