GRDC Research Scholarship


GRDC Research Scholarship


Release Date

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Closing Time

3 pm AEST, Tuesday 13 November 2018

Offer Period

Tenders will remain open for acceptance by the GRDC for a period of 6 months after the Closing Time.

Deadline for Submission of Enquiries

5 pm AEST, Tuesday 6 November 2018

Document Contact and Enquiries

Attention: Tegan Slade

Grains Research and Development Corporation


Electric Lodgement of Applications

Applicants must submit their responses electronically through the Grains Investment Portal at

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is a statutory corporation established under the Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989. It is subject to accountability and reporting obligations set out in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. It is responsible for planning, investing in and overseeing research and development, and delivering improvements in production, sustainability and profitability across the Australian grains industry.

The GRDC is focused on delivering value to Australian grain growers. To achieve this, the GRDC seeks to build research capacity through the GRDC Research Scholarships for students undertaking a PhD.

The GRDC Research Scholarships (GRS) are available to undertake post-graduate research in areas of priority for the GRDC and the Australian grains industry. These scholarships are awarded based on the:

  • academic excellence of the applicant;
  • relevance of proposed research to the GRDC priority areas; and
  • evidence of industry endorsement, contribution or involvement

Key things to note

  • The application must address one of the listed GRDC priority areas
  • Preference will be given to applications which are applied, field-based, structured with grower interaction and with strong industry links
  • The application must be completed by the student (as opposed to the supervisor)
  • The institution must endorse the application
  • The contract will be between the GRDC and the institution
  • It is anticipated that the contract will start 1 March 2019
  • It is anticipated that the GRDC will fund 10 GRS in this round.


The Scholarship Awards are offered based on a set of eligibility and selection criteria:

Eligibility Criteria: are conditions applicants have to fulfil to be eligible to apply for the scholarships. These are used to determine if the applicant should be considered by the GRDC.

Selection Criteria: are the items against which applications will be evaluated. Each criterion is assigned certain points which are summed to rank the applicants in each advertised investment area.

Please note – the GRDC has widened the eligibility criteria to include both:

  • applicants who qualify for a Commonwealth funded Research Training Programs scholarship (RTP);
  • applicants who do not qualify for a RTP but have demonstrated a commitment to grains R&D and are likely to return to the Australian grains industry.

Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria are:

  • Australian citizenship or permanent residency
  • Admitted into full time post-graduate study
  • At least two satisfactory referee reports, including from proposed principal supervisor
  • Proposal aligned with the GRDC priority areas
  • Indication of Research Training Programs scholarship RTP status (approved, awaiting application assessment, non-RTP)
  • For non-RTP applicants – confirmation from the institution that they will contribute the operating funds

Evaluation Criteria

Criteria No.




Strong academic record (at least an upper second-class honours at graduation or a MSc in a relevant field) as demonstrated through academic transcripts.

For non-RTP applications demonstration of their involvement and commitment to the Australian grains industry and how undertaking a PhD will provide additional skills and capacity to the Australian grains industry.



Demonstrated research ability of the applicant.



A clear and thorough research proposal including details on:

  • hypothesis / scientific questions
  • method (including anticipated statistical   analysis capacity)
  • timelines
  • resources



Detailed budget showing the:

  • funds sought in each financial year of the   project
  • breakdown of operating, travel and salaries
  • potential investment from all parties



Alignment of the proposal with the GRDC priority areas and a description of how the research proposal will improve the profitability of Australian grain growers.



Evidence of industry endorsement, participation, or consultation during the design of the project.



Demonstrated track record of the supervisor(s) as a researcher(s) in the area of study and in successful postgraduate student completions.



Capacity, track record and reputation of the academic unit supporting the student.



Communication and delivery plan describing ongoing industry engagement in the project.



For those candidates who achieve a RTP scholarship, the GRDC will offer a top up scholarship to the value of 75% of the base RTP; $5,000 per annum travel to attend conferences, workshops or skills development; and $10,000 operating.

For those candidates who don’t receive a RTP scholarship, the GRDC will offer a scholarship at 75% of the combined value of base RTP and the GRDC top up. The institution will need to contribute at least $10,000 operating which includes travel.


With RTP

Without RTP  










$10,000 (contributed by the institution)

Additional travel or training






GRDC investment



GRDC Priority Areas

Scholarship applications will be considered in the following areas of priority to the GRDC and its stakeholders. The priority areas are a subset of the Key Investment Targets in the GRDC Research Development and Extension Plan 2018-23 (

GRDC RDE Plan objectiveKey investment targetsGRDC priority areas
1 Improve yield and yield stability1.1 Minimise the impact of high temperature at flowering and grain fill on grain yield and stability.A. Establish the relationship between high temperature at flowering and grain fill and yield in key grain crops.
 1.2 Minimise the impact of spring radiation frost on grain yield and stabilityB. Establish the relationship between low temperature at flowering and yield in key grain crops.
 1.3 Change fundamental plant architecture, physiology and/or biochemistry to maximise water-limited yield potential in wheat, barley, canola and sorghum.C. Identify mechanisms for wheat, barley, canola and sorghum plants to:
- Capture more water for use in transpiration.
- Exchange transpired water for assimilated carbon more effectively.
- Convert more of the produced biomass into grain.
 1.5 Reduce the gap between actual and potential grain yield through more informed and timely decision making.D. Characterise the effect of environmental variables on crop growth; development (phenology); water-use; canopy development and phase development of key grain crops
 1.6 Reduce the impacts of water repellence, compaction, hard-pans and other barriers to the capture and storage of water in soils.E. Develop more efficient nutrient application techniques on ameliorated soils.
 1.7 Reduce the impacts of soil salinity and sodicity on plant water uptake to improve grain yield and stability.

F. Develop more efficient nutrient application techniques on ameliorated soils.

G. Design novel strategies to cost effectively manage saline and sodic soils.

 1.8 Reduce the impacts of low pH, aluminium toxicity and other nutrient toxicities on plant water uptake to improve grain yield and stability.H. H. Understand the interaction of soil chemistry and pulse crop nodulation in low pH soils.
3 Optimise input costs3.1 Develop and implement management options to minimise the cost of effectively and sustainably managing weeds

I. Quantify the implications of implementing integrated weed management in herbicide tolerant pulse crops.

J. Develop novel approaches to quantify weed impacts on crop production.

 3.2 Generate more informed, accurate and timely input for decision making.K. Develop image analysis algorithms and techniques that rapidly quantify temporal production constraints to aid crop scouting and tactical agronomy
 3.3 Develop and implement management options to minimise the cost of effectively and sustainably managing diseases.

L. Understand the biology, ecology and severity of Phytoplasma disease in legume crops.

M. Understand the biology, and ecology of diseases of mungbean.

N. Understand the pathogen host relationship between Fusarium and native grasses and to that in wheat.

 3.4 Develop and implement management options to minimise the cost of effectively and sustainably managing vertebrate and invertebrate pests.

O. Understand invertebrate pests as they effect stored grain legumes.

P. Cost effective techniques for mass rearing (laboratory and/ or field) or promotion of natural populations of beneficial invertebrates.

 3.5 Develop technology to reduce fertiliser manufacture and/or application costs and improve fertiliser use efficiency.Q. Increase the efficiency of applied fertiliser to better match crop demand.
4 Reduce post-farm-gate costs4.3 Improve the reliability and cost effectiveness of on-farm grain storage to reduce handling costs and capture market opportunities.R. Deploy technologies for on-farm grain quality testing and supply chain traceability.
 4.4 Improve automation of transport and handling activities and/or alternative logistics and distribution models to realise greater value capture by growers.S. Identify opportunities where greater profit could be partitioned to growers across the value chain using blockchain technologies.

5 Manage risk to maximise profit and minimise losses

5.2 Understand grain grower decision-making and the drivers for adoption of new technology

T. Understand the behavioural and economic factors that influence the adoption of new practices.

U. Development of economic frameworks to assess the cost: benefit of adopting novel digital technologies and automated processes.

Core frameworksData management and analyticsV. Develop technologies and analytics to analyse complex and spatial data sets.


The GRS will be contracted on a GRDC PhD Research Scholarship Agreement.

Expected outputs

  1. A critical literature review on the topic of research within 3 months of contracting
  2. A comprehensive research plan (including communication and grower engagement plan) within 2 months of contracting
  3. At least one conference/journal paper per year from the second year onwards
  4. An electronic copy of the thesis submitted to the institution for examination


Questions and answers

Q1. I am technically in my first year of research, am I eligible to apply for the scholarship given that I started writing my proposal and literature review in March 2017?

A1. Yes but the scholarship funding will be on a pro rata basis.

Q2. I am an international PhD student, can you please guide me whether GRDC has supplementary/Top-Up scholarship scheme running or not?

A2. The GRDC does not have a supplementary/ top-up scheme. The GRDC Research Scholarship is available for students with Australian citizenship or permanent residency as per the Eligibility Criteria.

Q3. The evaluation criterion four asks for a "Detailed budget showing the funds sought in each financial year of the project, breakdown of operating, travel and salaries, and potential investment from all parties". However, a breakdown of GRS funds is given on the GRDC website. Can you please clarify the requirements of evaluation criterion four?

A3. While the Grains Research scholarships have defined investment from GRDC, an applicant may have access to addition non-GRDC resources (cash and in-kind)  which should be included in an application.

Q4. Will any IP generated, with the aid of this scholarship, conflict with existing IP that the University holds? Will the commercialisation of any potential products be altered in any way upon entering into a contract for this scholarship?

A4. As per clause 6. Intellectual Property of the GRDC Research Scholarship Agreement:

“Unless otherwise provided for in a GRDC funded research project, the GRDC will not own any Intellectual Property arising out of the Educational Research or contained in any report or Thesis submitted to it.”

Q5: Please clarify or expand on what is meant to be addressed in the 'Delivery pathway' section of the application?

A5: GRDC Research Scholarships (GRS) are a part of capacity building for the grains industry and to extend scientific knowledge. Any GRDC investment takes into consideration how the outcomes of an investment will be  implemented. Implementation of investments could include pre-breeding traits, extension of research knowledge, new tools for growers,  upskilled workforce in new scientific areas or endeavours. Applicants are to provide a response on how a GRDC investment through a GRS will have impact on the grains industry and the method  and steps required to get this impact.

Frequently Asked Questions

I am an overseas student studying at an Australian University. Am I eligible to apply?

I am due to finish a bachelor’s degree in science, agriculture or a relevant discipline at an Australian University at the end of this year. Am I eligible to apply?

As a supervisor am I eligible to apply for any of the scholarships in anticipation of attracting a student later?

What awards are considered equivalents of Research Training Program award?

Can I get an extension if I am unable to submit my application by the due date?

How do I demonstrate industry input or involvement in my project proposal?

I did not achieve a 1st Class or upper 2nd Class honours, am I eligible to apply for GRS?

Can I submit more than one application?

If I am currently employed in a GRDC project, am I eligible to apply for a GRS?

Can I apply for scholarship to study part-time?

I have a RTP, what is covered under the addition travel training amount?