A huge amount of resources are spent annually on controlling pest species. It is challenging to estimate how much effort (and money) is required to effect control and eradication, so we often proceed under a best guess approach. This project looks to apply newly developed analytical tools to estimate the cost and feasibility of eradication of economically important pest species in Western Australia.


The early phase of a biosecurity response is typically one of information gathering. How far has the pest already spread, and what techniques can we use to control it? This information gathering phase often generates data that can, in principle, be used to estimate how much effort will be required to eradicate the pest species. This project aims to use newly developed statistical machinery to make these estimates for important economic pest species in Australia.


  1. Infer detection probabilities for key pest species under various monitoring regimes.
  2. Estimate the cost and feasibility of eradication of these pest species
  3. Extend the existing inference tools to spatially explicit cases.
  4. Simulate and test the extended model.


Pest species cost the Australian economy billions of dollars annually. We invest hundreds of millions every year trying to contain and eradicate pest species and we collect a lot of data along the way. The models developed here are designed to wring the critical pieces of information out of the data that are collected. By learning the vital rates of the populations we seek to manage, we open the door to optimising our control efforts and developing robust estimates of the feasibility of eradication and the cost and value of control.

Candidate growth and outputs

This candidate will gain highly valuable and transferrable skills in scientific research, biosecurity, statistical inference, and simulation modelling. High quality, peer-reviewed publications will include internationally relevant manuscripts covering such topics, with research findings presented at relevant local and international conferences as well as more targeted seminars/workshops. The candidate will be engaged in outreach through stakeholder meetings to share data and research highlights as well as hone communication skills and develop relationships with industry partners.

The project is supported by a tax free stipend of $32,500 p.a. with a top up of $7,000 p.a. conditional on performance.

How to apply

Candidates must have:

  • A strong track record in undergraduate studies;
  • Honours or Masters by research
  • A background or keen interest in ecology, evolution, genetics, statistics, or related discipline.

See here for details about scholarship (ignore the bit about the scholarship being closed): https://scholarships.curtin.edu.au/Scholarship/?id=6858

If interested, please submit an Expression of Interest via the Curtin website

Applications are open now.

Send enquiries to Prof Ben Phillips.