Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

Scholarship opportunity in Sedentary Behaviour research


The Centre for Exercise and Nutrition based at the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research is seeking an applicant for a PhD Scholarship to undertake innovative research in the field of sedentary behaviour and health outcomes.

Sedentary behaviours — put simply, too much sitting, as distinct from too little exercise — are a new focus for research on physical activity and health. Professor David Dunstan leads a team conducting an internationally leading program combining evidence from laboratory experiments and epidemiological studies, demonstrating that time spent sitting is detrimentally associated with multiple chronic diseases, related risk factors and premature mortality. While the links between sitting time and chronic disease risk have been identified, the mechanisms, dose–response relationships and feasibility of making real-world changes — key elements needed for informing public health and clinical recommendations — are not known. The current focus is work directed at optimal permutations in interrupting sitting (frequency, duration, intensity), and interactions of breaking up prolonged sitting time with moderate-to-vigorous activity and dietary intake/meal patterns.

The successful Scholarship recipient will be supervised by Professors David Dunstan (Professor, Centre for Exercise and Nutrition and NHMRC Senior Research Fellow) and John Hawley (Director, Centre for Exercise and Nutrition). Co-supervision will include other relevant health professionals and researchers who are experts in their field.

The Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research provides a dynamic, multidisciplinary environment for PhD students to pursue a research career.  It has a number of academic and support staff dedicated to its research program, substantial research funding, a vibrant PhD program and several collaborative partners, including Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute. Professor David Dunstan and his team are world-leading pioneers in experimental and field based interventions focusing on understanding the role of sedentary behaviour on health outcomes.


Scholarship criteria:

  • An Australian First Class Honours degree or Research Master’s degree in any of the fields of Health Services Research, Psychology, Biological Sciences and Bio-statistics.
  • Academic excellence, including, but not limited to, academic awards and grants.
  • Professional experience and/or relevant training and/or research experience in their preferred area of research.
  • A marked interest to conduct a PhD in the area of the research scholarship if not already a PhD Candidate*.
  • Academic publications and/or conference presentations, especially in the area of the research scholarship, relative to their career to date.

*Current PhD candidates without an existing Scholarship and still in the 1st year of full-time equivalent candidature are still eligible to apply

Study mode: Full-time only

The scholarship provides:

  • A tax free stipend of $26,288 and a $5,000 per annum top-up for three years, subject to satisfactory progress.
  • A fee waiver and OSHC policy for International research candidates.
  • Project costs and conference travel.


For information on the scholarship and ‘how to apply’ contact:

Angela Colalillo
Executive Assistant – Centre for Exercise and Nutrition
T: +61 3 9230 8201

Scholarship applications should be forwarded to:

Graduate Research
Australian Catholic University
PO Box 968
North Sydney NSW 2059


Applications close: 30 November 2016

Back to news