Job Location: 

Melbourne Veterinary School

Closing date: 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021 - 16:00

Only applicants who are currently living in Australia or New Zealand and/or have full work rights to work in Australia will be considered for this position.  


The Research Fellow in Outbreak Modelling is a jointly appointed Research only position within the Melbourne Veterinary School (MVS) of the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences (FVAS) and the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (PDI). We are seeking an experienced researcher who will contribute to Australian Research Council-funded research nowcasting infectious disease outbreaks of human and animal populations, including COVID-19, leveraging genomic and epidemiological data. The Research Fellow will join an interdisciplinary project aiming to provide public and animal health, environmental and economic benefits by improving how outbreaks of infectious diseases of international concern are modelled, understood and controlled in Australia and overseas. The new knowledge and models developed will guide how outbreak response decisions are made, leading to more effective control. The computational approach will involve epidemiological and genomic data manipulation, Bayesian statistical model design and implementation in a compiled computational programming language that integrates with packages in R and BEAST2.

The applicant will benefit from being embedded in renowned epidemiology and pathogen genomics research groups, with strong links to government departments and agencies responsible for public health, animal health and the environment. The multi-disciplinary infectious disease modelling team leading this project is at the forefront of outbreak modelling in Australia across both public health and animal health domains and links to key national and regional initiatives and networks including the SPECTRUM Centre of Research Excellence (Supporting Participatory Evidence generation to Control Transmissible diseases in our Region Using Modelling) and the World Organisation for Animal Health Collaborating Centre at the University of Melbourne. The successful applicant will report to Dr Simon Firestone (FVAS/MVS), as well as Dr Sebastian Duchene (PDI) and Prof Jodie McVernon (PDI) as part of the broader supervisory team, and will collaborate closely with colleagues in the Victorian Department of Health.

1.Key Responsibilities

The University of Melbourne sets ‘Minimum Standards for Academic Levels’ (MSALs) which are expected from academic staff. The levels are differentiated by level of complexity, degree of autonomy, leadership requirements of the position, and level of achievement of the academic and may be amended from time to time.

Below is the MSAL for Level A academic staff. The Key Responsibilities, outlined in this section, are to be read in conjunction with this MSAL.  

Level A Occupational Equivalent – Tutor, Research Assistant (Grade 2), Research Fellow (Grade 1)

A level A academic will work with the support and guidance from more senior academic staff and will work under the supervision of academic staff at level B and above.

A level A academic is expected to develop their expertise in teaching, scholarship and/or research with an increasing degree of autonomy and may work with limited supervision and/or as part of a team.

A level A academic will contribute to teaching at the institution (at a level appropriate to the skills and experience of the staff member) and/or undertake research and/or engage in professional activities appropriate to his or her profession or discipline. 

They will undertake administration primarily relating to their activities at the institution.

The contribution to teaching and supervision of students of level A academics will be primarily at undergraduate and graduate diploma level.

The results of research conducted may be published as sole author or in collaboration


  • This is a research only position and there is not expectation of teaching.

1.2Research and research training

  • Prepare and assess the quality of epidemiological and pathogen genomic data and associated metadata.
  • Develop a dynamic outbreak modelling framework that integrates epidemiological and genomic data for inferring transmission chains and other key parameters and apply it for informing the response to outbreaks as they unfold.
  • Undertake studies that assess which epidemiological parameters can be reliably inferred at key stages of infectious disease outbreaks and the value of data sources in real-time settings.
  • Promote broad uptake of the research outputs and collaborations across the groups involved in the project and external partners.
  • Undertake research under limited supervision with an increasing degree of autonomy, and publish findings in peer reviewed journals, articles and presentations either as sole author or in collaboration.
  • Working with senior colleagues, assist in the application for external research grants and funding.

1.3Leadership and service

  • Participate in the communication and dissemination of information relating to the research.
  • Undertake administration primarily relating to the activities of the role.
  • Involvement in professional activity, including participation in meetings of professional societies and attendance at relevant conferences.
  • Engagement with external stakeholders through networks, professional and industry bodies to foster collaborative partnerships.
  • Foster a harmonious workplace environment that is conducive to productivity; promotes creativity; and rewards and recognises individuals and group achievement.
  • Actively contribute to relevant overall strategic goals and actively contribute to resource management and planning at FVAS and PDI.
  • Contribute to training of other staff in the group and research higher degree student supervision, where necessary.
  • Model the behaviour expected in the University.
  • Support the University’s Equity and Diversity Strategy.

1.4Responsibility and Compliance

  • Maintain a sound knowledge of current University Policy and Procedures, and reliably follow these or provide compliant advice to others;
  • Reliably follow communications protocols and/or policies as appropriate.
  • Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) and Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) responsibilities as outlined in Section 5.
  • Behavioural Expectations - All staff are expected to maintain the following behaviours:
  • Treat everyone equitably; act fairly with staff and demonstrate respect for diversity
  • Be an effective team player who is cooperative and gains the trust and support of staff, peers and clients through collaboration.
  • Create ethics applications and report to the ethics committees

2.Selection Criteria

In order to be considered for interview by the Selection Panel, applicants must address the following Criteria in their application.  Please visit the University website how to address Essential Selection Criteria

  1. Essential
  • PhD or equivalent awarded in the field of mathematics and statistics, or epidemiology, applied to modelling complex biological systems, with 2-5 years’ experience.
  • Demonstrated ability coding Bayesian statistical algorithms and developing software in a programming language that interfaces well with R.
  • Demonstrated experience in infectious disease modelling, particularly phylogenetic/phylodynamic modelling and/or bioinformatics.
  • Excellent ability in problem solving, time allocation and maintaining accurate records.
  • Capacity to work as a member of a multidisciplinary team to deliver high-quality research outcomes, evidenced by a record of peer-reviewed publications and presentations to scientific and industry audiences.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills and capacity to work constructively and collaboratively in a team and the ability to build rapport with all levels of staff within a diverse work environment.


  • Experience programming in Java, C++ or Python, especially interfacing with R and ideally BEAST2.
  • Experience in high performance/cluster computing.
  • Demonstrated experience with Bayesian phylogenetic methods and familiarity with the BEAST or BEAST2 platform.
  • Experience with Bayesian mathematical methods in evolution and epidemiology, particularly those related to within-host dynamics and outbreak transmission.
  • Demonstrated capacity to write research funding proposals and/or attract external research funding.

2.3Special requirements of the role

  • As the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences is located over several metropolitan and regional campuses, staff may be required to travel to, or work from, other sites and campuses as required.
  • This position requires the incumbent to hold a current and valid Working with Children Check
  • Annual leave will be taken at a time that accommodates the peak workflows and there may be a requirement for work outside standard working hours.

3.Equal Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion

The University is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to providing a workplace free from all forms of unlawful discrimination, harassment, bullying, vilification and victimisation. The University makes decisions on employment, promotion and reward on the basis of merit.

The University is committed to all aspects of equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace and to providing all staff, students, contractors, honorary appointees, volunteers and visitors with a safe, respectful and rewarding environment free from all forms of unlawful discrimination, harassment, vilification and victimisation. This commitment is set out in the University’s People Strategy 2015-2020 and policies that address diversity and inclusion, equal employment opportunity, discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying and appropriate workplace behaviour. All staff are required to comply with all University policies.

The University values diversity because we recognise that the differences in our people’s age, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, physical ability and background bring richness to our work environment. Consequently, the People Strategy sets out the strategic aim to drive diversity and inclusion across the University to create an environment where the compounding benefits of a diverse workforce are recognised as vital in our continuous desire to strive for excellence and reach the targets of Growing Esteem.

4.Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)

All staff are required to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that of other personnel who may be affected by their conduct. 

OHS responsibilities applicable to positions are published at:

These include general staff responsibilities and those additional responsibilities that apply for Managers and Supervisors and other Personnel.

5.Other Information

5.1faculty of veterinary and agricultural sciences

The Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences was formed in July 2014 through the merger of the former Faculty of Veterinary Science and the Department of Agriculture and Food Systems. The new Faculty creates opportunities for closer research collaborations and the formation of interdisciplinary teams to address major issues in veterinary and agricultural sciences. The Faculty’s core teaching, postgraduate training, research, clinical consultancy and industry development activities are delivered at the Parkville, Werribee and Dookie campuses, and the Veterinary Hospital operates at Werribee.

Our interdisciplinary approach applies scientific, social, political and economic perspectives to address the needs of both human communities and the natural environment. We address the issues of climate change, food production and food security, crop, plant and soil health, water management, sustainable use of resources for agriculture, animal health and disease and other problems challenging key decision makers today.

Our academic staff engage with government and industry to investigate critical societal issues and the faculty is home to University research centres dedicated to this work. They include: Animal Welfare Science Centre; Primary Industry Climate Challenges Centre; Centre for Animal Biotechnology; Centre for Equine Virology; and the Asia-Pacific Centre for Animal Health’, in which the University is a core partner.  Research within the Faculty has led to some outstanding outcomes including: increased agricultural productivity; vaccines and diagnostic products that have been commercialised throughout the world; enhanced animal welfare; improvements in public health; and contributions to basic understanding of animal biology.

The Faculty is the only provider of Veterinary Science courses in Victoria and one of only a small number of Universities doing so in Australia.  The Bachelor of Agriculture and Bachelor of Food Science along with coursework masters in Agricultural Sciences and Food Science offers one of the most comprehensive educational programs in agricultural and food science in Australia.


The Doherty Institute is a world-class institute combining research, teaching, public health and reference laboratory services, diagnostic services and clinical care into infectious diseases and immunity. It was officially opened in September 2014 and is a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and Melbourne Health. The Doherty Institute has a major focus on diseases that pose serious public and global health threats such as influenza, tuberculosis, HIV, viral hepatitis, Ebola and drug resistant bacteria. The Doherty’s activities are multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral, placing great emphasis on translational research and improving clinical outcomes. Teams of scientists, clinicians and epidemiologists collaborate on a wide spectrum of activities – from basic immunology and discovery research, to the development of new vaccines and new preventative and treatment methods, to surveillance and investigation of disease outbreaks.

The members of the Doherty include the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory of the University of Melbourne, the Victorian Nosocomial Infection Surveillance System, The Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory, The Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, and The World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza.

5.3The University of Melbourne

Established in 1853, the University of Melbourne is a leading international university with a tradition of excel­lence in teaching and research. The main campus in Parkville is recognised as the hub of Australia’s premier knowledge precinct comprising eight hospitals, many leading research institutes and a wide-range of knowledge-based industries. With outstanding performance in international rankings, the University is at the forefront of higher education in the Asia-Pacific region and the world.

The University employs people of outstanding calibre and offers a unique environment where staff are valued and rewarded.

Further information about working at The University of Melbourne is available at


The University’s strategic direction is grounded in its purpose. While its expression may change, our purpose is enduring: to benefit society through the transformative impact of education and research. Together, the vision and purpose inform the focus and scale of our aspirations for the coming decade.

Advancing Melbourne reflects the University’s commitment to its people, its place, and its partners. Our aspiration for 2030 is to be known as a world-leading and globally connected Australian university, with our students at the heart of everything we do. 

  • We will offer students a distinctive and outstanding education and experience, preparing them for success as leaders, change agents and global citizens.
  • We will be recognised locally and globally for our leadership on matters of national and global importance, through outstanding research and scholarship and a commitment to collaboration.
  • We will be empowered by our sense of place and connections with communities. We will take opportunities to advance both the University and the City of Melbourne in close collaboration and synergy.
  • We will deliver this through building a brilliant, diverse and vibrant University community, with strong connections to those we serve.

The means for achieving these goals include the development of the University of Melbourne’s academic and professional staff and the capabilities needed to support a modern, world-class university. Those means require a commitment to ongoing financial sustainability and an ambitious infrastructure program which will reshape the campus and our contribution to the communities we engage with. This strategy, and the priorities proposed, is centred around five intersecting themes; place, community, education, discovery and global.


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Comprehensive information about the University of Melbourne and its governance structure is available at