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Supplement use in high performance sport PhD applications now open

31 May 2020

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The Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research (MMIHR) is partnering with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), Canberra to undertake research on issues that affect athlete health and performance. Applications are open for one Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) PhD Scholarship to undertake innovative research around generating knowledge about supplement use in high performance sport.

The Exercise and Nutrition Research Program within the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research provides a dynamic, multidisciplinary environment for PhD students to pursue an academic and/or industry research career. It has a large academic and support staff dedicated to its research program, substantial research funding, a vibrant PhD program, and world leading national and international collaborative partners.

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Wisdom of the crowd is collective intelligence derived from large numbers of people. Social scientist Professor Daniel Centola, Director of the Network Dynamics Group from the University of Pennsylvania, has developed platforms and models to show that democratised and decentralised networks can produce information that is precise and accurate about many themes (see ).

The AIS and MMIHR are seeking new ways to gather expertise to support the AIS Sports Supplement Framework. 

A Phd program is being set up to develop tools and strategies to harness the collective wisdom of Australian and international experts in sports science/nutrition to address nuances in our knowledge about the use of supplements and sports foods in high performance sport. The outcomes will be tested against models involving artificial intelligence and traditional models of knowledge aggregation (e.g. meta-analysis of research findings). It will also investigate the effect of the experience of being a participant in Wisdom of the Crowd activities on attitudes and beliefs about supplements.

The project, representing a collaboration between AIS Divisions (AIS Operations, Applied Technology and Innovation [ATI], and Performance, People and Teams) will be based at the AIS in Canberra and will be supervised by Professor Louise Burke (AIS Chief of Nutrition Strategy and MMIHR Chair of Sports Nutrition), Dr David Martin (applied sports scientist, ACU) and Tony Schofield (Full Stack and Lead Developer, AIS ATI). The project will take place between July 1 2020 to June 30 2023 and the successful applicant should have strong skills in automated data collection, network analysis, natural language processing, computational text analysis and/or machine learning.


PhD program eligibility criteria:The eligibility criteria for the PhD program at ACU can be found in the Higher Degree Research Regulations.

Scholarship eligibility criteria:

In addition to the PhD program eligibility criteria, applicants must demonstrate evidence of:

  • Australian First Class Honours degree or Masters degree by research/coursework in any of the fields of Computer Science
  • Academic excellence, including, but not limited to, academic awards and grants
  • Professional experience, relevant training and/or research experience in automated data collection, network analysis, natural language processing, computational text analysis and/or machine learning.
  • Highly desirable: Academic publications and/or conference presentations, especially in the area of the PhD Scholarship, relative to their career to date

Study mode and location:
Full-time for three years at The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) / MMIHR, ACU Canberra campus. It is anticipated this scholarship will commence in July 2020, however, due to the CoVid-19 pandemic, face-to-face research has been suspended until further notice. The exact start date for this scholarship will be advised once known.

Value and duration:

  • A Research Training Program Stipend of A$33,092 per annum (tax-free, indexed), for three (3) years subject to satisfactory progress and full-time study mode; and
  • A Research Training Program Fees Offset Scholarship; that is a tuition fee waiver, for three (3) years.

Apply now

Applications close June 4 2020

How to apply

  • Step 1: Expression of interest

This opportunity is open to domestic applicants only, that is Australian Citizens, Australian Permanent Residents and New Zealand Citizens.
Applicants must submit a 1 to 2-page cover letter and a brief Curriculum Vitae detailing how they meet the scholarship eligibility criteria as listed above to Professor Louise Burke on:
Phone: +61 (0) 422 635 869

  • Step 2: Invitation to submit formal application

Applicants who are successful in their Expression of Interest may be invited to interview and to submit a formal application for the PhD program and this stipend scholarship.

Instructions for submitting a formal application to the PhD program can be found on the ‘How to Apply’ section of the ACU Research Web Page.

For general candidature enquiries, email Candidature Services on, with the subject line ‘Specialist research area: innovative methods of generating knowledge about sports supplements – Wisdom of the Crowd.'

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