We offer unique opportunities for motivated and outstanding students to enrol in Honours and PhD research projects focusing on questions related to our research

Honours projects available

A wide range of Honours projects are on offer with students also afforded opportunities to develop their own research questions when they have shown a strong passion for certain performance traits, diseases, disorders, etc... Please see the School of Life and Environmental Sciences Honours Information Booklet for additional information. You can also email Dr Velie for further information.

Potential projects:

Chronic Progressive Lymphedema in draught breeds

Genetic diversity in draught horse breeds

An investigation of maternal effects in racing thoroughbreds

The genetic investigation of ventricular septal defect in Arabian horses

PhD projects available

PhD student research projects are offered as they become available; however, highly motivated students interested in pursuing a PhD in this group are welcome to contact Dr Velie if they have their own project idea that they feel is in line with the overall focus of the group.

PhD opportunities:


Unravelling analgesic sensitivity in the horse - a genetic approachThe ability to appropriately manage equine pain in chronic and acute settings remains limited, constrained by challenges in cost, side effects of analgesia, and lack of robust evidence regarding efficacy. Moreover, weight tapes and formulas currently used for the estimation of horse bodyweight have very limited accuracy, compounding the challenges experienced by veterinarians, even when isometric dosing of analgesics are applied. Commonly administered analgesics have also failed to produce consistent antinociceptive results, and the effectiveness of analgesics on healthy, pain free horses typically varies greatly from those seen in the presence of pain in a clinical setting. In other species, mediated responses to analgesics have been associated with genetic variants, many of which influence a range of biological processes and molecular pathways. In this project, we will combine state-of-the-art genomic technologies (whole-genome scans, next-generation sequencing, and advanced bioinformatics) with deep knowledge on the physiology of the horse to identify genetic variants associated with analgesics sensitivity in horses, further opening the door to the application of precision medicine in equids.

Australian Heritage Brumby Initiative: Like many conservation areas throughout the world, Australian national parks are home not only to a wide range of native flora and fauna, but also to non-native animals. In Australia, perhaps the most controversial of these non-native animals is the Australian Heritage Brumby – a term applied to the wild descendants of domestic horses introduced to Australia in the late 1780s. While brumbies in Australia have been shown to endanger native species and threaten ecosystems, there is also anecdotal evidence that some brumby populations are reservoirs for ancestral horse bloodlines. Consequently, when ecological arguments for brumby eradication in the wild are put forth, these arguments are quickly refuted by brumby organisations that claim brumbies have novel genetic variants that should be preserved. As a result, brumby management continues to be and will likely remain highly contentious until the genetic status of wild brumbies is established. In this project, we will use state-of-the-art genomics technologies (i.e. high density array data and advanced bioinformatics and modelling) to answer 1) What is the relationship between brumbies and modern horse breeds, 2) Do inbreeding levels among the mobs of brumbies warrant concern, and 3) How do alternative management actions impact the population and genetic viability of brumbies and how do these options intersect with conservation and heritage values?

Expressions of Interest:

Please email Dr Velie for more information. Students (domestic or international) with a high level of relevant qualifications, research experience, and enthusiasm will be invited to apply for a competitive Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship or University of Sydney Postgraduate Award Scholarship (Domestic students) or international postgraduate research scholarships (International students). Students may also have the opportunity to apply for top-up scholarships from the University of Sydney.

To rank highly, students will need to have completed a Masters by Research (or international equivalent) or first class Honours (domestic students), and have at least one publication or extensive research experience.