Study and Scholarship Opportunities

We are always looking for new students with a passion for studying how trees grow and form wood and capturing this new understanding in mathematical process-based or statistical models.  Please drop us a line if you’d like to find out more about joining our group!

Stellenbosch is a great place to live, work and pursue your studies: visit here for more information.  The town abounds with cultural, sporting, recreational and social variety.  The University is a world-leader in many areas, and one of the very best in Africa.  For those students from outside of South Africa, the SU International Office provides excellent support; they will help you every step of the way: from getting your visa to settling in!


Applications are invited from candidates interested in pursuing a PhD degree by research within the new Hans Merensky Chair in Advanced Modelling of Eucalyptus Wood Formation (EucXylo) at Stellenbosch University.

A wide range of topics are available within the program, and students have great scope to tailor their own research project to their interests and ideas.  Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Physiological and molecular drivers and determinants of vessel differentiation in Eucalyptus.
  • Sugar-hormone interactions and the mediation of xylogenesis by morphogenic gradients.
  • Cause or effect: Linking xylem hydraulic properties, stem stiffness and xylem differentiation.
  • Functional-structural models of eucalypt tree form using L-systems.

Students from a wide range of backgrounds are welcome to apply, including from applied fields like Forest and Wood Science, Plant Biology, Genetics and Horticulture, or more basic sciences, including Mathematics, Biochemistry, Physics, Chemistry or Biology.  However, we will only consider students who have achieved above-average results in prior degrees.  Some restrictions may apply and applicants can be expected to subject to certain biometric/competency testing.

A tax-free scholarship of R160,000 per annum is offered for three years for successful candidates.  Students will have at least one opportunity to present their work at an overseas conference during their candidature and may have the opportunity to spend some time working at an overseas research lab (e.g. Ghent, Belgium or Brisbane, Australia).  Students must register full time and be based on the Stellenbosch campus of the University.  At least three peer-reviewed publications will be expected from PhD candidates by the time of graduation.

Please send applications before the end of September 2019 to Dr David Drew ( including the following:

  • All previous degrees and academic records
  • A cover letter giving background to your application
  • A comprehensive and up-to-date Résumé including details of at least two referees.
  • A one-page essay outlining your ideas for a possible research direction you would like to take in your PhD project within the EucXylo program.