The influence of seminal plasma on sperm function and fertility


An opportunity is available for an outstanding PhD scholar in the area of reproductive biology. The project will investigate the factors in seminal plasma that influence male fertility.
A complimentary scholarship will be made available with this project. To find out more and to apply, refer to The McCaughey PhD Scholarship
Research will primarily be conducted on the university's main campus in Camperdown, but fieldwork will also be undertaken at the sheep unit at Cobbitty and with our collaborators at INRA, France (near Tours).
The supervisory team will also consist of Dr Jessica Rickard.


Associate Professor Simon De Graaf

Research Location

School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Program Type



Recent research has demonstrated the remarkable influence of seminal plasma (the acellular product of the epididymides and accessory sex glands) on the function of sperm in a variety of animal species. Seminal plasma facilitates the passage of sperm through the cervix, helps sperm evade attack by the immune system, and protects against damage that might occur during application of reproductive technologies such as cryopreservation or sex-sorting. Despite these advances little is known about the factors responsible for these effects. 
The aim of this project is to build on the body of work produced by our group and investigate the function of specific seminal plasma proteins on ram sperm function and fertility during invitro storage and subsequent insemination in the female reproductive tract. This information will be used to develop novel and practical solutions which improve fertility following cervical artificial insemination of frozen-thawed ram semen. The project will be conducted in conjunction with collaborators at INRA (Tours, France) and a PhD stipend and project costs will be provided subject to candidate suitability.

Additional Information

The successful candidate must have completed a degree in the life sciences (eg biology, biochemistry, animal science, veterinary science), have research experience (Honours, Masters, DVM degree) and excellent communication skills. Experience in biochemistry and molecular biology is highly desirable. Applicants A must be Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents. A current Australian driver’s license is also required. 
In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include: 

  • Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
  • Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
  • Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
  • Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
  • Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
  • Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
  • Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights; Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
  • Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
  • Hold a current scuba diving license;
  • Hold a current Working with Children Check;
  • Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.) 

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Reproduction, reproductive biology, sheep, livestock, sperm, artificial breeding, artificial insemination, scholarship

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 2600