First listed on: 16 April 2023

CSIRO Postdoctoral Fellowship in Bushfire Ember Aerodynamics and Combustion


Acknowledgement of Country

CSIRO acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land, sea and waters, of the area that we live and work on across Australia. We acknowledge their continuing connection to their culture and pay our respects to their Elders past and present. View our vision towards reconciliation

The Opportunity

  • Do you have a PhD in physics, engineering or mathematics?
  • Keen to help improve Australia's preparation and response to wildfires?
  • Join the CSIRO Bushfire Behaviour and Suppression Team for this exciting 3-year postdoctoral role

CSIRO Early Research Career (CERC) Postdoctoral Fellowships provide opportunities to scientists and engineers who have completed their doctorate and have less than three years of relevant postdoctoral work experience. These fellowships aim to develop the next generation of future leaders of the innovation system.

The occurrence of new fire ignitions ahead of a wildfire (called ‘spot fires’), ignited by the transport of burning debris downwind from the combustion zone of the main fire, are the primary cause of wildfires (or ‘bushfires’) escaping containment, the life-threatening entrapment of firefighters and the general publics, and the loss of houses and other structures. Situations in which burning debris (such as embers or ‘firebrands’) are lofted in the wildfire’s plume and carried by the prevailing wind, can lead to spot fires occurring many kilometres from the fire (up to 40 km in some instances) if a viable firebrand lands and starts a new fire. 
This CERC Fellowship provides an opportunity to join the CSIRO Bushfire Behaviour and Suppression team and contribute to the ongoing development of knowledge critical to the management of bushfires in Australia and around the world, improving the operational preparation for and response to wildfires, and increasing the society’s resilience to one of the world’s most dangerous natural phenomena.
The role of the CERC Fellow will be to undertake novel experimental research into the aerodynamic and combustion characteristics of common firebrands and to develop innovative theoretical models of firebrand flight and ignition viability. The research will use the CSIRO Vertical Wind Tunnel located at the National Bushfire Behaviour Research Laboratory (NBBRL) in Canberra, Australia, and will lead to improved operational predictions of spot fire occurrence during wildfires. 

Your duties will include:

  • Developing and advancing a new impactful research stream within the broader research portfolio of the Bushfire Behaviour and Suppression team in the NBBRL focused on the phenomenon of spotting (the formation of spot fires) and firebrand/ember transport and dispersal.
  • Carrying out creative experimental research in which innovative methodologies and theoretical frameworks are created or applied to reliably quantify and model flight and combustion characteristics of common firebrands, mostly tree bark, using the CSIRO Vertical Wind tunnel in the NBBRL and implementing unique data acquisition methods for the purpose of developing predictive operational tools.
  • Recognising and exploiting opportunities for innovation and the generation of new theoretical perspectives in the research area, and progress opportunities for the further development or creation of new lines of research.
  • Managing, operating and modifying the CSIRO Vertical Wind Tunnel as required to meet specific experimental needs.

Location:  Canberra, ACT (CERC Fellow must be willing to relocate to Canberra)
Salary:  AU$92k - AU$101k plus up to 15.4% superannuation
Tenure:  Specified term of 3 years
Reference: 90925

To be considered you will need:

  • A doctorate (or will shortly satisfy the requirements of a PhD) in a relevant discipline area, such as physics, engineering or mathematics. Please note: To be eligible for this role you must have no more than 3 years (or full-time equivalent) of postdoctoral research experience.
  • Experience of research in wind tunnel operation, fluid mechanics, fluid dynamics, turbulence, or combustion; experience in study of atmospheric boundary layer or general meteorology would also be highly regarded.
  • Knowledge and experience working in an experimental research environment involving sensor deployment and data acquisition.
  • Strong mathematical background in data analysis and modelling.
  • Be physically able to manage and operate the vertical wind tunnel (accessible only by stairs across three floors) subject to WH&S approvals.

For full details about this role please view the Position Description


Applications for this position are open to Australian/New Zealand Citizens, Australian Permanent Residents or you must either hold, or be able to obtain, a valid working visa for the duration of the specified term.

Appointment to this role is subject to provision of a national police check and may be subject to other security/medical/character requirements.

Flexible Working Arrangements

We work flexibly at CSIRO, offering a range of options for how, when and where you work. 

Diversity and Inclusion

We are working hard to recruit people representing the diversity across our society, and ensure that all our people feel supported to do their best work and feel empowered to let their ideas flourish. 


At CSIRO Australia's national science agency, we solve the greatest challenges through innovative science and technology. We put the safety and wellbeing of our people above all else and earn trust everywhere because we only deal in facts. We collaborate widely and generously and deliver solutions with real impact. 

Join us and start creating tomorrow today!

How to Apply

Please apply on-line and provide a cover letter and CV that best demonstrate your motivation and ability to meet the requirements of this role.

Applications Close

29 May 2023, 11:00pm AEST

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