Available Category 1 PhD projects - Engineering, architecture & IT

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Chief Investigator

Project title

Project description

Preferred educational background

Dr Lei Guo

l.guo3@uq.edu.au

Develop new generation of electromagnetic medical imaging system

With the increased demands for low-cost, portable and fast medical imaging modalities, electromagnetic medical imaging (EMI) as a newly developed imaging modality is drawing more research nowadays. 

This project aims to develop the new generation of EMI system, specifically for brain stroke imaging and classification.

Develop EMI for brain stroke imaging and classification has its unique advantages, such as the portable and low-cost features of EMI enable the system can be used in ambulance and rural areas. Considering the lack of practical medical imaging system in those scenarios, the outcome of this project has huge potential to fill a blank area in medical instrument market. 

This project will involve two general aspects, the hardware and software. In the hardware part, different antenna types will be investigated to fulfil the portable and low-cost requirements of the EMI system. This research might include investigations about wearable antennas, metamaterial antennas, or reconfigurable antennas. 

In the software part, novel EM imaging and classification algorithms will be developed. The EM imaging algorithms include radar-based algorithms, e.g., confocal and beamforming-based methods, etc, and tomography-based algorithms, e.g., Born/distorted Born iterative and contrast source inversion-based methods, etc. The classification algorithms aim to distinguish two types of brain strokes, i.e., the hemorrhagic and ischemic strokes. The development of classification algorithms include machine learning based methods by using the produced tomography images or the measured time domain/frequency domain data from EMI system. 

This project is funded by an Advanced Queensland Industry project, collaborates with EMvision Medical Company and Princess Alexandra Hospital at Brisbane. The student has the opportunity to work with industry design team and specialists at hospital. Clinical data can be accessed to test the developed hardware and imaging algorithms. The student will also work with the UQ Electromagnetic Innovations team (EMAGIN), conduct experiments at the UQ electromagnetic imaging lab.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of electromagnetic theory, solving electromagnetic inverse problem, machine learning for pattern recognition and classification, and signal processing would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of electromagnetic and machine learning and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of convex optimisation is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Associate Professor Guido Zuccon

g.zuccon@uq.edu.au

AI-driven Effective Query Formulation for Better Systematic Reviews

This project aims to develop novel AI-based search engine methods to make the creation of systematic reviews cheaper, faster and unbiased. Systematic reviews are the cornerstone for evidence-based decisions in clinical practice and government policy making. Given the pace new research is published at, it is unsustainable to manually conduct systematic reviews in the traditional manner, taking on average 2 years and $350K and becoming already outdated when published. The outcomes of this project will lead to systematic reviews of higher quality, while reducing their financial and temporal costs, providing significant benefits to organisations performing reviews and their funders, and to people impacted by decisions made from the reviews.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of information retrieval, natural language processing and transformer-based language models would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of information retrieval, computer programming, natural language processing, machine learning, deep learning and the potential for scholastic success.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 3, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Dr Mahshid Firouzi

m.firouzi@uq.edu.au

Carbon sequestration using Carbon dioxide in water nano-emulsions

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) has recently gained significant attention for reducing greenhouse gas and to address the climate issue.  In conventional CCS, CO2 is generally stored as a pure supercritical fluid, which rises up in the formation until a geological seal layer is reached; this seal provides a structural trap preventing the escape of the fluid out of the subsurface. A restricting concern and risk is the reliability of this seal which can have sand sections or faults which might allow the buoyant CO2 to escape to overlying aquifers, even over centuries. This project aims to develop a novel and reliable method for permanent CCS, in which CO2 is injected as a nano-emulsion in water in order to increase the CO2 solubility and thereby accelerate its reaction with rocks. This project will more specifically investigate the formation of a stable nano-emulsion of CO2 in water using environmentally benign surfactants and demosntrate the mineralisation of the CO2 into stable carbonate solids by analysing the reaction rates and products.

The successful applicant will be working in a group of academics from different disciplines from School of Chemical Engineering and School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of emulsions /foams which include characterisation and mathematical modelling of the emulsion would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of chemical engineering, physical chemistry, carbon capture and storage and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of reaction and mineralisation of CO2 and CMG simulation is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Professor George Zhao

george.zhao@uq.edu.au

Understanding sodium ion interactions with biomass-derived hard carbon electrodes for improved batteries Energy storage is increasingly demanded for coping with the intermittency of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. While lithium-ion batteries can meet the demands, safety concerns on lithium-ion batteries and rapidly rising costs of lithium resources have driven the industry towards cost-effective and safe energy storage technologies, such as sodium-ion batteries. This project aims to investigate sodium-ion storage mechanism in biomass-derived carbon electrode materials, thus providing guidelines for developing sustainable sodium-ion battery technology. The student will have opportunities to gain knowledge on advanced battery technology.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of materials science, chemistry or chemical engineering would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

A background or knowledge of physics and electrical engineering is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 3, 2021. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Dr Jeffrey Venezuela

j.venezuela@uq.edu.au

Advanced Radiopaque Coatings for Medical Applications In this project, advanced coatings to improve the radiopacity of medical microcomponents will be developed. The coatings will be characterized and analyzed for substrate adhesion,  microstructure, mechanical properties and radiopacity.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of nanomaterials and polymer science would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of materials science and engineering and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of coating technologies is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 3, 2021. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Professor Longbin Huang

l.huang@uq.edu.au

Organic matter formation in technosols eco-engineered from bauxite residues

The formation and stabilization of  organic matter in mineral phase are critical to soil formation and development in eco-engineered bauxite residues. The OM turnover and mineral occulation are not only important to the development of resilient soil structure (e.g., water stable aggregates), but soil biogeochemical functions.  The nature and composition of the OM occluded in aggreagtes are related to organic carbon (OC) from microbial and plant sources. The PhD project will focus on OM formation and stabilization in the process of eco-engineered soil formation of  bauxite residues, in relation to mineralogical transforamtion, geochemical changes and micorbial community evolution. Depending on applicant's background and interest, the emphasis of the PhD study could be tailored to focus on the nature and fate of OM or aggregate-occluded OC turnover driven by plants and microbes, in the technosols under a gradient of physicochemical conditions. Expected knowledge will contribute to the understanding of pedogenic processes leading to soil formmation and sustainable rehabilitation.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of soil organic carbon biogeochemistry and/or soil biology related to rhizosphere processes would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of soil chemistry or soil biology and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of organic chemistry is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2023. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Professor Andrew Whittaker

a.whittaker@uq.edu.au

Novel low-fouling biopolymers for biomedical applications

Low fouling polymers play an important role in moderating interactions of dissolved molecules and particles with cells. In the pharmaceutical sciences they are essential tools for extending pharmacokinetics of dissolved drugs. However, the widely-used low-fouling polymer, poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) is coming under increasing scrutiny due to observation of anti-PEG antibodies. Alternatives to PEG are desperately needed. We introduce in this project super-hydrophilic polymers incorporating sulfoxide groups, indeed mimics of the solvent DMSO. The project will explore how molecular architecture can be manipulated to enhance biocompatibility, using experimental and computational approaches. The PhD student will receive training in cross-discipline research, including preparation of low fouling polymers, measurement of interactions with proteins and cells, and participate in modelling of these interactions.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of chemical or biomedical sciences would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of chemistry or associated discipline and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of chemistry, cell or molecular biology is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Professor Michael Yu

c.yu@uq.edu.au

Enabling Next-generation Rechargeable Aluminium-ion Batteries This project aims to develop a new generation of high performance and low-cost cathode materials for rechargeable aluminium ion batteries. To address the low capacity issue of current cathodes, this project anticipates generating new knowledge in the material design of novel graphene materials. Expected outcomes of this project include industrial adaptable manufacturing processing and advanced materials for aluminium ion batteries.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of materials science or chemistry would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

A background or knowledge of energy storage research is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Associate Professor Zuduo Zheng

zuduo.zheng@uq.edu.au

Modelling interactions between human driving behaviour, information flow, and automation in mixed traffic flow

This project aims to balance road safety and efficiency as conflicting goals of transport systems mixed with connected and automated vehicles (CAVs). This project is expected to generate fundamental knowledge on operational algorithms and analytics for CAVs and develop innovative tools for operating them. Expected outcomes include ground-breaking models capable of the co-estimation of efficiency and safety impacts of CAVs, and control strategies to safely and efficiently integrate CAVs into existing transport systems. This project will provide not only scientific breakthroughs in modelling safety, operation, and dynamics of traffic flow mixed with CAVs, but also efficient transport solutions that will significantly contribute to fully utilise the well-acknowledged benefits arising from CAVs, including safety benefits by reducing fatalities and injuries, mobility benefits by reducing congestion, and environment benefits by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This should provide significant safety and efficiency benefits that currently cost about 1160 lives and 1.25 billion hours of congestion per year, and make Australia better prepared for the connected and automated vehicle era.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of analytical skills and programming skills would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of traffic engineering, system modelling, operation, control, and optimisation and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of mathematical modelling in developing traffic flow models is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Professor Suresh Bhatia

s.bhatia@uq.edu.au

Gas Transport in in Ultra-Thin Nanomaterials

An important objective of emerging nanotechnologies is efficiency improvement by using small system sizes of nanoscale dimensions to reduce resistance to transport of molecules. Gas separation using ultra-thin membranes, sensors, catalysis and drug delivery are some examples where such nanotechnologies are being developed. However, as system size is reduced, resistance to fluid flow related to the system boundaries becomes increasingly important, and limits the efficiency improvement possible. This project will investigate these effects through simulations of flow in zeolites as well as carbon nanotubes. In addition, modelling of the flow in nanoscale tubes will be performed, to develop an understanding of the mechanisms affecting the transport in the entry region. Several applications where such effects will be important will be examined. These include drug delivery using nanosized adsorbents, and ultra-thin membranes as well as nanocomposite mixed matrix membranes for gas separation and desalination. Another application is that of transdermal drug delivery and transport through the nanoscale lipid bilayers within the outermost layer of the skin, which controls the rate of delivery.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of transport phenomena and fluid flow would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of chemical engineering or physics or theoretical chemistry and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of computer programming is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Dr Zhiliang Wang

zhiliang.wang@uq.edu.au

Defect Engineering Enabling Efficient Solar Hydrogen Production

The project aims to achieve efficient renewable hydrogen production through solar driven photoelectrochemical water splitting. As a carbon-emission free process, photoelectrochemical water splitting is significant in solar hydrogen supply. The key idea is to design innovative photoelectrode materials using defect engineering strategy which allows more efficient conversion of solar energy to hydrogen. The expected outcomes include high Solar-to-Hydrogen conversion efficiency on the new materials and cutting-edge knowledge in advanced material design. The success of this project will contribute to the implementation of the Australia's National Hydrogen Strategy and position the nation at the frontier of renewable hydrogen supply technologies.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of material sciences, electrochemistry, photocatalysis and photoelectrocatalysis would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of material science and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of electrochemistry is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Professor David Williams

d.williams@uq.edu.au

Catastrophic Rock and Concrete Brittle Failures

A PhD position is available as part of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery project titled “Catastrophic Rock and Concrete Brittle Failures”. The overall aim of this ARC DP project is to develop a new paradigm of monitoring, prediction and prevention of dangerous skin rock burst-type failures. A unique experimental methodology, measurements and analytical and numerical models will be employed to provide a better understanding of the fundamental processes in spalling-like fracturing in geo-like materials. We seek to develop methods of reducing the risk of dangerous rock and concrete failures from tensile fractures driven by high compressive stresses, either natural (on the walls of an opening) or induced on the concrete/rock surface by fires. The PhD project will focus on either: (i) rock and concrete brittle failures under thermal and polyaxial stresses, or (ii) the development of practical procedures during the site characterisation and laboratory investigation phases to assess whether spalling should be anticipated during construction or the life-time of the project. If spalling is expected, the project provides design procedures to identify the (lateral and radial) extent of the spalled zone for risk assessment purposes. The successful applicant will work as a team with researchers from UQ GEC within the School of Civil Engineering, Rock Mechanics Group at the University of Western Australia, and the Geoscience Laboratory at the University of Alberta (Canada).

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of laboratory techniques for fracture mechanics and geomaterials testing would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of civil geotechnical engineering, structural or mining engineering or a closely related area and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of in high-speed photography, digital image correlation or acoustic emission monitoring techniques is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 4, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Professor Evgueni Jak

e.jak@uq.edu.au

Process metallurgy of high temperature oxide systems in support of copper metal recycling and the development of the circular economy

Copper, nickel, cobalt, chromium and tin metals are essential for the manufacture of new battery materials, electrical and electronic devices and technologies that will enable the global transition to sustainable energy systems. There are major technical challenges associated with the industrial scale high temperature production, separation and recycling of these metals.

The overall aim of the research program is develop advanced chemical thermodynamic databases and models that can be used to predict the outcomes of these complex chemical reactions, and in doing so provide the industry with the vital fundamental scientific information and tools needed to be able to design and improve new, more efficient metal production and recycling technologies.

The objective of the project is to provide critical information on phase equilibria and kinetic data on liquid and solid oxide systems urgently needed to accurately describe these important industrial systems. This will involve undertaking new experimental measurements in selected chemical systems and at controlled process conditions, and the development of chemical thermodynamic and kinetic models.

The successful applicant will work as part of the Pyrometallurgy Innovation Centre (PYROSEARCH) team and provide important research outcomes to our Australian and international industry sponsors.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of high temperature materials processing would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of metallurgical, materials chemical engineering, chemistry or related discipline and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of chemical thermodynamics is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 4, 2021. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Dr Mingyuan Lu

m.lu1@uq.edu.au

Developing micromechanical testing protocols for bilayer and multilayer nanocomposite coatings

Re-coated metal (PCM) sheets are extensively used in the manufacture of domestic electric appliances, such as air-conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, microwave ovens etc. Millions of tons of PCM sheets are produced every year worldwide to meet the burgeoning demand for domestic electric appliances. However, coupled with this rapid expansion are issues around product quality, with insufficient robustness and durability of the polymeric coatings on PCM steel being the most prevalent. This has posed challenges for enhancing product reliability, reducing production cost and managing the associated wastage of scrap and reject materials. The current high reject rate in production not only impose a cost burden on the manufacturers of PCM sheets and home appliances, but also generate a significant environmental concern with respect to waste disposal. Therefore, developing the next generation of PCM coatings with enhanced mechanical performance has become a priority for many PCM manufacturers. 

A PhD project is available to support this research funded under an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project. This research focuses on developing new nanocomposite coatings with high strength, toughness and hardness to improve the quality and reliability of PCM products using nanoclay and graphene technologies. The PHD project will aim to develop assessment protocols for bilayer and multilayer nanocomposite coatings. Micro-mechanical approaches for assessing interfacial toughness and adhesion of the polymeric coatings will be developed. In particular, the effect of nanofillers on the toughening and formability of the coatings will be comprehensively investigated and understood. In addition, the deformation behaviour of the multilayer systems under tension and bending, as well as material removal in abrasion will be studied to explore the relations between process, microstructure and mechanical properties. 

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of material characterization, nano-/micro-mechanical testing, thin film and coating would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of material science and material mechanics and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of nano-/micro-mechanics and interfacial adhesion measurement is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Dr Christopher James

c.james4@uq.edu.au

The interaction of radiation and ablation during Mars return

One of the major challenges for future high speed missions returning to Earth from Mars or other planets is the shock layer environment which the vehicles will experience. The shock layer temperatures experienced during these entries are so high that radiative heat flux becomes the primary means of heating to the vehicle’s protective ablative heat shield. The way that the products which burn off the heat shield absorb and re-emit radiation from the flow is a large uncertainty for the designers of these missions which this work aims to address.

The aim of this project is to use established test model heating techniques at The University of Queensland, as well a unique hypersonic impulse wind tunnel to study both the radiation and the ablation experienced during these challenging Mars return conditions. This is research which is of interest to NASA for the design of their future Mars Sample Return mission.

The PhD student working on this project will perform experiments on fundamental vehicle geometries in both heated and unheated cases at conditions related to Mars return at up to 15 km/s. The PhD project is suited to a student with a strong background in aerospace engineering. A background in physics, a hands on “can-do” attitude, and some knowledge of programming (for the analysis of data) is preferable, but could also be learnt on the job. UQ’s Centre for Hypersonics’ Expansion Tube Laboratory is a lively team environment which the student would benefit from and hopefully also contribute to.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of aerospace engineering would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of engineering and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of physics, as well as programming (for the analysis of data) is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Professor Andrew Garnett

a.garnett@uq.edu.au

Novel upscaling techniques for coal seam gas models

The ARC Linkage Project New stratigraphy and geostatistics for gas and water addresses the challenge of sustainable development of Queensland’s gas and groundwater resources. Predictive modelling is key to informing management strategies of gas extraction operations as well as the management of groundwater resources. The modelling of the flow of water and gas in coal seam gas reservoirs relies on methods developed for conventional oil and gas fields, where geological and hydrogeological conditions are different. Consequently there is an opportunity to improve the certainty of forward-looking estimates of gas and water production from coal seam gas developments. In the case of Walloon coals (Surat Basin) this is exacerbated because of the very small thickness of most coal seams that is far below a practicable reservoir simulation cell size. This thesis research will contribute to the overall goal of this ARC Linkage project by reviewing and testing currently known techniques in a series of scenarios based on gas industry field data. The insights gained from this exercise will be used to develop a fit-for-purpose methodology and work flows for reservoir simulation model building and may include theoretical and coding work as well as flow experiments.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of single and multi-phase flow and numerical methods in fluid dynamics would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the fields of petroleum engineering, environmental engineering or hydrogeology and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of geostatistics, stochastic modelling and computer programming (Python, Matlab, R etc.) is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Dr Esteban Marcellin

e.marcellin@uq.edu.au

Modelling cyanobacterial metabolism for the production of high-value products

Modelling the metabolism of cyanobacteria for industrial production of chemicals has great commercial potential. Cyanobacteria are prolific phototrophs, capturing more than 25% of the planet’s carbon. Due to their native methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway and capacity to express complex plant proteins (e.g. p450), they represent an attractive Synthetic Biology platform for terpene biosynthesis. Combining physiological strain characterisation and multi-omics studies will result in the development of models and engineering strategies to achieve economically viable strains. The project aims at designing a suite of modified freshwater and marine cyanobacteria strains with increased terpene biosynthesis capabilities. This will enable solar biomanufacturing and underpin the emergence of Australian bioeconomy.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of Matlab, chemical engineering and synthetic biology would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of chemical engineering and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of bioengineering is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 4, 2021. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Dr Mickael Mounaix

m.mounaix@uq.edu.au

Shaping light in space and time

We seek applications from suitably qualified candidates who will focus on the development of optical systems for the measurement and manipulation of the spatial, spectral and temporal properties of light. The position is fully funded by a PhD stipend from the University of Queensland.

The project relates to an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) “Taming the light: full control in polarisation, space, and time”, led by Dr Mickael Mounaix. This project will extend the capacity to control all the properties of an optical bean (space, time, polarisation) in the frame of a collaboration between the University of Queensland and industry partner Nokia Bell Laboratories [1]. A general audience video, explaining the research problem and our results is available [2]. The aim of this PhD project is to build prototype optical beam shaping systems, that can control all the properties of a light beam. The project will culminate with applying the developed prototypes to the field of high-power fibre amplifiers, with interesting perspectives in laser physics, optical micromanipulation and the interaction between light and matter.

The successful applicant will work in a young and  dynamic team at the School of ITEE at UQ (Dr Mickael Mounaix, Dr Joel Carpenter, Dr Martin Ploschner), and in strong collaboration with industry partner Nokia Bell Laboratories (9 Nobel Prizes in Physics, the Turing medal, and the National Medals of Science) in the USA.

[1]: Mickael Mounaix, Nicolas K. Fontaine, David T. Neilson, Roland Ryf, Haoshuo Chen, Juan Carlos Alvarado-Zacarias & Joel Carpenter, “Time reversed optical waves by arbitrary vector spatiotemporal field generation”, Nature Communications volume 11, Article number: 5813 (2020) link  

[2] https://youtu.be/1WcIejZd__w : “Time reversed optical waves by arbitrary vector spatiotemporal field generation (General audience)”

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of experimental work, numerical simulation and programming would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of optical physics, especially Fourier optics and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of programming, particularly in Matlab, Python, C, C++ and CUDA is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Professor Justin Cooper-White

j.cooperwhite@uq.edu.au

Dynamics, Rheology and Printability of Bioactive Hairy Colloids

Colloidal gels can be formed from a range of both polymeric and inorganic nanoparticles. Many engineered products rely on colloidal gels and suspensions for their unique behaviours (e.g. printing inks, paints, coatings, foods, etc.). In designing desired properties into these suspensions, formulators tailor the interactions between nanoparticles to elicit control over solution microstructure and the resultant rheological properties, such as yield stress, viscoelasticity or normal stress differences. Systematic design of the colloidal 'interactome' (as used in other more established industries) to introduce predictive structure-property-function mapping into polymeric precursors for use in Bioprinting is yet to be exploited.

This project will be focussed on determining the impact of chemical composition and structure on the rheological and mechanical properties of multi-arm star polymer, or hairy colloid (HC), based suspensions. Probing colloidal interactions combinatorially to decipher their relative impact on suspension through to glassy behaviours in hairy soft colloids is a significant challenge. Comprehensive characterisation of the role of arm composition, arm length, arm number and arm type ratio of hairy ‘mikto-arm’ colloids on the resultant modes of arm relaxation, colloidal microstructures and rheological behaviours under shear is non-existent. Using a novel high throughput (HTP) synthesis and characterisation pipeline recently developed in our laboratory opens a completely new avenue for probing colloidal dynamics and structure, for defining ‘design’ guidelines for a desired rheological footprint, and for identifying new formulation optima that will produce colloidal gels and glasses that offer completely unique mechanical properties, unique phases and unique processing behaviours.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of polymer synthesis and characterisation, biomaterials, computational modelling, particularly finite element modelling, and imaging would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of chemical and biological engineering, biomedical engineering, or a related discipline and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of rheology, colloidal interaction forces and thermodynamics is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Dr Esteban Marcellin

e.marcellin@uq.edu.au

Biological conversion of GHG into fuels and chemicals

Acetogens have a substantial role in the global carbon cycle by producing billions of tons of acetic acid annually from capturing an estimated ~20% of CO2 on Earth. Acetogens can also fix inorganic carbon as CO or CO2 using arguably the first biochemical pathway on Earth, the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway (WLP). The WLP is the most energy-efficient and the only known linear pathway for the synthesis of acetyl-CoA from CO2. Operating at the limit of thermodynamic feasibility and relying on the third mode of energy conservation, electron bifurcation, acetogens represent a fascinating family of microbes with unique regulatory modes of operation at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional level.

This project offers a unique opportunity to convert low carbon feedstocks into valuable chemicals using gas fermentation. Fermentation of C1 gases by acetogens offers numerous advantages. Gas fermentation tolerates a broad range of gas compositions and contaminants. For example, LanzaTech's commercial gas fermentation facilities, recently inaugurated in China, operates on unconditioned steel mill waste gas. Three other commercial-scale production facilities are underway. At the same time, LanzaTech’s process is ready for treating agricultural and solid municipal waste streams in Japan. However, acetogens metabolism is constrained by metabolism limits and a complex, poorly understood, regulation which this project aims at better understanding.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of industrial biotechnology, computational modelling and fermentation synthetic biology, would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of synthetic biology, biotechnology, chemical engineering and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of bioreactors is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Professor Amin Abbosh

a.abbosh@uq.edu.au

Reconfigurable antennas for millimetre wave communications

Design reconfigurable antennas at mm-wave with high efficiency. The studnet is required to have good background in antennas and microwave engineering, in general.  The student will need to utilize varieties of design methods, such as tunable materials, meta-materials, leaky wave structures, electronically tuned phase shifters, to improve the efficiency of reconfigurable antenna in mm-wave regime.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of antennas and microwave devices would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of microwave or applied electromagnetic engineering and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of phased arrays is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate cannot commence until Research Quarter 4, 2021. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Associate Professor Martijn Cloos

m.cloos@uq.edu.au

Fast fMRI of the Human Motor Cortex

The world's most powerful MRI systems, such as the 7 Tesla system in the Centre for Advanced Imaging here at UQ, are uniquely equipped to help decipher the inner workings of the brain. These ultra-high field systems use extraordinarily strong magnets to bring the image resolution down to the size of columns and laminae in the human cortex. 

Currently, functional MRI at ultra-high field is the only method that can non-invasively probe columnar and layer-specific activation patterns in humans. As each neuron metabolises oxygen to fuel its computational efforts, the oxygen concentration in the proximal capillary bed is altered, allowing indirect measurements of neural activation through blood oxygenation level dependent signal changes. These minute variations in signal strength can be used to create spatiotemporal maps of neuronal activation, which have revealed profound insights into the innerworkings of the mind.

This PhD project aims to push the limits of this extraordinary technique even further and apply it to study fine motor control in humans. You will be part of an interdisciplinary team that operates at the intersection betweenphysics, computer science, engineering and neuroscience, to create new software (such as, control programs for the MRI system itself) and hardware (such as, motion capturing technology). All working together to probe the limits of fMRI and non-invasively study the human brain.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of MR physics, fMRI, Matlab, C/C++, Micro controllers would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of ceuroimaging and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of physics, electrical engineering, neuroscience, magnetic resonance imaging or software engineering is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 4, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Professor Aleksandar Rakic

a.rakic@uq.edu.au

Engineering the Next Generation of Broadband Terahertz Technologies

The UQ team is currently working on an exciting new sensing technology based on quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) in collaboration with high profile teams at universities in Europe, including Ecole Normale Paris and the University of Leeds.  This position will be based out of UQ and work  closely with researchers here and with our international collaborators.

Terahertz (THz) QCLs have emerged as a premier compact source of high-power radiation in the THz spectral range. Combining the QCL illumination source with laser-feedback interferometry (LFI) — an effective self-detection scheme — provides a high-speed high-sensitivity detection mechanism which inherently supresses unwanted background radiation. Operating in the THz (~0.1–10 THz) and enjoying the high output power of QCLs, this THz sensing scheme enjoys has been successfully employed for a range of imaging and sensing applications. The other main technology platform is time domain spectroscopy (TDS) which has the distinct advantage of broadband operation, which permits its use in spectroscopy, but suffers from low power at THz frequencies >~2 THz.

Currently, there is no technological platform that enjoys high power broadband operation at THz frequencies > 2 THz. This aim of this project investigate the generation and self-detection of ultra-short THz pulses at high repetition rate in model and experiment, and to demonstrate the potential of this approach to sensing and imaging technologies.

In this PhD project, the successful candidate will work on model development for pulsed, coupled cavity (CC) THz QCL dynamics under optical feedback and mode-locked (ML) THz QCL dynamics under retro-injection.

The major focus will be on creation of effective signal processing algorithms for image formation based on  (i) modelled signals and +(ii) experimentally-acquired signals.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of physics, electrical engineering and signal processing would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of mathematics/statistics and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of programming (e.g. Matlab, Python) and signal processing is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2021. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Professor Richard Morgan

r.morgan@uq.edu.au

 

Dr Rowan Gollan

r.gollan@uq.edu.au

Non-equilibrium aerodynamics for planetary-entry spacecraft

The design of planetary-entry spacecraft is critically reliant on modelling the interactions between the hot gas layer and the airframe during the atmospheric descent phase. Currently, a lack of understanding of these interactions is limiting the scope and benefit of these spacecraft designs, and ultimately, limits the viability of space-based activities. The aim of this project is to study these non-equilibrium aerodynamic processes, with both experimental and numerical techniques.

This project brings together research teams from NASA Ames, CentraleSupelec Paris and Oxford University and is led by The University of Queensland. This network of researchers will use their unique and complementary wind tunnels to produce the non-equilibrium flows for experimental study. The experimental data from these experiments will be used to update, refine and improve the numerical models for these hot gas/airframe interactions.

The PhD student in this project will perform experiments in the UQ expansion tubes on model vehicle configurations in gases relevant to Earth and Mars entries. The PhD project is suited to a student with a strong background in aerospace engineering or physics, a desire to develop expertise in experimental fluid mechanics, and a keen interest in the space sector.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of fluid mechanics and quantum mechanics would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of mechanical or aerospace engineering, or physics and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of gas dynamics and radiation heat transfer is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2021. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Professor Mingxing Zhang

mingxing.zhang@uq.edu.au

Design of Cost-effective Compositionally Complex Alloys with Superior Mechanical Properties

The overall aim of this proposed project is to design and develop a new and cost-effective high entropy alloy (HEA) or compositionally complex alloy (CCA) with superior mechanical properties and therefore enable the industry applications of these types of metallic materials.

HEA is a relatively new member in the “family” of metallic materials.  The concept was firstly proposed in 2004. Although more 400 alloys have been designed and developed, their industrial applications are very limited due to the weakness of the materials, including high cost, low performance and property balance and lack of fundamental knowledge.  To overcome these limitations of HEAs/CCAs, this project firstly integrates fundamental knowledge of physical metallurgy of steels and the recent ground breaking research on grain refinement for cast metals into design of new and low-cost CCAs using the pseudo binary design strategy. Then, subsequent thermo-mechanical processes including heat treatment will be designed and optimized in order to achieve the superior properties.  In addition, fundamental research will also be conducted to investigate the solidification process of the new CCAs and to study the phase transformation and deformation mechanisms in the alloys during thermo-mechanical processing.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant’s previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of the science and engineering of metals would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of Materials Science and Engineering, Physics or Chemical Engineering or Mechanical Engineering and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of machine learning and/or bigdata analytics is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2021. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Dr Luigi Vandi

l.vandi@uq.edu.au

Developing novel biopolymer composites that are fully biobased and biodegradable to transform the plastics industry

We are seeking a full-time, highly motivated PhD candidate to perform cutting-edge materials engineering research in the field of biopolymers and biocomposites. The successful candidate will be working under the supervision of Dr Luigi Vandi, A/Prof Bronwyn Laycock, and A/Prof Steven Pratt, to undertake their PhD as a member of the Translational Polymer Research Group, within the Centre for Advanced Materials Processing and Manufacturing. The candidate will join a multidisciplinary team of Australia’s leading scientists in the fields of biopolymers, biocomposites and advanced manufacturing with an international reputation for addressing complex plastic problems in partnership with renowned global industry partners.

The successful Candidate will work on the latest biopolymers to develop new blends of polymers and biocomposites to facilitate industry’s transition to a biobased and circular economy. During the course of the PhD, the candidate will gain a fundamental understanding on the interactions between biopolymers and natural fibres/fillers, and work with industry-relevant manufacturing processes. The PhD project will not only advance knowledge in a high-impact field, but also bring the potential to unlock new applications for biopolymers across multiple industries.

The project is co-funded through a collaboration between the Queensland Government, industry partners and end-users. The candidate will be working closely with our industry partners, present their work to company directors, and travel within Australia for yearly industry meetings. Throughout the course of their PhD the candidate will be exposed to a broad network of industries with an interest in biopolymers and biocomposites. The position will also offer a high level of reward, aimed at delivering real products being implemented into market. The candidate will also have the opportunity to attend international conference to present their research.

This position is located at our picturesque St Lucia campus, renowned as one of Australia’s most attractive university campuses, and located just 7km from Brisbane’s city centre. Bounded by the Brisbane River on three sides, and with outstanding public transport connections, our 114-hectare site provides a perfect work environment – you can enjoy the best of both worlds: a vibrant campus with the tradition of an established university.

A working knowledge or experience in materials science, polymers and/or composites would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 4, 2021. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Associate Professor Chun-Xia Zhao

z.chunxia@uq.edu.au
Precision-engineered hybrid core-shell materials for drug delivery Poor water solubility of many chemical actives hinders the development of new pharmaceutical, agricultural, food products. For example, 40% of approved drugs and 90% of drugs in development are water-insoluble. New methods are needed for more efficient formulation and delivery of these drugs. This research will develop new platform technologies for making hybrid core-shell materials with exceptionally high drug loading capacity and programmed drug release, delivering new technologies for the manufacture of high-value pharmaceutical products. The novel core-shell materials will enable more efficient delivery of hydrophobic ingredients, and place Australia at the forefront of nanotechnology and drug delivery research. The future applications of these materials in a wide variety of fields, such as pharmaceuticals (controlled release of drugs), and agriculture (sustained release of hydrophobic insecticides, plant protection agents and fertiliser) may lead in the longer term to considerable economic and social benefits.

A working knowledge of chemical engineering, bioengineering, biotechnology or materials engineering would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 3, 2021. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa

Dr Wen Hua

w.hua@uq.edu.au
Information Extraction from Large-scale Low-quality Data

Information extraction, which identifies entities and relations from data, is a key technology that lays the foundation for understanding the semantics of data. This project aims to investigate the problem of information extraction by innovatively exploring the informality and temporal evolution of data. It expects to develop novel techniques for reliable, efficient, and scalable information discovery from large-scale low-quality data. Expected outcomes include a set of collective, contextualised, and temporal-aware algorithms for information extraction and integration, built on top of effective indexing and in-parallel processing. This project is anticipated to benefit a considerable number of data-driven intelligence-based applications.

We are seeking a full-time, highly motivated PhD candidate to perform the cutting-edge information extraction research. The successful applicant will work under the supervision of Dr Wen Hua (ARC DECRA Fellow), and as a team with researchers from UQ Data Science Discipline within the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of deep learning, natural language processing, Python and C/C++ would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of information systems and data management and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of computer science or information technology is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for

Professor Lianzhou Wang

l.wang@uq.edu.au

New electrode material design for solar driven valuable chemical production

As part of the prestigious Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship program on new artificial leave design for solar fuel production, this PhD program will focus on the design and development of new light absorbing materials that can efficiently conversion solar energy to drive key reactions mimicking the natural photosynthesis, so called artificial photosynthesis, for valuable chemicals like hydrogen and alcohol production.

The candidate should have strong academic background in material engineering, chemical engineering, physical chemistry or solid state chemistry. Research experiences in the related research fields evidenced by high quality research publications are desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 4, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Dr Ingo Jahn

i.jahn@uq.edu.au

Simulation, development, and evaluation of next generation hybrid rocket systems

Space launches for small satellites are expected to exceed 1000 per year by 2025. Australia has a growing Space and Space Launch Industry. To service the demand for small satellite launches, in collaboration with Australian industry, we are developing next generation launcher technologies.

PhD topic 1: Modelling of hybrid rocket motors Hybrid rockets utilise a solid fuel grain in conjunction with gaseous oxidiser, and are thus simpler than a liquid fuelled rocket, and offer control and safety advantages over solid fuelled rockets. Their performance is intrinsically limited by regression characteristics of the fuel grain. Numerous methods have been proposed to modify flow and combustion characteristics by enhancing heat transfer to the fuel grain and mass transfer in the opposite direction. The aim of this PhD is to develop a numerical models for the combustion process in hybrid rocket motors. The developed model may be used to investigate novel injection arrangements and fuel grain modifications. This PhD may include experimental tests to validate the numerical model. Once validation data is available, a further aim of the PhD is to elucidate additional knowledge from the sparse experimental data set.

PhD topic 2: Co-design / optimisation of hybrid rocket fuel system, cycle, and trajectory For all launch systems it is critical for launch vehicles to maximise payload fraction. A key means to achieve this is through efficient system design. This means simultaneous optimisation of system architecture; structural design; propulsion system (cycle & engine thrust profile); and trajectory for a given orbit, whilst respecting limits of technology and materials. The aim of this PhD is to develop a detailed and easily reconfigurable transient cycle models for rocket propulsion systems; parameterised structural designs; etc; and to couple this with trajectory optimisation tools. The resulting tool will then be used to analyse different system architectures and to make recommendations for system architectures, propulsion systems, structures, aerodynamics, and control strategies.

The PhD topics suit candidates with interest in:

  • software (CFD solver) development, verification, and validation techniques
  • developing an in depth understanding of heat and mass transfer processes in a rocket motor
  • multi-physics simulation, particularly developing capabilities in the simulation of internal combustion ballistics
  • code development, verification and validation techniques
  • system design of launchers
  • development of co-design tools
  • rockets and space launch systems

Bachelor or Masters Degree in Engineering, applied Mathematics, or Physics is preferred. Experience with simulation and analysis of fluid-dynamics, combustions, and compressible flow will be an advantage. Industry experience is desirable. Please contact Chief Investigator to check Project Availability.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2021. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.