Available PhD projects - engineering, architecture & planning, & IT

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Chief Investigator

Project title

Project description

Preferred educational background

Dr Fred Roosta-Khorasani


Efficient second-order optimisation algorithms for learning from big data

This project aims to apply a diverse range of scientific computing techniques to design and implement new, second-order methods that can surpass first-order alternatives in the next generation of optimisation methods for large-scale machine learning.

Students will enrol through the School of Mathematics and Physics.

MSc/MPhil degree with a mathematical component. Familiarity with optimisation algorithms. Good programming skills in Python.

*This project is available until June 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Jason Stokes


Multiscale Viscoelastic Lubrication of Soft Matter Systems

The project aims to develop new principles of viscoelastic lubrication in soft contacts. New insights into friction behaviour arising from complex fluid-substrate interactions are expected to be generated using techniques and interdisciplinary approaches that bridge rheology, tribology and surface science.  Outcomes from the research should provide significant benefits to diverse fields including advanced materials and complex fluids, engineering tribology, biolubrication and food structure design.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemical Engineering.

Chemical Engineering. 
Mechanical Engineering. 

*This project is available until December 2018 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Rational Food Structure Design

This involves collaboration with industry to use fundamental studies in multi-scale rheology and biotribology, surface sciences, soft matter physics and protein chemistry to develop new measurement capabilities and knowledge for rational food structure design. The specific HDR project focuses on investigating the role of highly viscoelastic interfaces within multiphase fluids (foams, emulsions) on the sensory properties of foods and beverages.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemical Engineering.

Chemical Engineering. 
Physical Chemistry.

*This project is available until September 2018 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Jung Ho Yun


Perovskite-based Electronic devices for sensing application

This PhD research project focuses on developing halide perovskite-based electronic devices for sensing application. More specifically, the candidate will work on the design, fabrication, and characterisation of the perovskite-based electronic devices that are applicable for optical/electrical/chemical sensors.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemical Engineering.

Applicants should have a degree in Chemical Engineering or a related discipline such as Physics or Chemistry with a strong interest in halide perovskite materials synthesis, optoelectronic devices fabrication, or electrochemistry.  It would be better if the applicants have MPhil or equivalent degree.

*This project is available until December 2018 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Han Huang


Removal mechanisms and innovative technologies for machining gallium oxide wafers

The deformation and removal mechanisms of single crystal β-Ga2O3 are not well understood. The lack of such understanding has hindered the development of the cost-effective machining processes for it and thus, more widespread application of the β-Ga2O3 based electronic devices. To overcome this ‘bottleneck’ problem, a comprehensive and systematic study of the deformation and removal mechanisms under mechanical loading needs to be carried out in order to develop cost-competitive technologies for machining single crystal β-Ga2O3 wafers.

Students will enrol through the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering.

Applicant should have a research background in mechanical engineering. It would be better if the applicant has got a MPhil or equivalent

Professor Damien Batstone


Modelling solids behaviour in wastewater systems

This is a PhD project within a larger ARC-Linkage project “Biosolid flow, separation and activity in anaerobic lagoons” in partnership with a U. Melbourne, RMIT, and Melbourne Water. The project focuses on multidimensional modelling of solids behaviour, using data acquired from partners, including field and laboratory data (e.g., rheological testing), configuration information, and targeted trials. The project will focus on representation of solids as a scalar in a multidimensional model, which will include fluid dynamics and advection/diffusion of the scalar. UQ has access to a number of modelling platforms, including Comsol, Ansys, and Matlab, but it is anticipated that the majority of the work will be done in Openfoam.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemical Engineering.

  • Engineering graduate in the field of Chemical or Mechanical engineering
  • Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) experience, or multi-dimensional modelling experience.
  • Multi-phase (liquid-solid or liquid-gas) or wastewater experience

Professor Mingxing Zhang



Professor Xue Li


Design of New Generation High Performance Aluminium Alloys using Big Data Analytics 

This project aims to address a long-term problem to effectively discover new alloys and processes using big data analytics. It expects to develop a few new and high-performance aluminium alloys through interdisciplinary research and to generate new knowledge in the area of materials science from investigation of the strengthening and toughening mechanisms.  The intended outcomes also include a validated a big data analytic model for new alloy development, which further enhances the interdisciplinary collaboration.  The high performance aluminium alloys should provide significant benefits to automotive and aerospace industries as these sectors target at improving fuel efficiency through weight reduction at lower cost.

Students will enrol through the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering.

Engineering, IT

Professor Amin Abbosh


Engineering the next generation of portable microwave scanners

This project will engineer a disruptive technology based on microwave hybrid imaging for biomedical applications. It will deliver superfine resolution images using   near-field microwave irradiation. The project will explore novel microwave antennas design combined with novel processing techniques for diagnostic applications. This project will introduce the first portable microwave scanner that can be used for the early detection of skin cancer.

Students will enrol through the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

Electrical Engineering or Biomedical Engineering with a preference to candidates with strong background in Electromagnetics or Microwave Engineering

Associate Professor Adrian Cherney


Optimising illicit dark net marketplace interventions

UQ PhD scholarship in illicit dark net marketplace interventions ($26,288 per year). This ARC Linkage project is a collaboration between the University of the Sunshine Coast, the University of Queensland, the University of Southampton and a range of industry partners that includes the Queensland Police, iDcare, Australia Post, Department of Immigration and Boarder Protection, and the Australian Crime Commission. The project draws on systems based analysis to assess illicit dark net forums and identify how personal information is stolen, bought and sold on the dark net. Outcomes include developing and testing a series of interventions designed to disrupt identify theft activities.  The project brings together researchers, practitioners, theories and methods from human factors, sociotechnical systems, criminology, and cyber security. One aim of this PhD is to examine the semantic and organisational structure of illicit dark net forums. The project is led by the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) in partnership with iDcare (https://www.idcare.org/) and it is expected the PhD student will need to spend at least 2 days week at USC working with the project team. 

Students will enrol through the School of Social Science.

Background in criminology and cyber security /information technology

Dr David Gildfind


Magnetohydrodynamic Flow Control for Earth Re-entry from Deep Space

A spacecraft returning to Earth from deep space will reach higher velocities than any re-entry vehicle before it (up to 14 km/s for Mars return). A conventional descent at this speed will see tremendous radiative and convective heating; the mass of the vehicle’s thermal protection system (TPS), could become prohibitively heavy based on current Earth-return technology. This project aims to experimentally evaluate magnetohydrodynamic flow control as a new technology to reduce vehicle heat loading. This concept involves applying a magnetic field to the hot ionized gases which form around the spacecraft during re-entry, which can provide a path for dissipating kinetic energy and reducing surface heating.

Students will enrol through the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering.

Mechanical and/or Aerospace Engineering. Physics degree may be highly beneficial.

Professor Matt Dargusch


Advanced Functional Materials

This project is focussed on developing new functional materials.

Students will enrol through the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering.

Chemical, Materials or Mechanical Engineering
New Generation Biocompatible Materials

This project is focussed on the development of New Manufacturing Processes and Materials for biomedical applications.

Students will enrol through the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering.

Biomedical, Chemical, Materials or Mechanical Engineering
Machine Learning in Manufacturing

Defect Detection in Medical Devices using Machine Learning Strategies.

Students will enrol through the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering.

Mechanical, Mechatronics/Electrical Engineering or similar
Dr Vincent Wheatley

Acoustic loads on hypersonic vehicles

This project aims to understand how acoustic loads are generated in supersonic combustion ramjets (scramjets) to control sonic fatigue in reusable hypersonic vehicles. This knowledge promises to revolutionise flight by making space access more affordable than it is today. In this project an innovative methodology has been devised, using advanced experimental, theoretical and numerical techniques, to measure acoustic waves in scramjets for the first time. The intended outcomes include a new predictive simulation model that will enable the design of flight-weight reusable hypersonic vehicles. Benefits include reduced cost for access to space and the ability to design and develop advanced aerospace technology.

Students will enrol through the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering.

Mechanical and/or Aerospace Engineering

Dr Ruifeng Yan


Enabling high photovoltaic penetration in power distribution networks

The rapid uptake of residential solar systems has resulted in extensive voltage management issues for power distribution grids. This project aims to develop a novel hybrid control method for network voltage regulation with high photovoltaic penetration. Without such technology, the further integration of solar photovoltaic into the power grid will become increasingly difficult. The outcome of this project will enable power utilities to cost-effectively regulate network voltage and ultimately remove barriers for future photovoltaic deployment. This will deliver significant economic benefits for both the wider community and utility providers, along with substantial environmental outcomes through increased use of sustainable energy sources.

Students will enrol through the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

First class honours (or equivalent) /Masters in power system or control Engineering or Math. Strong programming and math skills desirable

Dr Joel Carpenter


Control of light in space and time in multimode optical fibres

Controlling the way light propagates in space and time using digital holography.

Enabling applications such imaging deep into ‘opaque’ objects such as human skin or brain, high-power lasers for material processing and manufacturing, optical telecommunications, and quantum computation. Project includes industry collaboration with Nokia (Bell Labs) and Finisar, as well as University of Southampton.

Students will enrol through the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

Honours/Masters in Physics, Electrical Engineering or similar discipline. Strong programming skills desirable.

Professor Jonathan Corcoran


Reclaiming lost ground: Transitions of mobility and parking

Car mobility and immobility (i.e. parking) are persistent urban problems. Considering new transitions and trends in land-use and transport, including car-sharing and automated vehicles, and the revival of urban living, important questions arise concerning the redesign and reuse of urban space. Policy-makers need a new evidence base and toolkit to determine how best to repurpose the space currently dedicated to accommodating private motor vehicles to make cities more attractive, efficient and liveable places. This project’s overall aim is to understand the role of parking in mobility, urban consolidation, and transit-oriented development. Does parking supply affect travel demand, car ownership, and ultimately the quality of urban life?

Students will enrol through the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences.

A background in urban planning or human geography, preferably with some training in spatial data and analysis.

Associate Professor Yan Liu


New approaches to modelling human-environment interactions for sustainable coastal city development

This project aims to model sustainable development options of low-lying coastal cities under rapid population growth, climate change and intensive human activity. Using Brisbane (Australia) and Ningbo (China) as case studies, the project will empirically test and understand how cities grow as complex systems built out of the interactions between humans and their living environment at the individual scale and in a cross-jurisdictional context. The project expects to offer a spatially explicit understanding of the development of coastal cities and science-based decision tools to improve policy-making.

PhD project 1: Modelling human-environment interactions: Testing irregular CA and 3D urban models. This PhD project will develop and test an irregular CA model to align with land cadastre boundaries, and a 3D CA model structure to account for the vertical growth of cities.

PhD project 2: Modelling human-environment interactions: A cross-cultural comparison. The project will focus on developing applications of the CA-ABM in a coastal city in China, and comparing the modelling approach, performance, and outcomes under different cultural, policy and institutional settings.

Students will enrol through the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences.

GIS; Human geography; Urban studies/planning; Geoinfomatics; or other relevant field.

Associate Professor Mary Fletcher


Modelling the controlled release of toxins from biopolymer composites in a model rumen environment

The controlled release of bioactives from degradable polymer matrices is a well-established route for the delivery of functional compounds over a sustained period. It is a powerful tool for managing the health and wellbeing of our cattle. However, the release rates and degradation profiles of biopolymers in cattle rumen is poorly understood or modelled. This project will address those gaps, using both practical and theoretical modelling approaches.

The principal advisor for this project will be Dr Bronwyn Laycock, b.laycock@uq.edu.au and students will enrol through the School of Chemical Engineering.

Preferred B Eng (four year, 1st class honours) or B.Sc. (Hons 1 or 2A) or equivalent.