Available PhD projects - Engineering, architecture & IT

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Chief Investigator

Project title

Project description

Preferred educational background

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 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 Alexander Scheuermann

a.scheuermann@uq.edu.au

Identification of internal erosion processes within embankments using geophysical methods

A critical phenomenon threatening the stability of water retaining structures is internal erosion. Internal erosion is an insidious process, taking place in the obscurity of the soil’s pore system. Starting at the particle-scale with the onset of movements of individual particles, this process can lead with time to the development of unwanted and uncontrolled preferential pathways for flowing water. Once a continuous pipe has been created within the structure or its foundation, the production of soil occurs, and cavities can develop. By the time these signs of erosion are evident, the underlying processes are fully developed and can lead to a catastrophic failure. The instabilities caused by internal erosion threaten the viability of major water storage infrastructure and tailings storage facilities.

The objective of the Ph.D. project is to investigate internal erosion processes on a large scale using dam break experiments. Geophysical methods are applied to observe structural changes within the dam during the experiments. The candidate will modify and adapt geophysical methods for the purpose of monitoring dams and implement large-scale dam experiments using these methods. The measured data will be analyzed against the background of the underlying process of internal erosion. The goal is to use the measured data from geophysics to quantify structural changes through variations in porosity using sophisticated mixing equations. Ultimately, the measurements will form the basis to predict the progress of erosion. The candidate will be part of a research team consisting of further Ph.D. students, Research Associates and cooperation partners within and outside Australia.

A working knowledge of geotechnical engineering with interest in geophysics (or vice versa) would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account previous academic records, honours and awards and publication record.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 4, 2020. 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 Jake Whitehead

j.whitehead@uq.edu.au

Using electric vehicles (EV) as batteries-on-wheels: an investigation of the potential market for EV smart charging

Continuing growth in electric vehicle (EV) adoption has increased interest in using these “batteries-on-wheels” to affordably store sustainable energy, provide demand response (V1G), and export excess energy back to the grid using vehicle-to-grid (V2G) infrastructure.

In order capitalise on this significant opportunity, we are seeking a highly motivated PhD candidate to assist in the delivery of an industry-focussed project, which will investigate consumer preferences towards EVs, the charging behaviour of current EV owners, together with consumers' willingness to use EVs to provide energy services, such as V1G/V2G.

The candidate will also be required to support the deployment of a real-world pilot of smart charging technology with the project’s industry partners. They will also assist in the development of a spatial uptake model of electric vehicles, which will outline not only how many EVs there may be under different future scenarios, but importantly, where these EVs are located.

This project is funded by an Advance Queensland grant, and will be delivered as part of an industry collaboration between:

As an industry-focussed project, the successful applicant will have the opportunity to work closely with these industry partners, and have the option of being based part-time at their offices.

The candidate will be based at the UQ Dow Centre, and will also work closely within the Transport Engineering and Planning group at UQ’s School of Civil Engineering.

The PhD candidate will also have the opportunity to spend part of their candidature overseas at a partner research institution, with travel support provided – subject to approval by the principal supervisor and partner institution.

A background in engineering or economics would be of benefit to someone working on this project. Experience and interest in the following areas is an advantage: electric vehicles, energy systems, transport engineering and planning, econometrics/economics, discrete choice modelling, survey development and analysis, statistics.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 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 reasons.

Professor Zhiguo Yuan

z.yuan@awmc.uq.edu.au

Reducing concrete corrosion in sewers through humidity control

An opportunity exists for an outstanding PhD candidate to investigate the effects of humidity on H2S-induced concrete corrosion in sewers based on laboratory corrosion chamber studies. The PhD candidate will undertake the long-term, in-depth study of H2S-induced concrete corrosion, by using multidisciplinary methodologies involving environmental, chemical, material and microbiological analysis. The PhD candidate will play a key role in understanding the underpinning science to control concrete corrosion by reducing humidity levels in sewers, establishing an advanced mathematical concrete corrosion process model to predict corrosion rates and pipe service life, and developing practical ventilation strategies for sewer corrosion control. The expected outcomes from this training will equip the student with comprehensive research skills and knowledge for not only sewer corrosion prevention but also the integral management of the holistic sewer systems. Ample opportunities exist for the student to work with water utilities including Melbourne Water Corporation, Urban Utilities, Western Australia Water Corporation and DC Water (US). The lab-based fundamental study and the collaboration experience with industry will help the PhD candidate to launch a successful career in either academia or industry.

A working knowledge of environmental, civil or chemical engineering, or biotechnology related to water/wastewater infrastructure would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account previous academic records, honours and awards and publication record.

*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.

Professor John Zhu

z.zhu@uq.edu.au

High performance anode for direct ammonia solid oxide fuel cells at low temperature

Hydrogen is clean but its utilization is limited by on-board storage. Ammonia is a promising hydrogen carrier and can be directly fed to solid oxide fuel cells without fuel storage problem,  and the products are just H2O and N2. For direct ammonia solid oxide fuel cells, the key challenge is the anode. This project aims to develop a high performance anode for direct ammonia solid oxide fuel cells with both high activity and high stability at low temperature (below 600 degree C) so that the fuel cells can have a high durability and low cost. This project thus addresses a key issue to make the direct ammonia solid oxide fuel cells commercially viable.

Experience in Chemical Engineering, Chemistry or Materials 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.

Professor Yusuke Yamauchi

y.yamauchi@uq.edu.au

Functional biomass carbons for low-cost sodium and potassium-ion batteries

This project involves interdisciplinary research pursuing highly efficient carbon-based electrocatalysts and electrodes which are critical for developing the next generation of energy technologies. 

The successful applicant will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

The successful applicant will preferably have a background in Chemistry, Chemical engineering or Materials engineering

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 4, 2020. 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 Michael Taylor

m.taylor@sbs.uq.edu.au

Brillouin microscopy to study cell biomechanics

We are looking for a highly motivated student to further develop the Brillouin microscopy technology and translate it into biomechanics research. Specifically, this project involves

  • Setting up optical systems
  • Programming hardware control software to automate operation
  • Develop signal processing to extract useful parameters from the noisy data
  • Theoretically relating the measured mechanical properties of hydrogels to the underlying structure
  • Experimentally validate the system with controlled hydrogels
  • Use the microscope to characterize stiffness variations within and around cells in 3D matrix

This is an interdisciplinary research project and the successful applicants should be prepared to work across disciplines with people from different backgrounds. The project is led primarily by Dr Michael Taylor and in collaboration with Prof. Alan Rowan. Dr Taylor is an optical physicist and be involved in the day to day experiments. The successful applicant will take a hands-on role in both the technology development and then translating the technique into biomechanical experiments.

Students will be supported to present their outcomes at meetings and conferences to enhance their knowledge, receive wider feedback and network in the fields of optics and biomechanics. This innovative project which develops novel techniques for biomechanical imaging is in an emerging area of research, and is expected to generate high impact publications.

Expressions of interest are invited from outstanding and enthusiastic Australian and international graduates with a First-Class Honours, or equivalent qualifications through a relevant Masters degree. Candidates will have a background in physics or engineering. Some programming experience is required. Experience and interest in the following areas is an advantage: optics, instrument design, programming hardware control software, use of LabVIEW, signal processing, finite element modelling, and biomechanics.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 3, 2020. 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 Yusuke Yamauchi

y.yamauchi@uq.edu.au

Nanoarchitectured Multifunctional Porous Superparamagnetic Nanoparticles

This project aims to develop a method for the direct detection of biomarkers based on a new class of highly porous superparamagnetic nanoparticles with peroxidase-like activity. The particles will be used as dispersible capture agents for isolating specific targets in biological samples, and electrocatalytic nanozymes for naked-eye evaluation and electrochemical detection. The project is expected to develop simple, low-cost, portable devices for the analysis of exosomes and exosomal miRNA in biological samples. The future development of this technology into diagnostic devices will improve patient outcomes by enabling earlier disease diagnosis and improved monitoring of treatment.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology. 

MSc in materials science and engineering/bioengineering/ or related.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 3, 2020. 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 Jing Tang

jing.tang1@uq.edu.au

Structural and Compositional Controlled Carbon-based Nanocatalysts

This project involves interdisciplinary research pursuing highly efficient carbon-based electrocatalysts which are critical for developing clean energy technologies.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

  • chemistry
  • chemical eingineering
  • materials engineering

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 3, 2020. 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 Jason Stokes

jason.stokes@uq.edu.au

Programmable anisotropic soft materials

Many natural materials exhibit extraordinary properties. For example, butterfly wings are highly coloured despite not containing dye molecules and mollusc shells exhibit high fracture toughness despite being comprised of 95% of a brittle mineral. These properties are dictated by   the spatial orientation of nanostructures that make up the materials over many length scales, hence the ability to control structural hierarchy when designing new materials is crucial to obtain outstanding properties. Our recent discovery of a Liquid crystal hydroglass (LCH) provides an exciting avenue to control the structural hierarchy and hence properties of soft materials.  LCH is a biphasic soft material with flow programmable anisotropy that forms via phase separation in suspensions of charged colloidal rods upon increases in ionic strength.  

This project aims to expand on the materials space for LCH materials in order to create viscoelastic materials with complex rheology as well as structural, mechanical and optical heterogeneity.  The intended outcome is enabling the creation of anisotropic materials with shape-memory and shape-restoring features for the realization of artificial muscles, novel biomedical devices, soft robotics and morphing structures.

The HDR student has a choice between two potential projects.

Project 1 aims to develop thermo- and/or photo-responsive LCH materials by surface functionalising nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) colloidal rods.  The student will design and synthesise block copolymers that self-assemble to the surface of the nanocellulose and characterise their interfacial chemistry and phase behaviour. 

Alternatively, Project 2 aims to explore and diversify the materials space for LCH materials and their rheological properties.  This project will vary solution properties and matrix rheology/composition for NCC suspensions, as well as investigate the presence and properties of LCH phases in a diverse range of anisotropic charged colloids. 

The projects are part of an Australian Research Council Discovery Project involving collaboration between School of Chemical Engineering, Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, Centre for Advanced Imaging, Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis at the UQ, and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Polymer Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Physicist, Materials Engineering.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 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 Lianzhou Wang

l.wang@uq.edu.au

Semiconductor Nanomaterials for Solar Hydrogen Generation

This program aims to develop new classes of semiconductor nanomaterials that can efficiently harness solar energy to produce valuable fuels like solar hydrogen from water splitting and carbon oxide conversion.

The successful candidate should have strong academic background in chemical or materials engineering, or physical and inorganic chemistry disciplines.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 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 Yangyang Huai

y.huai@uq.edu.au

Improve flotation and dewatering efficiency by advanced froth design and management

The global Mining operation is losing high tonnages of valuable resources, including coal, base-metal and precious metal, to tailings along with the poor management of froth in flotation and dewatering circuits. In collaboration with Australian Coal Association (ACARP), Queensland government, Glencore Australia and Anglo American, this project, administrated by the University of Queensland (UQ), aims to develop applied froth management strategy in three-phase environments to minimize the waste of valuable mineral resources while improving the flotation and dewatering efficiency. The project seeks one PhD candidate to work on the forefront of colloid and interfacial chemistry in the mineral area to develop practical froth management tool applicable in Mine sites. The PhD candidate will work with Advance Queensland Fellow, Dr Yangyang Huai and world-leading mineral processing expert, Prof. Yongjun Peng, within the multidisciplinary research team at UQ. The outcome will improve the current mineral beneficiation as well as the re-beneficiation of old mine tailings, contributing enormous benefits to the entire mineral extraction industry nationally and globally.

Applicants should have a Master degree or a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum honour class IIA or equivalent experience Please view the minimum level of academic achievement for PhD admission on the UQ Graduate School Research page (http://www.uq.edu.au/grad-school/our-research-degrees). Applicants with an academic background in a field or discipline relevant to the area of mineral processing, metallurgical engineering, chemical engineering, physics, polymers or surfactants are welcome to apply. International students have to meet the English requirement before the application (https://graduate-school.uq.edu.au/english-language-proficiency-requirements).

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 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 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 Yufan Mu

y.mu1@uq.edu.au

Innovative methods unlocking fine coal resources

The project is co-funded through a collaboration between the Queensland Government, industry partners and end-users. The coal industry is an economic and employment powerhouse in Australia. Coal processing plants in Australia face problems capturing oxidised fine coal. Fifty percent of the raw coal is finer than 1 mm and at least 10% is estimated to be oxidised. Every year significant quantities of fine oxidised coal are lost to tailings because the current processing methods are ineffective. This project will investigate novel chemical applications and explore the fundamental knowledge to unlock the oxidised coal reserves from new coal production and tailings facilities. 

We are seeking a full-time, highly motivated PhD candidate to perform cutting-edge mineral processing research in the field of flotation chemistry. The successful candidate will be working under the supervision of Dr. Yufan Mu and Prof. Yongjun Peng to undertake their PhD as a member for the Metallurgical and Mineral Processing Group, within the School of Chemical Engineering. The candidate will join a multidisciplinary team in partnership with renowned global industry partners.

Candidates having a Master degree (or 2A Hons degree) or to have one shortly from Chemical Engineering, Mineral Processing, Metallurgical Engineering or with knowledge in chemistry, polymers or surfactants are welcome to apply. International students have to meet the English requirement before the application.

*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 Xiaofang Zhou

zxf@itee.uq.edu.au

Making Spatiotemporal Data More Useful: An Entity Linking Approach

This project aims to establish a methodology for spatiotemporal entity linking by utilising object movement traces to support database integration and data quality management for the next-generation of data where spatiotemporal attributes are ubiquitous. It expects to develop a novel entity linking paradigm for automatic, efficient and reliable spatiotemporal data integration together with a new data privacy study in this context. Expected outcomes include new database technologies for data signature generation and similarity-based search, and improved location data privacy protection methods. This project should provide significant benefits to all areas where high quality spatiotemporal data fusion is essential to meaningful data analysis.

Masters degree in Computer Sci, Transport Engineering or related fields, with good GPA and research publications.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 4, 2020. 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 Rowan Gollan

r.gollan@uq.edu.au

Numerical Simulation of Electron Transpiration Cooling for Hypersonic Vehicles

Electron transpiration cooling is a novel technique that could be applied to the leading edges of hypersonic vehicles. The technique relies on developing materials with the structural integrity for hypersonic vehicles and a propensity to transpire electrons at elevated temperatures. The electron transpiration adds a cooling effect which is critical on the leading edges of hypersonic vehicles. A key benefit of using electron transpiration cooling at leading edges is that one can maintain sharp leading edges which give excellent aerodynamic performance for hypersonic cruise vehicles.

To assess the effectiveness of such a cooling technique, modelling and simulation of the fluid flow around the vehicle and its interaction with the vehicle surface is required. In this project, the student will work with a state-of-the-art hypersonic flow solver and add modelling capabilities related to the electron transpiration cooling and its interaction with gases near the vehicle surface. The student will apply the modelling to address questions about the viability of the cooling technique from a vehicle systems perspective. The hypersonic flow solver for the project, Eilmer, is developed and maintained at The University of Queensland.

Honours degree or Masters in Aerospace Engineering, or related discipline. A strong focus on computational work as part of background is preferred.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 4, 2020. 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 opportunites to gain knowledge on advanced battery technology.

The succesful applicant will pereferably have a background in Chemistry/Chemical Engineering.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 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 Tim Duignan

t.duignan@uq.edu.au

Prediction of new electrolyte solutions for improved electrical energy storage

This project aims to predict the properties of electrolyte solutions in order to develop improved energy storage devices. Electrolyte solutions play a central and fundamental role in a huge range of important systems and applications. They carry the electrical currents that make life possible, they control the chemical properties of the ocean such as its acidity and ability to absorb carbon dioxide. They also carry the electrical current between the positive and negative terminals of a battery. Optimising the electrolyte is, therefore, crucial to improving the stability, charging rate and lifetime of batteries. To do this we need accurate predictive models of the properties of electrolyte solutions. Unfortunately, we still cannot predict even some of the most basic properties of electrolytes solutions.

In this project, we will use state of the art computational techniques to directly simulate electrolyte solutions and calculate their properties. We will then use these simulations to improve approximate models that can rapidly predict the properties of many different electrolyte solutions. These models will then be used to identify suitable candidate electrolytes for use in real energy storage devices. By joining this project, the successful candidate will have an excellent opportunity to develop skills in programming, computational chemistry and energy storage technology.

Applicants with experience in any of the areas of physics, chemistry, chemical engineering, mathematics or computer science are encouraged to apply.

*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 Chengzhong Yu

c.yu@uq.edu.au

Next-Generation Multifunctional Nanoparticles for mRNA Transfection

This project aims to engineer a multifunctional nanoparticle platform tailored for mRNA delivery. An innovative assembly approach will be used to design nanoparticles with adjustable composition, asymmetry and surface topography. Uniquely, three functions will be integrated in one nanoparticle, with the goal to enhance transfection efficiency in target cells. This project expects to advance knowledge of mRNA transfection mechanisms, and determine how cell-type dependent particle-mRNA interactions correlate with the nanoparticle structure and delivery performance. Outcomes include a new family of functional materials with improved mRNA delivery performance over benchmark systems to facilitate and broaden the application of mRNA technology.

Materials science or chemistry, a knowledge/ background in biochemistry or biomedical engineering, would also be advantageous.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 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 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.

Dr Ian Marquette

i.marquette@uq.edu.au

Quadratic algebras and their Casimir invariants

Quadratic algebras are generalisations of Lie algebras that have appeared in a variety of contexts of mathematical physics over the last 20 years. They play a central role in certain classes of exactly solvable systems, and are related to special functions and orthogonal polynomials in pure mathematics. This project aims to describe their universal enveloping algebras and obtain the so-called Casimir invariants.  

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Mathematics and Physics.

Background in mathematics or physics.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 4, 2020. 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 Hong Peng

h.peng2@uq.edu.au

Value-added technology to utilise clay minerals from mine tailings for functional materials

Aluminoslicate-containing clays are found naturally in deposits or mine tailings. The clay can be
chemically converted into value-added zeolites which has been used as adsorption materials
for gas or liquid separation or waste water treatment. Existing clay-to-zeolite technologies
are not economically feasible due to high energy cost and high impurities in the products.
This fellowship will develop a new, cost-effective impurity- free technology whereby clay
is selectively dissolved leaving impurities behind. The solution can be used to synthesis various types of zeolites which will be tested for different applications.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemical Engineering.

Chemical Engineering, Material Engineering, Metallurgical Engineering, or equivalent. Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability. *The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2020. 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.

*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 Pradeep Shukla

pradeep.shukla@uq.edu.au

Microplastics pollution treatment and remediation

This project is focused on tertiary treatment of waste water for the removal of micro-plastics that would otherwise endsup in rivers and oceans. Micro-plastics are very small size, usually found in the range of 1nm to less than 5mm. Unlike the large plastic waste entering the water bodies, the micro-plastics by definition are of very small sizes and hence not visible but their impact on marine organisms are much greater.
In the proposed project, the candidate will investigate the technologies for treatment of the waste- water containing micro-plastics. The project will also involve detailed characterization of waste water from various sources to understand the significance and scale of the problem that will further aid in the suitable design of the technology.

Masters in Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Physical Chemistry or similar background. Candidates who do not hold a Master's degree but have passed bachelor with 1st class honors or those who have significant industry experience in waste water treatment can also apply.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 3, 2020. 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 Kazuhiro Nogita

k.nogita@uq.edu.au

Next generation flexible high current micro-electronic interconnects

Because of economic and political pressure to reduce energy usage and the inclusion of smart functions in a wider range of applications, industry is searching for ways of reducing the process temperatures required for the manufacture of electronic circuity. The objective of the research is to develop a low temperature assembly process for electronic circuitry based on the bonding properties of Ga and Ga alloys. The intention will be to take advantage of the unique properties of intermetallic compounds formed by controlled reactions between Ga and circuit substrate materials that offer the possibility of high reliability connections.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering.

A background in materials science, mechanical engineering or chemical engineering. Analysis of interfacial reactions, intermetallic compounds, electronic assemblies and/or analysis of microstructure would be useful.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 3, 2020. 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 Hangil Park

hangil.park@uq.edu.au

Sensor development for mineral and coal processing

Monitoring slurry properties including solids concentration and particle size distribution is crucial in mineral and coal processing to maximise and maintain process efficiency.

This Ph.D project aims to develop an online sensor to monitor solids concentration and particle size distribution in slurry. Sensors with various signal processing algorithms will be developed and tested for real-time monitoring of slurry properties. A field test of the developed sensor will also be conducted to evaluate its performance. The outcome of this project will advance the process automation of mineral and coal processing operations.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemical Engineering.

Candidates should have an 1st class Honours or Master’s degree in:

  •  Chemical Engineering,
  • Mineral Engineering,
  • Metallurgical Engineering, or equivalent.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2020. 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 Miaoqiang Lyu

m.lyu@uq.edu.au

Low-cost and high-performance printed electronic devices based on metal halide perovskies

The rapid development in the areas of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) has attracted tremendous research interests in developing low-cost and high-performance electronic devices, including artificial electronic synapses, intelligent electronic sensory systems and non-volatile memory devices, and so on. The emerging metal halide perovskites hold great promise in realizing low-cost and high-performance electronic devices owing to their mixed ionic, electronic and photonic properties within one single material. In addition, these perovskites materials are solution-processable and can be crystallized at low-temperature, which shows potential to be combined with advanced printing techniques, such as inkjet-printing, screen-printing and roll-to-roll printing. The project will be focusing on exploring the potential of metal halide perovskites in the printed electronics for emerging artificial electronic synapses and next-generation IoT devices. The project will also explore the monolithic integration of the printed batteries with printed electronic devices to realize self-powered systems.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemical Engineering.

The candidate(s) will have a master’s degree or 1st Class Honours degree or equivalent in material/chemical engineering or electronic engineering. The students with electronic engineering background are highly preferred for this position, especially in electronic sensory devices. Mandatory requirements for international applicants 1. Peer-reviewed high quality journal publications or demonstrated practical experience in the relevant field; 2. Excellent academic performance evidenced by a high Grade Point Average (GPA).

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2020. 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

Microwave Inspection and Detection Systems

This project aims at developing a microwave inspection system for the early detection of structural defects. The project aim will be achieved by combining innovative antenna array design, proper system integration, accurate electromagnetic modelling, and efficient  processing algorithms. 

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Information Technology & Electrical Engineering.

Electrical Engineering with knowledge in applied electromagnetic and/ or microwave engineering. Basic knowledge of processing techniques will be desired.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 3, 2020. 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

Characterising interfacial adhesion using micro/nano-mechanical testing methodologies

Adhesion between metal thin film conductors and polymer substrates is a critical factor influencing the reliability of the emerging polymer-based flexible electronics. Hence, there is a compelling need to develop new methodologies for understanding the behavior of these metal/polymer interfaces.  This project seeks to elucidate and quantify the mechanical integrity of polymer-based flexible microelectronic interlayer systems. The aim is to develop an innovative methodology for measuring interfacial adhesion of conductive metal films on polymer substrates and to investigate the influence of interfacial adhesion on the electro-mechanical properties of the metal/polymer hybrid, using innovative in situ micromechanical testing procedures. Specific objectives are to

  • develop a novel reliable testing and characterisation toolkit for evaluating the adhesion of metal/polymer interfaces under tension and longitudinal and lateral shearing,
  • identify and quantify the fatigue mechanisms of these interfaces subjected to cyclic loading,
  • develop an in situ approach to examine the real-time effect of interfacial debonding induced mechanical failures on the conductivity of metal thin films on polymer substrates subjected to external loading, and
  • determine the relations between interfacial bonding, external loading, residual stresses in the films, deformation behaviour, delamination failure and electrical resistance of the metallic films.

 The methodologies will be a crucial enabler to accelerate the development of new flexible microelectronic technologies, from solar panels to electronic skin.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering.

Materials Science and Engineering and Material Mechanics

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2020. 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 Adnan Trakic

a.trakic@uq.edu.au

Autonomous Microwave Inspection for Civil and Marine Industry

We are currently looking for a prospective PhD candidate to work on the development of novel robotically-assisted microwave inspection technology for automated and expedited image-based detection and diagnosis of deep-interior structural defects in civil and marine infrastructure, including buildings, roads and bridges.

This research project aims to obviate the need for current industry practices based on inaccurate and tedious manual inspections, effectively yielding billions in cost savings and reductions in hazard associated with unanticipated structural failures.

The combination of modern electromagnetic imaging techniques with robotic technology and machine learning algorithms is expected to pave a path for leading-edge systems and methods of the future.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Information Technology & Electrical Engineering.

First Class Honours or Masters degree in electrical or mechatronic engineering, or related field. Hands-on experience developing and programming electromechanical systems is preferred. Background in electromagnetics, as well as modelling and or programming skills are desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2020. 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 Yifan Wang

yfwang@itee.uq.edu.au

Reconfigurable electromagnetic devices and beamforming systems for mm-Wave applications

In today’s Ka-band satellite communications-on-the-move (COTM) industry, one of the most significant evolutions for ground terminal design is to employ compact, low-profile, and reconfigurable flat-panel antennas (FPAs) as a replacement for their conventional counterpart, the dish antenna, dominated by its bulky parabolic reflector. Over the past three years, the design of Ka-band SATCOM FPAs has become one of the most attractive and best-supported R&D topics in the industry and the research community alike. Although the concept of generating a focused-beam through a planar-shaped antenna is not new, it is still extremely challenging to design a feasible FPA solution that meets the RF constraints, matches the market needs, and is commercially profitable.

This Ph.D. project aims to investigate a number of new approaches and develop an innovative reconfigurable/tunable electromagnetic devices in support of the proposed beamforming satellite terminal. A wide range of modern EM concepts and algorithms, such as modulated metamaterial, tunable holographic surface impedance, and array optimizations, might be utilized in this project.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Information Technology & Electrical Engineering.

Science or Engineering degree

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2020. 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 Jiwon Kim

jiwon.kim@uq.edu.au

Data-driven Modelling of Urban Traffic Networks using Spatial Trajectory Data

This PhD project is part of an Australian Research Council (ARC) project titled “Data-driven Simulation of Large Traffic Networks using Trajectory Data”, which aims to provide transport planners and operators with a smart decision support tool that enables automated insight generation and data-driven decision making.

This project will develop an innovative traffic simulation platform that builds a traffic simulation model directly from data by inferring urban mobility patterns and behavioural rules underlying travellers’ decisions from large-scale vehicle trajectory datasets. The project tasks include the implementation of various machine learning technologies (including deep learning and reinforcement learning) to model interactions between vehicles and road networks and predict drivers' route choice behaviours and network traffic dynamics.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Civil Engineering.

Background in transportation engineering, computer science, data science, applied statistics or a closely related area

Excellent mathematical and statistical skills • Solid programming skills (e.g., Python, C++, R, Matlab)

Knowledge of machine learning and deep learning libraries (e.g., TensorFlow, PyTorch, Keras, scikit-learn)

Excellent oral and written communication skills in English

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 4, 2020. 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 Guido Zuccon

g.zuccon@uq.edu.au

Searching when the stakes are high: better health decisions from Dr Google 

This project aims to help people make better health decisions from search engines. 80% of Australians use Dr Google despite evidence showing that many often find incorrect and unreliable health information, which can increase the severity of their health condition, ultimately increasing cost of healthcare delivery.

This project expects to provide new understanding about why and how people fail to find useful health information. Expected outcomes of this project are new models and methods for evaluating high-stakes search and new search technologies to help people find and recognise high quality information to make better health decisions. This should provide significant benefits to Australian health consumers and the healthcare system. 

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

Computer Science, Information Retrieval, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2020. 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 Jiwon Kim

jiwon.kim@uq.edu.au

Real-time Analytics on Urban Trajectory Data for Road Traffic Management

This PhD project is part of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage project titled “Real-time Analytics on Urban Trajectory Data for Road Traffic Management”. The overall aim of this ARC Linkage project is to develop real-time analytics and data management capabilities that leverage large-scale urban trajectory data to provide road operators with real-time insights into population movements and enable data-driven, customer-centric network operations. Current traffic management practices rely heavily on aggregate vehicle count data from fixed road sensors, which have limitations in accurately measuring traffic demand and network congestion propagation. We seek to develop innovative technologies to use a wide variety of data sources, especially massive trajectories of vehicles moving across the network, to better understand people's travel demands and road usage patterns and thus better manage the transport system.

This PhD project will focus on one of the following objectives: (1) to develop methods to reconstruct complete, semantically rich trajectories of road users by combining raw trajectories from multiple data sources, (ii) to develop methods to estimate and predict dynamic movements of road users in real-time using multi-source trajectory data, and (iii) to develop network-wide traffic management strategies that leverage real-time population movement insights.

The successful applicant will work as a team with researchers from UQ Transport Engineering Group within the School of Civil Engineering and UQ Data Science Research Group within the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, as well as industry partners from Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) and Transmax Pty Ltd.

The successful applicant will have flexibility to enrol through either the School of Civil Engineering or the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

• Background in transportation engineering, computer science, information technology, applied statistics or a closely related area

• Strong analytical skills including familiarity with a programming language such as Python, C/C++, R, or Matlab

• Excellent mathematical and statistical skills

• Excellent oral and written communication skills in English

 

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 3, 2020. 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 Guido Zuccon

g.zuccon@uq.edu.au
Reinforcement Learning and Online Learning to Rank for Systematic Literature Search

Online Learning to Rank (OLTR) aims to directly learn from user interactions in an online setting to overcome the limitations associated with offline LTR methods, such as the costs involved with creating datasets to train offline rankers and the lack of adaptation to changing query intents. This project aims to advance current state-of-the-art in OLTR, specifically by investigating methods from reinforcement learning and extending current evaluation frameworks for these techniques. The project will consider generic application areas in web search, and specific problems in the task of retrieving scientific literature for the production of (medical) systematic reviews – these tasks include both screening prioritisation (the ranking of scientific articles in answer to a query) and the ranking of queries within the query chain transformation framework developed by the ielab research team.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

Required:

  • Honours or Masters in Computer Science or Information Technology with first class
  • Solid programming and algorithmic skills
  • Solid writing and communication skills

Preferred:

  • knowledge of Information Retrieval, Machine Learning, Reinforcement Learning demonstrated by relevant experience, courses, projects or publications.
  • Knowledge of machine learning and deep learning libraries, e.g., TensorFlow, scikit-learn.

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Dr Christopher Leonardi

c.leonardi@uq.edu.au
Sustainable enhancement of coal seam gas production in Queensland

Approximately $300 billion of natural gas lies trapped within Queensland’s Bowen and Surat Basins, where current extraction technologies are ineffective. This project will develop a new technique for enhancing the gas transport and productivity in these coals via the exploitation of natural coal fractures and the novel injection of microparticles.

PhD Project 1: Linking the modelling and field diagnostics of hydraulic fracturing. This project will develop, implement, and apply large-scale computational models of hydraulic fracturing in naturally-fractured media (e.g. coals). History matching and or steering of the developed model(s) using diagnostic fracture injection test (DFIT) data, or similar, will also be performed.

PhD Project 2: Modelling the transport of complex particle suspensions in coals. This project will develop and validate new computational models of multiphase, non-Newtonian particle suspensions and apply them to study (a) microparticle injection and (b) gas production in naturally-fractured media (e.g. coals).

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering.

Honours or Masters degree in mechanical, civil, or petroleum engineering, applied mathematics or physics. Modelling and or programming skills desirable.

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Dr Tushar Kumeria

t.kumeria@uq.edu.au
Bioresponsive Porous Silicon for Site Specific Oral Delivery of Antibodies for the Treatment of
Inflammatory Bowel Disease

This proposal aims to develop an oral antibody delivery system for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects 75000 Australians. The system will be based on porous silicon nanoparticles acting as container to protect the antibodies, and bioresponsive coatings acting as gates to enable site specific protein delivery at the inflamed site of GI tract. The project not only holds promise for protein delivery for the treatment of IBD but other diseases like diabetes. 

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Pharmacy.

Materials engineering, porous nanomaterials, drug delivery, protein/biologics delivery. 

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor Shazia Sadiq
shazia@itee.uq.eud.au

Dr Gianluca Demartini
g.demartini@uq.edu.au

Professor Marta Indulska
m.indulska@uq.edu.au
Crowd-sourced data curation processes

The capacity to effectively utilize the increasing number of datasets available to organisations for timely decision making, is diminishing due to onerous data preparation and curation tasks that have to be performed before the data can be consumed by analytics platforms. This project aims to tackle the growing problem of data curation, especially for repurposed datasets, by tapping into crowd intelligence. The project will be a first attempt at using a novel process-oriented approach in micro-task crowdsourcing, and will create new knowledge to harness the full potential of crowd sourced data curation.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.
  • Degree in Computer Science or related disciplines;
  • Strong programming skills
  • Ability to work independently
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills
  • Knowledge of formal research process including writing and presenting results/findings

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Dr Hongzhi Yin

h.yin1@uq.edu.au
Meeting Challenges of Big Data for Cost-Effective, Scalable, Robust and Real-time Recommender Systems

This project aims to systematically study how to meet emerging challenges from “4Vs (Volume, Veracity, Variety, Velocity)” of big data and develop a scalable, robust and real-time recommender system framework in a cost-effective and end-to-end manner.

Specifically, our goal consists of subtasks: (1) developing a discrete latent factor model for scalable recommendation; (2) developing an anti-shilling model for robust recommendation; (3) developing a heterogeneous feature embedding and fusion framework to enhance the robustness for cold-start recommendation; (4) developing a reservoir sampling-based online learning scheme to support streaming recommendation.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

1. Having a Master or Honours Degree in Computer Science, Data Science or Mathematics in Australia; or having Bachelor Degree obtained from other countries in equivalent academic areas.

2. Having the research background in Machine Learning, Recommender Systems, Data Mining, Information Retrieval and Natural Language Processing.

3. Being good at programming with deep learning packages, e.g., Tensorflow, Pytorch, etc.

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Dr Xiaodan Huang

x.huang@uq.edu.au

High capacity and low cost rechargeable multivalent metal ion batteries

This project aims to develop advanced rechargeable multivalent metal ion batteries for renewable energy storage. Battery technologies are critical for the clean energy transformation in Queensland. Aluminium and zinc ion batteries are promising new energy storage systems, due to the natural abundance, high capacity and safety profile of aluminium and zinc. This project, in collaboration with FLEW Solutions - a Brisbane-based advanced manufacturing company, will develop new techniques to develop aluminium/zinc ion batteries.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

Materials science or Chemistry, a knowledge/ background in energy storage research would also be advantageous

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Dr Yang Bai

y.bai@uq.edu.au
Designing new perovskite quantum dots for efficient solar energy conversion

This project aims to rationally design new perovskite quantum dots featuring prominent phase and thermal stability in humid air and remarkable optoelectronic properties, which will be crucial for the development of next-generation flexible, lightweight solar energy conversion devices.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

Physical chemistry,

Materials science,

Applied physics or chemistry

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor Justin Cooper-White

j.cooperwhite@uq.edu.au

Mimicking the perivascular niche with boronolectin-based biomaterials

This project aims to address roadblocks in perivascular stem cell manufacturing by discovering novel mechanisms and materials that improve cell quality outcomes during extended culture. An innovative, interdisciplinary, high throughput approach to biomaterials discovery, combining live cell-based screening of cell surface glycans, bio- inspired materials design and synthesis, and niche mimicry, will enable the discovery of cell surface glycan- mediated interactions that support long-term expansion and potency maintenance, and synthetic biomaterials that can mimic them. Significant benefits for stem cell researchers, manufacturers and end users are expected from these project outcomes and the application of this scalable biomaterial platform.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

Bachelor and/or Masters in  Bioengineering, Chemical or Materials Engineering (majoring in Biomaterials), Biotechnology.

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

 

Professor Zhiguo Yuan

(contact person: Dr Bernardino Virdis b.virdis@uq.edu.au)

Methane Bioconversion to Liquid Chemicals – Creating Strong Economic Drivers for Biogas

This project aims to develop a suite of leading-edge biotechnology solutions to enable the cost-effective production of liquid chemicals from biogas. This will create a much stronger economic driver for biogas production from organic wastes, by significantly increasing the value of biogas compared to its current use for power generation. With a multi-disciplinary approach, the project will substantially advance the fundamental science in the exciting and highly valuable area of anaerobic microbial conversion of methane, the least understood process in the global carbon cycle. The project will support the establishment of a methane-based biotechnology sector creating high-value products from biogas or small, distributed natural gas sources.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemical Engineering.

Domestic applicants should have a B. Eng (Chem) or M. Eng (Chem) with 1st or 2ndA honours, or a B. Sc with a relevant major with 1st class honours. International applicants should have a masters degree in a discipline relevant to the project. 

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

Dr Yuanshen Lu

y.lu7@uq.edu.au

Artificial tornado enhancing  cooling towers/chimneys: mechanisms and engineering implementation

Stack effect is a fundamental physical phenomenon widely seen in air movements in building ventilation, chimneys, stacks, natural draft cooling towers (NDCTs), etc. Conventionally, industrial chimneys and NDCTs are built sufficiently tall (often > 100 m) to provide enough stack effect, or draught.

This project aims at an innovative way of draught enhancement in NDCTs inspired by tornados, a type of severe natural convective air vortex producing powerful lift. We preliminarily discovered that inducing swirling flow manually (artificial tornado) inside NDCTs can remarkably increase the upright draught, and consequently cooling performance of the NDCTs. This project will explore the fundamental mechanisms underneath and then the engineering approaches to realise and maximise this effect. The student is expected to conduct analytical/numerical and experimental studies.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering.

  1. A Master or Honours Degree in Engineering (Mechanical, Civil, Chemical, Aerospace, etc.) or Physics, with a good sense of mathematics and fluid mechanics.
  2. Better to have experience in CFD and/or experimental fluid mechanics.
*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 4, 2020. 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 Italo Onederra

i.onederra@uq.edu.au
Development of guidelines and tools to improve blasting outcomes and reduce geotechnical risks

The main objective of this project is to develop industry guidelines and practical tools to minimise geotechnical risks and improve blasting outcomes.


The project will focus on specific issues at mine sites by conducting field studies to quantify the impact of blasting strategies on geotechnical risks and mine productivity. The site related monitoring work will be complemented with an industry review; advanced modelling techniques and local site experiences.


The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering.

Engineering (Geotechnical, Mining, Civil, Mechanical)


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

Professor Damien Batstone

damienb@awmc.uq.edu.au

High efficiency conversion of syngas and carbon-dioxide based gases to biopolymers using phototrophic bacteria

Three PhD projects are available through this Australian Research Council funded project. This project will deliver efficient  processes for the large-scale production of biopolymers from low cost inputs, using phototrophic bacteria. Feedstocks include syngas from solid wastes and carbon-dioxide-hydrogen mixes from fossil and renewable sources. The choice of phototrophic bacteria avoids the energy losses associated with existing technologies, since photons are used instead of chemical energy for metabolic needs. This project enables the production and optimisation of biopolymers through collaborations between engineers, polymer scientists and molecular biologists. Together, we will deliver novel technologies to produce tough, flexible and affordable biopolymers, converting wastes and greenhouse gases to a valuable product. Specific PhD projects include laboratory and field scale process development, as well as metabolic and process modelling of production pathways.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemical Engineering.

Domestic applicants should have a B. Eng (Chem) or M. Eng (Chem) with 1st or 2A honours, or a B. Sc with a relevant major with 1st class honours. International applicants should have a masters degree relevant to the project.

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

Dr Tuan Nguyen
tuan.a.h.nguyen@uq.edu.au
 
Tailoring high strength geopolymer from iron-rich materials

The mistrust on the use of iron-rich materials in geopolymeric cement and concrete development has restricted the use of enormous geological resources. Ferrous compounds in these precursors are suspected to have harmful actions that block the geopolymerisation and reduce the geopolymer's compressive strength. Using both experimental and theoretical modelling approaches at multiscale, this project will exploit the geopolymerisation mechanism of the binding phase (Na,K,Ca)-poly(ferro-sialate) to tailor high strength geopolymeric materials.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Sustainable Minerals Institute.

Applicants should have a degree in Chemical Engineering or Mechanical Engineering with a strong interest in Physics, Mathematics, and Material Synthesis. It would be better if the applicants have MPhil or equivalent degree.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2020. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International students may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons. ​

Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka

n.dissanayaka@uq.edu.au

Virtual Reality in Residential Aged Care

Virtual reality (VR) is an emerging field within residential aged care for the management of behavioural and psychological symptoms in residents. This project will develop and test a suit of VR applications in RAC facilities.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

A background in Psychology, design and virtual reality applications is desirable.

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

Professor Mingxing Zhang

mingxing.zhang@uq.edu.au

 

Professor Xue Li

xueli@itee.uq.edu.au

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.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering.

Engineering, IT

Dr Joel Carpenter

j.carpenter@uq.edu.au

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.

The successful applicant 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

jj.corcoran@uq.edu.au

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?

The successful applicant 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

yan.liu@uq.edu.au

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.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences.

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