Biopolymer self-reinforced molecular composites

Project opportunity

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

About This Opportunity

We are seeking a full-time, highly motivated PhD candidate to perform cutting-edge materials engineering research in the field of biopolymers. The successful 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 partners.

The successful Candidate will work on the latest biopolymers (PHA, PLA, PBAT and more…) to develop a new generation of self-reinforced composites, where both the matrix and the fibres are from the same type of biopolymers. During the course of the PhD, the candidate will gain a fundamental understanding on biopolymers, polymer processing, fibre manufacturing, and multiple advanced characterisation techniques. 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. This is an emerging and rapidly growing field, which is attracting the interest of multinational companies and governments around the world. 

The project is funded by the Australian Research Council through a prestigious Discovery Project and ultimately aims at facilitating Australia’s transition to a biobased and circular economy. This project is in collaboration with Deakin University (Australia), and University of Warwick (UK). Hence, the candidate will be part of a greater team led by UQ’s Prof Peter Halley, and be exposed to a broad network of partners, collaborators and industries in the field of biopolymers. The position will also offer a high level of reward, aimed at delivering innovative solutions for the next generation of materials. The position will require travelling across Australia and internationally to meet partners and attend conferences.

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.

Our Ideal Candidate

Our ideal candidate holds a BSC, MSc, or equivalent in a relevant discipline (e.g. Polymer Chemistry, Chemistry, Materials Science, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, etc.) with experience with polymers and/or composites. Any previous work experience will be highly valued for this application. Excellent oral and written communication skills, motivation and the ability to work as part of a team is also required. Ideally, the applicant should possess:

  • Experience in polymer chemistry, materials science, polymers and/or composites
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Good interpersonal skills and strong work ethics
  • Independent and proactive attitude
  • Ability to work as part of a team

We value diversity and inclusion, and actively encourage applications from those who bring diversity to the University. Our Diversity and Inclusion webpage contains further information if you require additional support. Accessibility requirements and/or adjustments can be made.

Scholarship value

As a scholarship recipient, you'll receive: 

  • living stipend of $32,192 per annum tax free (2023 rate), indexed annually
  • tuition fees covered
  • single Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)


Professor Peter Halley

School of Chemical Engineering


Preferred educational background

Your application will be assessed on a competitive basis.

We take into account your

  • previous academic record
  • publication record
  • honours and awards
  • employment history.

A working knowledge of polymer science, polymer processing and/or biopolymers would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

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

A background or knowledge of polymers is highly desirable.

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2023. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date.

If you are an international applicant, you may need to apply much earlier for visa requirements.

How to apply

You apply for this project as part of your PhD program application.

View application process