PhD Projects

The UNSW Water research Centre has a number of PhD project with Scholarships up to $30,000 per annum. Outlines for these projects include:

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Title: Carbon Metrics for the Built Environment

Project Summary: This 3-year research project is designed to develop and improve methods and tools for the analysis of indirect carbon flows in Australia, including a comprehensive database of embodied carbon life cycle inventory (LCI) data for building products and materials. The main objective will be to create a method that harmonises LCI data from different scales and sources by combining top-down and bottom-up approaches. Sensitivity and scenario analyses will be used to verify the method and software tools will be developed. The PhD research is embedded in the Integrated Carbon Metrics project that further uses the LCI data to calculate carbon emission and reduction scenarios for the built environment at precinct level.

The PhD researcher will make use of the Industrial Ecology Virtual Laboratory, a newly developed environmental input-output model for Australia for hybrid life cycle assessments (LCA) and environmental footprint analysis. Modelling carbon emissions of the built environment with the Virtual Laboratory enables the economy-wide evaluation of direct and indirect impacts.

Enquiries and applications should be sent to Ms Judith Schinabeck (j.schinabeck@unsw.edu.au ). Applications must include a cover letter referring to the skill profile outlined above, academic transcripts, a CV and the names and contact details of two referees. Incomplete applications will be returned without evaluation. The deadline for applications is 18 May 2014. Candidates would ideally commence before 30 June 2014.

Supervisor: Professor Tommy Wiedmann

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Title: Developing a global flood forecasting system

Project Summary: In 2011, more than 6000 people died due to flooding and another 139 million people were displaced. Improved flood forecasting ability could help to save lives and reduce the cost of flooding. Our team at UNSW Australia (the University of New South Wales) has recently been award a large grant by the Australian Research Council to develop a framework for flood forecasting in data sparse areas. The aim of the project is to use remote sensing information on soil moisture and open water locations in real-time to improve the information in hydrologic and hydraulic models.

As part of the project, we are seeking a PhD candidate to investigate the best ways to use data assimilation in simple hydraulic routing models. The data assimilation aims to update the initial conditions of the models for each time step to incorporate the information from the remote sensing. The outcomes from the PhD will be used by other members of the project team in developing the overall system for flood forecasting. It is hoped that this project will make valuable contributions to international efforts to provide real-time global flood forecasting systems.

The successful applicant will be expected to apply for an APA or an EIPRS scholarship, which will be topped up by project funds on a performance basis to lead to a stipend of up to $40,000 pa. We are seeking potential candidates with a background in hydrologic and hydraulic modelling, civil engineering or mathematics. The successful applicant need not be an Australian citizen; however preference will be given to local applicants with the right background.

If interested, please send a CV and your educational transcripts to Dr Fiona Johnson (f.johnson@unsw.edu.au) with a subject line marked “Global Flood Forecasting PhD” by 14/02/2014.

Supervisor: Dr Fiona Johnson

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Title: Characterisation of taste and odour compounds produced by cyanobacteria
Project Summary: This PhD proposal seeks to investigate the broad range of odour-causing compounds produced by cyanobacteria using a novel application of coupling an olfactory port to gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS/O), as well as other high-resolution analytical techniques, to fully characterise via exploratory methods the full range of odorous contaminants produced by cyanobacteria. It is anticipated that this project will improve the analytical and olfactory approach for assessing the composition of odours from cyanobacteria and produce a comprehensive database for T&O compounds found in water supply sources across Australia to assist water suppliers in better managing water sources and downstream treatment for T&O removal.

The successful student will join the ARC Linkage project team that entails a substantial collaboration between the School of Chemical Engineering, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering the Australian Water Quality Centre (SA Water, Adelaide), National Cheng Kung University (Taiwan) and a further six industry partners. The student will have access to state-of-the-art analytical equipment available in the UNSW Water Research Centre, Water Quality Laboratories, including the ‘UNSW Odour Laboratory’. The suitable candidate will have a background in either chemistry and/or chemical or environmental engineering. The candidate should have a demonstrated aptitude for undertaking laboratory work and an understanding of water treatment technologies. The candidate should have excellent communication skills and will be expected to interact regularly with industry partners. It is expected that the student apply for their own scholarship via APA or IPRS schemes (or equivalent).

Further information on the project and scholarship on offer may be obtained from Prof Richard Stuetz (email: r.stuetz@unsw.edu.au). Applications for the scholarships (including a cover letter, academic transcript and CV) should be submitted to Prof Stuetz, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052.

Supervisor: Professor Richard Stuetz

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Title: Characterisation of cyanobacteria and their metabolites by fluorescence spectroscopy
Project Summary: This PhD proposal seeks to investigate the fluorescence spectra of both the cells and, importantly, the organic metabolites released in order to determine the relationships that exist between cyanobacteria species and strains and the fluorescence response of the cells and metabolites. State-of-the-art fluorescence excitation-emission matrix spectroscopy will be utilised alongside other organic matter characterisation techniques. It is anticipated that this study will provide improved fundamental understanding of the fluorescence character of cyanobacteria to underpin the applied research that will be undertaken concurrently, therefore assisting to explain empirical relationships that are determined via implementation of cyanobacteria monitoring using the more simplistic fluorescence probes at water treatment plants.

The successful student will join the ARC Linkage project team that entails a substantial collaboration between the School of Chemical Engineering, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Australian Water Quality Centre (SA Water, Adelaide), National Cheng Kung University (Taiwan) and a further six industry partners. The suitable candidate will have a background in either chemistry and/or chemical or environmental engineering. The candidate should have a demonstrated aptitude for undertaking laboratory work and an understanding of water treatment technologies. The candidate should have excellent communication skills and will be expected to interact regularly with industry partners. It is expected that the student apply for their own scholarship via APA or IPRS schemes (or equivalent).

Further information on the project and scholarship on offer may be obtained from Dr Rita Henderson (email: r.henderson@unsw.edu.au). Applications for the scholarships (including a cover letter, academic transcript and CV) should be submitted to Dr Henderson, UNSW Water Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052.

Supervisor: Dr Rita Henderson

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Title: Decadal Hydrologic Prediction
Project Summary: Have you wondered how one could predict water availability 10+ years into the future? This is a question that has been put up for investigation as part of the forthcoming IPCC 5th assessment report (AR5). In connection with this initiative, the Australian Research Council (ARC), with support from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the State Water Corporation of NSW, has recently awarded us a Linkage project, with the aim of formulating the best viable strategies for decadal hydrologic prediction for use in a range of water management initiatives.

A part of this study focusses on finding the best solution for a known problem with GCM decadal predictions – the issue of model “drift” (search “climate drift” on the web). Applications are sought for a PhD focusing on assessment and correction of climate drift in decadal climate simulations from a hydrological viewpoint. The outcomes from this PhD will be used by other members of the project team in formulating downscaling alternatives for selected regions, and ultimately, for formulating decadal hydrologic predictions across the country and will make valuable contributions to the international effort to provide reliable decadal predictions of climate.

The successful applicant will be expected to apply for an APA or an EIPRS scholarship first, which will be topped up by project funds on a performance basis to lead to a stipend of up to $40,000 pa. The successful applicant need not be an Australian citizen, however, preference will be given to local applicants with the right background. If interested, please send a CV and your educational transcripts to Ashish Sharma (a.sharma@unsw.edu.au) with a subject line marked “decadal prediction scholarship” by 16/08/2013.

Supervisor: Professor Ashish Sharma

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Title: Improving prediction of removal of micropollutants during wastewater treatment
Project Summary: Municipal wastewater contains an increasingly broad range of chemical micropollutants, many of which cannot be easily or cost effectively measured. As a result models are increasingly being used to predict micropollutant fate through wastewater treatment processes. Recent modelling work undertaken for Melbourne Water has revealed the kinetics of biodegradation and photolysis processes, together with the Log Kow coefficient, to be among the greatest sources of uncertainty. This project will address these knowledge gaps by the development of biodegradation and photolysis coefficients and degradation half-lives, specific for two large wastewater treatment plants in Melbourne. These data will then be integrated into the existing Excel-based probabilistic fugacity model for micropollutant removal by activated sludge followed by maturation ponds. Outcomes from this research will enable more accurate prediction of micropollutant removal, and assessment of risk in treated wastewater.

A single page EoI is invited from interested candidates. The EoI should include a description of your interest and any relevant experience in the general project topic. Clear details of your eligibility must also be included. A CV may also be included as a separate document. EoIs (and CVs) must be emailed to Dr Stuart Khan at s.khan@unsw.edu.au.
All EoIs must be received by Friday 10th May, 2013.

Supervisor: Dr Stuart Khan

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Title: PhD Scholarship on radionuclide biogeochemistry and radioactive site remediation

Project Summary: A PhD scholarship is available through the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering to undertake research within a project aimed at understanding radionuclide biogeochemistry and to examine sustainable strategies to limit off-site migration from contaminated sites. The project is a significant collaborative research effort with Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation scientists. It is expected that the applicant will have (general) experience and/or interests in the biogeochemistry of inorganic pollutants and possess the ability (and/or willingness) to undertake both field- and laboratory-based investigations of factors influencing radionuclide mobility. As such, applicants with a background in geochemistry, microbiology, environmental engineering and related fields are encouraged to apply.

The PhD scholarship offers a stipend of $35,000/yr (tax-free) for 3 years with a possibility of a 6 month extension. Additional taxable support of up to $8,000/yr is available through acceptance of tutoring duties within the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. A relocation allowance is available to students who move to Sydney to commence the scholarship.

Professor David Waite (d.waite@unsw.edu.au) can be contacted for further information and will receive applications for the scholarship. Candidates would be expected to commence in semester 1 of 2013 (i.e. before March 31st). Applications should include a cover letter, academic transcript, CV and names and contact details of two referees.Supervisor: Professor David Waite

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Title: Optimisation of a novel dissolved air flotation (DAF) process for algae separation using specifically designed polymers
Project Summary: A PhD opportunity (2013-2016) is available for those with their own scholarship funding via APA or IPRS schemes (or equivalent). A PhD operating allowance is available via an ARC Linkage Grant to investigate a novel adaptation to the dissolved air flotation (DAF) process to enhance algae removal in both drinking water and advanced wastewater treatment systems. Algal and cyanobacteria blooms are of particular concern in drinking water resources due to their negative impact on treatment processes, as well as their potential to release harmful toxins into water supplies and impact on taste and odour quality of drinking water. Waste stabilisation ponds used for the advanced treatment of wastewater are also highly susceptible to algal activity which can limit recycled water production. DAF is commonly employed for algae removal but often times with only limited success.

Those interested in the project should contact Dr Rita Henderson , Water Research Centre, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052. (email:r.henderson@unsw.edu.au) Supervisor: Rita Henderson

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Title: Iron Oxide Transformations – Top-up Scholarship
Project Summary: A top-up PhD scholarship is available in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering to undertake research aimed at elucidating dynamic iron oxide transformations in the environment and subsequent implications to contaminant mobility. Iron oxides are a ubiquitous component of natural systems and are critical because of their tendency to chemically bind other elements (such as P, As and U). The nature of the research would suit students whose research strengths and interests lie in the fields of (bio)geochemistry, chemistry, environmental science and/or environmental engineering. Furthermore, it is expected that synchrotron science will feature prominently in this research with opportunities to conduct experiments at the Australian Synchrotron, Photon Factory (Japan) and Advanced Photon Source (USA). Potential also exists for collaborative research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at Berkeley, California, USA.
This top-up scholarship is only open to Australian and New Zealand citizens or Australian permanent residents who are eligible to receive an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) and are also expected to have (or expecting to obtain) 1st class Honours (or equivalent ranking). The topup PhD Scholarship offers a supplement of $10,000 per year for up to 3.5 years.

The closing date for applications is the 31st March for commencement in Session 2, 2012.

Those interested in the project should contact Dr Richard Collins, Water Research Centre, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052. (email: richard.collins@unsw.edu.au) Supervisor: Richard Collins

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Title: Quantifying the treatment effects of natural catchment processes on organic matter concentration and character in the Brisbane River
Project Summary: A PhD scholarship is available to quantify the treatment effects of in-catchment processing of dissolved organic matter in the Brisbane River catchment, Southeast Queensland. The aim would be to determine potential management interventions that may control the character and concentration of organic matter for improved drinking water treatment.

Applicants would be expected to be eligible to apply for an APA at http://research.unsw.edu.au/domestic-research-candidate-scholarships. International students of exceptional quality can apply now for scholarships at http://research.unsw.edu.au/international-research-candidate-scholarships. Additional project funding is provided by project partner seqwater. It is anticipated that the PhD would be based at both UNSW and at SEQwater, with at least 1 year based in Brisbane.

For further information on the project and scholarships on offer, please contact Prof. Andy Baker ( email: a.baker@unsw.edu.au).Supervisor: Andy Baker

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Title: Radionuclide biogeochemistry and radioactive site remediation UPDATED
Project Summary: A PhD scholarship is available through the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering to undertake research within a project aimed at understanding radionuclide biogeochemistry and to examine sustainable strategies to limit off-site migration from contaminated sites. The project is a significant collaborative research effort with Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation scientists. It is expected that the applicant will have (general) experience and/or interests in the biogeochemistry of inorganic pollutants and possess the ability (and/or willingness) to undertake both field- and laboratory-based investigations of factors influencing radionuclide mobility. As such, applicants with a background in geochemistry, microbiology, environmental engineering and related fields are encouraged to apply.

Closing date : 31st March 2012

Further information on the project on offer may be obtained from Professor David Waite.
This scholarship is open to all nationalities and applicants are expected to have (or expecting to obtain) 1st class Honours (or equivalent ranking) in a 4 year undergraduate degree.
Those interested in the project should send a cover letter; academic transcript; CV and; names and contact details of two referees to Professor David Waite, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052. (email: d.waite@unsw.edu.au) Supervisor: Professor David Waite

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Title: Assessing the Fate of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in the Australian Environment Project Summary: A PhD scholarship is available via a 3-year ARC Linkage Grant (2010-2013) to study the fate of endocrine disrupting chemicals in the Australian Aquatic Environment. The project aims to contribute to improving our understanding of the environmental impact of endocrine disrupting chemicals and will involve detailed studies to determine the fate and level of these chemicals in Australian aquatic environments. A suitable candidate may have a background in Environmental Engineering and/or Chemistry with experience with LC/MS/MS and GC/MS/MS analysis. Further information on the project on offer may be obtained from Dr Heather Coleman. Applications for the scholarship should submit a cover letter, academic transcript and CV to Dr Coleman, UNSW Water Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052. (email: h.coleman@unsw.edu.au) Supervisor: Heather Coleman

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Title: From computer vision to 3D Earth imagery Project Summary: The aim of this PhD project is to bridge this gap by systematically looking at the advances in computer vision that occurred in the last 10 years, evaluating their applicability to subsurface modelling, and implementing the modifications necessary for addressing the specific needs of Earth Science imagery. Further information on the project on offer may be obtained from Gregoire Mariethoz. Those interested in the project should submit a cover letter, academic transcript and CV to Dr Mariethoz, UNSW Water Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052. (email: gregoire.mariethoz@unsw.edu.au) Supervisor: Gregoire Mariethoz

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Title: Evaluation of adsorption based odour abatement processes Project Summary: A PhD scholarship is available via an ARC Linkage grant (2009-2013) to study the performance of adsorption based odour abatement processes in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UNSW. The project will be undertaken in the UNSW Environmental Emission and Odour Laboratory within the UNSW Water Research Centre. The PhD project is part of an $8M ARC project with 4 other Australian Universities (UQ, Curtin, Sydney Uni and Newcastle) in collaboration with 9 Water Utilities throughout Australia. Further information on the project and scholarship on offer may be obtained from Prof Richard Stuetz (email: r.stuetz@unsw.edu.au). Applications for the scholarships (including a cover letter, academic transcript and CV) should be submitted to Prof Stuetz, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052. Supervisor: Richard Stuetz

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Title: Optimisation of nutrient removal, membrane fouling and excess sludge dewatering in hybrid coagulation/submerged membrane bioreactor treatment of wastewaters – Civil Engineering Project Summary: A PhD scholarship (Australian Postgraduate Award Industry (APAI) is available via an ARC (Australian Research Council) Linkage grant to investigate the potential for using coagulant(s) to optimise nutrient removal, membrane fouling and excess sludge dewatering in membrane bioreactors (MBR) for treating municipal wastewater. The effectiveness of coagulant(s) will be evaluated with particular attention given to the transformations that coagulant element species undergo in the membrane bioreactor. Further information on the project and scholarship on offer may be obtained from Professor David Waite (d.waite@unsw.edu.au), Head, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UNSW. Applications for the scholarships (including a cover letter, academic transcript and CV) should be submitted to Professor David Waite, School of Civil & Environmental Engineering, The University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052. Supervisor: David Waite

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Title: Optimisation of nutrient removal, membrane fouling and excess sludge dewatering in hybrid coagulation/submerged membrane bioreactor treatment of wastewaters – Chemical Engineering Project Summary: A PhD scholarship (Australian Postgraduate Award Industry (APAI) is available via an ARC (Australian Research Council) Linkage grant to investigate the potential for using coagulant(s) to optimise nutrient removal, membrane fouling and excess sludge dewatering in membrane bioreactors (MBR) for treating municipal wastewater. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) techniques will be used to investigate the hydrodynamics and mixing of MBR plants, the transport, dispersion and transformation of coagulant and their impact on trans-membrane pressure build-up and membrane fouling. Further information on the project and scholarship on offer may be obtained from Associate Professor Greg Leslie (g.leslie@unsw.edu.au). Applications for the scholarships (including a cover letter, academic transcript and CV) should be submitted to A/Prof. Greg Leslie, School of Chemical Engineering, The University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052. Supervisor: Greg Leslie

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Title: Treatability of odorants in odours abatement systems Project Summary: Complaints due to sewage odour are a major issue for sewage system operators because the repeated release of unpleasant odours from a sewer network constitutes both a public nuisance and possible regulatory violation. A combination of chemical and olfactory techniques will be used to acquire detailed data on composition and treatability of odorants and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in odour abatement systems. The outcomes will significantly enhance the design and choice of odour treatment systems through a better understanding of the fate of odorants and VOC removal in different odour abatement configurations. Supervisor: Richard Stuetz

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Title: Characterisation of odours using olfactory GC-MS Project Summary: Complaints due to odour are a major issue for wastewater utilities because the repeated release of unpleasant odours from a sewer network constitutes both a public nuisance and possible regulatory violation. A combination of chemical and olfactory techniques will be used to acquire detailed data on composition of odorants and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) emitted from sewer systems. The outcomes will significantly enhance our understanding of the composition of odours in sewer systems in order to improve the management and the choice of odour abatement strategy. Supervisor: Richard Stuetz