Codesigned research projects - Gippsland

PhD and Masters by Research (Industry) – A collaboration between Morwell Innovation Centre, local industries and Federation University, supported by funding from Destination Australia Program.

Federation University is seeking three PhD candidates and two Masters by Research candidates for fully funded projects co-designed and co-supervised by local industry partners and leading academics at Federation University. Projects will be supported by the newly established Morwell Innovation Centre.

The PhD and Masters candidates will be affiliated with Federation University’s Gippsland Campus at Churchill and with the Morwell Innovation Centre, in Victoria, Australia. They will receive a scholarship of $30,000 per calendar year in partnership with Federation University and Destination Australia. Australian citizens and permanent residents will receive a fee offset scholarship and international applicants may be eligible for a tuition fee scholarship.

These opportunities are open to suitably qualified people with relevant academic qualifications and demonstrated fundamental technical knowledge (e.g., community engagement, soils testing, robotics engineering, etc.) relevant to the application domain of each project. Specific skills and interests relevant for each project are listed below.

Applications from Australian citizens, permanent residents, and international residents with appropriate qualifications, skills and interests will be ranked highly.

Successful applicants may have the opportunity to participate in an industry-based internship.

Scholarship details

Scholarship amount: $30,000 per annum*, funded by Federation University and Destination Australia.

Fees: Up to $32,000 per annum covered by a Research Training Program Fee-Offset Scholarships (domestic students) or a Federation University Tuition Fee Scholarship (international students)

Applications to open on Wednesday 25th May 2022 - Please submit your application and EOI by 11:59pm, Sunday 19th June 2022

Eligibility

Scholarship applicants must be eligible to undertake a PhD or Masters by Research. Please verify that you meet eligibility requirements outlined on the Graduate Research School website before you apply. If you are making a case for ‘Honours equivalence', in order to demonstrate your eligibility, please ensure that you provide detailed information to support your case.

Applications are open to Australian residents, permanent residents and international applicants.

Conditions

  • Students are expected to commit to full-time study for the duration of their candidature.
  • Scholarships are for a period of three years and extension to scholarships will not be granted.
  • Successful scholarship applicants must reside in or relocate to the Gippsland region and study on campus and on location with their industry partner.
  • Successful scholarship applicants may have the opportunity to participate in an internship period.
  • Successful scholarship applicants must formally assign, in advance, all right, title and interest they may have in any IP developed to the University prior to commencing a project.

Successful applicants of the Masters by Research projects cannot transfer to a PhD and retain their scholarship. Should they choose to transfer to a PhD, all scholarship entitlements will be ceased.

View the general conditions for Federation University HDR Scholarships on the Graduate Research School website. Where these conditions differ to those on this form, the conditions outlined for this specific scholarship take precedence.

How to apply

Applicants who do not complete all steps will not be considered.

Step 1: Follow the application process outlined at: How to apply

Step 2: Provide a 1000-word statement covering the following areas:

  • Discuss your motivations for applying for this scholarship, and your intended outcomes (both for yourself (personally and professionally), and for the sector)
  • Discuss some of the key existing research literature which impact this topic area
  • Discuss your relevant background and experience as they are relevant to the project
  • Discuss how an internship may positively impact on your project and future career.
  • Discuss potential challenges and how you might overcome them

Applicants are not required to provide a 250 Project Summary, as described on the application form.

Step 3: Complete the Scholarship Expression of Interest Form from 25th May 2022

Projects

The contribution of biochar on biophysical functions and properties for the benefit of improving the quality and resilience of agricultural soils

Supported by

Australian agricultural land is depleted of soil carbon and faces challenges of caused by drought. Replenishment with supplemental biochar can aid in rebuilding carbon in soils, and is also able to ‘prime the pump’ of the soil’s ability to absorb more atmospheric carbon. This project aims to quantify that relationship, evaluate the mechanisms and seek means to accelerate atmospheric absorption.

Aim and objectives

The aim of this PhD project is to develop suitable cases of agchar application to soils to improve their quality, productivity and resilience against natural hazards like drought.

The project will specifically address the following objectives.

  • Application of agchar to soils for the improvement of soil quality and assessment by in-situ and laboratory tests
  • Measure the potential of agchar to encourage capture of CO2 through improved growth conditions
  • Quantify the persistence of agchar in soils through accelerated tests in microcosms

Student profile

Applicants should meet Federation University entry requirements, with an undergraduate degree in environmental science/chemistry, agriculture, soil science or a related discipline. An equivalent combination of working in relevant industry, study and previous research experience can also be considered.

Supervisory team

Federation Supervisors: Prof Thomas Baumgartl, Assoc/Prof Vince Verheyan

Industry supervisor: Ashley Moore, Vivek Ravisankar

Social licence and community engagement for renewable energy enterprises in Gippsland

Supported by

Our society has a growing expectation that businesses – and business leaders – should take a more active role in leading positive change. To do this, business need to actively engaging with stakeholders. Working with leading renewable energy enterprises in Gippsland, this PhD project will explore how  the Gippsland community can best  be involved with, and contribute to, a thriving renewable energy sector in the region.

Student profile

Applicants should meet Federation University entry requirements, with an undergraduate degree in social science, environmental science, business, data science or a related discipline. An equivalent combination of working in relevant industry, study and previous research experience can also be considered.

Supervisory team

Federation Supervisors: Dr Jess Reeves

Industry supervisor: Darren McCubbin

Leadership and knowledge transfer between Traditional Owner groups and land management practitioners

Supported by

Working closely with Traditional Owner groups in Gippsland, this PhD project will explore effective, respectful and culturally appropriate ways to connect Traditional Knowledge holders with land management practitioners, with the intention to build capacity and capability in Indigenous land management methods in the Gippsland region and to identify pathways for Traditional Owner groups to participate more fully in future land management decisions in the region, for example in the context of mine site rehabilitation and land restoration in the Latrobe Valley.

Student profile

Applicants should meet Federation University entry requirements, with an undergraduate degree in Indigenous studies, cultural heritage, environmental science, or a related discipline. An equivalent combination of working in a relevant industry, study and previous research experience, or acknowledged Traditional knowledge will also be considered. Indigenous candidates or students able to demonstrate a high level of cultural awareness are strongly preferred.

Supervisory team

Federation Supervisors: Dr Jess Reeves

Industry supervisor: Patrick Maiden, Daniel Miller

Robotics for crop harvest and farm automation

Supported by

The utilization of robotics and its associated algorithms improves the efficiency, functionality, intelligence, and remote interactivity of harvesting in complex agricultural environments. Machine vision and its associated emerging technology promise huge potential in advanced agricultural applications. However, machine vision and its precise positioning still have many technical difficulties, making it difficult for most harvesting robots to achieve true commercial applications. This research project will be investigating robotic technologies and algorithm for crop harvesting at Bulmer Farms and automation of agricultural operations to improve efficiencies.

Aim and objectives

This PhD project aims to develop farm robotic technologies to improve the efficiencies and growth, in farming.

The project will specifically address the following objectives.

  • Investigation and identification of robotic crop harvesting techniques
  • Development of robotics and associated algorithms for automation of agricultural operations

Student profile

Applicants should meet Federation University entry requirements, with an undergraduate degree in Mechatronics or Robotics Engineering, or a related discipline. An equivalent combination of working in a relevant industry, study and previous research experience will also be considered.

Supervisory team

Federation Supervisors: Dr Gayan Appuhamillage, Prof Joarder Kamruzzaman, Dr Linh Nguyen

Industry supervisor: Alexandra Keith

Students are expected to undertake fieldwork with Bulmer Farms and conduct lab-based research at Federation University’s Gippsland Campus in Victoria.

Living Organic Fertiliser

Supported by

OPAL and Mainstream Aquaculture are developing the world’s largest land based barramundi aquaculture facility, to be located adjacent to the Maryvale pulp and paper mill (in Latrobe Valley). This project will explore the potential of by-products from the fish farm farm as living fertiliser, and whether there is potential to build a pathway to a circular economy by integrating aquaculture by-products with waste streams from other local industries, including e.g. compost from the pulp and paper mill or from agriculture.

Objectives

This Masters by  Research project will specifically address the following objectives.

  • Chemical characterisation of by-products from fish farm and exploration of application to e.g. soils as fertiliser
  • Assessment of waste streams of other industries for incorporation into by-product development and refinement
  • Technical and economical quantification and upscaling as part of a circular economy approach

Student profile

Applicants should meet Federation University entry requirements, with an undergraduate degree in process/chemical/environmental engineering, biology or a related discipline. An equivalent combination of working in relevant industry, study and previous research experience can also be considered.

Supervisory team

Federation Supervisors: Prof Thomas Baumgartl

Industry supervisor: Craig Bosch

UV-C light as a treatment method for submersed weeds in the Macalister Irrigation District

Supported by

  • Southern Rural Water

In a changing warming climate, the occurrence of invasive plants is likely to increase in volume and frequency. Invasive weeds continue to cause blockages of irrigation channel infrastructure in the Macalister Irrigation District, resulting in decreased flows. Currently employed chemical treatments pose significant environmental and OH&S risks if not managed properly. Previous studies in USA and Spain have demonstrated the potential for UV-C light in the management of aquatic weeds, however, to date the effectiveness of this treatment has not been tested in irrigation channels outside a laboratory setting. This project will test UV light exposure as a viable option for the control of submerged weeds in irrigation channels in the Macalister Irrigation District.

Aim and objectives

The aim of this Masters by Research project is to apply UV-C treatment methods to control the growth, development and excessive spread of aquatic plants in the Macalister Irrigation District, Victoria

The project will specifically address the following objectives.

  • Understand the effectiveness of UV-C applications on controlling aquatic plants
  • Development of improvised mechanisms (or devises?) to implement the UV-C for aquatic plant control

Student profile

Applicants should meet Federation University entry requirements, with an undergraduate degree in Agriculture Engineering, Environmental engineering, or a related discipline . An equivalent combination of working in a relevant industry, study and previous research experience will be an added qualification.

Supervisory team

Federation Supervisors: Dr Gayan Appuhamillage, Dr Kushan Tennakoon.

Industry supervisor: Kate Berg

Students are expected to undertake fieldwork in the Macalister Irrigation District and conduct lab-based research at Federation University’s Gippsland Campus.

Improving the quality of wood pellets by incorporating renewable byproducts

Supported by

Aim and objectives

The aim of this Masters by Research project is to investigate manufacturing improvements to the quality and value of wood pellets by incorporating other renewable by-products.

The project will specifically address the following objectives.

  • Evaluate a range of pulp industry by-products to investigate the potential benefits of blending with sawdusts before and after their pelletization.
  • Determine if the controlled use of these additives can tailor key commercial parameters including pellet density, strength, moisture resistance and calorific value.

Student profile

Applicants should meet Federation University entry requirements, with an undergraduate degree in agriculture, science, engineering or a related discipline. An equivalent combination of working in a relevant industry, study and previous research experience can also be considered.

Supervisory team

Federation Supervisors: Assoc/Prof Vince Verheyan, Dr Alicia Reynolds

Industry supervisor: Paul Griffin