Industry and project-specific scholarships

The Graduate Research School is pleased to present a number of co-funded industry scholarships.

Manna Institute - Regional Mental Health

Federation University is pleased to partner with the Manna Institute to offer a PhD scholarship to explore the mental health needs of Regional Australians.

This three-year PhD Scholarship is identified for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidate.

The successful candidate will join the Manna Institute in engaging in research projects under the following thematic areas of importance to regional mental health.

Scholarship details

Stipend: $33,000 per annum
RTP Fee-offset Scholarship: $26,400 per annum
Funding length: 3 years (only, no extensions permitted)
Location: Mt Helen

Eligibility

Scholarship applicants must be eligible to undertake a PhD. Verify you can meet eligibility requirements outlined on the Graduate Research School website.

Applications will be accepted from Australian residents and permanent residents only. Additionally, selection will also depend on the applicant’s ability to meet the following desired criteria:

*           Enrol full-time however candidates can be on campus or remote from the campus.

*           Able and willing to work in a research team environment.

*           Integrate and contribute to the research team.

*           Work or research experience in regional, remote, and rural locations in Australia

Applicants should review the Manna Institute website before submitting an application.

Application closing date: Applications open until position filled

How to apply: Applicants must submit the Manna Institute Application form along with submitting their HDR Candidature application

Commencement date: To be confirmed once appointed

Research project outline

Project title: Regional Mental Health

Candidates must develop a project that aligns with one of four Manna Institute Research Collaboratives, described below:

Research collaborative 1 – existing and emerging mental health workforce.  Projects in this collaborative will focus on ways to support current workforce needs in regional Australia to strengthen future awareness of how to attract and retain workers. At the core of this research collaborative is inclusivity, through collaboration with both the professional and peer workforces across community health, allied health and policy and service delivery staff.

Research collaborative 2 - Individuals’ health and wellbeing. Projects in this collaborative will focus on the psycho-social-behavioural factors that impact individual health and well-being in regional and rural Australia across their lifespan.

Research collaborative 4 - The impact of changing environmental conditions on mental health. The natural world has an enormous impact on mental health and wellbeing. Opportunities to interact with nature can reduce mental illness and facilitate optimum mental wellbeing. Projects in this collaborative will focus those that consider direct and indirect impacts of the changing climate on rural, regional, and remote communities.

For further information (including supervision advice) please contact:

Associate Professor Dixie Statham - Federation University
Email: d.statham@federation.edu.au

or Professor Myfanwy Maple - Manna Institute Director
Email: mmaple2@une.edu.au

Supervisors, Associate and Co-Supervisors

Supervisors will be sourced through both Federation University and the Manna Institute. Bios of potential supervisors are listed on the Manna Institute website.

Investigation into soil and carbon management levers for farming systems optimisation

Federation University is pleased to partner with Food Agility CRC and Precision Agriculture to offer a Food Agility CRC PhD scholarship in Digital Agriculture

Scholarship details

Stipend: $35,000 per annum
Top-Up: NA
Project support: $10,000
RTP Fee-offset Scholarship: $26,800 per annum 
Funding length: 3 years (only, no extensions permitted)
Location: Mt Helen, Ballarat

Eligibility

Scholarship applicants must be eligible to undertake a PhD. Verify you can meet eligibility requirements outlined on the Graduate Research School website. If you are applying for ‘Honours equivalence,’ please ensure that you provide detailed information to support your case.

Applicants must be an Australian or permanent resident

Applicants should contact Dr Birgita Hansen prior to submitting an application.

Application closing date: Applications open until position filled

How to apply: Complete the HDR Candidature application and provide a 300 word statement that describes, in your own words, the area of the proposed research and include your interpretation of the problem, proposed solution, and potential impact. Please note, a separate research proposal (as outlined on the application form) is not required.

Commencement date: To be confirmed once appointed

Research project outline

Project title: Investigation into soil and carbon management levers for farming systems optimisation 

The agricultural sector is trying to balance increasing production with addressing soil health, soil carbon sequestration and farm sustainability via changes in soil amendments and management practices. Actions focused on carbon sequestration and emissions reduction will be increasingly more important over time as global markets demand carbon neutral products and evidence of carbon neutrality claims. Actions focusing on soil health amelioration techniques and improvement need to factor in productivity while also meeting market expectations around sustainability. A wide range of potentially interacting factors will influence soil health, profitability and other on-farms outcomes. Therefore, farmers will require better information for supporting decision-making on soil amendments to improve soil health and soil carbon, and the linkages between these actions to help prioritisation of farm management and respond to shifting markets.

Other related elements: 

  • Soil health reporting and soil properties that are key indicators  
  • Soil carbon gap mapping (on-farm and regional) and relationships with on-farm management. Building the on-farm evidence to support carbon neutral claims 
  • Where are the greatest sources of variability in soil properties and soil carbon at the farm scale, and how do these vary with climate, landscape and management practices? 
Research questions

What is driving variation in soil properties and constraints, and how does this relate to soil carbon and soil health management actions at multiple scales? 

What (if any) are the management levers for optimising soil amendments for multiple outcomes (soil carbon, soil health, productivity)?  

Proposed structure of research

  1. Desktop based assessments (mapping and analyses) using existing PA data and other sources of information 
  2. Field-based assessment to target key knowledge gaps identified in step 1, particularly in relation to (a) carbon gap mapping and (b) variability and benchmarking. 

Industry Partner and Student Host: Precision Agriculture; Food Agility CRC

Supervisors

Principal Supervisor: Dr Birgita Hansen

Associate and Co-Supervisors:

Dr Nathan Robinson,

Dr Ben Fest,

Dr Kirsten Barlow (Precision Ag)

St John of God Berwick Scholarship

Federation University is pleased to partner with St John of God Berwick Hospital to offer PhD scholarships for nurses, midwives and other allied healthcare professionals who have an interest in conducting research relevant to their field.

Scholarship details

Stipend: $40,000 per annum
Project support: between $6,000-$ 9,000 depending on project
RTP Fee-offset Scholarship / Tuition Fee Scholarship: up to $26,800 per annum
Funding length: 3 years (only, no extensions permitted)
Location: Berwick, Victoria

Eligibility

Scholarship applicants must be eligible to undertake a PhD. Verify you can meet eligibility requirements outlined on the Graduate Research School website. If you are applying for ‘Honours equivalence,’ please ensure that you provide detailed information to support your case.

Applicants must be an Australian resident or permanent resident.

Preference will be given to applicants with a registered nursing or midwifery background.

Applicants should contact Associate Professor Mimmie Watts Phone: 03 5327 9750 or email: mc.watts@federation.edu.au prior to submitting an application.

Application closing date:  30 June 2024

Previous applicants do not need to apply again.

How to apply: Applicants must submit their application with all necessary documents by completing the HDR Candidature application form.

Commencement date: as soon as possible

Research Fields:

  • Midwifery & Maternity Care
  • Workforce Models of Care
  • Digital and Mental Health Care
  • Public Health and Allied Health Care

East Wimmera Health Service Primary Care Transition

Federation University is pleased to partner with East Wimmera Health Service to offer a PhD scholarship in social science/humanities/regional development.

Scholarship details

Stipend: $33,000 per annum
Top-Up: $5,500 per annum
RTP Fee-offset Scholarship / Tuition Fee Scholarship: $24,780 per annum
Funding length: 3 years (only, no extensions permitted)
Location: Wimmera Campus
Internship: the opportunity to undertake a 3-month internship at East Wimmera Health Services.

Eligibility

Scholarship applicants must be eligible to undertake a PhD. Verify you can meet eligibility requirements outlined on the Graduate Research School website. If you are applying for ‘Honours equivalence,’ please ensure that you provide detailed information to support your case.

Knowledge/background in health services will be an advantage.

Applications will be accepted from Australian residents and permanent residents only.

Applicants should contact Dr Cathy Tischler, Team Lead, Future Regions Research Centre Horsham Hub c.tischler@federation.edu.au prior to submitting an application.

Application closing date: position open until filled

How to apply: Applicants must submit their application with all necessary documents by completing the HDR Candidature application form

Commencement date: By negotiation

Research project details

Project title: East Wimmera Health Service Primary Care Transition

Grounded in regional health policy, the doctoral project will have flexibility of scope, but will likely investigate models of care at East Wimmera Health Service. Research focus will involve delivering a detailed analysis relating to models of care or some element of care that requires significant new learning.

The range of investigation and the scope of the project will be designed in conjunction with East Wimmera Health Service. There will be a supervision team of four people - 3 from Federation University Australia and 1 from East Wimmera Health Service. East Wimmera Health Service will nominate a member to be on the supervisory panel.

Industry Partner and Student Host: East Wimmera Health Service

Supervisors:

Principal Supervisor: Professor Keir Reeves

Professor Keir Reeves is Co-Director of the Future Regions Research Centre at Federation University Australia. Keir’s current research works at the intersection heritage, cultural tourism, regional studies and history. Prior to joining Federation University his previous teaching and research positions were at the University of Melbourne and Monash University. He has also held visiting research fellowships/professorships at King’s College London, Clare Hall Cambridge, Ghent University, Utrecht University, University of Highlands and Islands and Wakayama University.

Keir has been a past chair of the University Professoriate, and he is particularly interested in enhancing the postgraduate research experience, and also mentoring early career researchers. Keenly interested in themes of regionalism and rurality, he works closely with the FRRC Horsham Research Hub based at the Wimmera Campus and the Ararat Jobs and Technology Precinct initiative.

Keir is currently an editorial board member of the Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development and the Journal of Heritage Tourism. Keir has been a APDI or Chief Investigator on seven Australian Research Council (ARC) funded projects. He was also an ARC funded PhD student on the Mount Alexander Diggings project.

Associate and Co-Supervisors:

Associate Supervisor: Professor Fergal Grace

Fergal Grace is a Professor of Clinical Exercise Science at the School of Health Science & Psychology, Federation University Australia. Broadly, Fergal's research is within the domain of Clinical Exercise Physiology with a focus on cardiovascular and metabolic function during ageing. He also contributes to the field of endocrinology, endocrinology and clinical oncology.

Associate Supervisor: Dr Cathy Tischler

Dr Cathy Tischler has a doctorate from Federation University in rural social justice and regional development. Dr Tischler researched the ideologies, values and behaviours reinforcing power dominated by prestige leadership in the Wimmera Southern-Mallee, with implications for understanding change and resistance in regional communities. Cathy regularly conducts research in a rural setting, working in the fields of rural and regional development, social justice and practice change.

External Industry Supervisor: Mr Trevor Adem

Mr Trevor Adem is Chief Executive Officer, East Wimmera Health Service.

Development of intelligent power inverters for microgrids

Federation University is pleased to partner with OZTRON Energy to offer a PhD scholarship in power electronics and renewable energy.

Scholarship details

Stipend: $35,000 per annum
Top-Up: $10,000 per annum for 3 years
Project support: will be provided during project period if necessary  
RTP Fee-offset Scholarship: $ 26,800 per annum
Funding length: 3 years (only, no extensions permitted)
Location: Mt Helen, Ballarat
Internship: the opportunity to undertake a 3-month internship in industry

Eligibility

Scholarship applicants must be eligible to undertake a PhD. Verify you can meet eligibility requirements outlined on the Graduate Research School website. If you are applying for ‘Honours equivalence,’ please ensure that you provide detailed information to support your case.

Applicants should have power electronics background and relevant experience in circuit design, converter control, testing, etc.

Applications will be accepted from Australian and permanent residents.

Applicants should contact Associate Professor Jiefeng Hu via email: j.hu@federation.edu.au prior to submitting an application.

Application closing date: Open until position filled

How to apply: Applicants must submit their application with all necessary documents by completing the HDR Candidature application

Commencement date: as soon as possible

Research project details

Project title: Development of intelligent power inverters for microgrids

With increasing penetration level of distributed energy resources (DERs) such as renewable energy and battery storage, the power grid is undergoing a major transformation and facing new challenges in terms of power quality and grid stability. This project aims to develop new power electronic inverters to facilitate grid integration of DERs into the local electrical network.

Industry Partner and Student Host: OZTRON Energy

Supervisors:

Principal Supervisor:

Associate Professor Jiefeng Hu

Associate and External Supervisors:

Prof. Syed Islam

Prof. Nima Amjady

Prof. Saad Mekhilef (external)

Dr. Binayak Banerjee (external)

Degradation of amino acid salt solutions for direct air capture (DAC) of CO2

Federation University is pleased to partner with CSIRO to offer a PhD scholarship in CO2 removal technology development.

Scholarship details

Stipend: $35,000 per annum
Top-Up: $10,000 per annum
Project support: $9,000 ($3000 per year for 3 years)
RTP Fee-offset Scholarship / Tuition Fee Scholarship: $30,240 per annum
Funding length: 3 years with the possibility of a 6 month extension
Location: Gippsland Campus
Internship: 3 month, paid internship with CSIRO

Eligibility

Scholarship applicants must be eligible to undertake a PhD. Verify you can meet eligibility requirements outlined on the Graduate Research School website. If you are applying for ‘Honours equivalence,’ please ensure that you provide detailed information to support your case.

Applications will be accepted from Australian residents and permanent residents.

Applicants should contact Alicia Reynolds (Alicia.Reynolds@federation.edu.au, 5122 8202) prior to submitting an application.

Application closing date: 31st July 2024, or until suitable candidate is identified.

How to apply: Applicants must submit their application with all necessary documents by completing the HDR Candidature application

Commencement date: 2nd September 2024, negotiable.

Research project details

Project title: Degradation of amino acid salt solutions for direct air capture (DAC) of CO2.

Liquid absorbent-based carbon dioxide (CO2) capture is a technology that will play a vital role in Australia reaching net-zero carbon emissions. Direct air capture (DAC) is a negative emissions technology that targets the direct removal of CO2 from the air. Amino acid salt solutions are employed to capture CO2 from air (DAC) due to their favourable mass transfer rates and low vapor pressures. When deployed these absorbents are operated for very long periods. One key challenge that still needs significant research is to study the degradation of these absorption liquids which inevitably occurs during DAC processes. Degradation is the transformation of amino acid salt solutions into other compounds over time that may either render the absorption liquids incapable of absorbing CO2 or negatively impact their physicochemical properties (such as increased viscosity and foaming), resulting in reduced CO2 capture performance. It is also crucial to understand if any of the compounds formed may be emitted to the environment and if any risks are associated with this. The process of degradation takes place either in the absorber, where the absorption liquids encounter high oxygen flows, or in the stripper during their thermal regeneration.

This project focuses on studying the degradation of amino acid salt solutions, mainly under DAC conditions to address the following key challenges.

  • To identify the degradation products of amino acid salt solutions under DAC conditions (both oxidative and thermal) and understand the underlying reaction mechanisms.
  • To select and apply suitable additives that would inhibit the degradation of amino acid salt solutions under DAC conditions.
  • To determine if any of the compounds formed are likely to be emitted to the atmosphere and any risks associated with this.

The candidate will work both independently and collaboratively to carry out the following tasks.

  • Conduct a literature review on various absorption liquids for CO2 capture (with focus on DAC) and their degradation behaviours, and inhibitors to tackle each.
  • Undertake experiments and suitable analytical analyses to understand the degradation of amino acid salt solutions under DAC conditions (both oxidative and thermal).
  • Understand the reaction mechanisms for the degradation of amino acid salt solutions and suggest appropriate inhibitors to minimize/reverse the degradation.
  • Assess the properties of the degradation products to determine if emission to the atmosphere would be possible and if the compounds pose environmental or health risks.
  • Present the work both internally and externally as per the project requirements.
  • Participate in other PhD-related activities, as required and advised.

Industry Partner and Student Host: CSIRO

At CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, we solve the greatest challenges through innovative science and technology. We put the safety and wellbeing of our people first and are a trusted advisor. We collaborate widely and deliver solutions with real impact.

CSIRO’s liquid absorbent-based DAC research is being undertaken at its sites in Newcastle, NSW (CSIRO Energy Centre) and Clayton, VIC. These are advanced multidisciplinary facilities working at the nexus between fundamental and applied research. The student will have the opportunity to visit both facilities and work with researchers who are developing this technology.

CSIRO funding for this project is being provided the CarbonLock Future Science Platform (https://research.csiro.au/carbonlock/), which is bringing multidisciplinary research together to deliver innovative carbon dioxide removal solutions.

For further information about CSIRO, please visit www.csiro.au

Supervisors:

Principal Supervisor: Dr Alicia Reynolds

Alicia leads the Carbon Technology Research Group and manages a chemistry laboratory that has been designed to identify and measure amine-degradation products. Her PhD and post-doctoral projects focused on degradation of amine absorbents during pilot-scale post-combustion capture (PCC) of CO2 in collaboration with CSIRO. Recent industry-led research projects include responsible uses of Victorian brown coal (e.g., humic acid-based soil amendments, hydrogen and other materials), compost processing and contaminants management, and fish farm waste derived soil amendment development.

Associate supervisors:

Dr Rebecca Gehling

Rebecca completed a PhD in analytical chemistry focusing on exploring the fundamental principles of ruthenium chemiluminescence and the relationship between chemiluminescence response and the structures of the compounds elucidating this response. Through this PhD she gained extensive experience in applications of flow injection analysis coupled with ruthenium and permanganate chemiluminescence detection. Rebecca’s experience will bring a new perspective to identification and quantification of amino-acid degradation products.

Dr Ben Long

Dr Benjamin Long is an environmental and supramolecular chemist.

Dr Long’s key research foci are emerging organic environmental contaminants (e.g. pharmaceuticals and personal care products), plant bioactive compounds, especially those from Indigenous Australian traditional medicine (e.g. Federation University’s Bush Medicine Project) and the use and application of supramolecular interactions (e.g. analyte/contaminant detection and hydrogels).

The Long Lab has unique capacity for testing organic materials using liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry, as well as for measuring environmental monitoring parameters both on and off field sites. The Long Lab also has capability to synthesise and analyse peptide hydrogels for biomedical applications and supramolecular sensing and experience in small angle scattering (X-Ray and Neutron).

Benjamin attained his PhD from Deakin University in 2014, and after postdoctoral appointments at the University of Sydney and Deakin University, he joined Federation University Australia in 2017.

External supervisors:

Dr Graeme Puxty

Graeme studied chemistry and computer science at The University of Newcastle (AU). He then did his PhD in chemistry finishing in 2004. In 2005-2007 he was a postdoctoral fellow at Lund University (Sweden) and ETH Zurich (Switzerland). Graeme joined CSIRO in 2007 and his work has focused on the developed of absorbents for carbon capture applications and integration of carbon capture and utilisation. Currently he leads the Zero Emissions Team within the Sustainable Carbon Technologies Group. He also collaborates widely with universities and industry and has supervised a number of undergraduate and PhD students.

Dr Nouman Mirza

Dr. Mirza has been working in the field of emissions reduction technologies for a few years and has travelled to and worked in Pakistan, Germany and Australia. He has experience of working both with pilot and laboratory scale units. His PhD from the University of Melbourne focussed on studying water-lean absorption liquids for post-combustion capture. He has also worked with membrane contactors to capture CO2 from conventional point sources and has also contributed towards developing novel gas-liquid contactors for DAC applications at CSIRO. He is currently leading a project at CSIRO that involves developing novel amino acid-based absorbents for efficient direct air capture (DAC).

Upcycling dairy-farm waste to green hydrogen (H2) and high-value carbon materials

Federation University is pleased to partner with DEECA – Ellinbank Smartfarms to offer a PhD scholarship in chemistry/chemical engineering with focus on green hydrogen production from dairy waste.

Scholarship details

Stipend: $35,000 per annum

Top-Up: $10,000 per annum

Total Stipend: $45,000 per annum

Project support: $20,000

RTP Fee-offset Scholarship / Tuition Fee Scholarship: $30,240 per annum

Funding length: 3.5 years (only, no extensions permitted)

Location: Gippsland

Internship: Details to be confirmed

Eligibility

Scholarship applicants must be eligible to undertake a PhD. Verify you can meet eligibility requirements outlined on the Graduate Research School website. If you are applying for ‘Honours equivalence,’ please ensure that you provide detailed information to support your case.

For interested applicants, a background in chemistry or chemical engineering would be essential. Some understanding of electrocatalysis would be useful but not essential. Training in electrochemical and other characterisation techniques will be provided.

This is a full-time PhD position requiring extensive laboratory studies. The selected candidate will be required to work at the CCS laboratory at the Federation University, Gippsland campus and at the Ellinbank smartfarm.

Applicants with attention to detail, an enthusiasm to learn new skills and determined to make a difference by contributing to environmentally sustainable energy technologies would be highly desirable.

Applications will be accepted from Australian citizens, permanent residents and NZ citizens.

Applicants should contact A/Prof Surbhi Sharma (surbhi.sharma@federation.edu.au) prior to submitting an application.

Application closing date: 31st August 2024

How to apply: Applicants must submit their application with all necessary documents by completing the HDR Candidature application

Commencement date: 1st October 2024 or earlier

Research project details

Project title: Upcycling dairy-farm waste to green hydrogen (H2) and high-value carbon materials

Background and Motivation: The share of green hydrogen (replacing global fossil fuel energy sources) in the global hydrogen market is expected to grow from $4.02 bn in 2022 to $331.98 bn by 2032. The demand for hydrogen exported from Australia alone could be over 3 mn tonnes/pa by 2040. Water is the fundamental resource for green hydrogen generation via electrolysis. For every kg of hydrogen, at least 9 kg of water is required. State-of-the-art proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis (water-splitting) technologies are dependent on fresh water. With global hydrogen demand set to reach the order of 2 Gigatons/annum, the water footprint and the potential long-term environmental cost of converting fresh-water to hydrogen in a climate-sensitive world requires timely attention and appropriate action to explore alternatives.

On the other hand, the worldwide wastewater generation is predicted to be approximately 380 billion m3/annum and is expected to grow by 51% by 2050. Among these wastewater resources are sewage, farm, and industrial wastewater. Effluents from dairy farms significantly impact the environment due to land, water and air pollution. Effluent management accounts for ~20% of farm greenhouse gas GHGs emissions. Typical practices such as effluent drainage into farm ponds (to be processed/digested by microbes over weeks/months before being sprayed into the farm as nutrient water) result in methane generation of over 400 kg CO2 e/cow/annum which accounts for 7% of the total GHG estimate for grazing farms. The agriculture sector is the 2nd largest contributor to Australia’s GHG emissions. Management of these effluents is a major concern in the dairy-farming community and government agencies.

Proposed Project: This project aims to generate green hydrogen from dairy-farm effluents via value-added electrolysis (VAE) combined with hydrothermal processing. The VAE approach allows for electrolysis of wastewater, generating valuable chemicals (instead of oxygen) alongside hydrogen. The Oxygen evolution reaction (OER) in water electrolysis is a high-overpotential (1.23 V) and energy intensive process requiring expensive and rare catalyst materials adding to the cost of electrolysis. Oxidation of organic molecules for production of VACs (such as furfurals, HMFC, formic acid, phenol derivatives etc) requires much less energy and can be carried out in the presence of cheaper non-precious metal-based catalysts such as nickel (Ni), iron (Fe) manganese (Mn) and cobalt (Co), chromium (Cr) etc. Doped nanostructured carbons have also been demonstrated as metal-free catalysts. Replacement of the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) with production of valuable chemicals will eliminate:

1) The need for expensive catalysts required for the energy demanding OER.

2) Risks associated with safety, management and handling of oxygen during H2 production

3) The current dependence/need for fresh water for electrolysis

Hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC), a scalable platform technology, will enable pre-processing and separation of solids and liquids, and allow streamlining as well as tailoring of the post-HTC liquid composition through process parameters (such as temperature, pressure) making it suitable for VAE. It will streamline the VAE process for a complex/chemical-rich real-world effluent.

Separately, closing-the-loop, post-HTC solids/hydrochar, will be upcycled into high-value advanced carbons and electrolyser electrodes. This will build on our ongoing research on biocoal produced from waste.

The selected PhD student will be using HTC and developing suitable electrocatalysts to perform VAE. He/She will be using various characterisation techniques to study the solid and liquid product composition. Their work will generate new knowledge about the process water composition and potential industrially relevant chemicals that can be extracted at scale via VAE. The student will likely be working with a team of post-docs and students as part of a bigger project.

Industry Partner and Student Host: DEECA - Ellinbank Smart Farms

Supervisors:

Principal Supervisor:

Dr Surbhi Sharma, Associate Professor and Stream Leader for Future fuels and Hydrogen Economy, Centre for New Energy Transition Research. Dr Sharma has over 15 years of international research experience (UK and Australia) in the field of hydrogen fuel cell technology, electrochemistry and carbon nanomaterials and has published over 40 peer-reviewed papers in addition to single-author books and chapters. Her research interests include exploring wastewater resources for hydrogen generation, development of graphene oxide, 2D-,3D-nanostructured hybrids for fuel cell, battery components (incl. electrocatalysts, electrodes, proton conduction membranes, and coatings), upcycling of carbon resources and bio-waste for energy, fuel and high-value carbon nanomaterials, synthetic microbiology and development of microbe-assisted electrocatalysts. She has extensive knowledge of various material characterisation techniques including electron microscopy, spectroscopic techniques, thermogravimetry etc.

Associate and Co-Supervisors:

Dr Apurv Kumar, Senior Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering. Dr Kumar’s research interests encompass experimental and computational multiphase fluid mechanics, hydrothermal processing, radiation and convective heat transfer, solid-gas modelling and experimental applied solar thermal research, and waste to energy conversion.

Dr Alicia Reynolds, CCS lab manager. Dr Reynolds leads the Carbon Technology Research Group and manages a chemistry laboratory that has been designed to identify and measure amine-degradation products. Her PhD and post-doctoral research focused on degradation of amine absorbents during pilot-scale post-combustion capture (PCC) of CO2 in collaboration with CSIRO. Recent industry-led research projects include responsible uses of Victorian lignite (e.g., humic acid-based soil amendments, hydrogen etc), compost processing and contaminants management, and fish farm waste derived soil amendment development.

Industry Co-supervisors:

Prof Joe Jacobs, Research Director - Animal Production Sciences, Agriculture Victoria Research, Agriculture Victoria, Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA), Ellinbank Dairy Centre

Dr Sharon R Aarons, Sr. Research Scientist & Site Leader - Ellinbank Dairy Centre, Agriculture Victoria Research, Agriculture Victoria, DEECA. Extensive experience in innovative manure treatment technologies for the dairy industry, chemical solid-liquid separation of dairy manure and their effect on BMP of dairy effluent and has investigated a number of nutrient recovery technologies for the dairy industry.

Soil health and carbon management levers for farming systems optimisation

Federation University and the Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) is pleased to partner with Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) to offer a PhD scholarship in Digital Agriculture.

Scholarship details

Stipend: $35,000 per annum
Project support: $10,000
RTP Fee-offset Scholarship / Tuition Fee Scholarship: Up to $30,240 per annum to cover the cost of tuition fees
Funding length: 3 years (only, no extensions permitted)
Location: Mt Helen, Ballarat

Eligibility

Scholarship applicants must be eligible to undertake a PhD. Verify you can meet eligibility requirements outlined on the Graduate Research School website. If you are applying for ‘Honours equivalence,’ please ensure that you provide detailed information to support your case.

Applications will be accepted from Australian residents, permanent residents and international applicants.

Applicants should contact Dr Benedikt Fest prior to submitting an application.

Application closing date: Open until filled

How to apply: Applicants must submit the HDR Candidature application form.

Research project outline

Project title: Soil health and carbon management levers for farming systems optimisation 

The agricultural sector is trying to balance increasing production while addressing soil health, soil carbon sequestration and farm sustainability via changes in soil amendments and management practices. Actions focused on carbon sequestration and emissions reduction will be increasingly more important over time as global markets demand products that are either carbon neutral or demonstrate low emission intensity backed by verifiable standards. Actions focusing on soil health amelioration techniques and improvement need to factor in productivity while also meeting market expectations around sustainability. A wide range of potentially interacting factors influence soil health, profitability and other on-farms outcomes. Therefore, farmers will require better information to support decision-making on soil management activities aimed to improve soil health and soil carbon, and the linkages between these actions to help prioritisation of farm management and respond to shifting markets.

Other related elements: 

  • Soil health reporting and soil properties that are key indicators  
  • Soil carbon gap mapping (on-farm and regional) and relationships with on-farm management. Building the on-farm evidence to support carbon neutral claims 

Research questions

What is driving variation in soil properties and constraints, and how does this relate to soil carbon and soil health management actions at multiple scales? 

What (if any) are the management levers for optimising soil amendments for multiple outcomes (soil carbon, soil health, productivity)?  

Where are the greatest sources of variability in soil properties and soil carbon at the farm scale, and how do these vary with climate, landscape and management practices? 

Proposed structure of research

  1. Desktop based assessments (mapping and analyses) using existing data from industry partners  other public and private sources of information. 
  2. Field-based assessment to target key knowledge gaps identified in step 1, particularly in relation to (a) carbon gap mapping and (b) variability and benchmarking. 

Supervision

Industry Partner and Student Host:

Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC)

Principal Supervisor:

Dr Benedikt Fest

Associate and Co-Supervisors:

Dr Birgita Hansen, Dr Nathan Robinson

Industry Supervisor: TBC

Large habitat trees as biodiversity resources in production forest landscapes

Federation University is pleased to partner with PF Olsen to offer a PhD scholarship in Landscape Ecology.

Scholarship details

Stipend: $35,000 per annum
Top-Up: $10,000 per annum
Total Stipend: $45,000 per annum
Project support: $39,000
RTP Fee-offset Scholarship / Tuition Fee Scholarship: $30,240 per annum
Funding length: 3.5 years (only, no extensions permitted, includes internship)
Location: Mount Helen (flexible)
Internship: Industry internship (3 months) with PF Olsen working on project relating to or aligned with PhD research topic.

Eligibility

Scholarship applicants must be eligible to undertake a PhD. Verify you can meet eligibility requirements outlined on the Graduate Research School website. If you are applying for ‘Honours equivalence,’ please ensure that you provide detailed information to support your case.

Applications will be accepted from Australian residents, permanent residents, and international applicants.

Applicants are welcome to contact Dr Nick Schultz (n.schultz@federation.edu.au) prior to submitting an application.

Application closing date: 19 July 2024

How to apply: Applicants must submit their application with all necessary documents by completing the HDR Candidature application

Commencement date: To be negotiated

Research project details

Project title: Large habitat trees as biodiversity resources in production forest landscapes

Background

There are 450,000 ha of eucalyptus plantations in southern Australia, mostly established on cleared agricultural land. These are providing considerable economic and environmental benefits for the local and wider community. Large old trees retained during the establishment phase of the plantations continue to be a significant ecological asset in this landscape.

Operating predominantly in the ‘Green Triangle’ in southwest Victoria and southeast South Australia, PF Olsen’s Environment and Sustainability Public Summary Report (2023) identified ‘large old trees’ as one of five priorities for action with the objective to “protect and secure the resource of large old trees throughout the asset”. Such trees include River Red Gums and large old Manna Gums in endangered Ecological Vegetation Classes.

Within Forestry Investment Trust and Border Investment Trust plantations, 19,521 polygons have been mapped as remnant vegetation with an area less than 1 hectare. Each of these areas are likely to include at least one large old tree. There are concerns about the decline in health of some of these trees.

The large old trees in these landscapes form an essential part of the lifecycle of a range of native fauna. One such species is the South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, which is listed as Endangered nationally and in the states of Victoria and South Australia. It occurs as a single population (around 1000 individuals) in far south-western Victoria and adjacent parts of South Australia.

Proposed PhD project

It is proposed that a PhD project will address several knowledge gaps and research questions related to the health and ongoing management of large old trees in the Green Triangle plantations.

Aims

The proposed project will:

  1. Develop and apply remote sensing methodology for assessing the number and health of large old trees in plantations within the Green Triangle landscape. Ground-truthing of remotely sensed assessments will help develop a method suitable of use in ongoing monitoring. We will test how the density of large old trees in silvicultural landscapes compares to other land uses in the region (cropping, pastoralism, native vegetation), and explore how remotely sensing can contribute to other research questions and management goals.
  2. Explore threats to the persistence of large old trees in plantations within the Green Triangle landscape. There will be a focus on partitioning threats that can be controlled by management, and external threats unrelated to management. Threats to be explored include those from silvicultural practices (proximity of large old trees to silviculture practices; water management; weed control) and external threats (fire, firewood theft, overabundant koala populations, drought, changing climate, and interactions between multiple threats).
  3. Test ideas about the number and diversity of ecological interactions between large old tree and other taxa, and how these might change through different parts of the silvicultural cycle. How do large old trees in a silvicultural landscape compare to those in other landscape contexts?

There will be opportunity to develop these ideas early in the PhD candidature through consultation between PF Olsen, the FedUni supervisory team, and the PhD candidate.

Proposed outcomes

  1. A remote sensing methodology for ongoing monitoring of tree number and health, and development of remote sensing methods for other management applications.
  2. Management recommendations for the management of old trees, and for the recruitment and replacement of old trees in the landscape.
  3. Improved understanding of knowledge gaps and limitations to the management of old trees in these landscapes.
  4. Publication of research outcomes in reputable scientific journals. This represents an essential component of the candidate’s academic development, but also demonstrates PF Olsen’s contribution and commitment to ensuring environmentally sustainable management.
  5. An ongoing research relationship with FedUni, with the potential for further contribution from research students, including honours students.

Supervisors:

Industry Partner and Student Host: PF Olsen

Principal Supervisor: Dr Nick Schultz

Future Regions Research Centre, Federation University

Email: n.schultz@federation.edu.au

Building Y, Mt Helen Campus, Ballarat, Victoria.

Associate and Co-Supervisors:

Prof. Wendy Wright, Future Regions Research Centre, Federation University

Dr Grant Palmer, Future Regions Research Centre, Federation University

David Bennett, PF Olsen

Kelsey Johnson, PF Olsen

Internet of Medical Things: Battlefield Triage

Federation University is pleased to partner with Anidra Tech Ventures Pty Ltd to offer a Masters by Research scholarship in Internet of Medical Things

Scholarship details

Stipend: $35,000 per annum
Top-Up: $3,000 per annum
Project support: $ 2000 per year
RTP Fee-offset Scholarship / Tuition Fee Scholarship: $30,240 per annum covered by RTP Fee-Offset
Funding length: 1.5 years (only, no extensions permitted)
Location: Mt Helen
Internship: 2 months paid internship

Eligibility

Scholarship applicants must be eligible to undertake a Masters by Research. Verify you can meet eligibility requirements outlined on the Graduate Research School website. If you are applying for ‘Honours equivalence,’ please ensure that you provide detailed information to support your case.

The applicant should have the following skills:

  • Prior experience in the design and development of a multi-channel Conversational AI assistant.
  • Experience with text-to-speech and speech-to-text machine learning
  • Full-stack Development.
  • Cloud architecture and design.
  • Ability to adapt to start-up environments.
  • Previous experience in developing healthcare applications.

Applications will be accepted from Australian residents and permanent residents only.

Applicants should contact Dr Venki Balasubramanian (v.balasubramanian@federation.edu.au) prior to submitting an application.

Application closing date: 5 July 2024

How to apply: Applicants must submit their application with all necessary documents by completing the HDR Candidature application

Commencement date: 1 August 2024

Research project details

Project title: Battlefield Triage

In healthcare, triage is a process by which care providers such as medical professionals and those with first aid knowledge determine the order of priority for providing treatment to injured individuals. Triaging wounded soldiers or victims at the scene of a disaster to prioritise treatments and optimise resource use has become increasingly challenging in modern times. Numerous scoring systems have been developed for in-field triaging but their application is difficult as many are cumbersome or require a complex medical diagnosis. Researchers have deployed machine learning with public datasets to automate the triage decision with promising results; however, data in real settings is considerably poorer in quality and quantity than the curated datasets used in previous studies.

In this project, the Indian Defence Force Research Organisation (DRDO) extends its collaboration with Anidra’s remote AI-based vital signs monitoring to develop a hybrid symbolic AI and sub-symbolic AI approach to automating the triage problem.

Many machine learning techniques, including deep learning, perform well with very large data sources; however, large datasets are not available in settings including military triaging. Previous research identifies the need for symbolic approaches, such as ripple-down rules, when good data is scarce.

However, AI-based on symbolic representations of reasoning is difficult to build and maintain. This proposal advances a hybrid symbolic and sub-symbolic approach. There is a great need for hybrid approaches that tightly couple both paradigms in order to develop systems that explain their reasoning and can accommodate heuristic knowledge while ensuring meaningful patterns are learnt from data that does exist. The Federation researchers have developed an approach for developing hybrid systems with applications in legal reasoning, health and safety and group medical decision-making.

The research scholar, under the supervision of the research team, will design and build the framework. The approach will be evaluated by running hypothetical simulations with military and medical experts using the Anidra remote patient monitoring technology. The project's outcome will be a decision-support system that allows paramedics to make difficult in-field triaging decisions.

Supervisors:

Industry Partner and Student Host: Anidra Tech Ventures Pty Ltd (www.anidra.com.au)

Principal Supervisor:

Professor Peter Vamplew

p.vamplew@federation.edu.au

Associate and Co-Supervisors:

Dr Venki Balasubramanian

v.balasubramanian@federation.edu.au

A SMART Home Technology-based Yoga Intervention for older adults with atrial fibrillation

Federation University is pleased to partner with Anidra Tech Ventures Pty Ltd to offer a PhD scholarship in Internet of Medical Things

Scholarship details

Stipend: $41,600 per annum
Project support: $4,400 per annum
RTP Fee-offset Scholarship / Tuition Fee Scholarship: $30,240 per annum covered by either RTP Fee-offset or Tuition Fee Scholarship
Funding length: 3 years (only, no extensions permitted)
Location: Mt Helen
Internship: 2 months paid internship

Eligibility

Scholarship applicants must be eligible to undertake a PhD. Verify you can meet eligibility requirements outlined on the Graduate Research School website. If you are applying for ‘Honours equivalence,’ please ensure that you provide detailed information to support your case.

The applicant should have the following skills:

  • Prior experience in Health Monitoring Applications using Android and iOS.
  • Well-versed in using simulators and writing simulation programs in high-level languages.

Applications will be accepted from Australian residents, permanent residents, and international applicants.

Applicants should contact Dr Venki Balasubramanian (v.balasubramanian@federation.edu.au) prior to submitting an application.

Application closing date: 5 July 2024

How to apply: Applicants must submit their application with all necessary documents by completing the HDR Candidature application

Commencement date: 1 August 2024

Research project details

Project title: A SMART Home Technology-based Yoga Intervention for older adults with atrial fibrillation

Heart arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation (AF), are a significant health concern globally, particularly in low-resource or remote settings. Globally, AF affects approximately 6-12 million people, and it is expected to increase from 1.5 % to 5%. In Australia, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that 500,000 people suffered from AF in 2020, 201,000 people were hospitalised, and 163000 deaths were recorded in 2021 (AIHW, 2023). Specifically, 5.4% of older adults aged 55 and over in Australia suffered from AF, and also $881 million was spent on atrial fibrillation-related expenses in 2020 (AIHW, 2020).

Many studies on yoga for cardiac-related rehabilitation and other mental health issues reviewed in the literature reveal promising benefits; however, conducting appropriate yoga exercises at home without the guidance of a qualified yoga instructor or occupational therapist is difficult. The project aims to develop a remote patient monitoring-based intervention for arrhythmia patients to use at home while doing yoga. The intervention aims to prevent atrial fibrillation-related complications as well as to improve the quality of life.

Industry Partner and Student Host: Anidra Tech Ventures Pty Ltd (www.anidra.com.au)

Supervisors

Principal Supervisor:

Dr Sally Firmin

s.firmin@federation.edu.au

Associate and Co-Supervisors:

Dr Venki Balasubramanian

v.balasubramanian@federation.edu.au

Computational MultiPhysics Analysis of 3D Structural Damage and Failure

Federation University is pleased offer an Australian Research Council funded PhD scholarship in MultiPhysics.

Scholarship details

Stipend: $32,212 per annum
Project support: $2,000 per annum
RTP Fee-offset Scholarship / Tuition Fee Scholarship: $24,780 per annum covered
Funding length: 3 years (only, no extensions permitted)
Location: Mount Helen, Ballarat

Eligibility

Scholarship applicants must be eligible to undertake a PhD. Verify you can meet eligibility requirements outlined on the Graduate Research School website. If you are applying for ‘Honours equivalence,’ please ensure that you provide detailed information to support your case.

Applicants must possess the following knowledge, skills and experience:

  1. Development of numerical methods for application in computational structural analysis, e.g., finite element method, meshless method, boundary element method, scaled boundary finite element method.
  2. Programming numerical methods for computational structural analysis. Familiarity with Matlab, Python, C++ will be required

Applicants can demonstrated knowledge, skills and experience in their application in the units completed in undergraduate/postgraduate degrees, thesis, publications or internships

Applications will be accepted from Australia & NZ citizens, permanent residents, and international applicants.

Applicants should contact Associate Professor Ooi Ean Tat prior to submitting an application.

Application closing date: 31 July 2024

How to apply: Applicants must submit their application with all necessary documents by completing the HDR Candidature application

Commencement date: To be negotiated

Research project details

Project title: Computational MultiPhysics Analysis of 3D Structural Damage and Failure

Engineered structures e.g. buildings, pipelines, transport infrastructure, and commercial hubs form the backbone of economic prosperity and community safety in modern society. These structures play a critical role in ensuring the smooth functioning of various communal systems. Their continued operation is essential for the progress of society.

Physical changes resulting from climate change, such as more frequent extreme weather events and shifts in temperature and precipitation patterns, pose significant risks to the reliability of structures. Such types of phenomena can cause damage and even failure, leading to unplanned capital and operational expenditure. This undermines the long-term reliability of structures, which can have significant implications for the economy and the community's safety. Thus, it is vital to invest in initiatives and develop capabilities that can help to mitigate the impact of climate change on engineered structures.

Climate resilience and adaptation of structures are vital for sustainable structural engineering. The design, strategic planning and management of structures must account for damage and failure from both mechanical loadings and Multiphysics processes. The latter involves a structure's interaction with the environment e.g. temperature and precipitation. The analysis of these complex phenomena requires the application of advanced computer modelling techniques.

This research aims to develop innovative and rational techniques for 3D MultiPhysics modelling of structural damage and failure based on an advanced numerical method viz., the scaled boundary finite element method (SBFEM). This truly-adaptive approach is capable of automatically selecting appropriate models to represent the damage zone and adjusting the mesh to evolving 3D failure surfaces. The outcome of the research is a technique for engineering analysis that enables rational assessment and improved due diligence in the risk management of structural damage and failure over an asset’s entire life-cycle, from design to operation. Ultimately, this will reduce operational vulnerability and improve the reliability and safety of structural systems.

Supervisors:

Principal Supervisor: Associate Professor Ooi Ean Tat

E-mail: e.ooi@federation.edu.au

Tel: +61(0)423641822

Associate and Co-Supervisors: To be confirmed

How to apply

Some industry scholarships have expression of interest forms that must be submitted along with your candidature application. Please ensure you read the scholarship information carefully and complete all steps.

Directions on how to apply are available at Apply - Higher Degrees by Research. Please include the name of the scholarship for which you are applying on the Admission Form.  All applicants should check their eligibility prior to applying.

Applications should include all relevant supporting documentation and Federation University must receive completed referee report forms by the scholarship closing date. As part of their application, prospective Higher Degree by Research applicants are also required to provide:

  • Transcripts of all tertiary level academic study
  • Australian citizens must provide a copy of their birth certificate or passport
  • Permanent Residents must provide a copy of their visa and passport
  • List of published work with URL links and/or copy of each publication
  • Copy of honours or masters thesis abstract
  • Evidence for Australian honours equivalency, if applicable.
  • Any awards or accolades
  • Any other evidence of research performance

Federation University partners with local industry to provide research opportunities and regional innovation. If your company or organisation has a project suitable for research and wish to sponsor a higher degrees by research candidate then contact us at research.degrees@federation.edu.au.