Water Engineering PhD Scholarship

Project: Optimising Water Quality Outcomes for Complex Water Resource Systems and Water Grids

Scholarship value:
$35,000 per year stipend to support living costs
Research Training Program (RTP) fee scholarship valued at $26,700 per annum for a domestic candidate
Research Tuition Fee Scholarship valued at $31,900 for an international candidate

Project support: $5000 per year to support the cost of the project

Conditions of Scholarship: Scholarships are for a period of three years only. Extensions to scholarships will not be granted. Applications are open to both domestic and international applicants. This position and scholarship are full-time, with no possibility of being undertaken part-time during candidature. Students will be required to commit to a minimum of four days per week on campus and participate in occasional industry placement at key times during the term of their candidature.

Closing date: Friday 14 September 2018. Applications can be submitted via mail, email or in person

Commencement date: Monday 5 November 2018

Scholarship application form and project details: Water Engineering PhD Scholarship Application

The planning, management and day-to-day operations of geographically large water supply systems are complicated by having variable water quality across catchments and reservoirs. This is a challenge because different water users will usually have different water quality preferences, requiring the system operator to find the best operational arrangements to maximise water quality outcomes. This problem is fundamentally a multi-objective problem that requires an understanding of the full array of trade-offs before a decision can be made. Within multi-reservoir and interconnected grid systems, it can be difficult for the system operator to fully assess and understand water quality trade-offs prior to making decisions. Fast paced operational environments, and sometimes unexpected or complex developments such algal blooms, floods or drought, will further complicate the decision making process. Poor decisions by the system operator can create inequalities (real or perceived) between water users with implications for water pricing, the functioning of water markets and broader social, economic, environmental and cultural watering matters.

A particular challenge for water resource system and water grid operators in south-eastern Australia is the prospect of a drier climate with more extreme climatic events due to climate change. Impacts of climate change on water quality has not yet received significant research attention but is intuitively expected to add another dimension to the problem in being able to meet users’ water quality needs. Reduced long term water availability, and associated water quality implications, may also result in a preference to import water resources from other local or regional sources (i.e. inter-basin transfers) or give argument for desalination and integrated water management investments. This has consequences for water security across large and grid scale water systems.

This research will look to use simulation and optimisation methods to explore the nature of water quality trade-offs in complex water resource and grid supply systems. It is expected that the research student would spend considerable time at GWMWater as well as with various interested stakeholders (e.g. Department of Environment, Land, and Water Planning (DELWP), Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) and Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs).

How to apply:

Prospective candidates should indicate on the Application for Admission Form that they are applying for the Water Engineering PhD Scholarship.

The Application for Admission Form is available on the FedUni HDR Apply pageAll applicants should check their eligibility prior to applying.

Applications should include all relevant supporting documentation and FedUni must receive completed referee report forms by the scholarship closing date, Friday 3rd August. As part of their application, prospective Higher Degree by Research applicants are also required to provide:

  • Water Engineering PhD Scholarship Application
  • Application for Admission Form
  • 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

Applicants are not required to submit the 250 Project Summary requested on the Application for Admission Form. Applicants are required to submit a 2500 statement as outlined in the Water Engineering PhD Scholarship Application Form.


is a government-owned statutory corporation established in 2004 with a responsibility to provide, manage, operate and protect water supply and sewerage systems for our community.

They are involved in every stage of the water process, from when it falls from the sky to when it comes out of the tap. GWM Water know a lot about water, wastewater and water management - that's why they're so confident in their ability to provide the best services for the Grampians, Wimmera and Mallee regions.

Principal Supervisor: A/Prof Andrew Barton

A/ Prof Andrew Barton is an associate professor in water engineering and is recognised for his expertise in water resource management and civil engineering hydraulics as well as having considerable experience in management and senior leadership roles.

A/Prof Barton has particular experience with the operation of complex water supply systems and the design and administration of water sharing frameworks where he has led these activities through circumstances of extreme drought to flood. From this experience A/Prof Barton has developed unique insights into the technical and operational aspects of water supply as well as the vast complexities of water sharing arrangements and the associated political overlays and contests over water that frequently occur.

Associate Supervisor: A/Prof Adil Bagirov

Adil Bagirov is Associate Professor of Optimisation at Faculty of Science and Technology, Federation University Australia since 2010. A/Prof Bagirov obtained his MSc degree in Applied Mathematics in 1983 from Baku State University, Azerbaijan and PhD degree in Mathematics in 2002 from the University of Ballarat.

His research is focused on nonsmooth optimisation, nonconvex optimisation and applications.
Adil has a strong track record in ARC Discovery and Linkage grants and has many international collaborations.

Associate Supervisor: Dr Harpreet Kandra

Dr Kandra is a research professional with experience in water management; environmental management; environmental reporting; data management; and policy analysis teaching and training experience.