Scientia PhD Scholarship Scheme


UNSW Australia has launched a global recruitment drive for the world’s best research minds. Unprecedented investment is being made to recruit up to 290 new world-leading researchers and rising stars into the UNSW Scientia Fellowship Program, as well as 700 new scholars into the UNSW Scientia PhD Scholarship Scheme over the coming years.

UNSW’s research drives discoveries, inventions and innovations from all faculties to transform and improve lives worldwide.

UNSW Chemical Engineering Scientia PhD Scholarship Scheme Project Areas

The UNSW School Chemical Engineering is recognised as a powerhouse of innovative engineering research and recognised globally as a leading tertiary education for chemical engineering and food science. We provide innovative solutions to technically complex challenges in the production, processing and management of energy, food, health and water resources.

We are seeking applications in the following areas: 

•  Next generation materials and technologies 
•  Bioengineering and health
•  Energy
•  Water, environment, sustainability 

To express your interest in applying for a UNSW Scientia PhD Scholarship for any of the projects below, please email the project supervisor before 12 December 2016 (the expected PhD start date is March 2017).

Information and FAQs about the UNSW Scientia PhD Scholarship Scheme.

Next generation materials and technologies 

Project Title: Fabrication, characterization and spatial positioning of metal organic frameworks (MOFs) for separation, sensing and bio-microfluidic applications


Supervisory Team

Professor Vicki Chen, Email | School of Chemical Engineering, UNSW Engineering 
Dr Majid Ebrahimi Warkiani | School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, UNSW Engineering
Associate Professor Patrick Spicer | 
School of Chemical Engineering, UNSW Engineering 

Project summary

Metal organic frameworks (MOFs) are a class of novel materials composed of metal and organic ligands that has enormous potential for gas storage, separation, as well as catalysis, sensing and biomedical applications. In this project, we aim to: 

  • apply the mussel-inspired chemistry to regulate the micro-pattern surface wettability and further induce the spatial crystallization of MOFs onto substrates such as silicon wafers;
  • control the MOFs structure for fabrication of iridescent MOFs patterns as an optical sensor;
  • utilise MOFs with different structures to anchor different catalysts or enzymes for microfluidic reactors;
  • and transfer the MOF-micro-patterns onto surface of polymeric membranes to build a hybrid system for separation, sensing and catalysis.


Project title: Unlocking the catalytic activity of metal oxides for CO2 reduction 


Supervisory team

Professor Rose Amal, Email | School of Chemical Engineering, UNSW Engineering
Dr Neeraj Sharma | School of Chemistry, UNSW Science
Dr Robert Taylor | School of Mechanical Engineering, UNSW Engineering 

Project Summary 

The utilisation of CO2 as a feedstock for producing chemicals or fuel will contribute to alleviating global climate changes caused by the increasing CO2 emissions, and also provide a grand challenge for exploring new concepts and opportunities for solar catalytic and industrial development. The project aims to: (i) clarify the interaction of light responsive nano-metals and metal oxide supports in photo-thermal catalysis so that light and heat can effectively be channelled to drive catalytic reactions; (ii) activate metal oxides and control catalytic activity with high selectivity and stability; (iii) translate this knowledge to reduce CO2 to hydrocarbons using Solar Energy. 

Project title: Control of Distributed Battery Energy Storage Systems

Supervisory team

Professor Jie Bao, Email | School of Chemical Engineering, UNSW Engineering 
Emeritus Professor Maria Skyllas-Kazacos | School of Chemical Engineering, UNSW Engineering 
Professor Faz Rahman
 | School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications, UNSW Engineering 

Project summary

Distributed energy storage in electrical grids is becoming a critical aspect in maintaining power quality in the scenarios with a high penetration of renewable energy. Based on the dissipativity control theory, this research project aims to develop new scalable distributed control methods for a storage centric approach to distributed energy storage and power management, to improve power quality and power demand supply balance and achieve optimal techno-economic objectives including efficiency and reliability in both grids and standalone microgrids. Online battery monitoring and optimal charging/discharging control approaches for Vanadium batteries will also be developed by integrating battery design with control design.

Bioengineering and health


Project Title: Effect of antimicrobial polymeric nanoparticle shapes on interaction with bacteria cells and biofilm


Supervisory Team

Associate Professor Cyrille Boyer, Email | School of Chemical Engineering, UNSW Engineering 
Dr Christopher Marquis | School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, UNSW Science 
Dr Elizabeth Hinde | School of Medical Sciences, UNSW Medicine
Dr Nicolas Barraud (International partner) | Pasteur Institute- France

Project Summary

Polymeric nanoparticles will play a vital role in the future for combating antibiotic resistance. However, there is a need to understand the effect of their physicochemical properties on their interaction and bioactivity against bacteria cells and biofilm. In this project, we will study the different parameters that could affect their antimicrobial activity, including their size, shape hardness and composition. We will use a novel fluorescence microscopy technique to track these nano-objects in various pathogens. The student will learn about the design and synthesis of such polymeric nanoparticles in addition to microbiology and innovative techniques in fluorescence microscopy.

Project Title: Development of tunable polymeric drug carriers for spatiotemporally precise and quantifiable delivery of payloads to control cell form and function


Supervisory Team

Professor Per Zetterlund, Email | School of Chemical Engineering, UNSW Engineering
Professor Melissa Knothe Tate | Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, UNSW Engineering
Professor Martina Stenzel | School of Chemistry, UNSW Science

Project Summary 

Cell shape and fate are intrinsic manifestations of form and function. Before specialisation, the stem cell serves as a sensor and actuator; its architecture emerges from its local mechanical and biochemical milieu as the cell adapts over time. We propose the engineering, manufacture and delivery of novel polymeric drug carriers to control the spatial and temporal deployment of cytoskeleton modulating agents to the cell's interior. Specifically tailored polymeric carriers (e.g. polymeric nanocapsules) will be designed and synthesized via mainly advanced heterogeneous polymerisation techniques. This coupled approach will provide a basis to elucidate mechanisms underlying the stem cell's innate capacity to adapt to mechanical stimuli as well as the role of mechanoadaptation in cell health that scales to tissue - organ - and organism health.

Water, environment, sustainability 

Project Title: Increasing reliance in online monitoring sensors in water treatment plants 


Supervisory Team

Associate Professor Pierre Le-Clech, Email | School of Chemical Engineering, UNSW Engineering
Dr Rita Henderson | School of Chemical Engineering, UNSW Engineering, UNSW Engineering
Associate Professor Scott Rice | School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, UNSW Science 

Project Summary 

Research at UNSW has recently demonstrated the increased process resilience obtained by advanced statistical analysis of the signals from online monitoring sensors. In this project, conventional (e.g. turbidity) and novel (e.g. fluorescent-based probes) sensors will be systematically studied as potential indicators for optimised operation, maintenance and cleaning of a number of water/wastewater treatment processes suffering from biofilm growth. The study will also develop a generic framework for process control and monitoring to fully integrate the outcomes of these correlations for practical implementation.