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Natural porous vibro-acoustic media

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The Centre for Audio, Acoustics and Vibration (CAAV) was formed in 2017 and now has nine full time academic staff. The Centre is based at Tech Lab, which is a brand new research led facility that is close to the airport in Sydney. Tech Lab hosts brand new state-of-the-art acoustics experimental facilities that includes an anechoic chamber, semi-anechoic chamber, reverberation room and sound transmission loss suite. These new facilities will support new research projects in acoustics, including this current project.

Termites communicate mainly over vibrations transmitting and receiving miniscule wave packages, which travel along wood fibres and termite-built clays. Our research in the past indicated that it should be possible in principle to use vibration signals to determine an individual ants’ or termites’ location (vibroklinotaxis). We were the first who evidenced termites substitute wood by building load-bearing structures. While past research has been focused either on the sender or the receiver, individual or groups of termites, the properties and the function of the substrate as food, communication channel or building materials has been neglected.

The project aims at studying structures of the higher and lower termites. Different structures of within the mound and close to foraging sites are collected from nature reserves (Darwin, Canberra). Mounds of different colonies will be dissected and the material specimen will be taken out, analysed using micro-CT and mass spectroscopy. The static and dynamic material properties need to be experimentally and statistically analysed. The material features will be clustered using machine-learning techniques, 3D recurrence quantification and recurrence networks and matched with geometry. Using a computer model, vibro-acoustic simulations will be conducted to explore the role of transfer paths in vibroklinotaxis.

The successful candidate will work in a thriving acoustics research group at a brand new facility dedicated to impactful research and which will include the chance to collaborate with researchers in other areas at Tech Lab, as well as undergo research training and development.

Findings are expected to contribute to the understanding how termites build and whether different functions and properties can be assigned to different parts of their structures. Novel bio-inspired acoustic porous materials are likely to be innovated by this research – with huge potential for technology transfer.

The successful candidate holds a MSc/MEng degree either in physics, applied mathematics, theoretical mechanics and materials engineering (with an interest to work interdisciplinary). Skills in mathematics, especially statistics and machine learning are required. Knowledge of nonlinear dynamics and nonlinear time series is not expected but desired. Excellent command of English is necessary and communications as well as presentation skills are important.
The project is suitable to candidates who have a solid background in experimental vibration testing and transfer path analysis as well as signal processing methods. A potential candidate also requires good knowledge of statistics and numerical modeling and should be interested in working with insects and insect structures. Some travel and fieldwork will be required.

Funding Notes

Ca. AU$28,000 p.a. stipend (tax free) + ca. $51,000 p.a. tuition fee waiver for International and Domestic Candidates for 3 years. An application for top-up scholarship is possible.


International students: 30th June 2019 (for commencement January 2020) or 15 January 2020 (for commencement July 2020). If interested please contact [email protected] sending a (1) motivation letter and your (2) Curriculum Vitae together with relevant diploma, transcripts, publication list and contact details of two referees.

About the Faculty
The Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at UTS is a world-class faculty with a growing reputation for its quality and impact. Our research is highly advanced, industry-focused and part of the lively and rigorous research culture at UTS.

Focused on ’practical innovation’, our researchers are pioneering research solutions with real-world impact. They’re recognised leaders in their fields, responsible for delivering new, better and more cost-effective innovative solutions to current national and international challenges.

Over the last five years, the Faculty has received more than 60 Australian Research Council projects and attracted a total research funding well in excess of $30 million.

About the University
UTS is a dynamic and innovative university in central Sydney. One of Australia’s leading universities of technology, UTS has a distinct model of learning, strong research performance and a leading reputation for engagement with industry and the professions.

UTS has a culturally diverse campus life and vibrant international exchange study and research programs that prepare graduates for the workplaces of today.

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