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Turbulent transport of plastics in water system

   School of Engineering and Information Technology

   Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

A PhD scholarship is available to Australian and international students in the group of Dr Matthias Kramer in the School of Engineering and Information Technology (SEIT) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW Canberra) on turbulent transport of plastics in fluvial systems. The scholarship is in the amount of AUD $35,000 per annum, and the project will be based in Australia’s capital city.


Plastics in marine environments have become an emerging threat to habitats. The expected long-life and potential adsorption of contaminants during transport has led to a growing concern of the international community. Plastics, of all sizes, can be trapped by the water flow and be transported into the ocean or other slow-moving water bodies. Plastic particles can be toxic, as contaminants are adhered and transported together. The life cycle of plastics is complex and involve several chemical and mechanical processes, so they evolve in shape with time (from macro, to micro and finally nano).

Problem statement and research objectives

Plastics are debris of nearly buoyant densities which are transported as particles that move in close agreement with the water flow. However, not necessarily following the same dynamics of a water particle. Little is known about the fluid mechanics of such systems and only very recently some first, exploratory studies have been conducted to disclose plastic-water dynamics. This research will involve experimental work in laboratory where novel experimental techniques will be developed, based on multi-camera imaging and classic instrumentation (acoustic Doppler velocimetry or Particle Image velocimetry) may be used to measure on the water phase.

The candidate will work on the frontiers of knowledge on transport of particles. The following research objectives are proposed a priori:

- Explore experimental options for the detection and measurement of plastic particle dynamics (at different scales, from macro to micro).

- Describe flow properties based on experimental observations.

- Develop models to predict the behavior of the studied plastics.

Your profile

You have a BSc or BEng Honours degree or equivalent (GPA >= 85%) in Civil or Environmental Engineering, with a research interest in fluid mechanics. You are motivated and enthusiastic about working on the interface between fundamental and applied research. You have the ability to work independently and as a member of a research team, while demonstrating a collaborative attitude. You are able to review and engage with interdisciplinary studies and are driven by curiosity. You have excellent analytical skills and communication skills, written as well as spoken. English language proficiency is important.

For more information, send your CV and transcripts to

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