Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Dr Judy Bunder

Main Campus
Mawson Lakes

Applications Close
04 Jun 2023

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate

Tuition Fees:

All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$32,500 p.a. (Domestic Only)

About this project

Reduce the negative impacts of biofilms 

If you are seeking to advance your career in applied mathematics and interested in harnessing the potential of biofilms, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a unique project-based PhD with significant community impact within UniSA STEM.

Biofilms are communities of microorganisms that have huge impacts on human life, both positive and negative. The negative impacts (e.g., contamination of food processing equipment) are significant and far-reaching. For example, biofilms cause up to 80% of all hospital-acquired infections. To harness the biotechnological potential of biofilms and mitigate biofilm-induced infection, we need to understand the mechanisms underpinning biofilm growth. Our project will use an innovative combination of mathematical modelling, numerical computation, and collaboration with experimentalists to understand the mechanisms of biofilm growth. 

In addition to generating fundamental knowledge spanning mathematics and biology, this project has the potential to impact Australia’s food and beverage industry and health outcomes related to microbial infections. You will be based at UniSA STEM, within the applied mathematics group. You will benefit from the exceptional pool of academic expertise and knowledge in this group, but you will also collaborate with applied mathematicians and experimental biologists at the University of Adelaide, and the University of Southampton and University of Kent, both in the UK. These collaborations will provide you with a dynamic, international, multidisciplinary research network.

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will develop sophisticated mathematical models and computational techniques for biofilm growth using a combination of mathematical analysis and computer programming. You may also get the opportunity to collaborate with experimental biologists, for example, in designing new experiments and analysing experimental data. 

Upon completion, you will have strong skills in mathematical modelling, including in continuum mechanics, asymptotic analysis, and linear stability analysis. You will also develop computer programming skills in modern scientific computing languages (e.g., Julia, Python), and the ability to implement advanced numerical methods and image processing techniques.  Another skill you will learn is the ability to work with experimentalists and to communicate complex mathematical ideas to non-specialists. Throughout the project, you will be encouraged and supported to submit articles to high-impact journals, and present at relevant national and international conferences to gather feedback on your research and start building your research network. You will be well-placed for future employment opportunities either in academia or industry.

Where you’ll be based

You will be based in UniSA STEM. We link engineering, mathematics, science, defence, cybersecurity, construction management, environmental science, aviation, information management, information technology, and project management, harnessing the connections across disciplines to bring big ideas to fruition. Our researchers deliver technical expertise and advice to industry, government and community groups to make commercially viable and sustainable impacts. The Future Industries Institute, Innovation and Collaboration Centre and Australian Research Centre for Interactive and Virtual Environments all provide consultancy and access to advanced technology. 

We integrate research into our teaching, with students working alongside researchers in first-class facilities. What’s discovered one day is taught the next. In an information-rich world, our people think big, combatting problems, testing solutions, and making data-driven decisions. Our graduates are entrepreneurs and trailblazers, who design and build the world they want to live in.

Supervisory team

Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses.  Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $32,500 per annum is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia, including permanent humanitarian visa holders. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $46,653 per annum (2023 rates). A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included.  For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time. 

Eligibility and Selection

This project is open to application from domestic applicants only. Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD degree. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate. The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and be based at our Mawson Lakes Campus in the north of Adelaide.

Essential Dates

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer. Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on, Sunday 4 June 2023.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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