ARC IDEAL Hub PhD Scholarship

Mawson Lakes, Australia
08 May 2019
End of advertisement period
05 Jun 2019
Academic Discipline
Life sciences, Biological Sciences
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time
  • Based in the ARC IDEAL Research Hub in Future Industries Institute located at Mawson Lakes campus
  • Fully-funded PhD scholarship opportunity
  • $32,788 per year for 3 years

About this scholarship

The ARC Research Hub for Integrated Device for End-User Analysis at Low Levels Research Hub (ARC IDEAL Research Hub, at the Future Industries Institute (FII) at the University of South Australia (UniSA) is currently seeking suitable PhD candidates, preferably Australian/New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.

The Future Industries Institute (FII) was established with a new research culture in mind – one deeply engaged with industry, with the end goal of building economic growth through relevant innovation and industry partnership. The Institute represents UniSA’s largest single investment in research and builds on the significant capability, infrastructure and reputation of the University’s existing research strengths and substantial research infrastructure.

FII’s mission is to transform the industries of today and seed the industries of tomorrow. Our approach to solving research challenges with our partners is solution-driven and collaborative. FII brings together world-class strength in advanced manufacturing, nanomedicine, minerals and resource engineering, and environmental science, with the end goal of building economic growth through innovative partnerships.

The Institute reflects the University’s strategic ambition to be a university of enterprise which engages fully with the professions and industry globally, whose research is informed, leading edge and relevant. The Institute continues to forge national and international research partnerships in new industries and technologies that address real world issues.

FII’s research supports state and national research priorities and comprises top research teams able to collaborate across disciplines and to work with industry partners to deliver innovations and solutions.

With a vibrant research environment, a strong industry orientation, and active international and national links, both academic and industrial, the Institute is among the very best in Australia and attracts and retains leading researchers.

The Institute has close links to the University’s Schools of Natural and Built Environments, Engineering, Information Technology and Mathematical Sciences and Pharmacy and Medical Sciences.

The IDEAL Research Hub is focussed on improving the sensitivity, selectivity, speed and cost-effectiveness of detecting at low levels to develop next generation diagnostic and testing services. The Hub includes expert researchers in analytical chemistry, biosciences, nanoscience, laser physics and photonics, all dedicated to the development of easy-to-use devices for a range of health applications. The Hub proves the value of national partnerships between universities, industry and end-users in delivering new technologies and new business opportunities.

Project 1: Nano-structured Interfaces for Biofluid Capture, Separation, and Detection

Biological fluids are notoriously complex, containing large molecules (e.g. proteins), particulates (e.g. blood cells), and many surface-active molecules that tend to foul interfaces. While handling these fluids is known to be difficult, sampling from humans is problematic due to ethical considerations and practical challenges. This project will address the need for non-invasive and precise capture of biofluids in circumstances far from the laboratory. Micro and nano-structured materials will be prepared to serve the dual purpose of fluid collection/mobility and separation of target molecules via autonomous mechanisms, such as spontaneous transport through nano-forests (e.g., size exclusion or chromatography). Integrated coatings, electrodes, optical readouts will be exploited to enhance sampling, sensitivity and selectivity.

Project 2: Advanced Optofluidic Sensing Modes in Nano-Volume Microsensors

The University of South Australia has recently developed a 600 nL spectroscopy cuvette that relies on spontaneous wicking of a 10-20 micrometre liquid film. The device promises unparalleled ease-of-use and has been proven for high molar absorptivity samples. This project will value-add to the technology by embedding optic waveguides (and other optical materials or sensing modes) into the cuvette to facilitate low-abundance detection of an array of target molecules/ions on a disposable, low-volume platform. Waveguides may be achieved through direct-writing of higher refractive index material in specialty glasses or polymers or using supported liquid filaments/films, as observed in preliminary results. The ability to quickly and easily screen many biomolecules, drugs, and/or environmental contaminants using a tiny droplet of sample using, for example, a visible ‘barcode’ readout with integrated optics.

Project 3: Surface Treatment/Coating Strategies for Non-Invasive Wearable Sensors

Wearable sensors are increasingly common for many physiological parameters; however, the ability to non-invasively track chemical signatures is more difficult due to the necessity of on-board reagents, manipulation of fluids, and appropriate chemical readouts. Passive transport of, for example, sweat can be achieved in the short term by absorbent materials. This project will explore the preparation of novel, flexible micro/nanostructured chips using our industry partners state-of-the-art coating and etching capabilities. The passive fluid sampling will be feasible over long time-scales, under variable humidity and temperature, and on flexible chip materials. Initial targets will include chemical signatures of health, exposure, and disease.

Project 4: Microfluidic Vortex Shedding for CAR-T Gene Therapy

Gene-modified cell therapies such as chimeric antigen receptor T cells (CAR-T) represent the most promising therapeutics for many patients with advanced disease. Despite the unprecedented patient outcomes, these therapies are limited to a minute fraction of the diseased patient population due to limited manufacturing scales and cumbersome development processes. Indee Labs is addressing the most problematic manufacturing step, gene delivery, by using microscopic fluid dynamics or microfluidic vortex shedding (µVS) to gently and efficiently porate the cell membrane allowing for gene delivery. The project will explore the development of µVS devices for delivering various constructs to human immune cells while also performing basic research into µVS. Indee Labs is a seed-stage start-up backed by American (SOSV/IndieBio, Y Combinator, Social Capital & Founders Fund) and Australian (Main Sequence Ventures) investors. The team has also received non-dilutive funding from the Australian Research Council, AusTrade, MTP Connect and the NSW Health Medical Device Fund.

Project 5: Evidential Alcohol Breath Testing Unit

Rapid and cost-effective methods for screening of drugs of abuse (e.g. cannabis, amphetamines, opiates etc.) are required for applications such as roadside and workplace drug testing, most existing methods rely of specific and selective detection of specific compounds but are less effective for related compounds (e.g. synthetic cannabinoids) which are also important targets. Mass spectrometry offers a detection method capable of determining both known drugs of abuse as well as new, related compounds. This project will explore the development of new methods based on portable mass spectrometry and/or other spectrometric methods for rapid, at-site detection of drugs of abuse.


$32,788 per year for 3 years


The scholarship is open to Australian and NZ Citizens and permanent residents of Australia and international students. Applicants must meet the entry requirements for a research degree program at the University of South Australia.

These IDEAL Hub projects will suit students with strong background in one or more of lab-on-a-chip technologies, micro/nanofluidics, analytical and physical chemistry, photonics and laser physics, materials science (including biomaterials and interfaces), and electrochemical sensing. Students with skills in medical devices, biosensors, environmental sensors, and/or advanced micro/nanofabrication techniques will be preferred.

How to apply and closing date

Applications open until filled. Applicants should submit CV, supporting statement and names and contact details of three referees.

For more information contact Prof Emily Hilder:


Phone: (08) 8302 3404