PhD Projects

TWO UNSW Scientia PhD projects in the Thordarson group are available.

Scientia PhD's provide $40,000 stipend per year plus all tutition fees covered!

The following projects are available with the application deadline 20th July 2018:

 

1. Peptides, Membranes, Ancient Geology and the Origins of Darwinian Evolution 

The aim of this project is to investigate what role peptide stabilisation of protocells (liposomes) could realistically provide a selection force capable of explaining the emergence of Darwinian evolution in realistic pre-biotic systems. This project builds on cutting-edge development in self-assembly and peptide chemistry with information gained from geological studies on one of the oldest rock formations on the planet (Pilbara, Australia). The project will study how amino acids and peptides polymerize inside liposomes upon repeated dehydration/rehydration cycles incorporating Precambrian-relevant minerals and clays as catalysts, with the ultimate target being the detection of chemically-evolved 'fit' peptides that stabilize liposomal structures.

The candidate must have a passion for solving one of the biggest fundamental questions in science, and the ability to think creatively and independently to tackle these questions. The candidate has at least BSc degree with significant chemistry component and some experience in synthetic organic chemistry. Scientific knowledge of biological chemistry, biology or geology would be an additional bonus.

The candidate must also have at least one year of research experience, e.g., through Honours, MSc research or equivalent as per UNSW entry guidelines for PhD. In most cases, we would expect that this research experience was within the field of chemistry, with preference for project that involved some synthetic organic chemistry, peptides or synthetic membranes (e.g., liposomes). Further, we expect that the candidates for these highly competitive scholarships have obtained at least one publication in an internationally (Web of Science) recognised scientific journal. Additional work-related experience, including in industry, volunteering or other services to the community would be advantageous. 

Supervisory team:

To register your expression of interest for this project BEFORE 20th July, register your details here.

 

2. Environmentally Benign Extraction of Precious Metals By Means of Second-Sphere Coordination

Gold-mining remains one of the most environmentally destructive activities on the planet involving the wide-spread and large-scale use of cyanide. Despite its use having been banned in a few countries, the cyanide-leaching process is still employed to extract more than 80% of the gold mined worldwide. This project will use a relatively benign process based on the lock-and-key fit between a cheap organic host and a gold salt formed by treating ore with a common leaching solution.

The candidate must have a passion for solving scientific questions with real-world impacts, and the ability to think creatively and independently to tackle these questions. The candidate's capacity to develop professional collaborative networks will be essential for their professional development as future research leaders.

The ideal candidate will have a strong background in synthetic chemistry, with experience in inorganic and organic synthesis and modern analytical techniques, including NMR spectroscopy. Some experience with X-ray crystallography would be advantageous.

Supervisory team:

To register your expression of interest for this project BEFORE 20th July, register your details here.

 

Do NOT leave it to the last moment to register your interested for the above projects.

Please don't hesitate to contact Palli for further information here.

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