I am always keen to talk to potential Honours, Masters, and Ph.D. students who are interested in working in the fields of Applied Mathematics and Atmosphere-Ocean Science. I strongly encourage female, minority, and non-traditional students to apply: the School of Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Science, and UNSW Sydney offer a number of initiatives to support such students including scholarships, generous parental leave provisions and flexible work practices.

Postdoctoral Research Positions

Graduate (Doctoral) Research Positions

Honours and Masters Research Positions

Vacation Research Scholarships and Internships


Postdoctoral Research Positions

The following positions are available for applicants with a PhD and a strong track-record in Applied Mathematics, Physical Oceanography, or a related field. For full details of these positions and application procedure, go to Jobs@UNSW and click “search for jobs”

Postdoctoral Physical Oceanographer: Hydrodynamic Data Assimilation and Modelling

Predicted storm surge as tropical storm Gita passes over New Zealand (Feb 2018). Credit: MetOcean Solutions, NZ.

Applications are invited for a postdoctoral research position in regional ocean data assimilation modelling and prediction. The role involves research into the dynamics and prediction of the East Australian Current as part of a project funded by Australian Research Council Linkage Grant LP170100498 “An end-to-end ocean weather information system for the Blue Economy”. The objective of the project is to design and assess an optimised data assimilation system to improve state-estimation and prediction of ocean dynamics along Australia’s highly populated east coast.

This position will be based with the Coastal and Regional Oceanography group, within the School of Mathematics and Statistics in the Faculty of Science, UNSW Sydney. The research team will also work closely with industry partner MetOcean Solutions (New Zealand MetService Group) to develop operational (real-time) ocean data products for end users. This position will be co-supervised by Prof Moninya Roughan (UNSW), Dr Colette Kerry (UNSW), and Dr Shane Keating (UNSW).

Applications open soon. 


Graduate (PhD) Research Positions

There are two sources of funding for Graduate Research Positions in our group: the Scientia PhD Fellowship (University funded) or Domestic/International Research Scholarships (Commonwealth funded).

Scientia PhD Fellowships

The Scientia PhD Scholarship Scheme is a UNSW-funded scholarship scheme that targets candidates with a strong commitment to making a difference in the world with demonstrated potential for contributing to the social engagement and/or global impact pillars of the UNSW 2025 Strategy. The Scientia Scheme is targeted in that applicants will apply to a specific research area with an identified supervisory team and application is by nomination. Successful applicants will receive tuition, a $40k per year stipend, and up to $10k per year in career development. See here for online applications and key dates.

Scientia PhD Project: Computational Fluid Dynamics of the Tear Film

The tear film is the coating of water and oils that protects and lubricates the surface of the eye. Credit: Dry Eye Institute of America

The tear film is crucial to clear vision and protection of the delicate ocular surface. In recent years the tear film composition has been recharacterized to consist of a heterogeneous fluid rather than a compartmentalised structure. However, knowledge of the mechanics of the tear film has not kept pace. Increased near viewing tasks such as screen work, environmental factors e.g. allergens and microbes, drug delivery, aging and contact lens wear all impact on the tear film. Understanding the natural tear film environment is key to developing strategies to minimise the stress on the ocular surface from these external factors. This project will be supervised by Shane Keating (Mathematics and Statistics), Arthur Ho (Optometry and Vision Science) and Nicole Carnt (Optometry and Vision Science).

The successful candidate would have skills in mathematical modelling and an interest in biological systems. Proficient programming experience is essential. Submit your expression of interest online here.

Applications close 20 July.


Scientia PhD Project: Ocean heat recycling during El Niño events

The 1997–98 El Niño observed by the TOPEX/Posiedon satellite. Credit: NASA JPL and CNES

The El Niño Southern Oscillation is the largest driver of interannual climate variability, impacting weather extremes worldwide. Key to understanding ENSO is the role of diabatic ocean processes such as surface fluxes and diffusive mixing, that control how heat is transferred from the atmosphere to the ocean and into the interior. Using novel techniques developed by the supervisory team, the candidate will evaluate the role of diabatic processes in the ENSO cycle, and how they may change in the future, using new observations and state-of-the-art model simulations. This research is critical to improving our ability to project future climate change. This project will be supervised by Matthew England (Climate Change Research Centre), Ryan Holmes (Climate Change Research Centre), and Shane Keating (Mathematics and Statistics).

The ideal student for this project will be one with an outstanding track record in quantitative sciences, particularly mathematics and physics, or with strong vocational training in fluid dynamics and engineering.  Advanced analytical skills would be ideal, and it would be advantageous for the student to have developed excellent programming skills (for example using python, Matlab, C++ and Fortran). The ideal student might even have already run ocean circulation models and analysed 3D ocean data in either advanced modelling systems or observations. But above all else, the ideal student would have a strong grounding in mathematics and/or physics / fluid dynamics. Find out more and submit your expression of interest online here.

Applications close 20 July.

Domestic/International PhD Scholarships

These projects require a student with a research B.Sc. (Hons) or research Masters degree preferably in physics, mathematics, oceanography or quantitative Marine Science. Candidates are expected to apply for a Domestic Research Scholarship (Australian residents) or International Research Scholarship (non-residents). Successful applicants will be eligible for an additional top-up scholarship of $5000+ per annum for cost-of-living expenses. See here for online applications and key dates.

PhD Project: Observation Impact Assessment using Data Assimilation

A Slocum autonomous underwater glider. Gliders can provide valuable observations at a fraction of the cost of ship-based sampling. Credit: NIWA.

Quantifying the impact of new high-resolution ocean observations – such as autonomous gliders, coastal radar, or satellite imagery – is critical for the efficient deployment of observing infrastructure. In this project, we will quantify how particular observing platforms contribute to ocean state estimates, allowing us to determine the most effective locations and parameters to observe, e.g targeting extremely expensive ship-based sampling vs agile autonomous glider measurements to areas where they will add most value.

Data Assimilation (DA) is a powerful tool used to combine observations with a numerical model to produce a “best estimate” of the ocean state. We will perform a series of DA experiments to test the sensitivity of the estimated ocean state to various observation platforms. The results of this project will assist in guiding the types and location of observations that will best improve the model forecasts at the least cost. This project will be co-supervised by Dr Colette Kerry (UNSW), Prof Brian Powell (U. Hawaii), Prof Moninya Roughan (UNSW), and Dr Shane Keating (UNSW).

Applications close 20 July for commencement in Feb 2019.

PhD Project: Observation Impact Assessment of Future High-resolution Observations

NASA’s planned Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission. Courtesy: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Observing System Simulation Experiments (OSSEs) are a recent innovation in ocean modelling, adapted from meteorology, that use synthetic ocean observations to inform future observational strategies, e.g an artificial temperature record from a ‘toy’ glider, or sea-surface height observations from a future satellite. By assimilating these synthetic observations into a numerical model, we will investigate how well the data-stream improves the model estimates, thus guiding future observing strategies.

In this project, we will perform OSSEs to provide valuable support for the next generation of high-res ocean observing systems, both in Australia (through IMOS) and Internationally. An international example is NASA’s Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission (http://swot.jpl.nasa.gov), a ground-breaking future satellite to be launched in 2021. SWOT will use pioneering wide-swath radar interferometry to measure ocean features as small as 2km — more than ten times the resolution of current technologies. By comparing simulated SWOT observations with the model “truth”, we will establish a valuable baseline for calibration and validation of real SWOT data once it is launched in 2021. This project will be co-supervised by Dr Shane Keating (UNSW), Moninya Roughan (UNSW), Dr Colette Kerry (UNSW) and Dr Patrice Klein (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory).

Applications close 20 July for commencement in Feb 2019.

PhD Project: Dynamical interpolation of future high-resolution satellite observations

Google Earth visualization of SWOT’s planned science orbit. The entire orbit takes 20.86 days to repeat. Courtesy: AVISO

NASA’s Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission is a ground-breaking future satellite to be launched in 2021. SWOT will use pioneering wide-swath radar interferometry to measure ocean features as small as 2km — more than ten times the resolution of current technologies. However, while SWOT will have an unprecedented spatial resolution, the temporal resolution is much more limited. During the science orbit phase of the mission, SWOT will have a 20.86 day repeat cycle. This sampling time is sufficient for slowly evolving large-scale ocean features that are already resolved by current satellites. However, the mismatch between spatial and temporal resolution is a significant problem for reconstructing smaller-scale dynamics, which evolve on a faster timescale and are highly nonlinear, ruling out simple linear interpolation in time. In this project, we will use a novel method for “dynamic interpolation” of SWOT observations, in which the observed sea-surface height is used as the initial (or final) condition for a simplified ocean model, resulting in daily or hourly maps of ocean surface currents. This project is co-supervised by Dr Shane Keating (UNSW), Dr Patrice Klein (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and Dr Clement Ubelmann (CLS Toulouse).

Applications close 20 July for commencement in Feb 2019.

PhD Project: Particle image velocimetery of surface currents

Sea surface temperature map was produced using MODIS data acquired daily over the whole globe. Credit: MODIS Oceans Group, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Particle image velocimetry (PIV) is a technique for measuring current velocities from sequential images by following features embedded within the flow, for example, floating particles or gradients in a tracer field. The advent of ultra-high-resolution geostationary satellites such as the Himawari (Japanese Meteorological Agency) and GOES (US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) missions, which deliver kilometer-scale images of the Earth every 10 minutes, provides an opportunity to use PIV to estimate ocean currents from the observed sea-surface temperature. In addition to providing an unprecedented view of ocean surface currents at kilometer scales, the velocity fields can be combined with ocean color images (a proxy for sea-surface chlorophyll concentrations) to study transport and uptake of carbon in the ocean. This project will be co-supervised by Dr Shane Keating (UNSW) and Dr Bror Jönsson (University of New Hampshire, USA).

Applications close 20 July for commencement in Feb 2019.


Honours and Masters Research Positions

An Honours degree combines coursework and a research project carried out under the supervision of a Faculty member. Most students undertake Honours year as part of an embedded Honours program (such as Advanced Mathematics), or as an additional year following a three-year undergraduate degree. You can also transfer to UNSW from another institution for your Honours year. Click here for admission requirements for Honours year.

A Masters by Research requires completion of an original piece of research that is more limited in scope and nature than that required for a PhD. The minimum entry requirement for admission to a Masters by Research program is a lower second honours in an appropriate four year Bachelors degree at UNSW, or an equivalent qualification from a tertiary (third-level) institution. Click here for entry requirements and online applications for a Masters by Research.

Simulating fractal curves in turbulent fluid flows

Simulated dye release in a turbulent flow. An initially circular patch of dye is stirred by the flow to form fractal-like filaments.

A patch of dye immersed in a turbulent flow tends to be stretched and deformed into strikingly convoluted, fractal-like patterns, like cream stirred into coffee. This fractal structure provides a fingerprint of the underlying flow and is intimately linked with the processes of stirring and mixing in turbulence. In this project, we will investigate the theoretical connection between the fractal geometry of material fields (like dye) and diffusion in turbulent flows. We will also investigate novel stochastic methods for generating fractal Gaussian fields with the goal of representing unresolved mixing in numerical simulations of turbulence. This project is co-supervised by Zdravko Botev (UNSW).

Investigating transport pathways in the ocean with Lagrangian Coherent Structures

Lagrangian coherent structures (in black) identified in HF radar observations of surface ocean currents.

In this project, you will work with measurements from high frequency (HF) radar along the NSW coastline to locate Lagrangian coherent structures (LCS) hidden in the ocean surface currents. The LCSs obtained from HF radar measurements provide a unique way to visualize the evolving structure of dynamic ocean features such as fronts, filaments and eddies in the Tasman Sea. These structures govern the transport pathways of particles in the ocean (such as oil, or fish larvae). You will investigate how different flow regimes affect particle dispersion at the ocean surface. This project will work with HF radar measurements of ocean current velocity, together with satellite imagery of sea surface temperature and chlorophyll-a.


Vacation Research Scholarships and Internships

UNSW Science offers highly competitive summer research scholarships to currently enrolled undergraduate students who are considering postgraduate research in the future. This scheme enables students to gain valuable research experience. See here for eligbility and to submit your application online.

Students from outside UNSW who are interested in gaining research experience can undertake an unfunded internship. Please contact me directly for available projects for Vacation Research Scholarships and Internships.