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

There are no postdoctoral research positions with my group available currently.


Graduate (PhD) Research Positions

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: Wake interference by swimming crocodiles

Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) swimming underwater. The scutes are visible as bony ridges on the crocodile’s back.

Crocodiles, including the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) have the remarkable ability to swim underwater at high speed while barely making a ripple at the surface. It has been hypothesized that crocodiles are able to do this because the bony ridges on the crocodile’s back (called scutes or osteoderms) produce destructively interfering wake patterns at the water surface, like noise-cancelling headphones. Understanding and replicating this phenomena could have important implications for submarine and ship hull design.

In this project, we will evaluate this hypothesis using a combination of theory, numerical modelling, and laboratory experiments using 3D-printed crocodile models in a wave flume. Experience with Python programming is essential. This project will be co-supervised by Dr Geoff Vasil (U. Sydney), Dr Chris Lustri (Macquarie) and Dr Shane Keating (UNSW).

Applications close 3 May for commencement in Term 3 2019.

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 3 May for commencement in Term 3 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 3 May for commencement in Term 3 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 3 May for commencement in Term 3 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 3 May for commencement in Term 3 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.