PhD Candidate Stories

Interested in making your own history and pursuing a research degree at UoA? Check out what some of our current PhD candidates are achieving.

  • STEM

    Photo of PhD Student Harrison Lees.

    Lightning-fast Internet, super-safe med-tech

    Harrison Lees
    PhD candidate in applied electromagnetics

    Imagine if we could all access home Internet speeds around 1,000 times faster than currently possible. Or have biomedical images taken that show everything an X-ray does, but with zero risk of tissue damage.

    These are just two of the incredible potential outcomes that Harrison’s PhD research could deliver. He’s leading development of a tiny, all-silicon integrated circuit platform that will be the world’s lowest-loss broadband terahertz waveguide—enabling humanity to harness the remarkable properties of terahertz radiation.

    Harrison’s work has already attracted R&D partners in the defence, medical, and agricultural industries, and he couldn’t be happier. “The process of seeing a system you conceived, designed and tested come to life is hugely satisfying,” he says.

  • Health

    Photo of PhD Student Diksha Sirohi.

    Reducing chronic pain for millions

    Diksha Sirohi
    PhD candidate in digital health

    Endometriosis is a big problem; it causes chronic, severe pain for 11% of natal females globally. And when that pain hits, everyday life becomes all but impossible.

    Diksha—through her PhD research—is making a difference. In consultation with the Australian endometriosis community, she has co-created the world’s first evidence-based endometriosis digital health platform: EndoZone.

    Crucially, EndoZone's online tools will enable early diagnosis, which can significantly reduce future complications and minimise the impact on the quality of life. “I love being able to support and empower the endo community,” says Diksha. “It’s incredibly rewarding.”

  • Energy

    Photo of PhD Student Sahand Karimi Arpanahi

    Making green power cheaper in the electricity grid

    Sahand Karimi Arpanahi
    PhD candidate in power systems engineering

    Sahand’s PhD research could help make possible a critical step in Australia’s efforts to achieve Net Zero target: cost-effectively adding higher amounts of clean, renewable energy sources to the grid.

    He’s developing novel methods for battery storage sizing and operation that reduce the unpredictable fluctuations in solar and wind power generation, enabling higher profit for renewable power stations and lower households’ electricity costs.

    The CSIRO is now closely involved, and AEMO’s also interested. “I’ve really enjoyed the University’s research-focused environment,” says Sahand, “and my supervisors’ focus on research quality, rather than quantity.”

  • Defence and space

    Photo of PhD Student Chee Kheng Chng

    Predicting orbiting objects’ paths

    Chee Kheng Chng
    PhD candidate in machine learning

    Things are getting pretty crowded up there; the US Space Command now tracks almost 35,000 objects in low Earth orbit. So in the interests of keeping valuable items safe, such as satellites, it pays to be able to accurately calculate their path, as quickly and easily as possible.

    Through his PhD project Al4SPACE, Chee Keng is finding an answer. With support from defence prime Lockheed Martin, he’s developing a novel algorithm that can accurately estimate a satellite’s orbit simply by evaluating a long-exposure digital image of it.

    Chee Keng is also exploring the use of various techniques to help identify distant stars, and reconstruct the shape of objects in space. “I love learning new stuff,” he says. “The privilege of being able to sit down and ponder every day is something I don’t take for granted.”

  • Agriculture, food and wine

    Photo of PhD Student Sara Qanti

    Making sustainable agriculture attainable

    Sara Qanti
    PhD candidate investigating gender in agriculture

    Government policy has a critical role to play in soil and water conservation. But its impact can be minimal if gender’s influence on farming household decision-making isn’t well understood.

    Sara’s PhD research is filling that gap. She’s analysing the decision-making process within smallholder agricultural households in rural Indonesia—and particularly women’s role in that process—to gauge how it affects the adoption of conservation practices.

    Sara’s work is part of an umbrella project funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, and also involves Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture, and non-government Indonesian research agencies. “I’m loving learning new things outside my comfort zone,” she says, “and meeting new people from all kinds of backgrounds.”

Video testimonials