Full PhD Scholarship in Developing a constitutive model for transition granular materials at the University of South Australia

Full PhD Scholarship in Developing a constitutive model for transition granular materials at the University of South Australia

Full PhD Scholarship in Developing a constitutive model for transition granular materials at the University of South Australia. 

If you are seeking to advance your career in civil engineering and interested in granular materials, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a hands-on project-based PhD  in partnership with CMW Geosciences.

Granular porous materials are collections of discrete particles, and their hydromechanical behaviour is affected by particle size. Currently, they are classified as either sand (>0.075mm) or silt/clay (<0.075mm), depending on whether their behaviour is dominated by gravity or electrostatic forces, respectively.

While the mechanics of these two types of granular materials are well known, most natural soils, tailings and granular ores (iron ore, coal, bauxite, phosphate) are collections of both sand-silt/clay, i.e. transition granular materials. The mechanics of the latter are not so well understood, so the response of these materials is often analysed based on the dominant particles, which often causes optimistic design and results in catastrophic failures.

This research project will track individual particles and their force skeleton structure that corresponds to the mechanical behaviour via the discrete element method (DEM). This will allow us to track the influence of sand and silt/clay size particles in the overall behaviour.

For engineering practice, the force skeleton structure is quantified by the density of granular materials. For the transition granular materials, the force skeleton structure will be quantified by an equivalent density state (EDS). The EDS will be combined with evolution particle fabric to develop a constitutive model for hydromechanical behaviour.

Join a dynamic team within geotechnical research comprised of world-class researchers and a strong cohort of PhD students. We are currently collaborating with more than 35 local, national and international organisations so you will have ample opportunity to grow your professional and industry network.

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will carry out both numerical and laboratory research. You will develop a diverse set of skills, conducting advanced triaxial testing, large-scale soil column testing with regular monitoring, and related numerical modelling.

You will perform a series of triaxial and simple shear tests, and then calibrate the model parameters based on the experimental results. Based on the results, you will then propose a new constitutive model for a wide range of soils.

The expertise you gain in both numerical programming and laboratory experiment will give you a competitive edge as there are few researchers strong in both fields.

You will be encouraged and supported to travel to a conference to present your research. There may be funding available for other professional development activities.

Where you’ll be based

You will be based in UniSA STEM. We link engineering, mathematics, science, defence, cybersecurity, construction management, environmental science, aviation, information management, information technology, and project management, harnessing the connections across disciplines to bring big ideas to fruition.

Our researchers deliver technical expertise and advice to industry, government and community groups to make commercially viable and sustainable impacts. The Future Industries InstituteInnovation and Collaboration Centre, and Australian Research Centre for Interactive and Virtual Environments all provide consultancy and access to advanced technology.

In an information-rich world, our people think big, combatting problems, testing solutions and making data-driven decisions. Our graduates are entrepreneurs and trailblazers, who design and build the world they want to live in.

Supervisory Team

Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses.  Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $28,854 per annum is available to eligible applicants. A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information for domestic students or international students.

Eligibility and Selection

This project is open to application from both domestic and international applicants.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. Additionally applicants must meet the projects selection criteria:

  • Graduate in Civil Engineering

All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate.

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and to be based at our Mawson Lakes Campus in the north of Adelaide.  Additionally applications from students studying externally will also be considered.  Note that international students on a student visa will need to study full-time.

Essential Dates

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer.  Extended deferral periods are not available.  Applications close on Friday, 3rd June


How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

  • Start your application by clicking the ‘BEGIN’ button
  • If you have already registered for an account, please login before starting your application
  • If you have forgotten your log in details, click here to reset your password

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at [email protected]. You will receive a response within one working day.




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