Applications for this PhD have now closed.
Location Western Sydney University, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics
App. deadline 15/09/2017
  • Scholarship available
Project ID 2017_031
Eligibility Australian residents only

Investigation of Microbial Chloramine Decay Mechanisms

This PhD research is funded by an ARC Linkage Project through the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics and supports a project entitled 'Smart management of disinfectant in the chloraminated water distribution system'. The project aims to develop an adaptive, real-time control system for managing disinfectant residuals in chloraminated water supply system through the investigation of microbial chloramine decay mechanisms and the quantification of microbial chloramine decay. The project will develop a tool for water utilities which can make smarter decisions towards delivering safe, cost-efficient drinking water to the public, despite a warming climate and increasing population.

Objectives of the PhD project

The objective of this PhD is to investigate chloramine decay mechanisms due to nitrifying microbial (bacterial and archaeal) community and to quantify their role in decaying chloramine in water distribution systems. A second objective is to develop a robust biostable residual concentration (BRC) tool to predict the onset of nitrification and to validate the tool under different operating conditions (such as re-chloramination and breakpoint chlorination) of the chloraminated water distribution system.This study will be carried out through a series of investigations using lab-scale, pilot-scale, and full-scale chloraminated water distribution systems. The study will focus on nitrifying microbial community of bulk water and biofilm exposed to various environmental conditions (such as pH, temperature and different concentrations of chloramine, ammonia, and disolved organic matter) and operating conditions (such as water age, re-chloramination, and breakpoint chlorination).

What does the scholarship provide?

Domestic and international students will receive:

  • A tax-free stipend of up to $25,849 per annum for 3 years.
  • Support for conference attendance, fieldwork and additional costs as appropriate.
  • A rich environment of support and academic expertise via supervisory panels, seminars, academic and industry collaborations.
  • Access to internationally recognised academics from Western Sydney University as well as co-investigators from other leading universities in Australia and USA.
  • An exciting opportunity to work on an applied research and development project in partnership with major water utilities of Sydney and Queensland.

Eligibility criteria

The successful candidate must have:

  • a Master's degree in environmental engineering, microbiology, molecular microbial ecology, biochemical engineering, or biotechnology;
  • experience in basic molecular biology methods (DNA/RNA extraction-purification, PCR, qPCR, sequencing);
  • experience in implementing and operating bioreactor;
  • knowledge on analytical chemistry;
  • good writing and communication skills;
  • creative, out-of-the-box thinking; and
  • excellent interpersonal skills to work effectively and closely with the team members and partners.

How to apply

1. Contact Professor Sathaa Sathasivan ( to discuss your eligibility, the project requirements and your intention to apply.

2. Complete the scholarship application form (PDF, 222.11 KB).(opens in new window)

3. Compile your CV, a one-page proposal stating how your research interests align with the project aims, a summary of your Master's thesis and a cover letter describing your motivation in applying for the position. You should also include letters from at least two referees.

4. Ensure that all documentation is certified according to Western Sydney University requirements.(opens in new window)

5. All applications and supporting documentation must be submitted directly to the Graduate Research School as follows:

  • Use the email subject line: Application_2017_031_SCEM
  • Submit to
  • All attached documents must be submitted as PDF.
  • In the body of your email, include your full name, your student ID (if you are a current or previous Western Sydney student) and the full title of the scholarship.

Incomplete applications or applications that do not conform to the above requirements will not be considered.

Please contact the Graduate Research School via email at for more information.

Applications close 15 September 2017

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Further Information / Application Enquiries

Prof Sathaa Sathasivan