Study level

  • PhD
  • Master of Philosophy


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.

Research centre


Dr Graham Johnson
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Science
Associate Professor Branka Miljevic
Associate Professor
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Science
Professor Zoran Ristovski
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Science
Professor Kirsten Spann
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health


Several PhD positions are available for motivated individuals to investigate phase separation and glassy state formation inside airborne droplet nuclei and its impact on water uptake and loss during atmospheric transport.

Marine and continental atmospheric aerosols play an important role in the global climate hydrological cycle while respiratory aerosols released during breathing speech and coughing are responsible for the airborne transmission of human respiratory viral infections such as SARS-CoV-2. These processes can limit the availability of cloud seeding nuclei with implications for cloud lifetime and albedo and hence climate modelling. They have the potential to increase the survival time of airborne viruses and bacteria and may therefore play a role in promoting the transmission of infection in indoor air.

Research activities

You will join a team working on an exciting multidisciplinary project. The wider project aim is to uncover the role played by vitrification in limiting heterogeneous reactions in airborne droplets and droplet nuclei. This includes both cloud seeding nuclei from sea spray and respiratory fluid droplet nuclei.

Within this wider project, there is scope for you to choose one of three areas, all of which have a strong instrumentation focus. You will therefore require or be willing to quickly develop strong practical skills. You can choose to focus on one or a combination of:

  • single particle analysis techniques (using single particle trapping with Raman spectroscopy). You will work within our team to develop and apply single particle trapping systems to the spectroscopic analysis of droplets suspended in a climate controlled electrodynamic balance (Paul Trap) and optical tweezers.
  • Aerosol ensemble techniques (using rotating reaction chambers with tandem differential mobility analysis). You will use tandem differential mobility analysis techniques to study aerosol ensemble behaviour when suspended in a climate controlled rotating aerosol reactor.
  • work with the virology team, using climate controlled aerosol rotators in combination with optical particle sizing, impinger extraction with virological assays of influenza and Corona viruses. A microbiology background would be useful here.

The project will be primarily based in the School of Atmospheric Sciences in the Faculty of Science at the Gardens Point campus of Queensland University of Technology.

The team is made up of researchers with expertise in aerosol physics and chemistry, virology and atmospheric sciences, providing an intellectually robust and collaborative environment. You will have access to state-of-the-art computing, laboratory and workshop support facilities.

About the scholarship

A living allowance stipend, which is tax exempt and indexed annually $28,597 per annum for a period of three years.

In addition to the living allowance stipend, the successful applicant will receive student allocation funding of up to $8,000 towards ancillary project costs such as conference travel. International students will receive a full tuition fee sponsorship.

Skills and experience

You must have:

  • recently completed a BSc Hons degree or equivalent in a relevant field (eg physics, chemistry, engineering or environmental science)
  • first-class honours (H1) or equivalent
  • a general interest in atmospheric science, instrumentation, electronics and/or physical chemistry
  • excellent communication skills, motivation and the ability to work as part of a team.

Ideally you will also have:

  • experience or interest in climate change, electronics, optics or microbiology

This opportunity will remain open until the position is filled.


Contact Dr Graham Johnson for more information.