Science without borders projects

These projects are aimed at currently enrolled undergraduate students who have completed three years of a full time undergraduate course and who
intend to continue with studies towards an honours degree.
Instructions: Students interested in applying for one or more of the projects listed below should email their resume and a covering letter to the
relevant supervisor/s no later than close of business Monday 9 September 2013. The covering letter should indicate the reasons why the student is
interested in the project and how they meet the knowledge/skills listed for the project. If more than one supervisor is listed for a project please ensure
that each supervisor is emailed a copy.

Title: Dynamic modelling of inverter air conditioners electric load for demand-side applications in smart grids.
Background: Residential and commercial heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are responsible for about a quarter of Australian electricity
demand. Moreover, HVAC systems drive peak demand in Australia during hot days, which occur less than 1% of the time, but influence decisions on future
electricity prices and power system infrastructure upgrades. Accurate dynamic modelling of HVAC systems is important to understand their aggregate demand
behaviour and design new methods to manage peak demand and defer network infrastructure upgrades by smart load control.
Project aims: The project aims to (1) identify a dynamic model of a modern residential split-system air conditioner (AC), and (2) develop and validate through
simulations a dynamic model of aggregate demand of distributed populations of such AC systems. Time permitted, we could explore: (3) design model-based
load control schemes of such HVAC loads for peak demand reduction.
Resources: Personal computer, experimental data collected at CSIRO National HVAC Performance Test Facility.
Knowledge/skills: applied mathematics, electrical or electronic engineering, familiarity with simulation environments such as Matlab, Octave or Scilab.
Reference: Load management: Model-based control of aggregate power for populations of thermostatically controlled loads, Perfumo et al, 2012
Supervisor: Julio H. Braslavsky
Location: Newcastle, NSW
Email: [email protected]

Title: The TiRO Project
Background/aims: The TiRO project involves developing a world first technology for producing titanium powder on a continuous basis. The process uses the same
chemical feedstocks as the major existing Kroll process, namely titanium tetrachloride and magnesium. The main part of the project is demonstrating the
technology works at the 2.5 kg/h pilot scale. We are working in collaboration with Coogee Chemicals to build a pilot plant in Laverton, Victoria.
A secondary aspect of the project is to determine whether the TiRO process can be used to produce titanium alloys directly. This work is progressing at the CPSE
laboratories in Clayton, Victoria.
Skills/knowledge: A student with a chemical, metallurgical or process engineering background would be exposed to this new exciting process. Depending on
their interest and expertise we can tailor the program to be of most mutual benefit.
Supervisor: Christian Doblin
Location: Clayton, Victoria
Email: [email protected]
Title: Effect of Wear on the Drilling Response of Diamond Impregnated Bit: Experimental Investigation
Background: The project concerns the effect of the segment wear on the drilling response of diamond-impregnated bits for mineral exploration into hard
metamorphic rock formations. Impregnated diamond bits, or simply ID bits, consist of small synthetic diamonds distributed evenly throughout a metallic matrix.
The diamonds, which are exposed at the bit surface, are responsible for cutting away rock while the matrix provides the necessary bonds to retain the diamonds
during its cutting life. In order for the bit to sustain rock cutting (i.e. a steady bit performance), the matrix should wear at a rate such that blunted diamonds are
promptly released from the matrix. At the same time, fresh sharp diamonds should be exposed at the bit-rock interface to carry on the cutting work. Therefore,
the relative wear rates between diamond and matrix has a significant bearing on the bit performance.
Aims: The first objective of the project is to confirm the literature results by experimentally investigating the effects of varying the depth of cut in wear tests. The
next objective is to numerically measure the wear rate and bit performance using the framework (bit-rock interaction model) established by the CSIRO’s Drilling
Mechanics Team. The goal of the experimental campaign is to measure how the model parameters - contact stress, friction coefficient or intrinsic specific energy
(a measure of the resistance of the rock to cutting) – vary with the segment wear.
Skills/knowledge: Programming in MatLab, analytical skills, laboratory work experience. Would suit a Student of Civil/Mechanical/Mining Engineering
Supervisor: Dr Luiz Franca
Location: Kensington, Perth WA
Email: [email protected]
Title: Minimalistic Mental Switch using a low cost EEG amplifier
Background/Aims: A brain–computer interface (BCI) transforms signals originating from the human brain into commands that can control devices or applications.
Hence, a BCI provides a new non-muscular communication channel, which can be used to assist patients who have highly compromised motor functions. This
project aims to use motor imagery and associated oscillatory EEG signals from the sensorimotor cortex for device control. For that purpose we will use a low cost
EEG amplifier and 2 electrodes to measure 8–12 Hz mu rhythms recorded from the scalp over the central sulcus of one hemisphere to generate a mental on/off
signal with which to control a computer interface.
Skills/knowledge: Essential: programming experience, familiarity with signal processing. Desirable: experience with Matlab, rudimentary understanding of EEG
Supervisors: Andreas Duenser and David Rozado
Location: Hobart, Tasmania
Email: [email protected] and [email protected]
Title: Using pupillometry signal from an eye tracker in a Cognitive Engineering Laboratory
Background/Aims: Video based Pupillometry, or monitoring pupil size using an eye tracker, is a method that can provide valuable data concerning the
functioning of the autonomous nervous system. Pupillary responses have been successfully used to provide an estimate of the “intensity” of mental activity and
of changes in mental states, arousal and particularly changes in the allocation of attention and the consolidation of perception. Since changes in cognitive load
cause very small dilations of the pupils, in controlled settings, high-precision pupil measurements can be used to detect small differences in cognitive load at time
scales shorter than one second. However, cognitive pupillometry has been generally limited to experiments in highly controlled environments because the pupils'
responsiveness to changes in brightness and other visual details interferes with load-induced pupil dilations. This project will try to create a number of well
described and simple filters to be applied on the raw pupillometry signal and to transform it into a useful psychophysiological signal that can be used to measure
cognitive load, arousal level, stress, etc.
Skills/knowledge: Essential - programming experience, familiarity with signal processing and algorithms.
Supervisors: Ulrich Engelke and David Rozado
Location: Hobart, Tasmania
Email: [email protected] and [email protected]
Title: The agricultural and biosecurity implications of the recent successful incursion of the Old World cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera into Brazil. This is a
highly significant incursion by and A1 quarantine pest in Brazil
Background/Aims: Using DNA genetic markers to infer the likely origin(s) of the Brazilian H. armigera when compared against H. armigera from various Old
World regions. The aim of the project is to provide the student with appropriate molecular genetic training within a biosecurity context on a highly damaging
agricultural insect pest, thereby providing important training in areas (e.g., Biosecurity, population genetics, insecticide resistance management, molecular
genetics/biological skills) that are currently highly topical in Brazil.The student will review literature relating to biosecurity (implications, impact, importance),
insecticide resistance (concentrating on synthetic pyrethroids), and on the biology/population genetics of H. armigera. Within the lab the student will be learning
basic molecular genetics/biology skills in DNA extraction, PCR, sequencing, sequence and data analytical skills.
Skills/knowledge: Knowledge and/or willingness to learn molecular genetic skills such as DNA extraction, PCR, DNA sequencing, genetic data analysis. Basic
knowledge of population/evolutionary genetics, molecular ecology and insect pest management science will be helpful. Knowledge of the biology of the insect
pest (Helicoverpa armigera) will also be helpful.
Supervisors: Wee Tek Tay (Population / Evolutionary Genetics), Tom Walsh (Molecular Biology), Sharon Downes (Helicoverpa biology and resistance
Location: Canberra, ACT. The student will also have an opportunity to visit the Australian Cotton Research Institute in Narrabri, NSW.
Email: [email protected] and [email protected] and [email protected]

Title: Environment scan to support a national survey of Brazilian citizen attitudes to mining
It is proposed that a Brazilian student may support the National Survey project within MDU’s Mineral Futures Theme through performing an
environment scan of the Brazilian context with respect to mining. Specifically, the task would involve a literature review, a synthesis of current issues around
mining and society for Brazil and relevant regional neighbours, a broad stakeholder analysis of actors relevant to mining (government, industry and civil society),
and assistance with developing and translating a survey instrument into Portuguese. The outputs of this project would be a brief report, Brazil-specific survey
items developed in close collaboration with CSIRO staff, a translated survey instrument and a stakeholder map. This project will aim to support the inclusion of
Brazil into a broader project examining citizen attitudes to mining in Australia and other mining jurisdictions.
Skills/knowledge: It is desirable that the chosen student have social science training in one of a range of disciplines, including psychology, sociology, human
geography, economics or another relevant social science discipline. However, a student trained in another discipline that has a deep knowledge of the Brazilian
mining industry, the country social context with respect to this industry, and a strong interest in participating to this work will also be considered. The project will
be supervised by experienced CSIRO social scientists.
Supervisor: Kieren Moffatt
Location: Pullenvale, QLD
Email: [email protected]

Title: DNA markers for drug or chemical resistance in pests and pathogens
Background/Aims: Next Generation genome sequencing promises to change the way some areas of research are conducted. We are working on a methodology
to dramatically increase the speed with which drug resistance markers can be identified in eukaryotic pest and parasite populations. The model we are using is
ivermectin resistance in the parasite Haemonchus contortus, which is an economically important nematode parasite infecting sheep and goats. Using a cross
between resistant and susceptible strains of H. contortus, we have generated populations of F2 individuals resistant to three compounds belonging to different
classes of drugs, and control populations in which no drug selection has occurred. One of the drugs used was ivermectin. We have sequenced the H. contortus
genome from the parent strains, ivermectin selected F2 and control F2, and results from this sequencing have revealed molecular polymorphisms associated with
ivermectin resistance.
These polymorphisms represent candidate resistance markers which can potentially be used to create DNA-based tests for ivermectin resistance in H. contortus
populations, and which can be used to aid the management of disease caused by these parasites in sheep and goats. A summer student could be involved in our
work aiming to validate these resistance markers in the lab and also in more advanced bioinformatics work to streamline our analysis of DNA sequence data to
discover drug/chemical resistance markers.
Skills/knowledge: Ideally, the student will have experience with computer-based analysis of DNA sequence data, and also some laboratory skills in molecular
biology. No prior knowledge of pests or pathogens is required, but a student with an interest in agriculture might especially enjoy the project experience.
Supervisor: Dr Peter Hunt
Location: Armidale, NSW
Email: [email protected]
Title: Integration of analytical techniques for the characterisation of iron ore

Background/Aims: The demand for high-grade iron is driven by the Chinese steel mills requiring large volume of ore with consistent chemical, mineralogical and
metallurgical grade. However, to meet this increased demand and provide large amounts of ore with reliable chemical and mineralogical grade is becoming
increasingly difficult. By providing methods to accurately measure the grade and the physical properties of the ores, the project outcome will allow Australian iron
ore mining companies to develop and use lower quality orebodies. The project is focussed on advanced characterisation of iron ore samples. It will involve the
use of a combination of techniques including scanning electron microscopy, Raman and infrared spectroscopies and, electron microprobe. All the data from each
technique will be fused to provide a complete characterisation of the samples.
Skills/knowledge: geology background
Supervisor: Dr Erick Ramanaidou
Location: Kensington, WA
Email: [email protected]
Title: A smart phone app that understands your move.
Background/Aims: The project aims to develop a software application for mobile phone that acquiring and using the 3-d accelerometer, orientation and rotation
data can estimate the physical activity e.g., sitting, lying, walking, standing and running. In particular, the project seeks to implement a novel activity classification
algorithm on the phone and compare its performance (classification accuracy, speed, and resource usage efficiency) with the classical algorithms such as, support
vector classification, decision tree classification etc. The project also seeks to verify the performance of various rotation invariant features in classifying activity
when the placement of the phone on the body is unconstrained.
The student mainly needs to implement various classifiers on the phone and store the classification results from the phone to a central server (using wireless
connectivity e.g., wifi, 3g etc.) which could be easily accessible by the domain scientists/researchers.
Skills/knowledge: Demonstrated skills on Android programming Python - Django programming.
Classifier design and feature selection principles for resource improvised embedded platforms.
Supervisors: Rajib Rana and Wen Hu
Location: Pullenvale, QLD
Email: [email protected] and [email protected]

A smart phone app that understands your mood.
Project: The project seeks to develop a software application that can extract emotion from voice during phone conversation. In particular, the project is
interested in six emotional states: anger, joy, sadness, neutral, boredom, and fear. Classification algorithms have already been developed which the student
needs to implement on the phone. It is anticipated that serious code optimization will be required to run the classifiers in real-time on the phone as the
conversation takes place.
Skills/knowledge: Demonstrated skills on Android programming Python
Supervisors: Rajib Rana and Wen Hu
Location: Pullenvale, QLD
Email: [email protected] and [email protected]

Title: Validation of the ASTER mineral map of Australia and development of a full spectrum (UV-VIS-NIR-SWIR-TIR-LWIR) reference spectral library of the cover of

Background/Aims: The continental ASTER mineral maps of Australia represent a significant achievement providing the geosciences community with previously
unavailable measured mineralogical information. Extensive datasets across the continent of Australia have been acquired as part of the National Geochemical
Survey of Australia (NGSA), representing an opportune validation dataset for the ASTER mineral maps. The primary aim of the NGSA is to provide pre-competitive
data and knowledge to support exploration for energy resources in Australia. This project collected transported regolith samples at the outlet of large catchments
covering more than 90 per cent of Australia, resulting in a total of 1300+ samples available at two depths (0-10 centimetres below the surface as well as between
around 60 and 80 centimetres depth) that were analysed for over 60 elements.
This collaborative project between CSIRO and GA aims to acquire full spectrum (UV-VIS-NIR-SWIR-TIR-LWIR) directional-hemispherical reflectance spectra using
the Bruker Vertex70 FTIR spectrometer at the Australian Resources Research Centre in Perth. The spectral information will be used for the validation of the ASTER
mineral maps. Importantly, the data will be acquired according to protocols defined for reference spectral libraries so that they will form valuable mineralogical
information for the NGSA but also a valuable reference spectral library for the spectral community world-wide.
Skills/knowledge: The successful applicant has background in geoscience and/or environmental engineering. A sound understanding of mineralogy and
experience in a laboratory environment are desirable. The student will benefit from gaining experience on the use of full wavelength spectral data for generating
mineralogical information using state-of-the-art techniques. He/she will also have the benefit of possibly related publications.
Supervisors: Cindy Ong and Carsten Laukamp
Kensington, WA
Email: [email protected] and [email protected]

Title: Effect of TiO2 on the stability of Complex Calcium-Rich Ferrite Iron Ore Sinter Bonding Phases
Background/Aims: Iron ore sintering is the industrial process whereby iron ore fines (the -6.3 mm fraction of iron ore) are mixed with a CaCO3 flux and coke and
heated rapidly to high temperature. This results in partial melting of the mixture and the formation of a porous but physically strong composite material in which
iron-bearing minerals (i.e. hematite, Fe2O3, and magnetite, Fe3O4, including relict ore particles) are bound by a complex matrix containing predominantly complex
calcium-rich ferrite phases, calcium silicates and glass (quenched liquid). Sinter is a major feedstock material of blast furnaces, utilised extensively worldwide in
the production of steel from iron ore.
Most of the complex calcium-rich ferrites contain Si and Al and are known collectively by the acronym ‘SFCA’ (Silico-Ferrite of Calcium and Aluminium).
Fundamental understanding of their compositional and thermal stability domains has the potential to improve the efficiency of the iron ore sintering process by
being able to better predict the optimal sintering conditions (e.g. temperature, oxygen partial pressure) required to produce high-quality sinter product.
Currently, the effect of TiO2 addition on the stability of the SFCA phases is unknown; this knowledge is becoming increasingly important as steel manufacturers
worldwide are incorporating low-grade, low-cost titanomagnetite-based ores into their sintering operations. This project will provide this understanding, via a
series of high temperature (up to 1350 deg C) phase equilbria experiments conducted under a range of different oxygen partial pressures, with subsequent phase
characterisation utilising the word-class X-ray diffraction and electron microprobe facilities at CPSE in Clayton.
Skills/knowledge: Chemistry/Metallurgy
Supervisor: Nathan Webster
Location: Clayton, VIC
Email: [email protected]
Title: Laboratory-based fabrication of nano-structured electrodes for miniaturised energy storage devices.
To develop reliable laboratory-based methods to fabricate nano-structured current collectors for use in novel micro-battery technologies.
Advances in technology associated with micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), also known as micro-machines, have driven a trend towards the development
of micro-electronic devices with increased functionality and sophistication. As the size of micro-electronic devices decreases and the energy demand increases,
the inability to obtain scale-appropriate batteries to supply energy and power to these devices becomes the limitation in the technology.
This project will focus on the development of high surface area nano-structured electrodes to be used as current collectors in a new type of miniaturised battery
specifically designed for micro-electronic devices. Nano-structured electrodes will be fabricated using a number of approaches (i.e. electrochemical deposition,
vapour deposition, etc.), and characterised using scanning-electron microscopy and electrochemical techniques. Batteries comprised of nano-structured current
collectors have high electrode surface areas which enable large amounts of energy to be stored in a battery that possesses only a small footprint area (i.e. <
1 mm2).
Skills/knowledge: The project requires a student with working knowledge in either:
Supervisor: Jean-Pierre Veder
Location: Clayton, Victoria.
Email: [email protected]
Title: Embedded Zebedee
Background/Aim: The project is to develop hardware and software to go into the handheld Zebedee system. This includes testing of IMU's and processors as well
as 3D design and printing of system. The student will be responsible for developing a PCB for testing different IMU's in the head that can replace the existing IMU
in the system. Once the PCB is created the student is required to develop the software to read the information from the IMU's and send it to a computer for
Skills/knowledge required: PCB design,Cad, Embedded Software
Supervisor: Paul Flick
Pullenvale, QLD
[email protected]
Software Embedded Zebedee
The project is to develop hardware and software to go into the handheld Zebedee system. This includes testing of IMU's and processors as well
as 3D design and printing of system. The student will be responsible for developing software for a embedded processor that is located in the handle to log IMU
and laser information. The data is then read and then passed through CSIRO's 3D Mapping software to create a map.
Skills/knowledge required: Software engineering
Supervisors: Paul Flick and Fred Pauling
Location: Pullenvale, QLD
Email: [email protected] and [email protected]
Title: Gaze Tracking and Interaction in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Enviroments
Background/Aim: We have a developer version of the Oculus Rift virtual reality helmet. We also have in-house developed software that transforms the Oculus
Rift in an augmented reality device. We propose the integration of a set of in-house built gaze tracking glasses into the Oculus Rift to provide gaze tracking and
gaze estimation capabilities in virtual reality and augmented reality environments. Being able to carry out gaze tracking studies in virtual reality scenarios would
decrease the cost of such studies and allow the investigation of gaze behavior in exotic environments. Additionally, gaze tracking can be extremely useful in
augmented reality and mobile applications since often such technologies lack proper interaction mechanisms. Gaze tracking capabilities in VR and AR systems
opens a window of opportunity for gaze attentive interfaces that display information to the user according to their visual and cognitive behavior.
Skills/knowledge: Machine vision, Visual Studio IDE, C#
Supervisors: Raja Jurdak, Mark Dunn and David Rozado
Location: Pullenvale, QLD
Email: [email protected] and [email protected] and [email protected]
Title: UAV flight planning tool extensions

We would like to add some additional functionality to our current UAV flight planning tool. For example the ability to export flight plans in
formats suitable for other UAV platforms in use by CSIRO (Eagle, Ascending Tech. platforms etc.). This would make the tool useful for any other UAV users in
CSIRO. The project would be purely software engineering using Qt but would also require interaction with UAV users to test and verify the generated flight plans
on their UAV platforms.
Skills/knowledge: Software engineering
Supervisors: Stefan Hrabar and Farid Kendoul
Location: Pullenvale, QLD
Email: [email protected] and [email protected]
Title: Long-term tracking of animals
Background/Aim: The project will an adaptive GPS duty cycling strategy to achieve a higher energy efficiency for long-term animal tracking. The central idea of
this project is to use the biased random walk model to mimic the animal movement when the GPS is off-duty, and further estimate the expectation of the
location uncertainty based on the feedback from the model.
The student will be responsible for analyzing the cattle data and designing the random walk model, i.e. to build up the data-driven transition matrix and choose
the optimal routing strategy. Extensive simulation on empirical cattle data will be conducted by the student to evaluate the performance of the model as well. We
expect this project will provide a better solution to the issue of energy/accuracy trade-off confronted by the implementation of GPS to long-term animal tracking.
Skills/knowledge: Matlab or Python
Supervisors: Kun Zhao and Raja Jurdak
Location: Pullenvale, QLD
Email: [email protected] and [email protected]
Title: Improved water resource sharing using real-time monitoring, predictions and alerts of stream flows and environmental conditions.
Background/Aim: This project has four areas of research:
1. Water monitoring, modelling and prediction of river-flow 2. Monitoring and assessment of river health including environmental indicators such as water quality, channel stability and key biota 3. Development of an approach for community water sharing during low-flow periods 4. Development of a multi-user online tool of real-time information that can assist decision making on water use and management and helps increase awareness of water management issues in the community The selected student will work mainly in activity 1 with activities in the office in Sandy Bay, Hobart and in the field (Ringarooma and South Esk catchments, around four hours from Hobart). Skills/knowledge: Knowledge on hydrology and catchment and crop modelling; Instrumentation installation (weather stations, hydrological and soil moisture
sensors) and Data analysis. Knowledge of Geographic Information System is desirable
Supervisor: Auro Almeida
Location: Hobart, Tasmania
Email: [email protected]
Title: Define and characterise the kinetic behaviour for the SSX systems, to identify critical conditions and factors contributed to its kinetic features, and to obtain
a better understanding of the kinetic mechanism for potential improvements.

Background/Aim: Nickel laterite ores become increasingly important for nickel production as nickel sulphide deposits are depleting. Direct solvent extraction
(DSX) system without precipitation steps would be substantially beneficial and is foreseen to be the next generation of separation technology. So far no single
extractant system is capable of separation of both Ni and Co from one or more group of the metals: Fe(III)/Al, and Mn/Mg/Ca. Several synergistic systems (SSX)
containing mixed organic extractants have been reported in the literature, but none is practical for commercial applications due to one or more practical issues.
The mixed organic system containing a carboxylic acid and a chelating oxime shows synergism for extraction and separation of Ni and Co from Mn, Mg, and Ca,
but the extraction and stripping of nickel are kinetically slow. The presence of an appropriate modifier can significantly improve its kinetics, e.g. CSIRO synergistic
solvent extraction (SSX) system containing Versatic 10 and LIX 63 in the presence of TBP modifier. However, the kinetic mechanism of the SSX system has not
been well understood, which is one of the key attributes for further improvements to make the SSX more competitive in practical applications compared to
conventional separation technology. In this project, it is proposed to define and characterise the kinetic behaviour for the SSX systems, to identify critical
conditions and factors contributed to its kinetic features, and to obtain a better understanding of the kinetic mechanism for potential improvements.
Skills/knowledge: It is essential for students to have the knowledge of chemistry, and desirable to have some experience in solvent extraction.
Supervisor: Wensheng Zhang
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Email: [email protected]


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