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PhD Scholarship – International Rapid Switch Initiative

Apply now Job no:504939
Area:Faculty Of Engineering, Architecture & Info Tech
Salary (FTE):APA Scholarship NON-BANDED ($27,082.00 - $27,082.00)
Work type:Full Time - Fixed Term, Full Time - Scholarship
Location: St Lucia, Brisbane

PhD Scholarship – International Rapid Switch Initiative

Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

Job Number: 504939


School of Chemical Engineering

The School of Chemical Engineering is an international leader in the chemical engineering field and has an excellent reputation, built over many decades at The University of Queensland.

We deliver quality programs and leadership in chemical engineering education, research and development, and expert consulting to support the process industries. Undergraduate teaching within the School focuses on the disciplines of chemical, biological, environmental and metallurgical engineering and postgraduate programs are available in growing fields including water, sustainable energy and petroleum engineering.

For more Information about the Centre, please visit:

The UQ Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation

The Centre mission is to stimulate engineering innovation towards the more sustainable production and utilisation of materials and energy, with a priority given to changes that can make a substantial contribution to global environmental and social sustainability challenges. Research at the Centre is interdisciplinary, with a strong techno-economic focus on the viability of industry transitions, delivered through collaboration with other UQ faculties and leading research partners worldwide. The Centre’s current projects span the spectrum from systems analysis, to fundamental investigations into game-changing technologies for energy, fuels and materials.

The International Rapid Switch initiative

The UQ Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation has established the global Rapid Switch initiative, in collaboration with the Andlinger Centre for Energy & Environment at Princeton University, and other partners in the USA, Europe, India and China. This Rapid Switch initiative seeks to identify, anticipate and resolve bottlenecks to change in social, technical and economic systems, so as to accelerate the world’s decarbonisation efforts.

While integrated modelling of decarbonisation pathways provide policy makers, industrialists and society with some sense of priorities for change, concerns are growing that such studies may be providing an unrealistic sense of assurance that the prospective transitions can be achieved in suitable time frames. As we look ahead to the enormous changes that will be required, many questions emerge.

Will we experience industrial bottlenecks – limits in critical material supplies, bottlenecks in manufacturing capacity and supply chains or will human and organizational capacity be sufficient to deliver the massive and rapid transformation in systems?

What social, behavioural and regulatory trends could affect the pace of change?

Could economic headwinds or financial constraints impact the rate of the transition?

Only by anticipating and overcoming these bottlenecks and constraints can we assure the transition proceeds at maximum pace.

The challenges in identifying and overcoming such bottlenecks seem daunting enough for countries with prosperous economies, such as the USA, Europe and Australia. In the developing world, those challenges are compounded by the potential conflict with development objectives aiming to improve livelihoods rapidly, and help over a billion people emerge from poverty. Solutions will have to navigate the intersection between behavioural, socio-political and economic influences, along with engineering innovation, execution and rapid industrial expansion. Inter-disciplinary analysis, and collaboration between nations, institutions, industries and communities, will be critical to better address questions about the pace of the transition to a decarbonized economy. 

The Rapid Switch team brings together skills in techno-economic evaluation, resource economics, qualitative and quantitative analysis in social and behavioural sciences, and systems modelling using a variety of methods (including equilibrium economics; least cost optimisation; system dynamics; Bayesian networks).

The role

PhD opportunities exist at The University of Queensland (UQ), for full time students undertaking research projects focused on accelerating the world’s decarbonisation efforts, through identifying and resolving bottlenecks to the rate of change in technical, social and economic systems. This is a cross-faculty initiative led by the UQ Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation.

UQ invites applications from PhD candidates to work on key research within the Rapid Switch challenge. This is a cross-faculty initiative led by the UQ Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation, and individual student projects can be aligned with the most appropriate UQ School or Institute. Opportunities may exist to collaborate with our industry and international research partners.

We are seeking proposals for innovative new investigations into decarbonisation bottlenecks. These may address, but are not limited to, our current priority questions that include:

  1. Minimising socio-economic disruption caused by the early retirement of legacy fossil fuel assets.
  2. The role of electrification for clean-cooking transitions in developing regions.
  3. Development trajectories for emerging economies such as India, Southeast Asia and Africa, and their influence on energy demand growth.
  4. Unique challenges for deep decarbonisation of CO2-intensive heavy industries such as cement, steel and fertiliser production.
  5. The potential for human health and/or local environmental pressures to boost or constrain greenhouse gas mitigation in developing countries. 
  6. The role of policy, trade, finance and capital flows in stimulating or constraining the rollout of decarbonisation technologies.
  7. Modelling methodologies that are better able to identify and reflect bottlenecks in the rate of socio-economic and technical system change.

Applicants with formal qualifications and expertise in the following disciplines are encouraged to apply:

  • Engineering
  • Energy Systems Analysis
  • Economics
  • Business
  • Political Science
  • Social & Behavioural Sciences

The person

The applicant should possess excellent academic credentials, including a primary Honours degree qualification (Honours Class 1 or Class 2A) or a Masters degree in a relevant professional area.

You should demonstrate good oral and written communication skills, interest in high quality research, along with self-motivated and independent thinking. You should have the ability to work both independently and collaboratively within a multidisciplinary team.


This offer is for a scholarship top-up of $5,000 per annum available for successful PhD Candidates for up to 3.5 years. Top-up scholarships are available to domestic and international candidates, on condition of the recipient receiving an unconditional admission to the University and a full scholarship.

Selected applicants will be provided with assistance to apply for a competitive UQ scholarship, or a domestic equivalent scholarship, for stipend and tuition support The duration of the candidacy is 3 years with 2 possible extensions each for up to 6 months (PPL 4.80.01 UQ Research Scholarships).


To discuss this role please contact Dr Joe Lane, on +61-7-3346 6462 or  

To submit an application, use the Apply button below. All applicants must supply the following documents: Cover letter and Resume.

For information on completing the application process click here.

Applications Closing Date

20th September 2018 11.55pm eastern standard time

Applications close: E. Australia Standard Time

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