Supervisor & Student Awards

Supervisor & Student Awards

Supervisor & Student Awards

Supervisor & Student Award


Please contact Liam Cheney & Mariam Soomro  (2021 PGC Research Student Officers) via email to for any inquiries. 

2021 Research Supervisor & Student Awards 

The 2021 ARC PGC Student and Supervisor Awards are currently under design will be held. 

All awards information and applications will be released on the 16th of August, 2021. 

We look forward to celebrating the achievements of UNSW HDR students and supervisors despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic

2020 Outstanding Supervisor Awards 2020 Supervisor Awards
Scientia Professor Andrew MartinChristine LinhartProf. Mark Willcox
Angela MolesProfessor E James Kehoe
Jingling Xue
Robert A. TaylorMaitreyee Roy
Rakesh Joshi
Associate Professor Jill NewbyProfessor Angela NickersonProfessor Ben Newell
Jessica GrishamDr Jagnoor Jagnoor
Efrosini Deligianni
Joanne Bryant
Dr Pankaj Sharma
Jerry Greenfield
Justine Nolan
Christy NewmanVipul Agarwal
Kate Poole
Judith FlanaganElizabeth Chang
Adrienne Withall
Michael SalterRosemary Rayfuse
Irina Voineagu
Jianliang (Jack) YangMichael Janitz

Previous Recipients

You can view previous PGC Supervisor Award recipients from the following years:

Congratulations to the following 2020 Research Students

2020 Outstanding Student Awards

Sidra Sarwat

Sidra Sarwat received her bachelor’s degree in Optometry and Orthoptics from Rawalpindi Medical College, Pakistan, and MSc (Optometry) from UNSW, Australia. Currently, she is a PhD candidate under the supervision of Dr Maitreyee Roy, Scientia Prof Fiona Stapleton, Prof Mark Willcox and Prof Richard Tilley. She received University International Postgraduate Award to fund her PhD. Her PhD research is focused on the application of novel quantum dots (nanoparticles) to study dynamics of the tear film. She received three major awards during first six months of her PhD including student travel award, Joe and Janet Barr Early Career Cornea and Contact Lens Research Award by the American Academy of Optometry Foundation and Science Student EDI Award. She has been working as a teaching fellow and casual academic staff at UNSW since 2017. She also supervised many undergraduate research projects. She is also serving as a reviewer for peer review optometry journals.

Scarlet Kong

Scarlet is currently completing her PhD in the School of Materials Science and Engineering. Her research is on understanding how microstructural engineering impacts the electro-mechanical properties of piezoelectric transducer materials used in naval sonar. This project, in collaboration with DMTC Ltd., Thales Australia and the University of Wollongong is to develop the next-generation piezoelectric sonar systems with enhanced performance and large-scale processing capability. Aside from her PhD, Scarlet has been actively involved with UNSW and the wider community. She helps organise and run outreach workshops to engage high school students and the community about Materials Science and Engineering. And as a Student Ambassador for the Faculty of Science, she regularly shares her STEM journey to inspire high school students across Australia to pursue a STEM career and presents the various Science programs offered at UNSW.

Gavin J. Sutton

Gavin Sutton is a PhD candidate within the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences. Broadly, his research explores how gene expression is regulated within the human brain – that is, understanding which genes get switched on, the magnitude and dynamics of this activity, and their perturbation in neurological disorders like Fragile X or Autism Spectrum Disorder. He has featured as a co-author on three peer-reviewed publications, including one in Nature. Alongside his research, Gavin also serves on the student committee of the Sydney RNA Salon, and is a passionate teacher of human genomics.

Kerith-Rae Dias

Kerith-Rae is a mom of two and PhD student in Neurogenomics, researching the molecular mechanisms that drive variability in neurocognitive disorders using multi-omics and brain organoid models. She holds a BSc in Genetics, University of Auckland and a Master in Forensic Science, University of Western Australia. She trained at the Barts and the London Genome Centre, UK, managed the largest sequencing centre in the southern hemisphere at the Garvan, and first brought diagnostic WGS to Australia as Key Account Manager at Genome.One. Kerith-Rae has spoken at UNSW’s Medicine Diversity Debate and International Women’s Day 2020, highlighting intersectionality and advocating for women, mothers and POC in science. Her concept for a health tech start-up led her team to win second place in the UNSW Founders New Wave 2020 cohort. She chaired the Wellbeing Working Group on the Candidate Higher Degree Committee during COVID-19 and is Communications Chair of NeuRA’s EMCC, developing a Mentoring Program for NeuRA’s HDR students.

Axelle Marjolin

Axelle is a Scientia PhD Scholar at the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney, with over seven years’ experience in academic and applied research aimed at addressing social problems. Her research interests include social policy and social innovation, with a focus on the intersection of business and social change. Her doctoral research explores the experiences of Australian non-profit organisations with philanthropy-supported capacity building. Alongside her PhD, Axelle is a casual researcher at the Centre for Social Impact, UNSW Sydney and has been a member of the Arts and Social Sciences HDR Student Committee since 2018, and Chair in 2020. She was also the elected HDR Representative on the Arts and Social Sciences Faculty Board in 2020.  Axelle has co-authored 5 journal articles and over 20 reports and media contributions, most recently a guest contribution to a COVID-19 Special Edition of PhiLab’s (Canadian Philanthropy Partnership Research Network) journal, The PhiLanthropic Year.

Muhammed Ourang

I am MuhammEd Ourang, PhD candidate of Linguistics. I am researching on an endangered language of Iran, the Lari language which is my mother tongue. The language is spoken by nearly 100, 000 people in south of Iran and some other Persian Gulf countries. It has no writing system; children cannot learn Lari at schools and there is no media to promote the status quo of the language. Therefore, there is a dire need to preserve it from dying out. My thesis is aimed at writing the first reference grammar of the Lari language (with a focus on Aheli dialect). It includes a description of phonology, morphology and syntax of the language. Doing so, I can take the first small step in saving the dialect. Having recorded the data through interviews (50 of them) in Iran in 2018, I am analysing them for different chapters of thesis. I can also use the data in theatres, movies and documentaries in Aheli later on. Teaching Aheli to children at the city is another practical way to preserve the dialect which is my future plan. My supervisors are experts in this area and their constructive feedback always brightens the path ahead to me.

Shantanu Chakraborty

Shantanu Chakraborty has been recently awarded PhD in Transportation Engineering at UNSW Sydney. He has made outstanding contributions by integrating novel travel demand management strategies with traditional traffic congestion mitigation methods. He is one of the first to study the effect of exclusive lanes for connected and automated vehicles for a seamless transition to future mobility. His dissertation received outstanding reviews rewarding him with the ‘Dean’s award for outstanding PhD theses’. Beyond his own research, Shantanu has served the entire postgraduate research fraternity at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering as the President of the Civil Engineering Research Student Association (CERSA) for two years. He has notably assisted in sorting out research grievances and facilitating a positive academic and research environment conducive to high levels of engagement within the research community. His extremely good communication skills have been rewarded with the winning title of ASPIRE award and overall runner-up position at the 3-minute thesis competition at UNSW

Zainab Mustafa

Zainab Mustafa is a UNSW-CSIRO Industry PhD Scholarship holder supported by UNSW, CSIRO and DuPont Water Technologies and works in the UNESCO Centre for Membrane Science and Technology. Her research focuses on improving the management strategies for polymeric membrane filters towards the development of more efficient water treatment processes. She holds a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from UNSW and is passionate about humanitarian engineering after undertaking her undergraduate honours research on a project with Engineers Without Borders for clean water in Cambodia. Alongside her PhD, Zainab strives to improve postgraduate student experience by leading various social and professional initiatives while holding the student representative role on the Faculty Higher Degree Committee at UNSW. Some of her initiatives include the organisation of the Engineering Postgraduate Symposium 2019, Chemical Engineering Postgraduate Society, weekly sport events and various social events to encourage and facilitate communication, networking and well-being amongst postgraduate students

2020 Student Awards

Raghavi Bhoopathy

Raghavi is currently completing her PhD in the School of Renewable and Photovoltaic Energy Engineering at UNSW. Her research focuses on improving the lifespan of solar panels transforming solar energy into a more lucrative form of energy source. During her PhD, she developed the first-ever field inspection technique to investigate the failure modes in photovoltaic modules during their usual operation. The method overcomes the major challenge of requiring any electrical modification to the photovoltaic system. Raghavi’s extraordinary research skills are recognised through three peer reviewed journal publications and 12 conference publications with two invited speeches during her PhD. She made UNSW proud by winning the Best Poster Award in World Conference on Photovoltaic Energy Conversion in 2018, the world’s leading conference in solar energy. She was awarded Top Downloaded Article 2017-2018 certificate by WILEY publication for one of her publications. Her work was recognized with a featured article on the front cover of the Progress in Photovoltaics journal in 2020.

Buna Bhandari Bhattarai

Buna Bhandari is a final year PhD candidate at the School of Population Health, UNSW Sydney under the Australia Awards Scholarships. Her PhD research is focused on the management of cardiovascular diseases, especially hypertension using mHealth (mobile health) in Nepal. She is an HDR Student Executive Representative at the School of Population Health and a mentor under the Faculty of Medicine Peer mentoring program. Buna has been actively involved in organising multiple HDR events like academic workshops and career development seminars at the school. She has more than ten years of experience working as an academician and researcher in Nepal. She has authored book chapters, published multiple papers in various indexed journals and presented her work in national and international conferences. She also works as a peer reviewer for different BMC journals and serves as a guest facilitator for Author AID online course on research writing. She is a recipient of various awards during her candidature such as HDR Speed Mentoring Award, Medibank Fieldwork Grant, Australia Awards Professional Development Grant. When not working, you can find her reading books, meditating and exploring nature.

Luke Wicent Sy

Luke Sy is a PhD. candidate from the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, University of New South Wales (UNSW). His research interests include the state estimation, robotics, wearable sensors, machine learning, and biomedical engineering. His current research involves the development of wearable human motion capture systems. He likes working on multidisciplinary projects and is passionate about bringing research to reality/industry especially on the field of biomedical engineering. Prior to starting his PhD, he received his MS in Computer Science from Georgia Institute of Technology and BS in Electronics and Communications Engineering from the University of the Philippines Diliman

Zhiheng Zhao

Zhiheng is a full-scholarship recipient for both his Master and Ph.D. degrees. His research focuses on smart home energy management, cybersecurity on IoT technologies of smart homes, Zhiheng’s research outcome is potentially used as a key technique in smart meters at residential houses and saving energy costs for users. Zhiheng is currently the President of UNSW Cloud Communication Computing Club, apart from that, he co-founded CLOUD61 technology group, which provides a platform for engineering graduates to learn various cloud computing techniques and get facilitated with professional skills to industries. Zhiheng has been appointed as an overseas partner of Hangzhou HanBang Technology Consulting Co., Ltd. He is also a mentor for multiple incubators and startup projects. Zhiheng is building up his portfolio

Aya Hussein

Aya Hussein has recently completed her PhD in Computer Science from the School of Engineering and Information Technology, UNSW-Canberra. She received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Computer Engineering from Cairo University in 2011 and 2015. Her PhD focused on both Human Factors and Swarm Robotics where she studied trust, performance and transparency in human-swarm teaming. Aya has published several articles in highly-ranked outlets, acted as the student representative in the school's Research Leadership Group, and been the recipients of a number of awards and scholarships.

She is a member of both IEEE and HFES. She served as a reviewer for Computers in Human Behavior, IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems, IEEE Transactions on Cybernetics, and others.

Aya is currently appointed as a research associate in UNSW-Canberra where she is working on autonomous systems, human-swarm teaming, and advanced artificial intelligence technologies.

Revathy Mani

Revathy Mani started her PhD candidate in 2016 at the School of Optometry and Vision Science, UNSW Sydney under Asso. Prof Sieu Khuu and Dr Lisa Asper with UIPA Scholarship. Her area of research is to understand the relationship of cognitive processes behind eye movement deficits in Traumatic Brain Injury. She received her Bachelor (2002) and MPhil degree (2011) from Elite School of Optometry, affiliated to Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), India. She worked as an optometrist in the Binocular Vision & Neuro-optometry Clinic in Sankara Nethralaya (SN)-a tertiary eye care centre in India (2002-2016). She is the first fellow of American Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association (FNORA) from India. She is the recipient of the 2019 William C Ezell Fellowship Award from American Academy of Optometry Foundation and received several Travels Grants for national & international conferences including Association of Research in Vision & Ophthalmology (ARVO). She has many peer-reviewed publications in the field of binocular vision, eye movements and traumatic brain injury in leading optometry journals.


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Patrick Makuluni

Patrick is currently completing his Ph.D. in the school of Mineral and Energy Resources Engineering at UNSW. His research is building a software “digital time machine” to visualize how sedimentary basins looked through time in 3D. This software will facilitate cheaper and faster exploration for minerals and hydrocarbons. In 2018, he received the University International Postgraduate Award (UIPA) and Deep Earth Imaging Future Science Scholarships. He recently won the Best Energy Poster Award at the Australasian Exploration Geoscience Conference (AEGC 2019). He graduated with MSc in Mineral Exploration and Mining Geology (high distinction) in 2017 from Curtin University, WA. In 2012, he graduated with BSc in Civil Engineering from the University of Malawi, The Polytechnic. Besides research, he is the current president of the UNSW African Students Union, where he is championing the bridging and advancing of digital (software) skills of African students to put them on a competitive platform.

Ankita Singh

Ankita Singh recently completed her Ph.D. studies titled, ‘Computer vision and texture analysis of X-ray images of rocks’ in the School of Minerals and Energy Resources Engineering at UNSW, Sydney. She received the Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship for the duration of her studies. Her Ph.D. work focused on extending the current digital rock physics workflow by incorporating texture analysis techniques for rock characterization. Ankita was a 2019 UNSW Finalist for the 3-minute thesis competition and also, received the UNSW Engineering Student Service Award in 2017. Ankita has worked for Woodside Energy as a Data Science and Petrophysics Vacation Student during her degrees at UNSW. As a next step, Ankita aims to be more involved in the mining and energy industry by bringing in her data science skills and domain expertise to create a data-driven future. Read more about her passion for STEM:


Ranita Kirubakaran

Ranita is a St Vincent’s Clinical School PhD student of Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Sydney and is based in the Department of Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology, St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney. Her PhD work focuses on investigating methods to enable precision dosing of tacrolimus therapy critical to control rejection of organs transplanted into people with failed hearts and lungs. Ranita has established and successfully manage international collaborations which support and progress her research to ensure that it is internationally leading. She has published several peer-reviewed articles and is a recipient of multiple awards following presentations at national and international conferences during her PhD candidature. She has also received grants to support her travels to these conferences. Ranita has been volunteering within UNSW and NSW. She is actively involved in the Medicine Candidate Higher Degree Committee where she supports HDR candidates and contributes towards shaping HDR policies and activities at UNSW Medicine.

Musharaf Abbas

Musharaf Abbas is currently completing his PhD with the School of Material Science & Engineering at UNSW, Sydney. Musharaf received a Bachelor of Science in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering (University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore) followed by a masters in Materials Science and Engineering (Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics). His project at UNSW has involved a detailed understanding of the microstructure of coatings deposited onto metal substrates through thermal spraying. In studying these materials, he has garnered considerable expertise in materials characterization methods, such as scanning electron microscopy (SEM), focused ion beam (FIB) microscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), as well as the application of various modelling approaches to data analysis. His research contributions can be witnessed by his publication profile comprising of 21 international well-reputed journal publications and several international conferences, with over 270 citations.

Moonyong Kim

I am Moonyong Kim. My passion for solar energy started from my undergraduate studies at UNSW in 2012 and have been pursuing it through my PhD degree. My PhD topic was on understanding the mechanism of light-induced degradation in industrial silicon solar cells, which currently dominates 99% of the solar market. Considering solar power plants will grow to a Tera-Watt scale within a decade as the most sustainable option, a small fraction of power loss can lead to Giga-Watt losses in power. Therefore, it is important to understand the cause and formulate a solution. I am motivated to come up with solutions for climate change and global warming that we have been facing over the past decades and will continue to be impacted by well into the future. My plan is to contribute towards the development of renewable energy technology and policy as a part of a climate change solution.

Amr Omar

Amr Omar has completed his master's degree in professional engineering (Mechanical Engineering) with first-class honours from the University of Sydney in 2017, before starting his PhD at the University of New South Wales directly after. His research focuses on developing solar thermal systems and combining them with desalination processes to alleviate water scarcity in rural-arid regions. His thesis is an industry-funded project where its contributions are not only academic, but they have real-life outcomes. He has published his work in several peer-reviewed high impact factor journals and presented his work in different acclaimed international conferences. In addition, Elsevier invited him to co-author two chapters for their new "Solar-driven water treatment" book. He was also awarded first place in the Three Minutes Thesis (3MT) 2020 competition from the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, representing them in the inter-faculty heats. Overall, Amr's main goal is to provide a more clean, efficient, and cost-effective integration of solar-desalination systems to meet the ever-increasing energy-water demands.

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PGC Research Officer (Shared Position)

Liam CHENEY and Mariam SOOMRO