PhD project opportunities

Monash IT is currently offering a number of graduate research projects and scholarship opportunities. We’re looking for eligible applicants to undertake research projects within our research areas. Applications from high calibre candidates are welcome at any time.

Finding a project and a research supervisor

As well as checking out the list of current projects that follows there are two other places you can explore to inspire your own research project thinking they are our Research strengths and the Research of our world class Supervisors.

Applying for PhD projects

Unless there is a specified closing project date applications for these projects and scholarships are linked to the Monash Graduate Education scholarship rounds. All applications for admission and scholarships are made online. See How to apply.

Projects and Scholarships

= These Projects already have designated scholarship funding available. Either tuition fee waivers (either full or partial), or stipends, or both. Contact the supervisor/s for more information.

MGE = Monash Graduate Education scholarships

Funding Project Title Supervisor/s

Values-based software engineering

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In a keynote speech at ICSE 2015, Grady Booch put forward the notion that “every line of code has a moral and ethical implication”. This has been starkly illustrated by recent events, such as the Volkswagen emissions software system scandal, which has been described as “a complete abdication of law and social responsibility” . The realization of the far reaching impact of ‘digital’ on politics, society, and the environment is not new and is shared by many academics and practitioners. However, despite these efforts, it remains the case that the human values embedded into software or into the design of human-computer interfaces are usually invisible, except when the far-reaching consequences of their breach manifest.

This PhD project will investigate the notion of values-based software engineering and will develop tools, methodologies and techniques to ensure that human values are embedded into software development practices. The project will involve case studies of large software systems, the development of new software methodologies for values-based software, and evaluation of these methodologies on the case studies.

Jon Whittle

Ars Incognita – Interfacing Creative Research with Digital Cultural Heritage

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Vince Dziekan
Tom Chandler
Misha Myers

Research strength
sensiLab

Creating Digital Cultural and Heritage Experiences in the Public Realm

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Vince Dziekan
Tom Chandler
Misha Myers

Research strength
sensiLab

Virtual Heritage Project

We are seeking candidates from diverse backgrounds - digital media artists, creative writers, 3D designers, heritage professionals, educators, media producers and games developers - who want to direct their interests in culture toward the realization of new and original works.

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Tom Chandler
Vince Dziekan
Jon McCormack

Research strength
sensiLab

Innovative Use of Contemporary Games Technologies

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Matt Butler

Research strength
sensiLab

Development of big data-driven bioinformatics approaches and tools for cost-effective identification of potential post-translational modification types and sites in the human proteome

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Through efficient knowledge discovery and machine learning of currently available large-scale experimental PTM data, this joint PhD proposal aims to develop and deliver machine learning approaches and bioinformatics tools that can be efficiently used to detect all potential functional PTM types and sites likely to occur in the whole human proteome.

Geoff Webb
James Whisstock
Jiangning Song

Research strength
Computational Biology

PhD Scholarship for Causal Explanation with Bayesian Networks project

Kevin Korb

Research strength
Machine Learning

MGE

Genomics of Disease

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The cost effective next generation nucleotide sequencing technologies provide researchers with genomic data with remarkable precision, at unprecedented rates. For the first time in human history, this has resulted in an ability to investigate at high resolution the molecular mechanisms driving diseases such as cancer, among other heritable diseases. The focus of this project will be to identify the mutations and aberrations in the host genome that drive the disease manifestation and the underlying evolutionary mechanisms responsible for the progression, metastasis (in case of Cancer), and relapse during the life span of the disease.

Geoff Webb
Reza Haffari

Research strength
Computational Biology

Simulating bee foraging: how behavioural diversity in bees interacts with environmental conditions

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Recent investigations on pollinator-plant interactions show that the learnt flower preferences of important pollinators like bees is dependent upon both flower temperature, and regional ambient temperatures. This shows that local and global changes in climatic conditions may directly influence how certain plants are pollinated. This project is producing computer simulations to reveal how climate change may directly influence flower evolution in the future, and how the management of environmentally and economically important plants can be modelled to inform reliable decision making about this important resource.

Alan Dorin

Research strength
Computational Biology

Evolutionary modelling of ecosystems

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In this project the candidate will apply evolutionary algorithms to accurately model real ecosystem evolutionary dynamics, especially those concerning the relationship between insects and flowering plants.

Alan Dorin

Research strength
Computational Biology

MGE

Dynamic Descriptive Interfaces for Participatory Community Archival Networks

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Record keeping and archiving are fundamental infrastructural components supporting community information, self-knowledge and memory needs. If developed in community-driven ways, they can contribute to resilient communities and cultures and pan- or trans-community endeavours, whereas traditional institutional approaches can often lead to community disconnection and disempowerment. Currently the archival records relating to many communities are fragmented, dispersed and dysfunctional. Spread across archival institutions, they appear as unmanaged, invisible and inaccessible from a community-centred perspective. Traditional archival description and access frameworks have focused on visibility and accessibility for scholars and researchers, causing many community-driven archives to resist the collecting activities of institutions wary of losing control and access to their records.

The Resilient Cultures Theme of the IT for Resilient Communities Flagship Research Program addresses R&D challenges relating to:

  • developing systems that capture, integrate, preserve, and make available community knowledge, and preserve cultural heritage
  • using innovative and leading edge technologies to build multimedia systems for visualising and animating culture, archiving oral memory, and helping communities to work with government and institutions on their own terms.

This project focuses on the metadata needs associated with:

  • building Sustainable Living Archives enabling long-term preservation, cross-generational transfer and interactive use of community knowledge, memory and culture
  • developing Information and Memory Infrastructure to support resilient communities and community-based scholarship
  • innovative use of IT to visualise and document cultural heritage.

The successful candidate will have an excellent academic track record in archival science. Strong IT skills and experience of working with communities would be highly advantageous.

Joanne Evans
Sue McKemmish

Research strength
IT for Resilient Communities

MGE

Improved Statistical Models of Document Corpora for Text Retrieval

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At the heart of modern Web search systems lie relatively simple non-linear functions that rank documents by their similarity to query keywords. Despite the criticality of these text retrieval functions, our theoretical understanding of them is somewhat limited in comparison to that of other non-linear models employed in Machine Learning. The BM25 function for instance, arguably the most effective text retrieval function, is based on a relatively ad-hoc combination of empirically derived heuristics, with little in the way of clear theoretical underpinning. The aim of this project is to develop the missing theory through the application of sophisticated statistical techniques to the modelling of text documents from a large Web crawl corpus.

Recent advances in Language Modeling have shown that hierarchical non-parametric models such as Pitman-Yor Processes [3] can be used to appropriately model power-law behaviour in natural language. This behaviour exhibits itself as “word burstiness”, whereby occurrences of the same term are not evenly distributed across the corpus but rather tend to co-occur in a small number of documents. Correctly modelling burstiness is important for accurate retrieval since it determines the amount of information that term counts carry with respect to the probable meaning of each document. This project will investigate advanced statistical models capable of modelling observed variations in burstiness across terms in a document corpus. The investigation will result in better theoretical understanding of textual data and improved Web search algorithms.

Mark Carman
Wray Buntine

Research strength
Machine Learning

Learning from big data

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As data quantities continue to rapidly grow there is ever increasing demand for efficient and effective machine learning techniques for analysing very large datasets. This project is based on the hypothesis that large data quantity calls for quite different types of learning algorithms to small data quantity. Specifically, there is less need to control learning variance and greater need to minimise learning bias. This project will develop computationally efficient low bias learning algorithms suited for effective learning from big data.

Geoff Webb

Research strength
Machine Learning

MGE

Non-parametric Bayesian Models for Text

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Increasingly, non-parametric Bayesian statistical modelling is being used to model the complex, structured aspects of text: grammar, part of speech, semantic content, etc. This is especially useful in semi-supervised contexts, where only limited tagging is available. This project will apply recent non-parametric methods to achieve semi-supervised learning in some text problem.

Reza Haffari
Wray Buntine

Research strength
Machine Learning

MGE

Statistical models of documents and text to support understanding

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Various models of documents and text have been proposed that address different aspects of the content: the linguistic content (natural language and named entities), the document structure (sections, paragraphs), the topical content (issues, themes), and the argumentation and affective content (sentiment). Probabilistic models using latent variables give state of the art for some of these aspects, and for others they are near state of the art. This project will consider some subset of these aspects and build a combined probabilistic model that pushes the boundaries along one aspect. The project will explore the model's effects on measurable tasks such as information retrieval, language processing or document compression.

This is an abstract project in the sense that the initial outcome will be a stronger model of a document that can be subsequently used in other tasks. The scope of the project can be varied in that the focus could be extended to include the development of the task itself. The main task we consider is the interpretation or understanding of a large document or small corpus: how can we lay out the key aspects on a small website to aid human understanding.

Reza Haffari
Wray Buntine

Research strength
Machine Learning

MGE

Real-time data acquisition for adaptive crowd modelling

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This PhD project is part of a larger collaborative project between the faculties of IT, Engineering, and Science which develops methods for reliable multi-scale modelling of crowd dynamics for disaster prevention.

This project aims to develop methods that support planning and prediction of crowd movements based on data from past events as well as adaptive planning for live events as they unfold. This two-fold approach will facilitate superior risk management in urban design and improved emergency response planning. The key to achieving these aims are multi-scale modelling methods together with high performance simulation and optimisation algorithms specifically designed for these computational models.

The proposed PhD project works at the interface between adaptive optimization methods and real-time data acquisition for these. It will investigate suitable adaptive optimization methods and their data requirements, possible ways to acquire the required real-time crowd movement data via a variety of sources and on different timescales (mobile phone activity, traffic flow data, visual flow data, social media activity, etc), data fusion from such sources, and it will investigate the comparative utility of these data sources for effective and flexible disaster management.

Aldeida Aleti 
Bernd Meyer

Research strength
Modelling, Optimisation and Visualisation

MGE

Immersive 3d generative modelling as an educational tool

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The project will develop an immersive environment for 3d generative modelling for children.3d printing is now readily available and has proven to be a very successful tool to engage kids with information technology. This has been recognized by industry and academia and a number of 3d modelling environments for kids, even for primary school age, have appeared.

However, the ones that are conceptually simple are overly simplistic in their modelling approach. Simply said, kids can model in a much better and much more versatile way with Lego than with any virtual environment. One of the major hurdles for children is the conceptual mapping of the on-screen 2d world to the intended 3d object. Another one is to decompose an intended step of 3d manipulation into a sequence of 2d interactions. Surprisingly, none of the modelling environments aimed at children uses immersive 3d visualization and interaction, even though these technologies have now become inexpensive and readily available.

A second, related technology that has proven to be very successful at engaging kids is generative and parametric arts, i.e. the generation of art objects by writing programs that create them (or modify a seed object) rather than by direct manipulation of (virtual) materials. Educationally, the big attraction of this technology is that it bridges from pure use of IT to the world of programming. There is any number of educational tools available for generative arts in 2d, and some of these, in particular Processing, are extremely popular and in wide use. However, almost none are available for 3d modelling. The few that exist, like Grasshopper, are parts of complex professional tool suites for adults.

The project will bring these two areas together by creating an immersive environment for 3d generative modelling for children. This will open new educational opportunities for children and will generate new insights into how children interact with and conceptualise 3d worlds.

Alan Dorin
Bernd Meyer

Research strength
sensiLab

IITB-Monash Research Academy

Please note there are also a number of research projects for prospective Indian based students are available for study at the IITB-Monash Research Academy.