Available PhD projects

We are seeking highly motivated and intelligent PhD candidates to join a unique multi-disciplinary team to work on projects outlined below.

  • Candidates should have a minimum of a 4 year Bachelors degree which includes a major project in their final year.
  • A Master degree in chemical engineering, bioengineering, chemistry, material science, or other relevant fields would be advantages.
  • The candidates must demonstrate that his/her current level of English language proficiency meets Monash’s minimum entry requirements, for instance, the minimum IELTS overall score of 6.5 and writing score of 6.0 (https://www.monash.edu/graduate-research/future-students/apply)

For further information of these project, and expressions of interest, please email Dr Lizhong He with your CV and your full academic transcripts.

Project 1 - Engineering nanostructured enzyme complexes for conversion of cellulose into sugars

This research will deliver a new technology combining bioengineering and nanotechnology, building naturally on research strengths at Monash University and CSIRO in order to engineer enzymes in a new nanostructured form for depolymerisation of crystalline cellulose.

In this project, we will develop novel enzyme-nanoparticle complexes that orientate enzymes at the surface of the particle to provide optimal access and cleavage of insoluble cellulose and, in contrast to alternative approaches, maintain high enzyme activities. Furthermore, due to the inherent magnetic properties of the particles, the enzyme-nanoparticle complexes can be recycled for multiple uses.

This low-cost and reusable technique will significantly decrease the cost of converting biomass into fermentable sugars, which can be further converted into biofuels and products. We have established a nanoparticle immobilisation technique (Monash) and a highly promising enzyme mixture (CSIRO) to pursue the goal of engineering nanostructured enzyme complexes with high activity, ease of use/reuse and stability. The PhD candidate will be involved in multidisciplinary research which spans nanotechnology, protein engineering, bioprocessing, biochemistry and energy production.

Project 2 - Engineering enzymes for advanced biocatalysis

Enzymes, particularly immobilized enzymes, are ubiquitous in processes and products ranging from food and chemical processing to bio-energy and water treatment. The research topic will engineer enzymes with advanced functions by genetic modification and enzyme immobilization. This research project will comprise three components including mutation of enzymes and their production, enzyme immobilization using nanoparticles, and activity analysis of the immobilized enzymes. It will identify key factors controlling orientation and density of immobilized enzymes at the interface. Using a multidisciplinary approach combining surface chemistry and advanced biophysical techniques, the project is expected to discover new knowledge and methods for designing and engineering enzymes tailored for immobilization onto nanoparticles. Working closely with other team members, the PhD student will take part in exciting research towards significant advances in novel biocatalyst strategies by integrating nanotechnology and bioengineering.

Project 3: Engineering surface-binding peptides for functionalization of nanoparticles

Application of nanoparticles, particularly their biological application, strongly relies on successful surface functionalization of nanoparticles. This research project will engineer surface-binding peptides with selective binding ability to functionalize nanoparticles. The research will comprise three components including design of peptides and their production, functionalization of nanoparticles by peptides, and their applications for biocatalysis and drug delivery. The project will identify key factors controlling binding strength and selectivity of designed peptides on nanoparticle surfaces. Using a multidisciplinary approach combining protein engineering and advanced biophysical techniques, the project is expected to discover new knowledge and methods for designing and engineering peptides tailored for binding nanoparticles. Working closely with other team members, the PhD student will take part in exciting research towards significant advances in novel functionalization strategies by integrating nanotechnology and bioengineering.