PhD scholarship: Development of a computational framework for the dynamic interaction of fluids and solids during resource extraction


Enrolment status New students
Student type Domestic students, International students
Level of study Higher Degree by Research
Study area Engineering and Computing
HDR funding type Living stipend scholarship, Top-up Scholarship
Scholarship value $28,092 per annum (2020 rate), indexed annually. A top-up of $5,000 per annum for up to 3.5 years is also available.
Scholarship duration Three years with the possibility of two 6-month extensions in approved circumstances
Opening date 9 September 2020
Closing date 23 September 2020


Research environment

Dr Christopher Leonardi conducts his research in partnership with the UQ Centre for Natural Gas and the Centre for Energy Futures, where the latter is housed within the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering. He leads a team of approximately 15 researchers, comprised of postdoctoral research fellows, PhD and MPhil candidates, and Honours thesis students.

Dr Leonardi's team has formed a number of collaborative research partnerships within UQ (Mechanical and Mining Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Centre for Natural Gas), within Australia (University of New South Wales, Deakin University), and worldwide (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, University of Alberta, Friedrich Alexander University, Swansea University, University of Tehran). The group is well connected to industry, with current partners including Shell, BHP, Origin Energy, Arrow Energy, and Santos.

Dr Leonardi's expertise focuses on the computational modelling of complex fluid-solid interaction problems for oil and gas production, which is of direct relevance to this research. His research publications in this area includes Q1 outlets such as the Physics of Fluids, the International Journal of Multiphase Flow, the International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, and Computers and Mathematics with Applications.

The project

The aim of this project is to develop, implement, and apply large-scale computational models of hydraulic fracturing in coal seams to predict the improvement in reservoir permeability. Hydraulic fracturing is used to enhance the productivity of unconventional courses of hydrocarbons (e.g. coal seams, shale formations). In coals, this process is complicated by the interaction of induced fractures with the natural fracture network, which makes most industry standard tools for designing and predicting hydraulic fractures inadequate. A better understanding of fracture behaviour in coals will facilitate improved stimulation plan designs. This project will focus on computational models. It will use the finite element-discrete element method to capture the geomechanical response of the relevant geological units. A background porous media flow solver, which is coupled to the FEM-DEM code, will represent the flow of fluid in the fractures and matrix. History matching and or steering of the developed model(s) using diagnostic fracture injection test (DFIT) data, or similar, will also be performed. This project will use commercial and open-source computer codes, which will be deployed on compute facilities housed within the Faculty and at national facilities.


To be eligible, you must meet the entry requirements for a higher degree by research.

Applications are closed.

Before you get started

If this scholarship has rules, download and read them.

How to apply

To apply for admission and scholarship, follow the link on the upper right of this page. There is no separate application for scholarship because you will have the opportunity to request scholarship consideration on the application for admission.

Before submitting an application you should:

When you apply, please ensure that under the scholarships and collaborative study section you:

  1. Select ‘My higher degree is not collaborative’
  2. Select 'I am applying for, or have been awarded a scholarship or sponsorship'.
  3. Select ‘Other’, then ‘Research Project Scholarship’ and type in ‘LEONARDIin the 'Name of scholarship' field.

See an example of what you have to do

Learn more about applying for a higher degree by research at UQ

Selection criteria

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant’s previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of computational fluid and solid mechanics, and software development for HPC applications would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field/s of computational mechanics and the potential for scholastic success.

A background in coupled fluid-solid mechanics, and the ability to develop computational codes for deployment on high performance computers (HPC), are both highly desirable.

Applications are closed.


Dr Christopher Leonardi
+61 7 3365 3761
Applications are closed.

Terms and conditions

Read the policy on UQ Research Scholarships.

A domestic part-time student with carer’s responsibilities, a medical condition or a disability, which prevents them from studying full time may be eligible for scholarship consideration, on a case by case basis.

Applications are closed.