PhD scholarship: Revolutionising sludge management turning costly waste into a safe product


Enrolment status New students
Student type Domestic students
Level of study Higher Degree by Research
Study area Agriculture and Environment, Engineering and Computing, Science and Mathematics
HDR funding type Living stipend scholarship, Tuition Scholarship
Scholarship value $28,597 per annum (2021 rate), indexed annually
Scholarship duration 3.5 years with the possibility of 1 extension in line with UQ and RTP Scholarship Policy
Number awarded 2
Opening date 21 July 2021
Closing date 26 September 2021


Supervisor – Dr Shihu Hu

Two PhD positions are available as part of a Cooperative Research Centres Project (CRC-P) titled “Revolutionising sludge management turning costly waste into a safe product”. This project aims to develop innovative biotechnology at bench, pilot, and full scales, to turn waste sludge into valuable resources such as biogas for energy, and high quality biosolids--a valuable soil fertiliser.

Biosolids from sewage treatment are a problematic waste due to low product quality and high volume. However, biosolids production will substantially increase with population growth and opportunities for co-digestion with organic waste at sewage treatment plants. This CRC-P brings together two major water utilities, world-leading researchers, resource-recycling technology and service providers, and the state government regulatory agency, to develop a suite of market-ready technologies that will (1) substantially increase capacity of existing treatment infrastructure, (2) produce high quality biosolids suitable for unrestricted use as soil fertilizer, and (3) increase bioenergy recovery from wastewater and organic waste.

This CRC-P project involves collaborative efforts from universities (UQ), water utilities (Urban Utilities, WA Water Corporation), engineering company (Aquatec Maxcon), technology end user (Arkwood and REMONDIS JV) and government authorities (Department of Environmental and Science, Queensland State Government). This project is managed by Urban Utilities. Urban Utilities is responsible for delivering drinking water, recycled water and sewerage services to 610,600 residential properties and 30,500 commercial properties in South East Queensland. That’s over 1.5 million customers making Urban Utilities one of Australia’s largest retail distributors.

Multidisciplinary Training will be provided for this PhD position, encompassing environmental engineering, microbiology (molecular and -omics techniques), bioprocess design, control and optimization. The candidates will work at ACWEB/UQ.

A working knowledge of reactor operation, environmental microbiology, and environmental chemistry would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

Research Environment

UQ ranks in the top 50 as measured by the Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities. The University also ranks 46 in the QS World University Rankings, 42 in the US News Best Global Universities Rankings, 66 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and 54 in the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

The Australian Centre of Water and Environmental Biotechnology (ACWEB, formerly AWMC) is an internationally renowned centre of excellence in innovative water technology and management. We deliver six interlinked programs, including next generation urban water technologies, integrated urban water management, sewer management, nexus of urban water, health and environment, resource efficient agri-industry and environmental biotechnology.

The centre has strong collaborative linkages with industry and an outstanding academic publication record, publishing on average more than 100 papers a year in high quality journals including the most prestigious multidisciplinary journals including Nature and Science, and top discipline journals such as Water Research and Environmental Science and Technology.


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

Before you get started

If this scholarship has rules, download and read them.

How to apply

To apply for admission and scholarship, follow this link. 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 ‘SLUDGE-HU’ in 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.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field/s of chemical or environmental engineering, or microbiology, or chemistry and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of environmental microbiology and research experience is highly desirable.


Dr Zhiyao Wang

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.