HDR Scholarship - Carbon sequestration monitoring technology - groundwater and soil gas interactions at a trial CO2 injection site

Applications now open. A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'Carbon sequestration monitoring technology - groundwater and soil gas interactions at a trial CO2 injection site'.

Project Supervisor

Associate Supervisor


Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus

Research topic

Interested in environmental performance of carbon sequestration engineering?

This PhD scholar will work with multi-disciplinary researchers in the Deakin University led by School of Engineering and working with our industry partner the CO2CRC and several leading researchers. This research will develop advanced tracer tools for groundwater and soil gas interactions to provide assurance that injected CO2 is sequestered in deep aquifers without influencing shallow and surface environmental systems.

The research outcomes would be new data analytical workflows and technologies to improve evaluation of hydro-geomechanical parameters at strata and site scale, and over time. These tools are to complement and extend tools developed in collaboration with other researchers at the CO2CRC trail site.

Project aim

This PhD will focus on the complex interactions of shallow groundwater with soil gas in a farming area where CO2 is injected into deep saline aquifers. The project will involve fieldwork at the Otway’s National Research Facility near the coast, located south-west of Melbourne, Australia.  The PhD project will aim to:

  • Verify current analytical technologies and improve monitoring technologies and workflows for complex environments, working as part of a team to provide monitoring assurance of carbon sequestration performance.  This could include developing improved sampling grids, sampling tools and data analysis-statistical approaches.
  • Characterise and quantify variability that occurs in soil gas and groundwater quality at farm and sub-catchment scale, and variations over time, if any.
  • Evaluate hydrogeochemical processes that occur within shallow aquifers and the overlying soil zone that can be attributed to seasonal changes in climatic conditions, water table depth, land use practices and other contributing factors.
  • Examine carbon content and type in soils and shallow groundwater (e.g. gaseous- dissolved, inorganic, organic), and the relationships between carbon cycling in soil with moisture content, soil clay content, and matrix geochemistry.
  • Develop and apply leading practices in engineering and science to address any emerging issues and research opportunities related to carbon cycling, soil-gas, and groundwater quality for beneficial uses.

The PhD scholar will benefit from many professional development opportunities as part of a research team at Deakin University, the CO2CRC and research collaborators across Australia and Internationally. The PhD scholar will be supported to participate in industry workshops, research conferences, and to be an integral part of a growing School of Engineering at Deakin University.

The PhD project will include the opportunity to travel, at least two major field sampling campaigns each year (for soil gas and groundwater), laboratory analysis of samples, and develop new skills in data analysis and visualisation.

The supervisory and research team at Deakin University is ready to share many years of professional experience in mentoring the PhD scholar, led by Professor Wendy Timms. Co-supervisors will include Dr Svetlana Stevanovic and research fellow Dr Bill Howcroft (both School of Engineering), with analytical technical support by Dr Damien Callahan (School of Life and Environmental Science) and laboratory staff in the School of Engineering.

The PhD scholar will be based primarily at the Waurn Ponds campus of Deakin University, located near the Surf coast and Greater Geelong growth area, south-west of Melbourne, Victoria. Living in this area includes quality life-work balance and opportunities for affordable housing, with easy access by train to downtown Melbourne.

Important dates

Applications will remain open until a candidate has been appointed.


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $28,092 per annum tax exempt (2020 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • Be a domestic candidate (domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship).
  • Meet Deakin's PhD entry requirements
  • Be enrolling full time and hold an honours degree (first class) or an equivalent standard master's degree with a substantial research component.

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page for further information.

Additional desirable criteria include:

  • Degree qualification in Environmental Engineering, Chemical Sciences, Water Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Hydrogeology or related technical discipline.
  • Provide details of capability or aptitude in water quality and/or gas analysis using various chemical methods in the field and laboratory. For example, list chemical analytical experience and software experience including level of aptitude for each (Basic, Proficient, Advanced).
  • Provide evidence of their reporting/publications track record or aptitude for written communication. Provide information on work placements and professional roles.

How to apply

Please apply using the expression of interest form.


Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Professor Wendy Timms

Professor Wendy Timms
Professor, Environmental Engineering
Email Wendy Timms
+61 3 522 78692