If you are interested in joining the lab, please see below for information. We support and train researchers at all levels of study. For exceptional candidates, scholarships and/or stipends may be available.

Please see below for a list of current research project opportunities. For posted projects, you should email Dr Aaron Opdyke (aaron.opdyke@sydney.edu.au) with a short statement of interest, CV, and copies of academic transcripts. Associated scholarships are noted below each project, if available.

I also welcome innovative research proposals. Please email a one page research proposal which outlines the merit, context, and potential research methods. You should consult the University of Sydney Research Proposal Guidelines. Proposed topics should relate to one of primary themes of the Lab. In addition, please include your academic transcripts for all completed degrees and your CV. 

You should consult the University of Sydney Admission Office for steps to apply for admission.

Please note that ME and MPE projects will be emailed out by the Capstone Project Coordinator prior to the start of semester you are commencing CIVL5020/5021/5022/5222/5223. Potential projects will be marked as “Humanitarian Engineering” and may include one or more other disciplines. If you are interested in a project, please ensure that you promptly contact Dr Aaron Opdyke (aaron.opdyke@sydney.edu.au) to discuss your interests as I am only able to supervise a limited number of students to maximise the quality of supervision. You should include a few words on why you are interested in the project as well as a copy of your CV. 

Please note that honours projects will be emailed out by the Honours Coordinator prior to the start of semester you are commencing . Potential projects will be marked as “Humanitarian Engineering.” If you are interested in a project, please ensure that you promptly contact Dr Aaron Opdyke (aaron.opdyke@sydney.edu.au) to discuss your interests as I am only able to supervise a limited number of students to maximise the quality of supervision. You should include a few words on why you are interested in the project as well as a copy of your CV. 

Current Postgraduate Research Opportunities

Please see below for a list of current projects. Previous work or volunteer experience in international contexts is desirable. Most projects will involve periods of time (months) living in the field conducting research. Candidates must be able and willing to travel and live overseas in developing countries (maximum 12 months over the degree). For PhD students, a full scholarship is available from the University of Sydney that can be used for either student fees or a living stipend that is equivalent to $35,000 p.a. (2020 rate) for 3.5 years. Prospective students are also encouraged to apply for other competitive scholarship funding. Please contact aaron.opdyke@sydney.edu.au for more information. 

Timber framing of house walls and roof

Scaling Safe Construction in Humanitarian Shelter

This research seeks to investigate strategies to scale safe shelter and housing construction practice in the aftermath of disasters and conflicts in developing communities. Experience from post-disaster rebuilding and reconstruction estimates that upwards of 90% of households self-recover after a disaster, however decision-making of these households is not well understood. Potential areas of focus may include household social and economic motivations for safer construction, performance of non-engineered building components, and ‘self-recovery’ strategies in humanitarian shelter programming. Findings will offer policy recommendations to extend the impact of humanitarian shelter assistance in developing communities.

Haitians set up impromtu tent city after 2010 earthquake

Neighbourhood Approaches in Humanitarian Programming

This research seeks to unpack area-based, settlements, and neighbourhood approaches in humanitarian programming used in disasters and conflicts, exploring the effectiveness of these strategies in promoting recovery of communities. Potential areas of focus will include unpacking organizing principles of integrated humanitarian approaches, cross-case comparison of community recovery outcomes, or organizational change of humanitarian organizations to adapt to new delivery mechanisms. Findings will inform best practice for international donors and humanitarian organizations seeking to fund and implement programs using one of the considered approaches.

Digital colors fade to aerial image of earth

Scientific and Local Knowledge in Disaster Risk Assessments

Understanding disaster risk can be a challenging in data scarce environments. This research seeks to understand how low-cost technologies can be used to leverage local knowledge knowledge to generate action on disaster risk reduction. Possible topics may new applications to collect hazard and vulnerability data as well how and why risk information is given legitimacy. The research unpack how these current adoption processes can be leveraged to increase the uptake of risk assessments in local planning.

Outline of people standing in front of fire

Reducing Fire Risk in Informal Settlements

Globally, fires cause over 130,000 deaths each year. This research seeks to analyse underlying demographical, topographical, environmental factors as well as fire incidence data to inform effective risk reduction measures. The research will identify open source datasets that are useful for building a spatial first risk tool using GIS as well as propose primary data collection that may be needed to further validate models. Findings will inform urban fire risk policy to create safer settlements.

Scholarships and Funding

There a number of scholarships and funding opportunities offered by the University of Sydney and the Faculty of Engineering. Prospective students are encourage to apply for competitive scholarships offered through the University of Sydney upon application. More information can be found on the University of Sydney Scholarships Office.

Australia Awards for Developing Country Applicants

Australia Awards are prestigious international scholarships and fellowships offering the next generation of global leaders an opportunity to undertake study, research and professional development in Australia and for high-achieving Australians to do the same overseas.The Australia Awards are a whole-of-government initiative bringing together scholarships and fellowships administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Education and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.Australia Awards strive to develop leadership potential and stimulate lasting change by empowering a global network of talented individuals through high-quality education experiences in Australia and overseas. They build an engaged and influential global network of leaders, advocates and change-makers and establish a network of ambassadors for Australia and its first-class education system across the world.

Australia Awards Scholarships are a highly valued form of development cooperation between Australia and partner countries with which Australia has a bilateral aid program.

This program gives partner countries the opportunity to strengthen their human resource capacity by offering scholarships to people within key institutions to undertake tertiary studies in Australia in areas relevant to the country’s development needs.

Scholarships are primarily for postgraduate study. However, a limited number of undergraduate scholarships are available in specific countries. Applicants need to satisfy both the general eligibility criteria and specific criteria established for each country

Further information

For more information about Australia Awards, including the scholarship benefits, visit University of Sydney student website.

For details on the application process and country-specific eligibility criteria, visit the Australia Awards website.

Australia Awards Pacific Scholarships provide opportunities for people from some developing countries to study at selected education institutions outside Australia.

The purpose of the scholarships is for people to gain knowledge and skills that will help the development of their home country.

For details, please visit the Australia Awards Pacific Scholarships website.