PhD Candidates

Mr Refat Ahmed

Mr Refat Ahmed completed his B.Sc. in Civil Engineering from Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology (CUET), Bangladesh in 2010 and started working in Civil Engineering Department at the same University as a young researcher. In 2014, he completed his Master in Civil Engineering in one of European Erasmus Mundus Master Course called SUSCOS_M (EMMC-Sustainable Constructions under natural hazards and catastrophic events).

In 2016, he started his Ph.D. at the University of Wollongong in the Steel Research Hub. He is currently working on the analysis and design for modern bolted connections in cold formed steel construction under a project titled “Development of mid-rise cold formed steel building”. His research interest is in cold formed steel structures, fracture mechanics, connection design, sustainable construction and life cycle analysis (LCA).

Mr Steven Beltrame

Mr Steven Beltrame completed his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2016. During 2015 and 2016, he was employed at the SBRC as a research assistant. Throughout that time he worked on a number of building façade technology research projects including instrumentation, installation, and data analysis for the thermal monitoring of cool roofs and the design and commissioning of the transpired Solar Collector.

He is currently undertaking his PhD at the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) within the Steel Research Hub. His primary PhD objective is to evaluate the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) experienced in existing Australian apartments, with a particular focus on the characteristics of ventilation and thermal comfort. He hopes to develop a rich dataset of IEQ information concerning Australian apartment buildings, which could be used to indicate the comfort and quality of life experienced by occupants of existing Australian apartments, and identify areas for further improvement

Mr Deside Chibwe

After being awarded his BScEng (Hons) and MScEng in Extractive Metallurgical Engineering, Mr Deside Chibwe worked in ferrous and non-ferrous pyro-metallurgical smelting operations in various capacities. Key interests and activities mainly involved application of fundamental research to improve operations.

He is currently undertaking an ARC Research Hub for Australian Steel Manufacturing sponsored PhD at University of Newcastle. The study is looking at optimization of burden (charge material) delivery for blast furnaces operation. Particular interest is in furthering the understanding of particle dynamics in relation to mixing and segregation of handling of burden materials of variable size, size distribution and densities.  Discrete element modelling (DEM) is the key technique being currently applied.

Mr Phillip Drain

Mr Phillip Drain completed his B.E (materials) at the University of Wollongong in 2010 as part of the BlueScope cadet program. He worked as a Process Engineer at Worsley Alumina from 2011-2014 and completed a M.E (Research) in 2013 with the University of Wollongong.

He started his PhD studies in early 2015 with the Steel Research Hub at the University of Wollongong. His research interests are sustainable steel manufacturing and minerals processing, recycling minerals processing waste and by-products.

Mr Matt Gear

Mr Matt Gear studied Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Queensland. As a part of his masters, he worked with Fonterra in New Zealand, applying materials characterisation methodology to cheeses to help develop the Cheese for the 21st Century.

For his PhD, he works with BlueScope Steel and the Steel Research Hub to understand the effects of elemental additions to BlueScope’s Zincalume coating alloys. This will enable optimisation of the coating process to achieve a coating that is corrosion resistant, aesthetically pleasing, environmentally friendly, and cost efficient.

Mr Thomas Jurak

Mr Thomas Jurak began his engineering career in 2008 as a BlueScope cadet, completing his cadetship and graduating from the University of Wollongong with a Bachelor of Engineering (Materials) with Honours in 2013. During his time at BlueScope, he spent a total of 4 years as a Metallographic Metallurgist, performing light and electron optics analysis work on a wide variety of samples and investigations with a focus on coated products, in particular, Next Generation ZINCALUME® Steel. He has also spent time working at BlueScope’s Metal Coating Lines at the Port Kembla Steelworks, and has previously investigated barrier and passivation thin films for Al-Zn coatings.

Ms Brianna Knowles

Ms Brianna Knowles commenced a cadetship with BlueScope in 2009, gaining experiencing working on plant and completing her Bachelor of Science Advanced (Chemistry) degree with the University of Wollongong part-time. She completed her honours year at the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute, investigating coatings that could prevent attachment of microorganisms.

As part of the Steel Research Hub, she has continued researching in this area with her PhD thesis focusing of the development and optimisation of hydrophilic antifouling coatings. Her interests include: understanding the interactions and adhesion mechanisms of microorganisms with surfaces and the design of hydrophilic materials that can be applied as surface coatings to prevent biological fouling.


Mr Huibin Li

Mr Huibin Li completed a Bachelor in Bioengineering at the Harbin Institute of Technology, China. He then completed his Master in Metallurgical Engineering at Kunming University of Science and Technology in China.

He is a completing a PhD in the Steel Research Hub where his focus is on a fundamental study into the use of different iron-bearing materials. His research interests are focused on metallurgy, waste recycling and materials engineering.

Mr Wenxuan Li

Wenxuan Li is a PhD student in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at RMIT University. Before joining RMIT, he completed his Master of Engineering at National University of Singapore in 2016. His main research interests are in using molecular simulations to study bio-molecules and help design of engineering novel surfaces.

Mr Le Quang Phan

Mr Le Quang Phan studied Aeronautical Engineering at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (Vietnam) in 2007. He then pursued a Master of Science degree at Konkuk University, South Korea).

Currently he is completing his PhD on improving the coating quality of the hot-dip galvanizing coating line at the University of Wollongong which is supported by the Steel Research Hub. His main study focuses on conducting computational simulations and experiments to explore the flow instabilities of the galvanizing air knife.

Mr Joel Samsu

Mr Joel Samsu received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Process Engineering at the University of Leoben, Austria in 2012 and 2014. In his master's degree he studied the heat and mass transfer mechanisms in the iron ore sintering process. His research interests are computer simulations of particle flow, heat and mass transfer, as well as their applications in the ironmaking industry.

Currently, he is a Ph.D. candidate in the Steel Research Hub, based at Monash University, where he’s studying the burden wall interaction in the ironmaking blast furnace.

Ms Dan Yang

Ms Dan Yang holds a bachelor of engineering degree in polymer materials and engineering from East China University of Science and Technology, China.

She is currently a PhD candidate in Intelligent Polymer Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Australia Her research interest is the development of nano particle based antifouling coatings and the interfacial properties characterization by Atomic Force Microscopy.

Mr Navjeet Singh

Mr Navjeet Singh holds a bachelor’s degree in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering department from National Institute of Technology, Warangal in 2013 and did his masters from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur in 2015. During his masters, he studied the effects of thermo-mechanical processing on evolution of microstructure, texture and mechanical properties of bainitic transformed steel.

His research focus in the Steel Research Hub is to design and process a micro-alloyed steel with 700 MPa yield strength using BlueScope Steel Limited hot strip mill. As a part of his study, he is investigating the effects of chemistry and thermo-mechanical processing parameters on the microstructure and mechanical properties of micro-alloyed steels.

Ms Ai Thi Diem Nguyen 

Ms Ai Thi Diem Nguyen completed her Master of Science in Ferrous Technology in Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology Vietnam. She then completed her Bachelor of Engineering in Materials Technology – Silicate Materials Technology at the Pohang University of Science and Technology, South Korea.

She is studying for a PhD in materials technology within the Steel Research Hub at the University of Wollongong. Her research interests stem from her desire to understand fundamental aspects of ferrous technology. Her current research focuses on the interaction between Basic Oxygen Steelmaking (BOS) slag and refractories with the aim to understand the effects of retained slag on BOS refractory wear. Her research motivation is to contribute to the improvement of resistance of MgO-based refractory to slag corrosion in BOS.

Greg Siemon

Greg Siemon is currently undertaking a Steel Research Hub sponsored PhD, hosted by the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Queensland. His topic is Enterprise-Wide Optimisation. Enterprise-Wide Optimization (EWO) is a new emerging area that lies at the interface of chemical engineering and operations research, and has become a major goal in the process industries due to the increasing pressures for remaining competitive in the global marketplace. EWO involves optimizing the operations of R&D, supply, manufacturing and distribution of a company to reduce costs and inventories. A major focus in EWO is the optimal operation of manufacturing facilities, which often requires the use of nonlinear process models. Major operational items include planning, scheduling, real-time optimization and inventory control. One of the key features in EWO is integration of the information and decision-making among the various functions that comprise the supply chain of the company.  Within his PhD Greg will be working with Bluescope to improve the operation of their steel smelter at Port Kembla, in the Illawarra. The Coal Seam Gas industry in Central Queensland is another potential area for investigation.

Nicholas Franklin

Nicholas Franklin is currently undertaking a Steel Research Hub sponsored PhD, hosted at the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC), at the University of Wollongong. He completed his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering at UOW in 2015. Nick's main interests are in cold formed steel construction, building Information modelling and sustainability.