Chief investigators

Martijn de SterkeMartijn de Sterke is a Professor at the School of Physics.

He is a theoretical physicist, who actively seeks collaborations with experimentalists.

Martijn has authored papers in the fields of optics and photonics, solid state physics, and acoustics, and these papers have appeared both in the physics and in the engineering literature. In optics he has worked on a variety of problems in the areas of nonlinear optics and electromagnetism.

The ACWA research will leverage on Martijn’s extensive experience in modelling composite systems.

Chiara Neto is an Associate Professor and Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the School of Chemistry at the University of Sydney.

Research in Chiara’s group focuses on investigating liquid/solid interfaces on the nanoscale.

She has published over 75 articles in international peer-reviewed journals, and is well known for her work on interfacial slip and patterning of polymer films.

Chiara is one of the Founding Directors and former President of the Australasian Colloids and Interface Society.

Instagram @netogroup

ACWA members

Dr Tristram Alexander‘s research focuses on modelling and predicting new behaviour in complex systems. His research falls into three categories:

1. Nonlinear wave dynamics in optics and Bose-Einstein condensates, including the theory of solitons and non-equilibrium wave dynamics;

2. Heat flow and control and associated problems in nonlinear dynamics;

3. Social dynamics modelling, involving data science techniques for managing and analyzing social data, and computational modelling of social systems.

Computational techniques are an essential part of his research, and include the simulation and analysis of nonlinear partial differential equations, the simulation of agent-based models, and machine learning techniques to extract information from data.

Steve Armfield is Professor of Computational Fluid Dynamics in the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering.

His research focuses on stability and turbulent mixing in stratified and buoyancy driven flows with industrial and environmental applications such as heating, ventilation and cooling, passive heat exchangers and riverine mixing.

He is well known for his fundamental work on natural convection flow, two layer mixing, plumes, fountains and jets and holds positions on the governing bodies of the Australasian Fluid Mechanics Society, the Australasian Fluid and Thermal Engineering Society and the Assembly for International Heat Transfer Conferences.

Dr Helen Bramley is a senior lecturer at the School of Life and Environmental Sciences.

Her research applies biophysical and ecological principles to understand adaptive responses of crop plants to changes in their environment.

Helen’s research explores processes operating at the cellular to whole plant levels, particularly those involved in water transport. A major focus is to identify mechanisms and traits that contribute to differences in yield and help crops adapt to adverse or fluctuating environments (drought, waterlogging, high temperature, elevated CO2 and frost), with the aim of developing crop plants better adapted to their target environments and ready for the future climate.

Helen is also developing new methods for phenotyping drought tolerance and to help breeders select drought tolerant germplasm more easily. This includes using new technology that can monitor plant performance non-destructively.

Dr Arne Geschke is a senior researcher at the School of Physics.

His main research interests are supply chain mapping and assessment with a strong focus on environmental impacts that occur along the supply chains.

Arne headed the development of the most comprehensive global supply chain assessment tool to date.

Within the ACWA project, Arne will use his expertise to assess the environmental impacts of the ACWA technology, and work on quantifying the environmental and economic net off-sets that ACWA offers with regards to water supply. The results will be benchmarked against the environmental performance of conventional water supply systems.

Boris Kuhlmey is an Associate Professor at the School of Physics.

His work concentrates on metamaterials and novel types of optical fibres, including composite metal/glass metamaterial fibres.

Dr Karla Straker is an Early Career Development Fellow, in the Design Lab, located in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning, at the University of Sydney.

She has a Bachelor of Design (Industrial Design) and PhD from the Queensland University of Technology.

Karla’s research is in a cross-disciplinary setting exploring the design of digital channel engagements, investigated through theoretical approaches from the fields of design, psychology, marketing and information systems. Her research aims to understanding of how strong relationships with customers can be built and sustained through a deeper understanding of customer emotions. In her research work she emphasises the design and evaluation of new approaches to the field of design and emotion.

Willem Vervoort is an Associate Professor at the School of Life and Environmental Sciences.

He is interested in a variety projects related to water, agriculture and the environment.

The aim of his research lab is to understand the natural variability of Australian landscapes to improve the management of human variability (impacts).

Water is a major factor limiting global development, his work aims to improve water management through better models and better data analysis.

Professor Dianne Wiley is recognised as a world-leader in the development of membrane systems for wastewater treatment and other applications, and in the assessment of carbon capture and storage technologies.

Rongkun Zheng is an Associate Professor at the School of Physics.

His research interest spans from Condensed Matter and Materials Physics to Microscopy and Microanalysis, with a focus on the growth-structure-property relationships in functional materials and devices.

Rongkun will explore and optimise the radiative cooling materials and devices for the ACWA initiative.

Dr Riccardo Parin is a Postdoctoral Research Associate.

He obtained his PhD degree in Thermo-mechanical Energy Engineering at the University of Padova (2019). His research focused on the relationship between surface properties (surface energy, wettability, roughness) and two-phase heat transfer processes. In particular, Riccardo studied hybrid organic-inorganic sol-gel silica coatings deposited on metal surfaces (aluminium and copper) for dropwise condensation (DWC) promotion of pure steam and will build our first prototype.

ACWA Students

Ailsa ChungAilsa Chung is studying for a physics degree from the University of Edinburgh and has joined ACWA to carry out a year-long research project on water capture with Martijn de Sterke and Rongkun Zheng.

Ming Chiu completed his Bachelor of Science majoring in Chemistry and Ecology at The University of Adelaide (2010).

He finished his Honours Degree in Chemistry (2011) at the same institute working on computational study on conjugated polymers.

After that, Ming spent 5 years at Omega Industries working as Industrial Chemist in surface coating industry.

He commenced his PhD candidature with A/Prof. Chiara Neto in 2016 working on project of optimizing of droplet roll-off on dewetted polymeric patterned surfaces.

ACWA Alumni

  • Owen Schumacher, visiting MSc student from EPFL (November 2019 – March 2020)
  • Lilian Dalton, Denison scholar (December 2019 – February 2020)