Microscale fluid dynamics around coral surfaces

This fully funded project will develop a new biophysical approach to coral studies, integrating mathematical modelling, numerical simulations and lab-on-chip experiments. Although the Great Barrier Reef spans more than 2,300km, fundamental processes driving the health and function of corals such as nutrient uptake, oxygen exchange and bacterial recruitment occur at sub-millimetre scales. Despite their importance, we still largely lack a quantitative understanding of the governing transport processes.

The PhD project will investigate three-dimensional fluid flows generated by corals and their physical/ecological consequences. Through an iterative approach involving mathematical modelling and experiments, the project will develop a mechanistic framework for understanding microscale biophysical processes at the coral surface. This will inform efforts in coral conservation and management and be broadly applicable to range of other problems in biology.

Throughout their candidature, the PhD student will work in an international cross-disciplinary research team, gaining a range of skills in fluid dynamics, continuum modelling, numerical analysis (including scientific computing), microfluidics, microscopy, and image processing. During their candidature, the student will spend at least 12 months at each of The Universities of Melbourne and Manchester, working with leading research groups in applied mathematics, fluid dynamics and coral biology.

Funding for the successful candidate will include (1) tuition fees at Melbourne and Manchester; (2) The Melbourne Research Scholarship (100% fee remission and up to $110,000 AUD); and (3) Travel allowance.


The University of Melbourne: Douglas Brumley, John Sader, and Linda Blackall.

University of Manchester: Peter Duck.


This position has been filled.