Meet some of UCL Australia's current students and alumni. Learn how they took advantage of UCL Australia’s innovative and creative learning environment to develop their career paths.
‘Australia will one day embrace nuclear power’
If University College London PhD candidate James Brown gets his way, Australia will one day embrace nuclear power generation as part of a lower carbon future.
James’s UCL studies follow 10 years working in the private and public sector in Australia and the UK in economic analysis and policy manager roles. It was working in this field that he realised that nuclear energy, coupled with renewable energy, was the way of the future.
His research is focussing on economic, workforce and policy research in relation to safe and environmentally responsible deployment of nuclear power plants and the nuclear fuel supply chain in Australia.
“My initial drive to get into nuclear originated from working on climate change policy,” James says.
“I came to the conclusion that nuclear needed to be part of our future. Initially, like many, I looked only at renewable energy but I realised there was a gap that needed to be filled by nuclear.”
James commenced a BHP Billiton-funded PhD scholarship at UCL Australia in January 2013. He has already had two papers published internationally. An academic paper, published in the Journal of Nuclear Research and Development on ‘Australia’s future nuclear workforce requirements’, and an industry paper published in Nuclear Power International on ‘Opportunities and challenges in relation to developing a nuclear workforce’.
His interest in nuclear energy has been keenly embraced by UCL and James says his choice of university was logical.
“UCL is quite rare in the amount of interest and research it’s willing to undertake in this area, particularly on the economic and policy implications of nuclear which is what I’m focussing on.
“UCL is cutting edge; it’s taking a strong interest in considering long term issues such as nuclear power when some other universities are not interested.”
UCL Australia offers scholarships in partnership with industry to attract highly motivated and talented students to our world-class postgraduate programmes. To find out more please visit our Scholarships page.
In the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao Island, power outages of 8-12 hours a day are not uncommon. UCL PhD candidate, Nelson Enano, Jr., believes the research he is undertaking at UCL’s Australia campus could provide the answers to economically efficient and environmentally sound energy systems for his home country.
It is his love for the Philippines and belief that he can truly make a difference that drives the 32-year-old student whose research is focused on sustainable energy systems for developing countries, thanks to a scholarship that allows him to pursue a highly respected UCL PhD funded by the Australian Development Awards.
His PhD study is focused on creating a market value for marginal reliability at the brink of an outage caused by generation capacity inadequacy and renewable energy resources intermittency. This study is hoped to model the optimal options for the electricity infrastructure in the Philippines. One of the first steps towards achieving this greater research objective is the determination of the ‘value of lost load’ or VOLL.
“Mindanao is currently experiencing energy crisis, so I hope to determine the most sustainable approach to overcome this, through determining the optimal mix of energy resources available.”
“Really my dream is to eventually participate more in the policy decision processes in the energy sector of the Philippines, using science and engineering and my training in policy analysis.”
Nelson has a Masters of Science in Engineering and Policy Analysis from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and an Electronics Engineering degree from Ateneo de Davao University in the Philippines.
Prior to coming to Australia, he headed the Centre for Renewable Energy and Appropriate Technology at Ateneo de Davao University, and has undertaken internships in international telecommunications in Geneva and some research projects in the Netherlands.
With this experience already behind him, Nelson says it was a clear fit to pursue an interdisciplinary PhD study at UCL Australia.
“Australia’s proximity to the Philippines provides me some comfort while doing my study here. Aside from that, Australia provides me another perspective on energy issues adding to those of European and Asian countries’.”
Nelson says UCL Australia’s Adelaide campus has also proved to be a positive choice for him.
“Adelaide suits my personality,” he says.
“It’s a perfect match for me. There is this academic atmosphere in Adelaide that allows you to pursue research questions along with some of the world-renowned universities located in just one small city. It is easy to network with people with big insights here.”
While Nelson dreams of one day becoming amongst the policy makers in the energy sector in the Philippines, he hopes his research findings will be far reaching.
“My focus on developing countries is what makes my study different to some others and I hope in the future my research will help not just the Philippines but also other developing countries,” he says.
Nelson studies at UCL Australia thanks to a scholarship from The Australia Awards. Deadlines of applications vary by award category and by country.
Where better to research effective water treatment than in the driest State, in the driest continent in the world?
Mariya Koleva - a PhD student at University College London’s Australia campus in Adelaide - is delighted at the opportunity to do undertake her research here.
The young Chemical Engineer from Bulgaria is researching ‘optimal synthesis of water purification processes’ and is finding the Australian campus an ideal base for her research.
Having already completed an MEng programme in Chemical with Biochemical Engineering at UCL in London, as well as a BEng degree in Industrial Engineering at the Technical University of Sofia, Bulgaria, Mariya says South Australia was a golden opportunity to do her research in an area of great interest to her.
“South Australia has tasted the bitter experience of droughts and floods with records since 1860s. Nevertheless, water adversity has taught the state how to breed innovation in water treatment. That is why, I believe, water engineers and specialists here are quite knowledgeable. They keep up to date with advances in water technologies and are happy to discuss matters with researchers. In a nutshell, to me South Australia is the best place to learn in.” she says.
“Not only in Australia but also worldwide, the importance of water should be recognised at every institutional level and therefore, more research should be fostered on novel ways of high salinity water purification, optimisation of water treatment processes, integrated water resources management, water storage, etc.”
Already, in less than 12 months at UCL Australia, as a BHP Billiton scholarship recipient, Mariya has had some small breakthroughs in her research.
“I am developing a model that is able to recommend the most economic path of treating various sources of water to meet different fit-for-purpose standards.,” she says.
“Essentially it’s a tool that decreases the complexity of water purification systems and thus, secures efficient , effective and safe water provision.”
Mariya says UCL Australia’s multidisciplinary atmosphere enriches her research.
“There are many aspects that I need to consider in my study. It’s not only the technical aspects, I’m also looking at environmental, regulatory and social challenges, and for each one of these aspects there is an expert here, on campus, I can talk to,” she says.
The lifestyle the Australian campus offers is also a bonus.
“I find it beautiful here!” Mariya says.
“Adelaide is lovely to live in because it offers plenty of activities and at the same time you can easily get away from the hustle and bustle. It’s quiet, it’s close to the sea, it’s picturesque, there are many young people here, there are many events to socialise and network.”
Maria has recently presented at The 20th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (MODSIM 2013) on A Mixed Integer Linear Programming (MILP) model for cost-effective water treatment synthesis. Read about her MODSIM 2013 presentation.
UCL PhD student Sayara Saliyeva is looking for new technologies which might help deliver a future where the world’s vast coal reserves could be unlocked in environmentally and economically sustainable ways.
A Kazakhstani-born chemical engineer, Sayara is assessing the life cycle of coal-to-liquids technologies and says she hopes to discover environmentally acceptable ways to consume that resource.
“It’s all about identifying environmental impacts caused by liquid fuel production from coal, in particular underground coal gasification. Australia is well placed to lead the rest of the world in this technology, but there is competition from US, Canada, South Africa, India and China, she says.
With thanks to a BHP Billiton scholarship, Sayara chose UCL Australia because she is surrounded by academic experts in her field, all with strong and direct links to industry.
“UCL Australia is wholly interdisciplinary and has great links with industry and other academic institutions, especially research wise, so for me, it’s definitely one of the best opportunities to be in a country where this technology is establishing itself and to make a research contribution in the field of coal-to-liquids,” she says.
“The academic staff here are very research active and we get a lot of guest lecturers teaching on the MSc programme who are leaders of global companies, so it gives me direct access to the people who are at the forefront of their field.
“Already this year we’ve had small classes with Leigh Clifford (former Rio Tinto boss), David Knox (Santos CEO) and Christof Ruhl (BP Chief Economist). So, it’s a really practical-driven education and I really believe it will provide me with excellent career opportunities.”
Sayara graduated with a Masters in Chemical Engineering from University of Sheffield in 2011 before joining the newly established School of Engineering at Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan as a teaching assistant. Keen to follow an academic path, Sayara applied for a BHP Billiton Scholarship through UCL Australia and has been in Adelaide for the past eight months.
There is no mistaking that the ease in which Sayara has settled into Australian life at UCL has a lot to do with the relaxed, friendly lifestyle Adelaide has to offer.
“It’s amazing here. So far I think coming here is one of the best decisions I have made,” she says.
“It’s a new experience, it’s still an English-speaking country, but it’s different from everything I’ve experienced before.
“Weather-wise it’s amazing. I came in February from -30C in Astana, Kazakhstan and arrived in Australia to 30C so that took a bit of getting used to. I still struggle to call it winter here because everything is green and not covered in snow.
“The wildlife is totally different to what we can expect anywhere else in the world.”
Sayara says the close-knit environment of UCL Australia made transitioning to her new work and home much easier.
“You feel like you’re part of a family here, everyone knows everyone and calls each other by their first name which was a bit of a cultural shock for me, but now I’m used to that it makes me feel more comfortable, like I’m part of the ‘UCL Australia family’ here, in Adelaide,” she says.
An abundance of resources in Australia has made Carmen Wouters’ decision to study her PhD in electrical energy systems at University College London the perfect choice.
The Belgian PhD student, 24, is focussing on the ‘optimal design and operation of future energy systems’ at UCL, having firstly studied energy engineering at the University of Leuven and then undertaken an internship with the chemical company BASF in China.
As a BHP Billiton scholarship holder, Carmen says UCL Australia was a logical choice in continuing her study.
“UCL Australia’s School of Energy and Resources (SERA) focusses on multidisciplinary research in energy and as I did my masters in energy engineering I decided to apply for a scholarship here,” she says.
“There is a strong focus here on working with industry; there are possibilities to connect with industry that I might not have gotten at other universities.
“Australia, especially South Australia, aside from Europe is leading in wind and solar energy, there’s an abundance of resources in South Australia.”
Carmen says the multidisciplinary nature of the campus is also beneficial.
“It’s very personal, you can throw ideas around and it’s really interesting that rather than sitting in a room with all electrical engineers as you might expect at larger campuses, you have the opportunity to talk to other people from different areas and throw ideas around and gain a different perspective on your studies.”
Carmen says the lifestyle South Australia also has to offer has been an added bonus.
“I like Sydney, I like Melbourne, but they’re really big,” she says.
“Especially coming back from China, I appreciate Adelaide being easy to get around, and it has a really nice climate.
“I’m really happy with my decision, it’s a really good place to live.”
Carmen has recently presented at All-Energy Australia 2013. Read about her presentation.
Imagine a global electricity supergrid. One that links countries, providing reliable and stable baseload electricity from wind and solar resources? Sounds far-fetched, like a science fiction movie? Maybe.
People probably said the same thing to Alexander Graham Bell when he started at University College London 150 years ago . Over the following 20 years he developed and patented the rudimentary telephone and now most of our phone calls are wireless.
UCL PhD candidate Yunyang Wu thinks electricity supergrids could one day be a reality, although certainly a long-way off.
Yunyang hopes his own research ‘modelling of large-scale renewable energy transmission via continental supergrids’ will add to the increasing body of knowledge on how to provide consistent, baseload supply from renewable sources. As well as looking at electricity demand forecasting, he hopes his work will aid the improvement of efficacy, reliability and efficiency of renewable energy systems. Something which is vital if there is to be any hope of creating efficient electricity transmission over vast distances.
Yunyang Wu joined UCL Australia in October 2013 as a BHP Billiton scholarship recipient. He says the strong industry engagement enjoyed by UCL Australia makes it easy to get real data and direct input into his research. All which helps keep the project focussed.
Yunyang came to Australia having already completed a MSc in Power Systems Engineering at UCL in London. Originally from China, Yunyang has a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Electric and Electrical Engineering from North China Electric Power University, Beijing, China.