Aberdeen Curtin Alliance 2017 PhD Student Profiles

Alison Metoudi

My PhD research project at the University of Aberdeen University and Curtin University on Experimental Screenwriting Practice at the Unspoken Borders between Nature, Animal and Human arose from a competition call to interpret the theme of ‘Wild Places’ primarily in the context of the North East of Scotland. This research will be based on a consideration of how natural and synthetic systems such as the Scottish North East offshore oil industry, technology, nature, the oceans, humans and nonhumans interconnect in the language of the screenplay.

My methodology has evolved over a long period based on a cross-disciplinary understanding of expressive modes and work in creative arts practice including visual art, painting, writing and the performance-based industries.  My main supervisors are Professor Alison Lumsden, Chair in English (School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture, University of Aberdeen), and Dr Susan Bradley Smith, Senior Lecturer in English (School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry, Curtin University) with Professor Alan Marcus Personal Chair in Film and Visual Culture in Aberdeen as a secondary supervisor. Digital technology and filmmaking materials are used to inform the developing screenplay in an experimental approach during the process of writing, thereby giving priority to perceptual systems at the conceptual stage.

Spending a year at Curtin in Western Australia will offer a new perspective on the concept of the wild place.  The region faces similar circumstances to Aberdeen in its relationship to post fossil-fuel environments and it will be interesting to see how it is managing these issues and engaging them creatively.

Ahmed-Tijani Afolabi

My research topic is Efficient biomass upgrading technologies via the steam reforming of bio-oils and tar. I have always been interested in renewable and sustainable sources of energy, and this PhD is a great opportunity for me pursue my interest in biomass upgrading technologies, which formed the topic of my MSc dissertation. This is research that can make a difference to future generations and I am very enthusiastic about the project. This project involves the microkinetic modelling of the steam reforming process for major model compounds of biomass pyrolysis oil (bio-oil). Microkinetics is a rigorous tool in the optimisation of refinery processes as it guides catalyst selection and intrinsically provides detail of catalytic process pathways. This project will therefore help in my pursuit of understanding biomass upgrading technologies.

My passion is to improve my knowledge, communication and analytical skills and my first year of PhD studies in Aberdeen has provided me with a strong foundation to progress with my studies at Curtin University. I look forward to utilising further the models we are developing, improving my skills, including computational tools, and refining my technical abilities.  My supervisor in the School of Engineering of the University Of Aberdeen is Dr Panagiotis Kechagiopoulos and my Curtin supervisor is Professor Chun-Zhu Li, Director of the Fuels and Energy Technology Institute.  We have been working on the initial objective of the microkinetic analysis of the steam reforming of a bio-oil model compound (Ethanol), and now have a running and functioning model that has been validated over experimental data collected within the Chemical Engineering laboratory of the University Of Aberdeen. In parallel, we have also been working on a developing a microkinetic modelling framework able to describe the behaviour of bifunctional catalysts. In Curtin I hope to obtain experimental results using char supported catalysts to validate this bifunctional model and provide guidelines for the design of more active and selective catalytic materials.

Bugra Bayik

My research topic is Vibration based structural health monitoring and damage detection in subsea risers.  I see this PhD opportunity with the Aberdeen Curtin Alliance as a great way to further my research interests and contribute to a project with important outcomes for industry and academia.

I undertook my BSc in Mechanical Engineering at the Middle East Technical University, where I took specialised courses and gained strong academic background in structural dynamics and mechanical vibrations. The Vibration and Acoustics Laboratory at Koç University, where I studied for my MSc, provided good experience for my research and experimental work in Aberdeen.

My supervisors are Dr Piotr Omenzetter, Professor Ekaterina Pavlovskaia and Dr Dominic Van der A at the School of Engineering, University of Aberdeen, along with Professor Hong Hao from School of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, Curtin university of Technology. Dr Omenzetter specialises in damage detection, Professor Pavlovskaia is an expert in nonlinear dynamics and marine risers and Dr Van der A has strong expertise in hydrodynamic experimentation. Professor Hao has several decades’ worth of experience in structural and hydrodynamics and condition monitoring of offshore installations.

I am looking forward to spending a year in Curtin University, working more closely with Professor Hong Hao on development and application of novel damage detection algorithms based on the experiments conducted in the Aberdeen University Random Wave Flume.

Esti Tri Widyastuti

I completed my master’s in Petroleum, Energy Economics, and Finance at the University of Aberdeen. I was intrigued to explore further about the field of energy economics. My interest in the quantitative and empirical areas encouraged me to apply for the Aberdeen Curtin Alliance programme in 2017. Under the supervision of Dr Marc Gronwald Senior Lecturer in Economics (Business School, University of Aberdeen), my current research area is about modelling of oil discovery and production in an economics perspective and relates to oil exploration efforts and expenses incurred.

In 2018, I have plans to present at the International Association for Energy Economics Conference and publish my findings and analyses carried during the first year of research at Aberdeen. In Curtin, I would like to expand the content with some additional highlights and concerns based on further discussion with my co-supervisor Dr Hiroaki Suenaga, Lecturer in Energy Economics at the Curtin Business School.

By joining the Aberdeen Curtin Alliance Programme I will be getting precious insights from both UK and Australian perspective so that I will get to know what works well and the most significant issues and concerns in two different continents.

Vijay Phaninda Srikanth Kompella

I am undertaking research on The Physics of Translation in the Cell.  One of the major reasons to choose this project is prior experience in the field, which helped me realize the potential in this area. Since translation is a fundamental process, repercussions of the study impact various fields including but not limited to cancer research, viral and bacterial diseases, synthetic biology, industrial bio-technology. I always wanted to contribute to science at the most fundamental level and I see this as a wonderful opportunity to tread in that direction. I believe pursuing theoretical projects requires not only strong deduction skills but also the creative ability to hypothesize, which I understood during my MPhil.

I studied for my MPhil at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, where the topic of my dissertation was ‘A Comprehensive model for G1-phase of Cell Cycle explaining restriction point behaviour in Mammalian cells.’  Prior to that I studied a five year Integrated MSc in Chemical Sciences at the University of Hyderabad. During the course of my studies I have gained a good knowledge of programming languages, such as Python, FORTRAN and MATLAB, which I believe will be very helpful in my PhD. Integrated Masters’ program at University of Hyderabad offered me strong fundamental knowledge of all basic sciences which stimulated my interest in interdisciplinary research.

My supervisors are Dr M Carmen Romano, Reader in Physics at the School of Natural and Computing Sciences and Professor Ian Stansfield, Personal Chair and Deputy Director of the Institute of Medical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, along with Professor Ricardo Mancera from the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at Curtin University.  The project brings together expertise from the Institute for Complex Systems and Mathematical Biology at Aberdeen with expertise in Curtin University in the use of molecular dynamics simulations to characterise biomolecular structure, function and dynamics. I am looking forward to working with Professor Ricardo Mancera, head of Biomolecular Modelling Group at the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, Curtin University who is seeking to develop further an interest in the understanding of the effects of macromolecular crowding on molecular diffusion in living cells. The broad nature of the project will provide me excellent with excellent research training.  Taking advantage of expertise in mathematical modelling and experimental studies at Univ. of Aberdeen and molecular modelling at Curtin University the project aims to answer some of the fundamental questions of the behaviour of living systems.

When at Curtin I will be able to access high performance computing through the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre and at Aberdeen I have access to institute level cluster and Maxwell supercomputer.

I am looking forward to spending time in Curtin University working more closely with Professor Ricardo Mancera to address the molecular modelling aspects of the research study.