Sustainable Materials from Wood-Derived Biopolymers

Degree type


Closing date

18 July 2022



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

The synthesis of polymers has transformed the manufacture of everyday materials through to high performance products over the past century, and represents a commercial enterprise on the order of millions of tonnes per annum within the global economy. The majority of these materials are prepared from small molecule precursors from petroleum and are thus a non-renewable resource. Given the global concern around sustainability and rising levels of plastic waste, alternative approaches to polymer synthesis based on reneweable, bio-derived materials are highly desirable. In this project, the use of biopolymers derived from renewable wood feedstocks  will be explored for the preparation of materials with significant end-use applications, such as surface coatings, adhesives, thin films and absorbents. To achieve this, chemical modification of cellulose and lignin from Eucalyptus Nitens (a significant plantation timber in Tasmania) as well as the incorporation of marine-derived biopolymers will be employed.  The physical and chemical properties of these materials will be evaluated as alternatives to fossil fuel derived polymers.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Stuart Thickett


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,854 per annum (2022 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must have been awarded a first class Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant area of research in the chemical sciences or chemical engineering
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate research and analytical skills
  • Research must be undertaken on a full time basis

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Stuart Thickett to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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