PhD Scholarship in Interactions of Small Molecules and Salts with Biomembranes

Undertake a project exploring how small molecules and salts interact with biomembranes.

The project explores the interactions of small molecular species with biomembranes and will suit candidates with an interest in interdisciplinary research combining physics, chemistry, biology and materials science.

A stipend of $31,000 per annum (pro rata), for 3 years with possible extension to 3.5 years.

Candidates with backgrounds in materials/chemistry/engineering are encouraged to apply.

To be eligible for this scholarship, you must:

  • Have first-class Honours or 2A Honours or equivalent, or a Masters by Research degree in a relevant discipline of engineering/science
  • Be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or an international student meeting the minimum English language requirements
  • Provide evidence of good oral and written communication skills
  • Demonstrate the ability to work as part of a multi-disciplinary research team
  • Meet RMIT’s entry requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy.

To apply, please submit the following documents to Associate Professor Charlotte Conn at and Associate Professor Tamar Greaves at

  • A cover letter (research statement)
  • A copy of electronic academic transcripts
  • A CV that includes any publications/awards and the contact details of two referees.

For international applicants, evidence of English proficiency may be required.

Prospective candidates will be invited to submit a full application for admission to the PhD Program (DR229).

Scholarship applications will only be successful if prospective candidates are provided with an offer for admission.

23 September 2020.

23 November 2020 (unless previously filled).

Biomembranes are complicated self-assembled structures. In cells, these control which species are able to cross into the cell’s interior. For applications such as cryopreservation, it is essential to be able to control this cell permeation, and to understand any other changes that are being made to the cell membrane.

This project aims to study the influence of the chemical structure, charge, and physical properties of novel salts and small molecules on lipid biomembranes. This will initially involve using model membranes, and later cells. Extensive characterisation will be performed, including using small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and physicochemical characterisation methods.

This is an opportunity to join a supportive research group in the physical chemistry area. It will suit candidates with an interest in interdisciplinary research combining physics, chemistry, biology, and materials science. This is an exciting project, where the fundamental knowledge likely to be obtained will contribute to ongoing research in the broader group around nanomedicines and improving health outcomes. The suitable candidate will gain expertise with a broad range of synthesis and characterisation techniques, and will have the opportunity to use large facilities, such as the Australian Synchrotron.

This scholarship will be governed by RMIT University's Research Scholarship Terms and Conditions.

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.