PhD scholarship in a sunscreen sensing technology

PhD scholarship to co-develop a new human-free sunscreen testing standard with the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA)

This scholarship offers an opportunity to develop a new human-free sunscreen testing standard in collaboration with the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) and Cancer Council Victoria (CCV).

The University will fund the Scholarship for a fixed term of 3.5 years offering a stipend of $33,826 per annum pro rata (full-time study).

Applications are now open.


One (1) scholarship available

To be considered for the PhD Scholarship, applicants must hold or be currently completing: 

  • a Master by research, or
  • a Master by coursework with a significant research component graded as high distinction, or equivalent, or
  • a Honours degree achieving first class honours, or
  • a 4 year bachelor degree achieving a GPA of 4 or equivalent (80% or above)

If you do not hold one of the above qualifications, you will only be considered for scholarship if you have previous publications or significant research experience or relevant industry experience. 

Working at the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) requires clearance of security checks, and therefore an Australian resident or citizen will be preferred candidate. 

Before applying for the Scholarship, contact Professor Vipul Bansal with a copy of your CV to establish if your research interest and prior experience are aligned with this project.

Further details on RMIT University’s research strategy can be found on the Our Research page. 

All applicants should email the following to Professor Vipul Bansal,

Project title: A new universal standard to assess the efficacy of sunscreens for human-free testing

Supervisors: Professor Vipul Bansal, Professor Sylvia Urban, and A/Professor Rajesh Ramanathan

Sunscreens play an important role in protecting humans from the harmful effects of solar UV radiation. You would have seen an SPF (sunscreen protection factor) value listed on sunscreen bottles, which indicates its protective efficacy. But do you know that the current sunscreen testing standards require exposing humans to harmful UV radiation to get SPF values? This raises ethical concerns and results in an expensive and time-consuming test. 

The project aims to develop a cost-effective human-free method to reliably test the performance of sunscreens in collaboration with the Australian regulatory bodies. This scientifically validated in vitro method could potentially become a new sunscreen testing standard and may influence government policies around sun safety. This could result in improved consumer products through regulatory surveillance of sunscreen products.

The research involves interdisciplinary fields of chemistry, nanotechnology, biology, and engineering to (i) develop a nanostructured skin-mimicking surface that can replace human skin, (ii) a robotic sunscreen spreading technique that increases reproducibility of tests, and (iii) a portable UV sensor that can determine the UV blocking effects of sunscreens. If you have an interest in one or more of these areas, this could be the project for you. 

The project offers internship and collaboration opportunities with the Commonwealth Agency responsible for radiation safety (Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency – ARPANSA) and Australia’s leading organisation for skin cancer prevention (Cancer Council Victoria – CCV). 

Refer to our publication ( for further information about this project. Publications of Chief Investigator are accessible through Google Scholar.

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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.