The Priestley Scholars

Collaborative research projects with experts from Birmingham and Melbourne

A town square in Birmingham

The Priestley Scholars is a research partnership between the Universities of Birmingham and the University of Melbourne. Named after Sir Raymond Priestley, who was Vice-Chancellor of both universities, the program aims to foster research collaboration and nurture the next generation of talent in engineering and the natural sciences.

The program’s joint PhD candidates, the Priestley Scholars, work together with renowned academics across shared areas of priority research like energy storage, biomechanics, artificial intelligence and robotics. Together, researchers and candidates deliver innovative research.

It will always be an honour to be a joint PhD candidate at these two great universities. Special thanks for the support through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mo Zhang
Priestley Scholar

Positive female scientist holding her notes

Joint PhD opportunity: Developing next-gen biosensors to better diagnose diseases

Millions of people worldwide die from late diagnosis every year. In emergency care practice, life-critical decisions must be made rapidly, influencing patients’ prognosis and the efficacy of treatment. Current diagnostic technologies are woefully inadequate, either requiring large equipment, long-waiting times or lacking in sensitivity and speed. This project aims to develop a new lab-on-a-chip system that will allow medical professionals to achieve timely intervention through rapid and accurate diagnostics at the point of care (PoC).


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Project spotlight story: Investigating delusions in early psychosis

To date, delusions have been predominantly studied from the perspective of cognitive psychology, which defines the condition in a rigid and negative manner. Delusions are portrayed as universally negative and inherently dysfunctional experiences. While delusions might contain errors of fact and are often distressing, recent philosophical and psychological literature has suggested that certain delusions can be experienced as enhancing one’s sense of meaning in life. This project aims to advance the research in this area by conducting an unprejudiced investigation into the experience and meaning of delusions in early psychosis.


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Visualisation of psychosis

Birmingham University

Our Partner: The University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham boasts a rich heritage as England’s first civic university, a place where students of all backgrounds were accepted on an equal basis. Today, the university continues to embody this spirit with its mission of encouraging and empowering people of all backgrounds to turn ingenuity into reality. The 10 Nobel Laureates counted among Birmingham’s staff and alumni have contributed to some of science’s greatest discoveries, including in recent times the Higgs Boson and Gravitational Waves.


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Meet our academic lead

Professor Amanda Ellis is the Head of Melbourne’s Department of Chemical Engineering. Professor Ellis has held numerous research positions in both Australia and the US, including as an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. Previous projects include research into novel polymer coatings, DNA nanotechnology, functionalised carbon nanotubes and graphene, nanocellulose, and plastic and biomass gasification.


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Pola Oppenheimer picture

Meet the Birmingham Director of the Graduate School

Pola Goldberg Oppenheimer is a Professor in Micro-Engineering and Bio-Nanotechnology at the School of Chemical Engineering and the Healthcare Technologies Institute (HTI). Prof. Oppenheimer leads an interdisciplinary research group at the University of Birmingham, closely working with the clinical teams at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Birmingham Enterprise (UoBE), the University’s technology transfer specialists. Professor Oppenheimer is developing cutting-edge Engineering solutions to tackle major medical problems.


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