Net Zero Precincts Linkage PhD – Optimisation and AI for Monash microgrid management in net zero energy transition at precinct scale

Monash University

Job No: 624212

Location: Clayton campus

Employment Type: Full-time

Duration: 3-year and 6-month fixed-term appointment

Remuneration: The successful applicant will receive $29,500 p.a. as a full-time stipend (pro-rata).

The PhD Position

A competitive scholarship is available to undertake full-time PhD research as part of the ARC Linkage project ‘Net Zero Precincts: an interdisciplinary approach to decarbonising cities’, based at the Faculty of Information Technology (FIT) at the Clayton campus in Melbourne. The aim of this PhD project is to implement and test a simulation based digital sandbox or digital twin of the Monash University microgrid and then extend to a larger scale, including the whole of the Monash Clayton campus and then the broader Monash Technology Precinct. The PhD student, with support and guidance from the supervisory team, will work on the microgrid platform, which is a fully functioning local electricity network and distributed electricity market, with dynamic optimisation of resources interacting with an external energy market. The student will also investigate how new digital and AI technologies enable the integrated energy management of microgrids including demand response, solar, battery and thermal units.

This PhD project will be structured as a Living Lab experiment, working alongside four other PhD projects in mobility, buildings, governance and data science within the broader ARC Linkage Net Zero Precincts program of research. Further to this, the research student is expected to adopt a social science lens to explore how microgrid innovations can maximise benefits for the precinct community such as energy efficiency, affordability and inclusive access. This will involve exploring how the current Microgrid can be scaled to the precinct in line with the precinct community’s vision and exploring the implications of far-reaching electrification of the precinct (including mobility and heating).

The PhD student will be required to undertake a scholarly literature review, model and design optimisation and AI-based solutions, undertake extensive experiments to validate the design, and collaborate with local and international researchers and industry partners in Net Zero Precincts program.

Applicants should have a Bachelor Degree with Honours in IT, Computer Science, Engineering, or equivalent qualification.

Essential: Programming in Julia/Python, Mathematics, Statistics, or physical sciences equivalent (e.g. engineering and physics).

Desirable: Experience or affinity with social science methods in the context of sustainability transitions in the energy and utilities sectors.

In addition to the scholarship, research candidates at the Faculty of Information Technology have access to resources and funding to support research undertaken during their candidature. The project will be commencing in February 2022 but there is some flexibility regarding the date of commencement depending on the candidate’s availability.

Net Zero Precincts: an interdisciplinary approach to decarbonising cities

This PhD is part of the ARC Linkage project Net Zero Precincts that aims to help cities and urban regions reach net zero emissions by taking the precinct as an optimal scale for urban sustainability transition. Net Zero Precincts brings together a new approach to transition management by using design anthropology to engage with the precinct community and consider their lived experiences. This will be tested over the next four years in an action-oriented case study in the Monash Technology Precinct through three Living Lab experiments across energy, mobility and buildings.

The ARC Linkage project is led by Professor Rob Raven and an interdisciplinary team from Monash Sustainable Development Institute, Monash Art, Design and Architecture, Faculty of Information Technology and Faculty of Arts. External Partner Organisations include ENGIE, City of Monash, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and CSIRO. Net Zero Precincts will enable industry partners to create integrated urban solutions and deliver a framework for urban transition management that aligns with the everyday experiences and visions of precinct community members, providing guidance for local government and state-level policy actors with commitments to net zero. The outcomes will benefit citizens and the broader community by making urban transitions socially and economically beneficial to future users of net zero precincts.

The ARC Linkage project will train 5 PhD students who will work together as an interdisciplinary cohort under the supervision of the Chief Investigators and Research Fellows. Fieldwork will take place at the Monash Clayton Campus and Monash Technology Precinct through action research across a range of socio-technical innovations in governance, policy and community participation to investigate how to accelerate net zero transition at precinct scale. Net Zero Precincts PhD candidates will benefit from ongoing professional development opportunities, research seminars and intensive student placements with industry and government partners to drive translation and research impact.


The supervisory team includes Professor Ariel Liebman (main) – FIT (Department of Data Science & AI), Sustainable Energy Systems; Associate Professor Megan Farrelly – Faculty of Arts (School of Social Sciences), Governance, Policy & Sustainability Transitions; and Dr Hao Wang – FIT (DSAI), Sustainable Energy Systems.


This opportunity is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand citizens/permanent residents) and international applicants. Ideally the successful applicant will commence no later than April 2022.

The successful applicant will need to meet the criteria for PhD admission at Monash University and demonstrate excellent research capability. Details of eligibility requirements, including English-language proficiency skills, are available at .

Scholarship holders must be enrolled full-time and on-campus. Applicants who already hold a PhD will not be considered.

Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI)

Interested candidates that meet the requirements must submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) form and include the following:

  • A cover letter that includes a brief statement of the applicant’s suitability and their motivation to apply (one page maximum)
  • A research proposal (one page maximum)
  • A curriculum vitae, including a list of any published works, academic awards and prizes, conference presentations and relevant work experience
  • A full statement of academic record, supported by scanned copies of relevant certified documentation (including transcripts)
  • A copy of the applicant’s honours or master thesis
  • Evidence of English language proficiency
  • Contact details of two academic referees

The EOI form can be found here .


Please contact Professor Ariel Liebman ( [email protected] ) for further information on the project and for any enquiries relating to your eligibility or application.

Shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview in November 2021. One successful candidate will be issued an ‘Invitation to Apply’.

Closing Date

Monday 4 October 2021, 11:55pm AEDT

Supporting a diverse workforce

For instructions on how to apply, click on the «Apply» button above for the full position description and instructions on how to apply for Monash jobs.

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