PhD project and scholarship

The Australian dairy industry plays a significant part in the nation’s economy, with almost $3 billion in export revenue in 2016-2017. Powdered dairy products extend shelf life and ease of transport, with >20% annual growth in premium products, such as milk protein concentrates and infant formula powders. This project aims to support the development of value-added dairy powders by investigating the impact of a novel processing technology in enhancing the properties of dairy powders and/or introducing new functionality. Successful outcomes will help expand the offering of high value dairy ingredients and thus increase the global competitiveness of Australian dairy manufacturing.

PhD scholarships are available for outstanding full-time postgraduate candidates to aid in the development of added-value dairy products by providing insight into the fundamental changes in surface compositions and properties of dairy powders in response to specific pre-treatment of feed emulsions.

One of the projects aims to correlate the changes in dairy emulsion properties under specific pre-treatment conditions (including high pressure jet) on powder functionality, by evaluating the modifications of protein structures, i.e. denaturation, aggregation, and interactions with fat droplets via dose response studies of pressure and protein/fat ratio. The knowledge gained will confirm the proposed hypothesis of the possible cause(s) of changes in functional properties for powders treated with different range of pressures, and potentially introduce a new functionality of the resulting powders.

Another project aims to develop a mechanistic understanding of surface formation on dairy powders by systematically monitoring the migration of solutes (fat, protein, lactose) of different emulsions and utilising the data to model the component distribution during drying. The understanding will contribute to the development of a more accurate model to predict surface-induced property changes of dairy powders.

Successful outcomes will help develop dairy powders with new / improved functionality, such as better encapsulation of fat or by introducing new surface functionality and desired properties relevant to applications (solubility, shelf stability, foamability) after rehydration. The applications can be extended beyond dairy to other food and nutraceutical products.

In addition to research work conducted at the School of Chemical Engineering, the PhD candidates will have the opportunity to conduct part of their research in our partner universities. Successful applicants will need to meet the criteria for admission into the Higher Degree Research (Program Code: 1010) at UNSW and is expected to commence their studies in 2020 - 2021.


Prof Cordelia Selomulya | School of Chemical Engineering, UNSW

Prof Federico Harte | Department of Food Science, Penn State

Prof Xiao Dong Chen | School of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Soochow University


Full scholarship for up to 4 years, plus support for research study exchange.

Closing Date for UNSW HDR admission: 18 September 2020

For further information, contact Prof. Cordelia Selomulya.

Project team

Project collaborators: External

Prof Xiao Dong Chen
School of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Soochow University
Prof Federico Harte
Department of Food Science, Penn State

Key contact