UNSW Scientia Fellows

The UNSW Scientia Fellowship program aims to attract and retain the best and brightest on a trajectory to being exceptional research leaders and mentors. UNSW Scientia Fellows are outstanding researchers who are committed to improving and transforming lives in local and global communities through their work.

Learn about the inaugural Scientia Fellows below.


Dr Nicole Carnt

School of Optometry and Vision Science, Faculty of Science
Research interests: Vision Science, Optometry, Microbiology, Immunology, Eye Infection and Inflammation.

Dr Nicole Carnt’s research focus is decreasing the impact of corneal and ocular surface disease. Recently Dr Carnt worked with Clinical Associate Professor Andrew White and Professor Tony Cunningham at Westmead Institute for Medical Research, primarily in the area of the host immune response to Herpes Simplex Keratitis.  

For more information, please visit Dr Carnt's UNSW profile

Dr Richard Collins

School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

Research interests: Environmental and Geochemical Engineering

Dr Richard Collins researches ways to manage the environmental impacts of coastal acid sulfate soils in northern NSW. He is particularly interested in improving nitrogen-fertiliser efficiency and limiting off-site gaseous and aqueous nitrogen losses from these unique soils, resulting in a win-win for farmers and the environment

Iron is one of the most important redox-active elements at the boundary between oxygenated (oxic) and oxygen absent (anoxic) environments in nature – such as in groundwater and sediments. 

Dr Collins is exploring ways to exploit the redox chemistry of iron to degrade contaminants and remediate acid sulfate soils. In particular, Dr Collins is investigating how the redox chemistry of iron influences nitrogen fertilizer loss (as greenhouse gases or in drainage waters) from acid sulfate soils.

For more information, please visit Dr Collins' UNSW profile

Dr Alex Davies

UNSW Art and Design

Research interests: Illusion, narrative, interaction, multi-sensory, engagement

Social interaction is central to our experience as humans. As these experiences are becoming increasingly mediated, Dr Alex Davies is investigating how our interactions with technologies can be enhanced to provide equivalence in the experience of human to human communication.

Dr Davies is interested in the potential for utilising the characteristics of particular technologies to create really compelling experiences. 

By examining how characteristics like social realism and narrative can be applied in the design of social robotic agents, Dr Davies will explore how this technology might enhance our lives, from health and wellbeing to workplaces, therapy, domestic work, and entertainment.

For more information, please visit Dr Davies' UNSW profile.

Dr Tanja Dreher

School of Arts and Media, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Research interests: Media and social justice, focusing on the politics of listening

At a time of proliferating voices via digital media, Dr Tanja Dreher’s research focuses on the politics, practices and ethics of ‘listening’ as a key strategy for achieving media justice. 

Media Justice is an emerging research framework that highlights the importance of media for many key issues including multiculturalism and migration, climate justice advocacy, inequality and more.

By shifting the focus from giving ‘voice to the voiceless’ to ‘listening’, Dreher is exploring the role of the structures, institutions and people who determine what can and can’t be heard via media.

For more information, please visit Dr Dreher's UNSW profile.

Dr Hazel Easthope

Faculty of Built Environment

Research interests: Living well in apartment homes

Providing affordable housing to rapidly expanding populations is one of the biggest challenges we face globally. This is an issue of the wellbeing of people, the environment, and economic stability. One of the most efficient ways to meet ramped-up demand for housing is to build skyward, encouraging the construction of apartment buildings. 

Dr Hazel Easthope’s research raises awareness of the unique challenges of apartment ownership and apartment living. Apartment buildings have several advantages, requiring less land than suburban expansions and detached houses, and situating people closer to urban hubs and existing infrastructure. But they must also be a comfortable place to create a home, where the design, construction and infrastructure promote home-making, and positive interactions between residents are fostered. By researching high density living, Dr Easthope explores ways to promote harmonious high-density living and good management of apartment buildings.

For more information, please visit Dr Easthope's UNSW profile

Dr Xiaojing (Jeana) Hao

School of Photovoltaic & Renewable Energy, Faculty of Engineering

Research interests: High-performance, low-cost, greener solar cells.

Climate change is affecting lives around the globe. Electricity generation accounts for around 40% of global CO2 emissions, and the most promising path is to reduce the coal-fired CO2 emission through the development of low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells. The more sunlight each cell can convert, the less manufacturing, transport, installation and wiring is needed to deliver each watt, making solar power an affordable method of generating electricity. 

Dr Xiaojing Hao’s research focuses on the development of high-efficiency, cheap thin film solar cells. Currently, all mature commercial products with stable high performance (such as Gallium Arsenide, Cadmium Telluride and Copper Indium Gallium Selenide), consist of toxic and/or rare materials. By exploring both green materials and environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes, Dr Hao is developing a high efficiency method for harvesting sunlight that can ensure a sustainable future for both local and global communities. 

For more information, please visit Dr Hao's UNSW profile

Associate Professor Kerry Humphreys

School of Accounting, UNSW Business School

Research interests: Strategic management accounting

Associate Professor Kerry Humphreys conducts behavioural research investigating when managers make effective decisions incorporating strategic performance information (particularly from the balanced scorecard framework), and how new managers can learn to make better decisions using this information. 

Her research examines a variety of management judgments and decisions, including performance evaluation, risk management, strategy evaluation and resource allocation in dynamic business environments. 

For more information, please visit Dr Humphreys' UNSW profile

Dr Katja Ignatieva

School of Risk and Actuarial Studies, UNSW Business School

Research interests: Financial econometrics for energy markets

Dr Katja Ignatieva’s research is concerned with quantitative finance, in particular, financial econometrics, derivative pricing and risk management. She performs empirical research in financial markets, commodity and energy markets, and insurance.

Dr Ignatieva is interested in understanding the dynamics of financial, energy and insurance markets, identifying which factors drive the underlying quantities in these markets, and how to describe their dynamics.

For more information, please visit Dr Ignatieva's UNSW profile

Dr Emma Kirby

School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Research interests: Sociology of health and illness

Informal carers play a critical role in the community, yet what they experience, and how they contribute to social and community life is not well understood. 

Drawing on a range of case studies, Dr Emma Kirby is exploring the experience of, and capacity for, informal care in Australian communities. 

By mapping the character and significance of informal care, as well as the potential challenges to its role and contribution in Australian society, Dr Kirby will provide an evidence base for policy and service providers to improve the allocation of resources and better support the informal care sector. 

For more information, please visit Dr Kirby's UNSW profile

Dr Arne Laucht

School of Electrical & Telecommunications, Faculty of Engineering

Research interests: Creating tomorrow’s quantum technology

Modern computers can perform an array of complex calculations, but there are still some important problems that existing computers can’t solve including those concerning the “micro” or quantum world.

Working with the Quantum Spin Control group at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T), Dr Arne Laucht is contributing to the development of a quantum computer based on single atoms that promises to revolutionise the way calculations are performed. 

Laucht is also exploring some tangential problems, including the development of novel quantum applications based on the electrical and optical properties of spin-carrying defects in semiconductor nanostructures using the materials silicon and silicon carbide.

For more information, please visit Dr Laucht's UNSW profile

Dr Kang Liang

School of Chemical Engineering / School of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

Research interests: Biomimicry, nano-bio interface, nanostructured materials, functional materials, metal-organic frameworks

Dr Kang Liang is interested in how science and engineering approaches can be used to improve our quality of life. 

His current research focus is on engineering a new class of porous materials, and exploring how these types of materials can be used to address emerging challenges we are facing in energy, healthcare, and the environment. 

For more information, please visit Dr Liang's UNSW profile

Dr Paul Munro

School of Humanities and Languages, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Research interests: Environment policy, political economy, history: African, human geography, environmental politics

Dr Paul Munro’s research explores the various social, economic and political dimensions that shape environmental access, use, and control in development contexts. 

To date Dr Munro’s research has explored forest conservation and energy use in rural areas in West Africa, water governance in Mexico, and coal seam gas conflicts in Australia.

For more information, please visit Dr Munro's UNSW profile

Dr Elise Payzan

School of Banking and Finance, UNSW Business School

Research interests: Neurofinance, behavioural economics, behavioural finance, experimental economics.

Dr Elise Payzan studies how people perceive and react to uncertainty, specifically with respect to financial risks. Her research examines how investors assess unstable return distributions, as well as how they adapt their behaviour in these rapidly changing conditions. She also studies the neurobiological bases of this behaviour. 

Dr Payzan’s neurofinance research builds on recent results and methods from experimental economics, behavioural economics, machine learning, and cognitive neuroscience. She is currently collaborating with researchers in Economics, Finance, and Cognitive Neuroscience. 

For more information, please visit Dr Payzan's UNSW profile

Dr Simon Rosenbaum

School of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine. 

Research interests: Exercise as medicine in mental health

People with mental illness die prematurely compared to the rest of the population, primarily due to preventable cardiovascular disease. 

Dr Simon Rosenbaum’s research looks at the impact of exercise and lifestyle interventions in reducing this gap in life expectancy. He explores the impact of exercise on symptoms of mental illness, and how exercise can be used as an integrated component of standard care for people experiencing mental illness. 

For more information, please visit Dr Rosenbaum's UNSW profile

Dr Elvira Sojli

School of Banking and Finance, UNSW Business School

Research interests: Innovation, Diversity, Gender Gap, International.

Dr Elvira Sojli’s current research is explores the role of, and determinants of, diversity in innovation, with special interest on female participation in innovation. Dr Sojli is particularly interested in the international aspect of differences across countries and disciplines. 

There are probably few transformations over the 20th century as radical as the change in women’s role. Globally 50% of the females aged 15 and above participate in the labor market (ILO Statistics 2015) and they represent 40% of the labor force, in contrast to 77% of males participating in the labor force. Despite the huge recent increase in female participation, there is marked under-representation of women in innovation and science specifically. Dr Sojli uses information across 148 and 100 years of individual information for patenting to investigate why we have this status quo.

Dr Irina Voineagu

School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, Faculty of Engineering

Research interests: Gene expression, brain development, disease


Dr Irina Voineagu conducts cutting-edge research into the molecular genetic mechanisms underlying normal brain function, and their perturbation in neurodevelopmental disorders. Using a combination of functional genomic studies in human brain tissue and neuronal cell culture systems, Voineagu is building a resource of information on gene function in the human brain which could help reveal the basis of autism and related neurological disorders

For more information, visit the UNSW Voineagu Lab