Exciting opportunities have opened up for a PhD project under the new prestigious Scientia scheme at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia.

The Scientia scheme will provide 700 scholarships for PhD students at UNSW over 10 years. These scholarships are unusually well remunerated: they provide a stipend of $40,000 per year for four years + up to $10,000 year to support international research collaborations per year. In addition, each awardee will be provided with a professional and career development plan. The scholarship covers tuition fees for the full four year period. The scheme is open to both Australian and international applicants.

This year our team is offering one of the approved projects. The project is on “Understanding the mechanisms of muscle contracture”. This is the short description of the project.

Children with cerebral palsy often develop muscle contractures (stiffening of muscles) that produce deformities and cause physical disability. The mechanisms that cause muscle contracture are poorly understood. It is not known with any certainty whether muscle contractures are primarily due to changes in the muscle cells or tendons. Recently we and others have developed MRI-based methods that utilise diffusion tensor imaging to generate exquisite three-dimensional images of muscles in living humans. We will use these methods to resolve a longstanding controversy about whether contractures in children with cerebral palsy are due primarily to changes in muscle or tendon.

The precise details of the project are negotiable. The project could concentrate on methods of diffusion tensor imaging of skeletal muscles, muscle physiology, or the pathophysiology of contracture, depending on the student’s interests and skills.

Potential PhD students are invited to apply if you have an excellent academic record in biomedical engineering, biomechanics, computing science, physiotherapy or related discipline.

Details of the Scientia scholarship scheme can be found at:

Applications can be lodged at:

Please contact Dr Bart Bolsterlee (b.bolsterlee@neura.edu.au) and/or Prof Rob Herbert (r.herbert@neura.edu.au) for any additional questions to which the answers cannot be found on the Scientia scholarship websites.