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Research Fellow (Civil Composites), University of Southern Queensland

Xuesen Zeng's picture


Research and Innovation


Centre for Future Materials


USQ Academic Level B


Full-time fixed term appointment for 3 years




12 February 2018

Responsible to:

Director (Centre for Future Materials)


Your Opportunity


The appointed Research Fellow (Academic Level B) will conduct research in the newly funded $3 Million CRC-P project to develop polymer composite railway sleepers and transom decks as part of an industry lead program. The project objectives are:


• Establish constitutive properties of polymers and fibre reinforcements most suitable for composite transom decks;

• Develop new composite transom deck systems with optimised material distribution that can safely carry expected static and dynamic loads, and satisfy the serviceability requirements;

• Investigate the behaviour of composite transom decks under static, dynamic and fatigue loadings;

• Evaluate in-service performance of the developed composite transom decks; and 

• Develop efficient and cost-effective manufacturing processes for large scale composite production.

You will be part of a team of researchers within the world leading “Centre for Future Materials” at USQ, carrying out relevant design, modelling and experimental works to deliver a cost effective polymer composite product to the rail sector. The successful candidate will have strong structural engineering skills achieved through research and/or industry background in the field of polymer composites in civil engineering and construction. Experience in the design and use of polymer composites in railway sleeper technologies is highly desirable.


A Research Fellow is expected to make significant contributions to the research effort of the University, and play a significant role within their discipline. They will develop collaborative research partnerships with other research organisations, funding bodies and industry participants. A Research Fellow will play a significant role in the supervision of postgraduate students and in the submission of project applications to funding bodies.

Our University


USQ is a young, dynamic university dedicated to providing quality programs and degrees in a flexible and supportive environment.  In less than 50 years, USQ has become a prominent teaching and research institution providing education worldwide from three locations – Toowoomba, Springfield and Ipswich.  We also have a number of outreach hubs, and national and international education partners.


The strategic purpose of USQ is to lead in economic and social development through higher education and research excellence.  This is achieved through our vision to strive for excellence within a global context while remaining strongly grounded in our community-centred values and regional heritage.  Our core values of Respect, Integrity and Excellence guide us in our working lives and unite us in our purpose and vision: 

·         Respect.  We respect each other and value diversity of people, culture and ideas within USQ’s community.

·         Integrity. In all we do, we apply and expect the highest personal, professional and ethical standards.  Together we act with transparency, consistency and fairness.

·         Excellence. Through expertise, innovation and creativity, we work together to excel in all that we do as a University community.


USQ supports its staff to reach their full potential, both personally and professionally, and offers access to an extensive range of career development, health and wellbeing, and reward and recognition programs. We have a strong commitment to diversity, celebrate inclusion and provide equal opportunity for all in a flexible, positive and friendly workplace.


Your Team


The Research and Innovation Division incorporates Research Institutes, Research Centres, the Office of Research, the Office of Research Graduate Studies and the Office of Research Development.  The Division drives the University’s research performance and innovation in areas of strength and priority and builds relationships with industry and business through local, national and international research networks to leverage research outcomes and opportunities.


The Centre for Future Materials (CFM) delivers world class research in the design and development of innovative materials for diverse engineering applications. With a strong focus on polymer and concrete composites, CFM drives the development of low cost, sustainable, automated production technologies, servicing the aerospace, automotive, marine, wind energy, defence and civil sectors. You will be part of the Civil Composites group at CFM to work on leading edge research and development projects necessary to advance the use of fibre reinforced polymer composites in civil engineering and construction. In collaboration with various industries and asset owners, this group develop and apply novel composite technologies in new construction and repair of bridges, roads, railways, and marine to future-proof Australian infrastructure.


Your Organisational Relationships



§  Reports to:  Director (Centre for Future Materials)

§  Member of:  Centre for Future Materials

§  Supervises:  Research staff, professional staff and post-graduate students

§  Provides tasking to:  USQ academic and professional staff, students

§  Key contacts:  USQ management, Research Institutes and Centres, USQ staff and students.



§  Research & Development Corporations and other funding bodies

§  Government Departments / Legislative Bodies

§  Other Universities

§  Service Providers

§  Industry


Your Key Responsibilities


1.    Responsibilities of a Research Fellow (Academic Level B) may include: 


·       The initiation, planning and conduct of research.

·       Significant role in research projects including, where appropriate, leadership of a research team.

·       Perform analysis and modelling, and be responsible for achieving outcomes relevant to the industry partners and to communicate this information to the Chief Investigators and collaborators.

·       Regularly write technical reports on the outputs of the experiments conducted, and maintain accurate and detailed records of all experiments conducted.

·       Involvement in professional activity.

·       Consultation with students.

·       Undertake Occupational Health and Safety and Environmental Health and Safety responsibilities.

·       Broad administrative functions.

·       Attendance at Centre and/or group meetings and a major role in planning or committee work.

2.    As a member of the University community, demonstrate the highest possible standards of professional and personal conduct, both as an individual and as part of a team, commit to regular engagement in personal, professional and team development, and demonstrate behaviour consistent with the key capabilities outlined in the USQ People Capability Framework.

3.    To provide a high level of expertise in civil composites design, testing, analysis, and application.

4.    To attract and supervise postgraduate research students in polymer composites.

5.    To generate, in collaboration with other team members and external research partners, novel research proposals for submission to external funding providers.

6.    The publication of research findings in world class refereed journals and the presentation of results at appropriate forums.

7.    To establish and build collaborative research partnerships with organisations such as State and Commonwealth Government Departments, Universities, CSIRO, industry, R&D Corporations and other national and international research agencies.

8.    To promote research activities and outputs within the broader community.

Is This The Role For You?


Within the context of the University’s purpose, vision, and core values, and in direct connection to the key responsibilities described above, it is expected that you will possess the following:


An Academic Level B employee will normally have sufficient qualifications and significant experience in the relevant discipline area. A research position at this level will normally require a doctoral qualification or equivalent accreditation and standing. In determining experience relative to qualifications, regard will be had to experience and output in research, experience outside tertiary education, creative achievement, professional contributions and/or technical achievement. A position at this level will normally require a record of demonstrable and high quality scholarly and professional achievement in the relevant discipline area.


1.     Possession of a PhD in a relevant area of polymer composites in civil and/or structural engineering.

2.     A demonstrated high level of research expertise in civil composites. In particular, expertise in experimental and simulation development for polymer composites in railway sleeper technologies will be highly regarded.

3.     Demonstrated ability to prepare grant proposals and attract external competitive grants.

4.     Demonstrated ability to supervise research staff and postgraduate research students.

5.     Excellent scientific communication skills, as demonstrated by a strong publication record and engagement in national and international conferences.

6.     Demonstrated ability to engage effectively with the composites community and other external stakeholders.

7.     Possession of energy and initiative together with a high level of interpersonal skills including a demonstrated ability to:

·                     Work in a team

·                     Establish strong student rapport/empathy

·                     Communicate effectively in written and oral modes

·                     Actively contribute to the maintenance of a collegial work environment


8.     Alignment with the core University values of Respect, Integrity, and Excellence.



Applications and enquiries related to this position should be directed to Professor Peter Schubel via email

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