PhD projects triumph in international challenge

Ashiwin and Sofia receiving their prize from senior BASF executives, Dr Sébastien Garnier, Dr Harald Lauke and Dr Stefan Dreher.
Ashiwin and Sofia receiving their prize from senior BASF executives, Dr Sébastien Garnier, Dr Harald Lauke and Dr Stefan Dreher.

Sofia Chaudry, of Booragoon, and Winthrop�s Ashiwin Vadiveloo fought off competition from four other teams in the finals of the BASF Asia-Pacific PhD Challenge with presentations on their innovative PhD projects, which aim to cost effectively biofuel produced from microalgae.

Ms Chaudry and Mr Vadiveloo were the only team from Australia in the finals, that took place at the BASF regional headquarters in Shanghai last week.

Mr Vadiveloo�s project involved maximising the productivity and growth of microalgae through the use of certain colours of the solar spectrum, while diverting the remaining solar energy to photovoltaic devices that generate electricity to run the equipment needed to make biofuel.

Ms Chaudry is designing a process that repetitively extracts hydrocarbons from Botryococcus braunii a species of microalgae. This process is known as milking and will make microalgae re-usable.

They were teamed together and mentored for the competition by their co-supervisors who are world-renowned experts in these fields, Professor Parisa Bahri and Dr David Parlevliet from the School of Engineering and Information Technology and Dr Navid Moheimani from the Algae Research and Development Centre of the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences.

Ms Chaudry and Mr Vadiveloo will now travel to the BASF International Summer Course in Germany in August and the Global Science Symposium at Shanghai in November.

BASF is one of the world�s leading chemical companies.