Four PhD candidates from the School of Minerals and Energy Resources have been awarded the Dean’s Award for Outstanding PhD theses as a result of their research. The Dean’s Award for Outstanding PhD Theses recognises PhD graduates who have been commended by their thesis examiners. Our candidates have produced theses that have received outstanding and excellent levels of achievement for all examination criteria, and in the opinion of their examiners is in the top 10% of PhD theses examined.

PhD student winners, from left to right: (Top) Mingyan Lv, Xiao Chen, (Bottom) Yufu Niu, Sarvesh Kumar. UNSW

The school is proud of their accomplishments which demonstrates the results of their hard work and determination. To showcase the achievements of our Awardees, we conducted interviews with each winning candidate to assess their research, their time at UNSW and their current career endeavours.

·        Yufu Niu (PhD Petroleum Engineering) for the thesis “Applications of Physically Accurate Deep Learning for Processing Digital Rock Images.”

  • Sarvesh Kumar Singh (PhD Mining Engineering) for the thesis “Optimising Mobile Laser Scanning for Underground Mines.”
  • Xiao Chen for the thesis “Mechanical Compaction of Highly Porous Carbonates: Instabilities and Permeability Evolution.”
  • Mingyan Lv for the thesis “A fundamental investigation and ultrasonic characterisation of coal effective stress behaviour.”

Yufu Niu

“My PhD research opens up a new path for physically accurate image processing which can facilitate the entire workflow of digital rock physics”.

Yufu Niu officially completed his PhD at the School of Minerals and Energy Resources Engineering at UNSW in January 2022. Niu has published research articles in leading geoscience journals such as geophysical research letters, water resources research, etc. He has also reviewed for the for Journal of Geophysical Research – Solid Earth. Having always wanted to pursue a career as a research scientist, Niu is now currently working as a full-time postdoctoral researcher at CSIRO Mineral Resources.

“I am excited to conduct research in my research domain because I like to explore new things in the world, this is why I pursued my research at UNSW.”

Read the full interview and learn more about Yufu Niu.


Sarvesh Kumar Singh

“The growth of humanity depends almost entirely on minerals and resources as this is one field which is always going to be at the forefront, as resource demands will never end.”

Sarvesh Singh has one simple motto in life “Do what you enjoy.” With a love for solving difficult problem and tackling challenges since his early years, Singh has transferred that energy into research in academia to solve real-world issues at his own pace. During his PhD, Singh went on to publish eight scientific papers in top international journals in the past three and a half years. One of the papers was even cited more than 18 times in just a year. Singh currently now works as a Research Assistant in the Laboratory for Imaging the Mining Environment (LIME), School of Minerals and Energy Resources.

“My family has always been there to encourage me during my lows and highs. I really could not have achieved any academic accolades without their support.”

Read the full interview and learn more about Sarvesh Kumar Singh.

Mingyan Lv

“My experience in UNSW helped me secure a job as a graduate geotechnical engineer in the largest gold mine in Australia and one of the largest in the world.”

It has been a whooping 6 years for Mingyan at UNSW having completed both a master’s and a PhD in petroleum engineering. Mingyan currently works as a Geotechnical Engineer and attributes her curiosity towards learning how the world works and how things are built, as the drive towards pursuing engineering.

Mingyan completed her bachelor’s degree in engineering in China and after working for a few years in the energy sector, decided to pursue postgraduate study at UNSW to brush up on professional skills due to the location and research programs offered. Mingyan moved from China to Australia in 2016 and started her Masters in UNSW and found it to be a wonderful experience. Afterwards, she decided to further her study into a PhD to focus on geomechanics.

“Sometimes I cannot believe I’ve studied in UNSW for 6 years! My parents always encouraged me to achieve a higher degree in research. Whenever I felt that my study was difficult, they were always there to support me.”

Read the full interview and learn more about Mingyan Lv


Xiao Chen

“Researchers and engineers with mineral and energy resources backgrounds would be highly needed to reduce greenhouse gases in the future.”

Xiao is currently working as a CSIRO Early Research Career (CERC) Postdoctoral Fellow after a long journey of his academic study from universities across the northern and southern hemispheres.

Xiao started out as was an undergraduate student of Resource Exploration Engineering and furthered his education by becoming a postgraduate student of Petroleum Engineering and then pursuing a PhD in Petroleum Engineering. Xiao now currently works as a CSIRO Early Research Career (CERC) Postdoctoral Fellow in a CSIRO Mineral Resource 3D Characterisation Lab while continuing his PhD research work.

“I dedicate this award to my parents for encouraging and supporting me to challenge myself and explore possibilities in the world”.

Read the full interview and learn more on Xiao Chen