Mr Naras Hanumanth Rao

Mr Naras Hanumanth Rao

Senior Research Associate
School of Chemical Engineering

ARC DECRA Fellow and Senior Research Associate at the Algae & Organic Matter Lab (AOM Lab) within the Enviro Lab Cluster in the School of Chemical Engineering at UNSW.

Naras graduated with a BE in Chemical Engineering (India and USA at UW-Madison) and obtained his PhD in Chemical Engineering at The University of New South Wales, Sydney, in 2018. Following his PhD, he was a Research Associate at UNSW and then moved to Belgium where he was a Marie Curie Fellow at KU Leuven, Belgium. He returned to Australia in 2024 as an ARC DECRA Fellow at UNSW.

Naras' research interests focus on improving resource management and reuse and are tailored towards optimising particle separation in the water treatment, mining and biotechnology fields. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and technical reports for the industry on polymer and nanomaterial design for efficient algae and cyanobacteria separation, advanced characterisation of algae, cyanobacteria and natural organic matter from engineered and environmental systems, climate change impacts on catchment dynamics, and the improved understanding of existing online monitoring tools and the development of novel adaptations to push boundaries in these technologies for monitoring different contaminants.


Naras has attracted >$1 million in competitive funding as the Lead Chief Investigator on several projects from premier Australian and European funding agencies and the Australian water industry.

Major Research Grants

  1. 2023: ARC DECRA (DE240100987) - Multifunctional polymers for simultaneous cyanobacterial inactivation and flocculation
  2. 2021: Marie Curie Individual Fellowship (101029353) - AlgaeFLOAT: Developing recyclable nanocellulose-based flocculants for algal flotation
  3. 2020: Water RA RFF Grant (1125) - Cost of algae to the Australian water industry

Research Travel Grants

  1. 2023: Belgian Research Foundation - Flanders Grant
  2. 2016: UNSW Postgraduate Research Scholarship Scheme


  1. 2023: Discovery Early Career Researcher Award
  2. 2023: FWO Grant Belgium
  3. 2021: Marie Curie Individual Fellowship
  4. 2019: Reviewer Award from Journal of Environmental Management
  5. 2018: Outstanding Reviewer Award from Water Research (No.1 journal in the water field)
  6. 2018: Dean's List for Outstanding PhD Thesis
  7. 2016: UNSW PRSS Award
  8. 2014-2017: Australian Postgraduate Award
  9. 2014-2017: UNSW TFS Scholarship



  1. 2023-2024: Xuan Wei (co-supervisor/mentor) (visiting PhD)
  2. 2022-present: Sakshi Tyagi (co-supervisor/mentor)
  3. 2021-present: Angelina (co-supervisor)
  4. 2020-present: Taye Kazeem (co-supervisor)
  5. 2020-2023: Dr Xiaoran (Daisy) Chu (co-supervisor)
  6. 2018-2022: Dr Zainab Mustafa (mentor)

Undergraduate and Masters

  1. 2024-2024: Laurine Courcier
  2. 2022-2023: Guillaume Vandamme (co-supervisor)
  3. 2022-2023: Marlon van Oost (co-supervisor)
  4. 2022-2023: Christian Debou (co-supervisor)
  5. 2021-2021: Ashley Phung (co-supervisor)
  6. 2021-2021: Alexander Babkenian (co-supervisor)
  7. 2020-2021: Worawan Prasoprat
  8. 2020-2020: James Preziosa (co-supervisor)
  9. 2019-2020: Angelina
  10. 2018-2019: Simon McGrillen
  11. 2018-2019: Yu Chun Chow
  12. 2018-2019: Xiaoran (Daisy) Chu (co-supervisor)


Naras has worked with several water and chemical industry partners including Sydney Water, Melbourne Water, Water NSW, SPARC Technologies Ltd - Harrison Manufacturing Company.


Introduction to Chemistry

Transport Phenomena (Fundamentals to Advanced)

Introduction to Engineering

Chemical Engineering Design


In Europe, Naras serves as a Marie Curie Ambassador with the primary goal of motivating female students to embrace a career in research. As a part of his ambassadorial duties, he organised the ‘Summer School - Let’s Talk Science’ event at Leuven where he conducted a workshop for 50 female middle school students. He has also chaired the Industry Engagement Chapter of the YouReCa Center at KU Leuven Belgium in 2023. During this time, he established a pathway for translating academic research to industrial practice with GreenCoLab, Algarve, Portugal.

In Australia, he was on the organising committees of two international conferences ‘6th Australia and New Zealand Cyanobacteria workshop 2018’ and the International Water Association’s ‘13th Wastewater Ponds and Algal Technologies Conference 2022’. Prior to these, he was a regular contributor to the UNSW Early Career Network and co-organised and hosted the Australian Water Association’s Water Industry Career Night in 2018. Naras is also a regular part of UNSW HDR progress reviews since 2019.

To prospective students and postdoctoral fellows, please contact for more info.

  • Book Chapters | 2022
    Rao NRH; Henderson RK, 2022, 'Unit operations applied for microalgae-based solid–liquid separation', in 3rd Generation Biofuels: Disruptive Technologies to Enable Commercial Production, pp. 175 - 212,
  • Journal articles | 2023
    Hadinoto K; Rao NRH; Astorga JB; Zhou R; Biazik J; Zhang T; Masood H; Cullen PJ; Prescott S; Henderson RK; Trujillo FJ; Hanumanth Rao N, 2023, 'Hybrid plasma discharges for energy-efficient production of plasma-activated water', Chemical Engineering Journal, 451, pp. 138643,
    Journal articles | 2023
    Rao NRH; Beyer VP; Henderson RK; Thielemans W; Muylaert K, 2023, 'Microalgae harvesting using flocculation and dissolved air flotation: Selecting the right vessel for lab-scale experiments', Bioresource Technology, 374,
    Journal articles | 2023
    Rao NRH; Chu X; Hadinoto K; Angelina ; Zhou R; Zhang T; Soltani B; Bailey CG; Trujillo FJ; Leslie GL; Prescott SW; Cullen PJ; Henderson RK, 2023, 'Algal cell inactivation and damage via cold plasma-activated bubbles: Mechanistic insights and process benefits', Chemical Engineering Journal, 454,
    Journal articles | 2023
    Rao NRH; Gonzalez-Torres A; Tamburic B; Wong YW; Foubert I; Muylaert K; Henderson RK; Vandamme D, 2023, 'The influence of physical floc properties on the separation of marine microalgae via alkaline flocculation followed by dissolved air flotation', Algal Research, 71,
    Journal articles | 2023
    Rao NRH; Linge KL; Li X; Joll CA; Khan SJ; Henderson RK, 2023, 'Relating algal-derived extracellular and intracellular dissolved organic nitrogen with nitrogenous disinfection by-product formation', Water Research, 233,
    Journal articles | 2022
    Chu X; Agostino A; Rao NRH; Moradi S; Bustamante H; Power K; Henderson RK; Leslie GL, 2022, 'Application of a combination of oxidants improves treatment performance for NOM and manganese', Environmental Science: Water Research and Technology, 8, pp. 2705 - 2718,
    Journal articles | 2022
    Mustafa ZZ; Rao NRH; Henderson RK; Leslie GL; Le-Clech P, 2022, 'Considerations of the limitations of commonly applied characterisation methods in understanding protein-driven irreversible fouling', Environmental Science: Water Research and Technology, 8, pp. 343 - 357,
    Journal articles | 2022
    Mustafa ZZ; Rao NRH; Johnston-Hall G; Henderson RK; Leslie GL; Le-Clech P, 2022, 'Membrane fouling during algal blooms: Impact of extracellular algal organic matter feed and membrane surface properties', Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, 10,
    Journal articles | 2022
    Yap RKL; Rao NRH; Holmes M; Whittaker M; Stuetz RM; Jefferson B; Bulmuş V; Peirson WL; Henderson RK, 2022, 'Evaluating the performance of conventional DAF and PosiDAF processes for cyanobacteria separation at a pilot plant scale', H2Open Journal, 5, pp. 275 - 288,
    Journal articles | 2021
    Agostino A; Rao NRH; Paul S; Zhang Z; Leslie G; Le-Clech P; Henderson R, 2021, 'Polymer leachates emulate naturally derived fluorescent dissolved organic matter: Understanding and managing sample container interferences', Water Research, 204,
    Journal articles | 2021
    Rao NRH; Granville AM; Henderson RK, 2021, 'Understanding variability in algal solid-liquid separation process outcomes by manipulating extracellular protein-carbohydrate interactions', Water Research, 190,
    Journal articles | 2021
    Rao NRH; Tamburic B; Doan YTT; Nguyen BD; Henderson RK, 2021, 'Algal biotechnology in Australia and Vietnam: Opportunities and challenges', Algal Research, 56,
    Journal articles | 2020
    Li X; Rao NRH; Linge KL; Joll CA; Khan S; Henderson RK; Hanumanth Rao N, 2020, 'Formation of algal-derived nitrogenous disinfection by-products during chlorination and chloramination', Water Research, 183, pp. 116047 - 116047,
    Journal articles | 2020
    Rao NRH; Granville AM; Wich PR; Henderson RK, 2020, 'Detailed algal extracellular carbohydrate-protein characterisation lends insight into algal solid-liquid separation process outcomes', Water Research, 178,
    Journal articles | 2020
    Shutova Y; Rao NRH; Zamyadi A; Baker A; Bridgeman J; Lau B; Henderson RK, 2020, 'Characterisation of dissolved organic matter to optimise powdered activated carbon and clarification removal efficiency', Environmental Science: Water Research and Technology, 6, pp. 2065 - 2077,
    Journal articles | 2019
    Imran Khan S; Zamyadi A; Hanumanth Rao NR; Li X; Stuetz R; Henderson R, 2019, 'Fluorescence spectroscopic characterisation of algal organic matter: towards improved in situ fluorometer development', Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, 5, pp. 417 - 432,
    Journal articles | 2019
    Li X; Rao NRH; Linge KL; Joll CA; Khan S; Henderson RK, 2019, 'An evaluation of measurement techniques for algal-derived organic nitrogen', Water Research, 165,
    Journal articles | 2018
    Hanumanth Rao NR; Granville AM; Browne CI; Dagastine RR; Yap R; Jefferson B; Henderson RK, 2018, 'Determining how polymer-bubble interactions impact algal separation using the novel “Posi”-dissolved air flotation process', Separation and Purification Technology, 201, pp. 139 - 147,
    Journal articles | 2018
    Hanumanth Rao NR; Yap R; Whittaker M; Stuetz RM; Jefferson B; Peirson WL; Granville AM; Henderson RK, 2018, 'The role of algal organic matter in the separation of algae and cyanobacteria using the novel “Posi” - Dissolved air flotation process', ,
  • Conference Presentations | 2019
    Moradi S; Kim S; Agostino A; Hanumanth Rao NR; Sharma A; Leslie G; Henderson R, 2019, 'Machine learning application for estimation of natural organic matter in water using climatological parameters', presented at NOM7 IWA Specialist Conference on Natural Organic Matter in Water 2019, Tokyo, Japan, 07 October 2019 - 10 October 2019
    Conference Presentations | 2019
    2019, 'A multi-technique assessment on the flux of natural organic matter across an Australian water supply catchment'
    Conference Papers | 2016
    Hanumanth Rao NR; Yap R; Granville A; Stuetz R; Henderson RK, 2016, 'Algae flotation using PosiDAF: A comparison of polymers as bubble surface modifiers', Toulouse, France, presented at 7th International IWA conference on water and wastewater systems, Toulouse, France, 26 September 2016 - 30 September 2016
    Conference Papers | 2015
    Hanumanth Rao NR; Granville A; Henderson R, 2015, 'New approach to dissolved air flotation: Bubble surface modification using tailored polymers', Honolulu, Hawaii, presented at Pacifichem, Honolulu, Hawaii, 15 December 2015 - 20 December 2015
    Conference Papers | 2015
    Henderson R; Yap R; Stuetz R; Peirson W; Whittaker M; Hanumanth Rao NR; Granville A; Jefferson B, 2015, 'PosiDAF: Simplifying flotation for algal cell separation', Melbourne, presented at Asia Pacific Confederation of Chemical Engineering Congress 2015: APCChE 2015, incorporating CHEMECA 2015, Melbourne, 27 September 2015 - 01 October 2015,;dn=715007136040978;res=IELENG