The School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, at The University of Sydney (USyd) which is ranked 19th in the QS World University Rankings, is seeking two highly motivated and skilled PhD candidates in the area of power systems. The candidature will start in July 2024.

Supervisor and Team:

The PhD candidates will be supervised by Dr. Cuo Zhang, an ARC DECRA Fellow and a Lecturer in Power Engineering at USyd. He is an internationally recognized researcher in the area of power systems, with 30 IEEE Transactions papers (11 first-authored and 9 corresponding-authored), 6 IEEE/IET international conference best papers (3 first-authored) and 1 book. He was a recipient of an IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid Annual Outstanding Paper. He is an IEEE Senior Member and an Associate Editor of IEEE Access. He is committed to providing mentorship and support to the PhD candidates and will work closely with them to ensure their success in the research.

The power engineering research team with one IEEE fellow and the IEEE TSG Senior Editor has a strong research track and significant R&D impacts, outstanding testing facilities and established collaborations with international/domestic leading universities, research institutions and industry partners.


The project topic is “Robust Renewables Hosting Capacity Enhancement for Distribution Networks,” and it is an Australian Research Council founded project.

Promoting renewable power generation and clean hydrogen production are key priorities as Australia strives to reach its target of net zero emissions by 2050. However, a high proportion of renewables have caused severe technical challenges in our current power distribution systems. These include reduced quality of power supply and restrictions on utilising rooftop solar power, which have economic flow on effects for industry and individuals. This project will identify and address the technical barriers that cause such challenges and offer robust operation methods and innovative optimisation tools resulting in high operational reliability and efficiency of the power grid. The theoretical advances and immediate solutions from this project will contribute to reducing our electricity bills, securing increasing renewables installation, and further supporting Australian clean hydrogen production. Once adopted by utility operators and government agencies, these advances will speed up the national decarbonisation campaign by supplying eco-friendly, cost-effective, reliable, and sustainable energy for Australia.


  1. The tuition fee will be waived. The Australian standard living stipend $40,109 per year will be provided for 3.5 years.
  2. Travel costs for international conferences will be covered by the project fund.
  3. Other benefits provided by the School/Faculty/University, e.g., HDR Education Support Scheme, and Postgraduate Research Support Scheme.


  • Master degree or Honors Bachelor degree in the area of power systems. Expected degree completion/award by June 2024 can be considered.
  • Strong background in power system planning, operation, and control.
  • Research track record in the following topics (at least one):
    • Optimal power flow or volt/var control for active distribution networks
    • Distribution network dynamics and real-time simulation
    • Hosting capacity assessment and maximization
    • Modelling and operation of community battery or hydrogen electrolyser
    • Applications of deep reinforcement learning or graphical reinforcement leaning
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct independent research and publish top-tier international journal articles.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Ability to work collaboratively with supervisors and research peers.

With regard to English proficiency requirements, please go here.

To apply:

Please send a cover letter, your CV and transcripts to cuo.zhang@sydney.edu.au by 31st January 2024. The cover letter should highlight your qualifications, research interests, and why you are interested in the project.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview.


Prof Gregor Verbic