©2020 by ARC Training Centre for Medical Implant Technologies.

PhD students
ARC CMIT welcomes the PhD students who have joined the Centre.
PhD scholarships are available if you are interested in undertaking research in biomedical engineering.
To find out more, click here.
Xin Li

Project title

Antimicrobial nanomaterials for medical implants


Professor Andrea O’Connor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Melbourne School of Engineering, The University of Melbourne

Dr Daniel Heath, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Melbourne School of Engineering, The University of Melbourne

Professor Neil O’Brien-Simpson, Melbourne Dental School, The University of Melbourne

Xin Li with Professor Andrea O'Connor

Xin Li is undertaking a PhD research project with the Department of Biomedical Engineering, The University of Melbourne. She has long held an interest in undertaking research since graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine (Dentistry) at Tianjin Medical University, China. While conducting research in cancer for the Master of Medicine (Dentistry) at Lanzhou University, Xin grew to appreciate the importance of technology in advancing treatments for patients. She progressed to enrolled in a Master of Engineering (Biomedical) majoring in biomedical engineering at the University of Melbourne as the research program would enable Xin to combine her knowledge in medicine with engineering skills. The research experience in the BioFab3D@ACMD facility in Melbourne has broadened her horizon in the biomaterials field. This encouraged her to embark on a PhD candidature to advance her biomedical engineering skills and capabilities.

Xin’s PhD project aims to address anti-microbial challenges affecting medical implants. Medical implants-associated infections remain the concern of post-operative infections. This is mostly due to the application of biomaterials of the implants. Even though the drug delivery coupled system showed an antimicrobial capacity, the drug resistance of bacteria remains challenging.  Xin’s project focuses on anti-microbial nanomaterials for medical implants, aiming to improve the antimicrobial properties of skeletal reconstruction implants to reduce the risk of infection and minimize the potential development of microbial resistance.

Sarah Woodford

Project title

Joint function of the healthy, osteoarthritic and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) replacement jaw


Dr David Ackland, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Melbourne School of Engineering, The University of Melbourne

Professor Peter Lee, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Melbourne School of Engineering, The University of Melbourne


Dr Dale Robinson, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Melbourne School of Engineering, The University of Melbourne

Sarah Woodford with Dr David Ackland

Sarah Woodford completed a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Melbourne, and was exposed to applications in the medical device industry, which inspired her to pursue a career working as a design engineer for a large hearing aid manufacturer in Denmark. Upon returning to Australia she decided to undertake a PhD, working with Dr David Ackland and his team in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Sarah was particularly interested in their work involving customized 3D printed temporomandibular joint (TMJ) implants and their significant impact on the quality of life of implant recipients.

Currently the design and post-operative evaluation of TMJ implants is limited by the capacity to accurately assess jaw motion and jaw loading. The research that Sarah is undertaking involves investigating the structure and function of the jaw, and the differences in its kinematics between healthy, osteoarthritic, and joint replacement patients. Ideally this project will lead to improved implant design and a deeper understanding of dynamic jaw joint function.

This project also has a personal aspect for Sarah. With a sibling with TMJ deformities, Sarah is acutely aware of the life changing impact of these devices and their developments in terms of increasing functionality, reducing pain levels and providing excellent cosmetic outcomes for the patient.

Stepanka Haiblikova

Project title

Three-dimensional behavior of the human intervertebral disc under static and dynamic loading conditions; progressing towards automated patient-specific finite element (FE) models


Professor Peter Lee, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Melbourne School of Engineering, The University of Melbourne

Professor Duncan Shepherd, Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Birmingham

Stepanka Haiblikova with Professor Peter Lee

Biomedical engineering is providing Stepanka Haiblikova with an opportunity to be a part of an inspiring and rapidly developing field which aims to improve the treatment of disease. As Stepanka highlights "With the chance to be involved in potentially life-saving outcomes, why would I want to study anything else?”


Although Stepanka was initially discouraged from studying engineering, her path to becoming a biomedical engineer was straightforward. Alongside pursuing a Master’s Diploma in Biomechanics at Czech Technical University in Prague, Stepanka had the opportunity to study abroad. It was Professor Teo Ee Chon from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore who triggered her interest in spinal biomechanics.


Stepanka’s PhD project is focussed on understanding the mechanics of intervertebral disc which is essential for many clinical applications. Treatment of lower back injuries or disc degeneration and development of intervertebral disc replacement are limited. Computer simulations and finite element (FE) modelling proved to be a useful tool for surgical planning and implant design. However, validation of these FE models presents a difficult part of the process. In vitro measurement of internal strains of the human disc would address this problem and contribute to the development of an automatically generated patient-specific model of the spine.


Stepanka has chosen to undertake her PhD at The University of Melbourne because of the biomedical engineering expertise and the advance equipment that is available for her research. She believes that the combination of the cultural heritage and diversity of the city and the surrounding wilderness makes Victoria the place to be.