The overarching goal of this set of projects is to understand the brain mechanisms of inter-individual variability in circadian rhythms and develop tools for personalized prediction of sleep, alertness, and circadian rhythms in the real-world.


Dr Svetlana Postnova

Research Location

School of Physics

Program Type



Insufficient and disturbed sleep are widespread phenomena in modern society with nearly 7.4 million Australians affected daily. Sleep loss induces adverse changes in alertness resulting in accidents and loss of life, e.g., contributing to 20-30% of fatal car crashes each year. Impaired alertness is unavoidable in occupations with shiftwork like healthcare, police, and fire and rescue service. The degree of impairment, however, is highly variable across individuals with the most vulnerable being at highest risk of accidents. Identifying vulnerable vs. resilient individuals and predicting an individual’s alertness is critical to minimising accident risks and improving safety. To address this major problem, these projects will combine biophysical modelling and big data to uncover the key brain mechanisms of individual variability in alertness and its changes due to sleep deprivation. This combined biophysical modelling and big data approach will allow us to probe brain mechanisms of individual differences in alertness that are not assessable by each of the methods alone.

Additional Information

Candidates will require quantitative background, e.g., physics, mathematics, engineering, computer science and interest in biological systems.

HDR Inherent Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

  • Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
  • Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
  • Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
  • Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
  • Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks; 
  • Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
  • Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
  • Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
  • Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
  • Hold a current scuba diving license;Hold a current Working with Children Check;Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

Want to find out more?

Contact us to find out what’s involved in applying for a PhD. Domestic students and International students

Contact Research Expert to find out more about participating in this opportunity.

Browse for other opportunities within the School of Physics .


Chronophysics, neurophysics, mathematical modelling, brain dynamics, data science, dynamical systems, complex systems, Sleep, Alertness, individual variability, precision-based medicine

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 2864

Other opportunities with Dr Svetlana Postnova