Skip to the content

This internet browser is outdated and does not support all features of this site. Please switch or upgrade to a different browser to display this site properly.


Scholarship details

2024 RTP round - Developing novel algorithms and approaches for beamforming and pulsar searching in the SKA era

Status: Closed

Applications open: 7/07/2023
Applications close: 25/08/2023

View printable version [.pdf]

About this scholarship

Fundamental physics with pulsars is a headline science theme for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, the ultimate radio telescope to be ever built. As such, a full cosmic census of the Galactic pulsar population is a key science driver for Phase 1 SKA; in particular, searching for pulsars in close binary systems and exploiting them for performing exquisite tests of the theories of gravity, including Einstein's theory of relativity, is a high-priority science objective for the SKA and its pathfinder/precursor facilities. At the low radio frequencies in which the SKA-Low is designed to operate (i.e., below ~300 MHz), sensitive searches for such exotic objects continue to be a daunting computational challenge, owing to a large multi-dimensional search parameter space, and inherently large computational costs for beamforming and processing. 

This project will leverage several Petabytes of data collected as part of the ongoing Southern-sky MWA Rapid Two-metre (SMART) pulsar survey (Bhat et al. 2023a, 2023b) under way at the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), Australia's Precursor for the SKA telescope. It will explore novel algorithmic approaches to develop an effective (and computationally efficient) solution to the problem, thereby accelerating the journey toward discovering first such pulsars with the MWA. 

This project aims to tackle one of the computationally daunting problems in low-frequency pulsar searches using next-generation wide-field radio telescopes, through a systematic exploration of novel algorithmic approaches that can be exploited for beamforming the full field-of-view, thereby bringing a high computational efficiency in pulsar searches, to facilitate their successful applications by processing hundreds of Terabytes of high-time-resolution data from the SMART survey, in order to make the first discoveries of such objects with an SKA precursor telescope. 

The main objectives of the project include: 1) undertaking a systematic exploration of new hybrid beam-forming techniques and their applications for high-sensitivity pulsar searches in low-frequency high-time-resolution data obtained from the MWA telescope; 2) developing an end-to-end processing pipeline that can be deployed on high-performance supercomputers to facilitate intensive searches for binary pulsars in tight orbits where the relativistic effects are significant; and 3) application of the newly-developed software pipelines to perform a pilot survey of select parts of the sky (e.g. ~3000 square degrees), to search for such binary pulsar systems and make the first discoveries of such exotic objects with the MWA. 

Successful demonstration of such novel algorithmic approaches and their viability in low-frequency searches will not only accelerate the processing efforts needed to realise the SMART survey's science goals, but will also provide valuable insights into designing optimal survey and beamforming strategies that are relevant for the SKA and its pathfinder facilities such as the South African MeerKAT. From a scientific perspective, the discovery of even a single object of this rare class will be a significant addition to the small sample (~10) of targets that are highly sought after for advancing our knowledge of fundamental physics (e.g., strong-field gravity), thus pushing the frontiers of physics and preparing for science planned with the SKA. 

  • Future Students
  • Faculty of Science & Engineering
    • Science courses
    • Engineering courses
  • Higher Degree by Research
  • International Student
  • Merit Based

The annual scholarship package (stipend and tuition fees) is approx. $60,000 - $70,000 p.a.

Successful HDR applicants for admission will receive a 100% fee offset for up to 4 years, stipend scholarships at the 2023 RTP rate valued at $32,250 p.a. for up to a maximum of 3 years, with a possible 6-month completion scholarship. Applicants are determined via a competitive selection process and will be notified of the scholarship outcome in November 2023. 

For detailed information, visit: Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarships | Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

Scholarship Details


All applicable HDR courses

This project is ideal for a candidate with a sound background in physics or astrophysics, and a strong inclination for software development and signal processing aspects of radio astronomy. A background in radio astronomy with some research experience is an additional advantage. 

Application process

This project has identified a preferred candidate and is no longer available.  Please review remaining scholarships projects.

Enrolment Requirements

Eligible to enrol in a Higher Degree by Research Course at Curtin University by March 2024.

Recipients must complete their milestone 1 within 6 month of enrolment and remain enrolled on a full-time basis for the duration of the scholarship.


The Project lead has identified a preferred candidate and is no longer accepting applications. Please click here to review remaining scholarships projects.

Scholarships Email Alert