I have supervised many talented Interns, Honours, Capstone and PhD students. Several have created their own successful startups companies. Others have received Oscars for the Animated film Happy Feet and taken up senior technical, management and leadership roles at: Apple Inc, Cupertino; Microsoft and Amazon, Seattle; Animal Logic, Sydney; Atlasssian, Sydney; Canon, Sydney; Bosch, Germany; Uber Advanced Technology Group (Self-driving Car Project); University of Melbourne, University of Texas at Austin, and University of Massachusetts.

UTS Students I supervise in the Magic Lab have been awarded a wide range of Fellowships, Awards and Prizes including the following since 2010:

  1. 2018 Venture Day Winner,  PhD Student Mahya Knox
  2. 2018 Sponsorship to Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (FAT*) in New York City PhD Student Nik Dawson
  3. 2018 Atlasssian Sponsorship to Singularity University Summit PhD Student Sarita Herse.
  4. 2018 Open Source Self Driving Platform Hackathon, Top 10 Global Engineers selected,  PhD Student Samuel Pfeiffer
  5. 2017 NASA Space Robotics Challenge Finalist  and Third Place:  PhD Student Samuel Pfeiffer
  6. 2017 IBISWorld 3P Innovation Competition First place: PhD Student Mahya Knox
  7. 2017 RoboCup Best Human Robot Interface Award, UTS Unleashed!
  8. 2017 Second Place in the Social Robot League, UTS Unleashed!
  9. 2017 RoboCup Social Robotics @Home League Qualification, UTS Unleashed!
  10. 2017 European Satellite Navigation Competition Prize, First Place, Chand Gudi
  11. 2017 AMY Student Awards Finalists, PhD Student: Meg Tonkin; Capstone Students: Navi Gunaratne, Jose Gunawarman, Denis Draca; First Class Honours Student: Le Kang.
  12. 2017 Start-Up Catalyst's Youth USA Mission, Mahya Knox
  13. 2016 Best Social Robot Design, International Conference on Social Robotics, Meg Tonkin
  14. 2016 Australian-French Entrepreneurship Challenge Finalist, Mayha Knox
  15. 2016 Project Pitch, Mayha Knox
  16. 2016 First Class Honours, Le Kang 
  17. 2016 IBM PhD Fellowship, Mahya Knox
  18. 2016 Stocklands Social Robotics Scholarship, Le Kang

  19. 2015 Valeo €100,000 Innovation Challenge Finalists, UTS Unleashed!
  20. 2015 IBM PhD Fellowship, Mahya Knox
  21. 2014 First Class Honours, Jenny Lui
  22. 2014 Endeavour Leadership PhD Fellowship, Muh. Anshar
  23. 2013 First Class Honours, Michelle Youssef
  24. 2013 IJCAI Robot Video Prize, The Magic Lab Team
  25. 2013 IBM PhD Fellowship, Wei Wang
  26. 2012 Chancellor's Prize for the Best UTS PhD Dissertation, Benjamin Johnston
  27. 2012 IBM PhD Fellowship, Pramod Parajuli
  28. 2012 IBM PhD Fellowship, Jinjiu Li
  29. 2011 Endeavour PhD Fellowship, Rony Novianto

  30. 2011 Endeavour PhD Fellowship, Salia Raza

  31. 2011 IBM PhD Fellowship, Rony Novianto

  32. 2010 Endeavour Leadership PhD Fellowship, Pramod Parajuli

  33. 2010 First Class Honours, James Horninsky

  34. 2010 Ray Kurzweil Prize for the most creative idea in AI, Benjamin Johnston
  35. 2010 IBM PhD Fellowship, Xun Wang

Current PhD Students

  1. Sirita Herse: Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) UNSW. Research topic: Human-Social Robot Interaction. Co-supervised with Benjamin Johnston and Jonathan Vitale. Expected Completion 2022.
  2. Le Kang: completed his First Class Honours degree in Computer Science in the Magic Lab 2016 gaining a Social Robotics intership with Stockland. Research focus is Human-Social Robot Engagement. Co-supervised with Benjamin Johnston. Expected Completion 2021.
  3. Siva Leela Krishna Chand Gudi: focussing on Social Robotics. Before joining UTS, he worked for various research organizations including the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), Indian Railways and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). Co-supervised with Benjamin Johnston. Expected Completion 2021.
  4. Samuel Pfeiffer:  Autonomy for Social Robots: Exploring mechanism to help robots make autonomous decisions as they carry out their missions independently. Co-supervised with Xun Wang Senior Roboticist CBA Innovation Lab. Expected Completion 2020.
  5. Sidra Alam: Human-Robot Collaboration: Exploring intelligent and robust mechanism to support human robot collaboration. Expected Completion 2020. Currently on maternity leave.
  6. Meg TonkinHuman-Robot Interaction: Exploring human-robot interaction and developing a new understanding of the importance of humans knowing what robots know about them as they interact. Co-supervised with Benjamin Johnston in the School of Software. Expected Completion 2019.
  7. Suman OhjanEthics, Emotions and Social Robots: Exploring how to embed ethics into social robots decision making. Gained First Place in the Master of IT at The University of Sydney in 2015. Co-supervised with Benjamin Johnston. Expected Completion 2019
  8. Mark van Rijmenam: Organisations in times of disruption: Towards a data driven framework for sustained competitive advantage. Co-supervised with Jochen Schweitzer in the School of Business. Expected Completion 2018.
  9. Pramod Parajulia: Modelling Risk. International Student Nepal. Funded on a 4-Year Endeavour Leadership Scholarship. Currently on leave due to earthquakes in Nepal.  
  10. Sylvan Rudduck: Representing Ideas in Patents. B.Sc (Honours) UTS. Funded on APA. interrupted candidature due to a private matter. Co-supervised with Natalie Stoianoff in the School of Law. Currently on leave. Expected completion 2018.
  11. Syed Ali RazaBig Data Analytics. International Student Pakistan. Leading Software Development of the Karachi Koalas UTS-IBA Robot Soccer Team. Note: IBA was established by the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania. Funded on APA and ARC Linkage Top-Up. Submitted and expected completion 2018. 
  12. Srinivas MadhisettyPrivacy on Social Media. Submitted and expected completion 2018.
  13. Mahya Mirzaei PoueinagDisruptive Innovation: Integrating Business Analytics and Design Thinking. CBA Top-Up. 99.8 ATAR B Aeronautical Space Engineering at University of Sydney, Funded on an APA with ARC Discovery and CBA Top-Up. Awards 2xIBM PhD Fellowships US$40K. Also joined Hatchery+ Program for student founders and entrepreneurs. Submitted and expected completion 2018.

Graduated PhD Students


  • Jonathan Vitale: Cognitive Robotics and Facial Recognition. International Student from University of Milan Italy. Funded on an ARC Discovery Project's UTS complimentary APA. Co-supervised with Benjamin Johnston.


  • Wei Wang: Social Network for Robots to Share Information and Skills. International Student China, IRS and IBM PhD Fellowship.
  • Nima Ramezani Taghiabadi: Optimising Robot Motion funded on APA with CBA Top-Up. Previously working as a researcher a the German Research Institute in AI. Now working as a Senior Data Scientist at CBA.


  • Muhammad Anshar: Teaching Robots New Behaviours and Skills. International Student Indonesia. Funded on a 4-Year Endeavour Leadership Scholarship.

  • Shaukat Abedi: Semi-Supervised and Unsupervised Extensions to Maximum-Margin Structured Prediction: ARC funded scholarship and project focused on machine learning techniques for recognizing human actions from a single photograph or robot image. Gained an exciting post-doc position in machine learning.


  • Rony Novianto: Attention-based Cognitive Architecture funded on an ARC Discovery Project. Received an Endeavour Fellowship to work at Lund University Sweden 2011, and an IBM PhD Fellowship 2012.
  • Shan Chen: Privacy and Personal Information Management funded on an APA and ARC Discovery Project. Received an Endeavour Fellowship to work at Indiana University at Bloomington USA 2012.


  • Edward Wei: Learning How to Make Good Decisions: co-supervised with Professor Jordan Louviere, School of Business UTS. Senior researcher at UTS.


  • Xun Wang: An Innovative Framework for Qualitative and Quantitative Risk Management funded on an ARC Discovery Project. Received IBM PhD Fellowship 2010-2011. UTS Chancellor's Post-Doc. Social Roboticist CBA.


  • Jebrin Sharawneh: Recommendation in Social Networks funded on an APA. Received a Best Paper Award at a top-tier conference in Information Systems. Currently, developing a Start-Up based on a recommender system he developed for his PhD.


  • Benjamin Johnston: Commonsense Reasoning. First Class Honours & University Medal, University of Queensland. Won 2011 UTS Chancellor's Award for the Best PhD Dissertation. Nominated to ACM Best Dissertation. Won the Kurzweil Prize for Most Creative Idea in Artificial Intelligence 2011. UTS Chancellor's Post-Doc 2012 - 2015. Senior Lecturer, School of Software UTS, leading entrepreneurship.


  • Muh Anshar: High Performance Robot Motion: Master of Science (International Student). Funded on an Endeavour Scholarship. Returned to undertake a PhD in 2012.


  • Christopher Stanton: Grounding Robot Representations. First Class Honours, Dean's Medal University of Newcastle. Funded on a Faculty Scholarship. Current position at WSU.


  • Numi Tran: Agent-Oriented System Design Methodology. (First Class Honours and University Medal University of Newcastle). Data Scientist at IBM.


  • Suku SInna: A New Approach to Marketing: Classifying Customers using Conceptual Spaces. International Student. Currently, leading his own start-up.


  • Wei Liu: Belief Revision funded on an IPRS. Currently, Assistant Professor at University of Western Australia.

Future PhD Students

We are accepting three new PhD Students in 2017. If you are excited about leading-edge research in disruptive innovation, and have a passion for AI, human-robot interaction, robots, and their social and legal implications get in touch using the form below. You might also like to explore HOW TO APPLY TO UTS

Online PhD Student Inquiry

Please leave me your details and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.