Professor Debra Bernhardt
Professor Debra Bernhardt
BSc (Hons 1) Newcastle, PhD Newcastle, FRACI
Group Leader


Telephone: +61 7 334 63939 Email:

Research: Theoretical and computational molecular science: nonequilibrium systems, fluids and materials

Professor Debra Bernhardt is internationally recognised for her contributions to the development of nonequilibrium statistical mechanics and thermodynamics including far-from-equilibrium fluids and confined fluids. She is a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and Director of the AIBN Centre for Theoretical and Computational Molecular Science. Professor Bernhardt’s 20 years of research experience includes appointments at the University of Basel, Switzerland; the Australian National University; and Griffith University, where she was founding director of the Queensland Micro- and Nanotechnology Centre. Professor Bernhardt's research interests focus on the use of a range of theoretical and computational approaches to develop a fundamental understanding of the behaviour of matter, and application of these approaches to a wide range of problems including transport in nanopores, fluctuation phenomena, design of materials, gas separation, energy storage and conversion.

International links

Professor Bernhardt has held a research appointment at the University of Basel in Switzerland. She has recently had strong international collaborations with researchers at Politecnico di Torino, Italy; The University of Sheffield, UK; University of Leipzig, Germany; and École Normale Supérieure, France.

Memberships and funding

Professor Bernhardt is a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. She has has three current Australian Research Council (ARC) funding grants and has received ARC grant funding of more than $6.5 million since 1998. She has been involved in organisation of a number of conferences including Nonequilibrium Processes: the Last 40 years and the Future in Obergurgl, Austria in 2011; 1st Australian-Italian Workshop on Statistical Physics on the Gold Coast in 2006; and International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry’s World Chemistry Congress 2001. She is co-chair of Molecular Modelling 2014, which will be held in Queensland.

Awards and plenaries

Professor Bernhardt has been plenary, keynote or invited speaker at many international conferences including the Joint European Thermodynamics Conference, (Brescia, Italy, 2013) Workshop on Small System Nonequilibrium Fluctuations (ICITP, Beijing, 2013); Fluid-Structure Interactions in Soft-Matter Systems: From the Mesoscale to the Macroscale (Prato, Italy, 2012); Gordon conference on the Chemistry and Physics of Liquids (New Hampshire, US, 2011); StatPhys-Kolkata VII (SINP, Kolkata, India, 2010); and the Warwick EPSRC Symposium on Challenges in Scientific Computing (University of Warwick, UK, 2009). In 2011, while at Griffith University, Professor Bernhardt was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award for Research Leadership. She is the recipient of the 2004 Australian Journal of Chemistry Award for Innovative Work in Physical Chemistry by a Younger Scientist.

Recent Publications

Professor Bernhardt publishes using her maiden name, Debra J Searles. Full list of publications available at UQ eSpace.

Professor Debra Bernhardt section

Bernhardt Group webpages

Bernhardt Group: Current Research Projects

Bernhardt Group research fellows: Stefano Bernardi

Bernhardt Group research fellows: Marlies Hankel

Bernhardt Group research fellows: James Reid

Bernhardt Group research fellows: Christoph Rohmann

Bernhardt Group research fellows: Tanveer Hussain

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