Mikel Barbara, PhD candidate




Mikel Barbara

PhD Candidate

International Student from Lebanon


Supervisors:  Dr David Rey,  Dr Taha Hossein Rashidi, Dr Divya Nair 


Areas of Interest: 

  • School networks optimization models
  • Choice modelling
  • Equity in education
  • Quality of education
  My interest in the field of optimization is driven by my conviction that the world's problems are growing fast and the need for optimization is vital for a sustainable world.

At UNSW, my PhD research focus is on school network optimization. Schools are some of the most critical public facilities in urban and metropolitan areas. The location of schools not only affects the costs of construction and travel but also significantly affects the social welfare of the residents through its impact on education quality among other factors. In this research, the objective is to develop school location optimization models that aim at maximizing social welfare and equity. In collaboration with Schools Infrastructure NSW, we apply the developed models to Sydney's public school network.

Besides my PhD research, I have 7 years of experience in project management, business cases development, investment analysis, strategy development, financial modelling, and construction related control processes, including cost, schedule, and contracts. I worked as a consultant and partnered with government and private entities, as well as IGOs, including the World Bank Group on projects related to infrastructure, transportation, real estate development, and urban regeneration. I worked in 7 countries across 4 continents, gaining exposure to different cultures and regulatory challenges.

My journey through this PhD program has been amazing. I learned a lot, met a lot of wonderful people, and made lifetime friends. I received ultimate support from my supervisors, to whom I will always be grateful.

Piece of advice?? The future will always hold new challenges, failures, and successes, we should never be scared but always aim high, stay motivated, and always be positive.


Contact details: m.barbara@unsw.edu.au