If Xiangqian Wang is successful in his research, there will be fewer disasters in coal mines, and the response time of rescuers will be quicker.

Wang gained his doctorate in the heartland of Chinese coal-mining, Anhui Province, where there is one of fourteen coalfields in China that hold reserves of more than 100 million tonnes.

‘I knew about the work that SMART researchers were doing from my online research,’ Wang said.

‘I have a background in engineering, but also in disaster management, and I wanted to combine those two.’

While he has yet to settle on his final idea for a research project, he will spend a year with SMART and will look at ways to focus on both of his academic interests, and combine them with research being undertaken in Wollongong.

He will return next year to his job as the School of Economics and Management at the Anhui University of Science and Technology in China.