Rita has been a Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemical Engineering at UNSW since late 2013, where she leads the bioMASS lab, part of the UNESCO Centre for Membrane Science and Technology. Prior to this she worked for six years in the UNSW Water Research Centre as a researcher. Her research interests are in the design, optimisation and monitoring of solid-liquid separation processes designed for microalgae, cyanobacteria and organic matter in the context of both water treatment and biotechnology; she has published over 50 journal articles in this area.
Rita has received more than $6M in research funding, including that from the Australian Research Council and water industry collaborators including Water Research Australia, SA Water, Melbourne Water and various other major utilities. Her multi-disciplinary research approach has led to the formation of research partnerships with a variety of research groups at UNSW, including the Centre for Advanced Macromolecular Design (CAMD), UNSW Water Research Centre, UNSW Connected Waters Initiative. Nationally, she collaborates with the Curtin Water Quality Research Centre (Curtin University), the Australian Water Quality Centre (AWQC) and internationally with the Cranfield Water Science Institute (Cranfield University, UK), Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal (Canada) and the Institute of Hydrodynamics at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. Rita is Chair of the Water Research Australia Education Committee, a Member of the Australian Water Association and International Water Association (IWA) and is an Editor-in-Chief of the new IWA H2Open Journal. In 2016, she received the AWA NSW Kamal Fernando Mentoring Award and was a finalist in 2015 for the Australia Museum 3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science.