Rita leads the Algae & Organic Matter Laboratory (AOM Lab), part of the UNESCO Centre for Membrane Science and Technology (UNSW), and is an Associate Professor in the School of Chemical Engineering. Her research interests are in the design, optimisation and monitoring of solid-liquid separation processes designed for microalgae and organic matter in the context of both water treatment and biotechnology. She undertakes the development and optimisation of separation processes, including coagulation-flocculation, oxidation, flotation, depth filtration and membrane systems, through improving understanding of the underlying mechanisms of engineering processes to push technological boundaries. Her research is enabled by the application of advanced characterisation techniques to determine the biological and physicochemical properties of algal cells and organic matter, which in turn has led to the development of key monitoring protocols for these processes. Her publications can be viewed at: https://research.unsw.edu.au/people/dr-rita-henderson/publications
Originally graduating as an environmental chemist (University of Edinburgh, Scotland), Rita undertook an MSc in Water Pollution Control Technology at Cranfield University, UK. She remained at Cranfield to undertake a PhD on algae treatment using a novel dissolved air flotation process, which she completed in 2007 before joining the UNSW Water Research Centre as a Research Associate, becoming a Senior Research Associate in 2010. She gained a tenured position as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemical Engineering in 2013 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2018.