Be part of an elite PhD cohort working with CSIRO and UQCSIRO

Below you will find details of the eight available projects including a project description, memebers of the advisory team, UQ enrolling unit and CSIRO Future Science Platform. The projects cover a range of research areas and the academic background of the ideal candidate is different for each project.

View eligibility View terms and conditions Apply now Go back to CSIRO-UQ overview

Communicating about novel biotechnologies: The role of risk perceptions and uncertainty

Project description

The proposed PhD program will investigate the role of science in lay decision-making about novel biological systems, specifically, synthetic biology. Synthetic biology is a new field of research, which involves designing and building new biological organisms (i.e., plants, animals, micro-organisms etc.) so that they may perform new functions. While academics, applied scientists and policy advisors rely on empirical data and evidence-based theories to make decisions about novel technologies such as synthetic biology, the ways in which lay publics form their opinions about these technologies may depend on their initial emotional reactions, the opinions of significant others and/or their trust in science and the governance of technologies, among other factors. The PhD candidate will work towards understanding the range of inputs to lay publics’ decisions about novel technology and to use these insights to identify effective ways for scientists and/or scientific agencies to communicate with the general public or other important stakeholders. The project will specifically address the following research questions:

  • What is the role of scientific evidence in informing opinions about novel technologies? What other key factors inform opinions and perceptions of risks and benefits?
  • What types of science communication messages and methods are effective and impactful in developing socially responsible engagement with the lay public?

This research is an important step in maximising the impact of Synthetic Biology science, as it will help to establish effective communication pathways between scientists and those receiving the message – whether it be the general public or other important stakeholders.

Ideal candidate

The ideal candidate will have a background in social science with (required):

  • Honours degree or Masters degree in psychology or related field.
  • Experience using quantitative and/or qualitative methods.
  • Demonstrated scientific writing skills.

The ideal candidate would also have:

  • An interest in risk and science communication.
  • The willingness to travel as required for portions of the PhD candidature.
Advisory team

UQ

Associate Professor Kelly Fielding: k.fielding@uq.edu.au, researcher profile

CSIRO

Dr Aditi Mankad & Dr Elizabeth Hobman
UQ enrolling unit School of Communication and Arts
CSIRO Future Science Platform Synthetic Biology

You are what you eat: Who will use personalised foods?

Project description

Imagine food that could be tailored to your genetic make-up and your individual needs. Imagine being able to buy foods that are personalised to your body as well as your exercise or bodily  goals.

The rise of consumer genetics has seen increasing access to and use of personalised genetic testing for a range of uses from recreational ancestry studies to targeted health management. Alongside this, increasing information is being passively collected via sensors in many modern technologies and lifestyle apps that continuously monitor, collect and share data about ourselves and our environment. Given that genome sequencing has made it possible to unlock a person’s unique DNA identity and the increasing ubiquity of personal data collection, we now have the capacity to develop and deliver highly personalised services and experiences and these are increasingly sought after. The personalisation of food to suit our unique genetic/environmental identity is one area that has the potential to deliver tailored health, performance and well-being outcomes.

There is a shift toward increasing our understanding of how nutritional aspects form part of a broader suite of decisions people make about their food choices and dietary patterns. From this, key questions in relation to the social context and factors that may influence the potential uptake of personalised foods may include:

  • Who is the ideal consumer of personalised foods or supplements?
  • What are the perceived benefits of choosing an alternative to mass produced foods?
  • What are the potential risks or negative factors that a consumer may experience from having or accessing personalised foods? What impact will these risks have on acceptance/use?
  • What drives a consumer to seek out personalised food?
  • Does social identity play a role in influencing these decisions? If so, how?

While the project will be designed in consultation with the successful candidate, we envisage that the research will be conducted in two stages:

  1. An exploratory stage that scopes the issue with a view to identifying the range of attitudes towards the prospect of personalised foods. In this stage qualitative interviews will be conducted. The results of the analysis of this data will inform stage 2.
  2. A quantitative stage that considers the spread of attitudes in a representative sample.
Ideal candidate

The ideal candidate will have a background in social science with (required):

  • Honours degree or Masters degree in sociology, anthropology, or related field.
  • Experience using quantitative and/or qualitative methods.
  • Demonstrated scientific writing skills.

The ideal candidate would also have:

  • Experience conducting semi-structured in-depth interviews.
  • Experience conducting survey research.
  • An interest in nutrition or the social science of food.
  • The willingness to travel as required for portions of the PhD candidature.
Advisory team

UQ

Dr Mair Underwood: m.underwood@uq.edu.au, researcher profile

CSIRO

Dr Nicholas Archer & Dr Astrid Poelman

UQ enrolling unit School of Social Science
CSIRO Future Science Platform Active Integrated Matter

Individualised digital health tools: The challenges of privacy and consent

Project description

From Fitbits to Strava to cloud-connected heart monitors, individualised digital health tools are increasingly used to monitor, track and manage people’s health. They are also providing useful data to build health care interventions to help us understand and manage health at individual and population scales. This results in rich datasets that provide a magnitude of data that can be used to enhance individualised or Precision Preventative Health Technologies (PPHT). Obtaining user consent and compliance with applicable (e.g., ethics) rules remains as the major challenge. How can the potential uses of these datasets be accurately captured and reflected in the consent provided by consumers? To what extent do consumers understand the use of data and its implication on privacy and security when consent is given? This research project work towards creating a cognitive understanding regarding security and privacy implications when providing consent. The resulting knowledge will help researchers understand how can the security and privacy protocols be designed to give users custody of their own data and in this way establish trust in the data (e.g., by researcher) and data platform (e.g., by consumer).

Ideal candidate

The candidate should have a strong interest and research grounding in aspects of human behaviour when exposed to situations demanding trust, security and privacy decision making. An interest in philosophical ethics and health social science, and desire to gain broad knowledge on cyber security would also be advantage.

Advisory team

UQ

Associate Professor Andrew Crowden: a.crowden@uq.edu.au, researcher profile

Dr Caitlin Curtis: c.curtis@uq.edu.au, researcher profile

CSIRO

Dr Marthie Grobler & Dr Seyit Camtepe
UQ enrolling unit School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
CSIRO Future Science Platform Precision Health

Understanding consumer perspectives on novel and future health technologies

Project description

Technology significantly impacts how health care is delivered and accessed, and recent years have seen the development of with novel and exciting health applications such as genetic tests to identify disease biomarkers and wearable sensors to passively track activity and support lifestyle interventions. Although these technologies hold great promise to improve health, they also unlock new ethical dilemmas, data security concerns; and the perspective of the consumer is rarely prioritised in application design. The current project will investigate these issues from the perspectives of consumers and the broader Australian community, drawing upon methodologies including discourse analysis of media texts to understand community-level concerns around previous/recent events (e.g. My Health Record, 2016 ABS census), and citizen juries to elicit the consumer voice and understand their wants, expectations, and concerns surrounding new health technologies. Findings may be used to inform policy and the design of user-centred health applications into the future.

Ideal candidate

The project will employ a range of research methodologies and include face-to-face conversations with members of the community. The ideal candidate will therefore possess a sound understanding of basic social science research principles, including the design, administration, and analysis of survey or interview-based data collection methods, and excellent communication skills and ability to build rapport with diverse groups of people. An interest in the intersection between technology and health is also desirable, as well as flexibility and openness to learn new research skills.

Advisory team

UQ

Associate Professor Paul Henman: p.henman@uq.edu.au, researcher profile

Dr Rebecca Olson: r.olson@uq.edu.au, researcher profile

CSIRO

Dr David Cox & Dr Jillian Ryan
UQ enrolling unit School of Social Science
CSIRO Future Science Platform Precision Health

Eligibility for the PhD program

Eligibility requirements for the UQ PhD program must be met and these are in addition to the preferred academic background of the ideal candidate listed against each of the projects.

A PhD is one of the highest degrees that can be awarded. It is an advanced academic qualification seen as a requirement for the majority of academic and research positions in a wide range of fields and industries. The aim of the PhD is to foster the development of independent research skills. These skills include the capacity to formulate a significant problem, to develop mastery of appropriate conceptual and methodological skills, and to relate the research topic to a broader framework of knowledge in a relevant disciplinary area.

Duration 3-4 years (full time)
Assessment

Students are required to produce a thesis of no more than 80,000 words, with the research representing a significant new contribution to the discipline.

Minimum level of academic achievement

To meet the Graduate School admissions requirements for a PhD, applicants must provide evidence of the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree with at least honours class IIA or equivalent from approved universities, which includes a relevant research component; or
  • A research master’s degree; or
  • A coursework master’s degree and an overall GPA (grade point average) equivalent to 5.65 on the 7-point UQ scale, which includes a relevant research component; or
  • A postgraduate degree of at least one year full-time equivalent with an overall GPA (grade point average) equivalent to 5.0 on the 7-point UQ scale, together with demonstrated research experience equivalent to honours IIA will be considered for PhD entry on a case by case basis; or
  • A bachelor’s degree plus at least two years of documented relevant research experience, including research publications.

English language proficiency requirements apply.

Relevance of degree The completed degree must be in an area that is relevant to the intended PhD, including sufficient specialisation such that the applicant will have already developed an understanding and appreciation of a body of knowledge relevant to the intended PhD.
Currency of applicant's knowledge The applicant’s degree and/or professional experience must demonstrate that the applicant’s knowledge of the discipline in which they plan to undertake their PhD is current. It is therefore expected that an applicant will have completed their tertiary studies and/or any relevant professional experience in the ten years immediately prior to their intended entry to the PhD.
Program 
rules
Commencement dates

Enrolment in the PhD program is in research quarters and commencement in a research quarter is fixed to a specific period. 

Terms and conditions

Read the UQ Research Scholarships terms and conditions.

  • The student will relinquish the Scholarship if their PhD project changes such that it is outside the scope of that project description.
  • The student will be required to participate in various cohort activities associated with the CSIRO-UQ Responsible Innovation PhD cohort.
  • Students will be required to sign a Student and Intellectual Property Agreement to accept their offer.   

Apply now

To apply for the CSIRO-UQ Responsible Innovation scholarships, follow the instructions below. 

Prior to applying, check your eligibility for the PhD program (above) and prepare your documentation.

You should also contact the UQ members of the advisory team for your preferred project to discuss your suitability prior to submitting an application.

The button below will take you to UQ's Online Application portal.

Please ensure that you

  1. select 'I am applying for, or have been awarded a scholarship or sponsorship'
  2. enter this text in the free-text field title of the scholarship: CSIRO-UQ-RI
  3. list the UQ enrolling unit as it appears in your preferred project
  4. enter the first listed UQ researcher as your supervisor
  5. submit a 1-2 page outline of a project you would undertake within the advertised area that draws on your area of interest and expertise. You will be able to upload this in the 'Evidence and Document Upload' section of the Online Application.

Apply now