Available PhD projects - humanities, education, psychology, music, business, law & social sciences

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Chief Investigator

Project title

Project description

Preferred educational background

Professor Julie Henry

julie.henry@uq.edu.au

A multidimensional model of social cognitive ageing

The goal of this project is to gain a clearer picture of when and why older adults will experience difficulties decoding and reacting appropriately to the social signals sent out by other people. It is also important to identify which older adults are particularly likely to experience these difficulties. The possibility that people might have difficulties picking up social cues from others would be of interest in any age group, but it is particularly poignant among the elderly, given the consequences for this age group.

Students will enrol through the School of Psychology.

First class Honours degree in Psychology

*This project is available until October 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Associate Professor Matt McDonald

matt.mcdonald@uq.edu.au

Climate Change and National Security: International Responses

The funded project to which this PhD scholarship is related is a comparative project in the broad area of international relations. It seeks to examine how those states that have recognised the security implications of climate change have: defined the risk/ threat; responded to that risk/ threat in practice; and located their policy response in particular government departments or institutions. Applicants whose research engages with any element of this project- whether theoretical or empirical, comparative or single-case study based- are welcome to apply.

Students will enrol through the School of Political Science and International Studies.

Hons/ MPhil/ MA coursework in political science or related discipline

*This project is available until October 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Rebecca Olive

r.olive@uq.edu.au

Understanding ecological sensibilities in recreational lifestyle sport

This research aims to understand environmental attitudes and behaviours that emerge through participation in recreational lifestyle sports. Linking the growth of lifestyle sports in Australia and the recent research focus on oceans, this research will highlight how surfers, ocean swimmers and other ‘bluesports’ participants develop relationships to, and produce knowledge about, oceans and coasts. It is interested in everyday cultural practices relating to ethical consumption, including through social media, and will provide key insights for bluesports communities to enable them to make better choices about their attitudes and practices relating to sustainable oceans and coasts. 

Students will enrol through the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences.


Cultural Studies, Environmental Humanities, Leisure Studies, Sociology of Sport, Gender Studies, Postcolonial Studies.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates are encouraged to apply. 

*This project is available until June 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Associate Professor Guy Wallis

gwallis@uq.edu.au

The role of non-visual cues in regulating perception and skilled movement

This project aims to investigate the impact of non-visual sensory information on what we see and how we control movement.

Students will enrol through the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences.

Experimental psychology, Computer science and engineering, cognitive neuroscience.

*This project is available until August 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Murray Phillips

m.phillips@uq.edu.au

Pride, Resilience and Identity: Reimagining Aboriginal Sport History

This project aims to investigate the links between sport, community and identity in Aboriginal communities in Queensland, NSW and the Northern Territory during the twentieth century (with a focus on Cherbourg, La Perouse, Redfern and Yuendumu). A focus will be on how and why communities, both individually and collectively, engaged with sport, and the meaning of sport in these communities.

Students will enrol through the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences.

An Honours degree or equivalent background in history or Indigenous Studies.

*This project is available until July 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Katharine Gelber

k.gelber@uq.edu.au

Assessing the harms of online speech

It is accepted in speech-act theory that speech is conduct capable of inflicting harm. This project aims to interrogate whether the understanding that, and how, words can harm applies to online speech. This is significant because online speech is ubiquitous, yet is treated differently from speech that takes place in other outlets in the US, the UK and Australia. This project aims to map and compare legal cases in which there was disagreement over the nature of the speech at issue because it occurred online. It will assess the harms of that speech from the perspective of speech-act theory, and the findings will be applied to the democratic argument in favour of free speech.

Students will enrol through the School of Political Science and International Studies.

Honours degree, with a major in political science/government, or a Bachelor of Laws with Honours, or a combined BA/Law degree with Honours.

*This project is available until July 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Principal advisor: Dr William Harrison

w.harrison@uq.edu.au

Associate advisor: Professor Jason Mattingley

j.mattingley@uq.edu.au

The influence of naturalistic context on visual perception and memory

Human perceptual systems evolved and continue to develop in highly complex environments. The aim of this project is to understand how complex naturalistic context may influence neural processing of visual information. To address this question, the student will be trained to use a variety of methods, such as psychophysics, computational image processing, and statistical models. The student will use these tools to investigate how low-level (e.g. image statistics) and high-level (e.g. semantic content) image features influence the fundamental neural computations involved in visual processing.

Students will enrol through the Queensland Brain Institute.

This project is suited to anyone who wants to understand human cognition and perception, and who has an Honours or Masters degree in a field related to the following:  Cognitive Science, Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience, Engineering, Maths. 

Although prior experience is not required, the project may appeal particularly to those interested in psychophysics, computational modelling, and programming in languages such as R and MATLAB.

*This project is available until June 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Penelope Sanderson

psanderson@itee.uq.edu.au

Wearable displays for high-tempo work in mission-critical worlds

In this project the student will investigate the impact of head-worn displays vs. tablet computers on team communication and coordination in high-tempo, mission-critical worlds. The project will involve conducting simulations of emergency response work, comparing the affordances of HWDs and tablets. Outcome will be knowledge  about how to deploy HWDs in certain industries, as well as design principles.

Students will enrol through the School of Psychology.

BPsySci(Hons) with first class honours. Background in human factors psychology; for example PSYC3062

*This project is available until June 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Sarah Teitt

s.teitt@uq.edu.au

China and the Future of International Peacebuilding

Over the past decade, China has gone from being virtually absent from international peacebuilding to leading initiatives to bring an end to hostilities and build lasting peace in some of the world’s most tenacious conflicts. 
This project aims to enhance understanding and evaluate the impact of China's expanding role in international peacebuilding. The project will generate new data to assess China as an emerging peacebuilding actor, and offer the first systematic cross-regional analysis that evaluates the impact of China’s new peacebuilding activism.

Students will enrol through the School of Political Science and International Studies.

International Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies or Chinese Studies

*This project is available until July 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Sally Staton

s.staton@uq.edu.au

The Developmental Significance of Sleep Transitions in Early Childhood

This study will undertake an intensive and objective study of early sleep patterns, extensive analyses of pre-existing data-sets and on-going data linkage to assess the input of different sleep patterns to children’s outcomes and translation to policy and practice. 

Students will enrol through the Institute for Social Science Research.

Psychology, Public Health, Epidemiology, Statistics or a related discipline such as Education, Medicine or Mathematics (Statistics)

*This project is available until September 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Justine Bell-James

j.bell-james@law.uq.edu.au

A model national legal framework for mangrove ecosystem services

The ARC project: The rapid rate of mangrove loss globally is of great concern due to the critically important ecosystem services these coastal environments provide. The Australian coast is significantly lined with these plants (18%), making it important that our national and state legal frameworks efficiently manage and protect these valuable resources. This project aims to identify current legal deficiencies, and policy barriers, and canvas expert opinion to generate consensus for an innovative legal framework that recognises and protects the multiple ecosystem services provided by mangroves. It is anticipated the framework will be adaptable to provide significant benefits to other ecosystems and jurisdictions.

The PhD project: The PhD project will involve a comparative analysis of existing legal recognition of ecosystem services for United States wetlands. The candidate, in collaboration with Dr Bell-James, can determine the specific parameters of the study. 
 

Students will enrol through the School of Law.

Must have an undergraduate Honours degree in Law.

Background in science, ecology and/or conservation would be highly beneficial.

*This project is available until July 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Aideen McInerney-Leo

a.mcinerney@uq.edu.au 

Identifying genes causing melanoma and modifying the phenotype and exploring whether genetic fatalism affects sun-related health behaviours in high-risk individuals

The proposed project will involve exome data analysis using multiple methodologies to identify new genes, better understand the role of known genes, and elucidate the role of modifier variants in melanoma susceptibility and prognosis. Psychological, behavioural and social factors will also be examined in family members undertaking genetic testing to assess factors associated with sun protective and screening behaviour prior to, and following, genetic testing. The outcomes of this body of work will provide important new knowledge on the aetiology and prognostic determinants of melanoma, and related health beliefs and behaviours.

Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

Undergraduate degree in Science or Psychology Ideally a Masters in Social or Applied Science

*This project is available until December 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Timothy Ballard

t.ballard@uq.edu.au

A new state of the art for understanding dynamic self-regulation

Seeking applicants with a first class honours (or equivalent) in Psychology for a PhD scholarship attached to a recently commenced ARC DECRA project. The project aims to develop and test a novel mathematical model that explains how people manage competing demands on their time and effort in a dynamic and uncertain environment. The project uses an integrative approach, bringing recent advances in mathematical psychology to bear on a problem of widespread interest within cognitive and organisational psychology. The expected outcome is a quantitative theory of dynamic human self-regulation that can accurately predict the choices that people make during goal pursuit and the time it takes to make those choices.

The project will provide the basic research that is needed to extend mathematical models of self-regulation to complex tasks involving rapid decision making (e.g., air defence).

Students will enrol through the School of Psychology.

The successful applicant will receive a scholarship to undertake a PhD on a project related to the above in the Dynamic Decision Making and Performance Lab within the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland, which is led by Professor Andrew Neal and Dr Timothy Ballard. Experience using or willingness to learn advanced analytic techniques such as computational modeling and Bayesian statistics is desired, as is experience with or willingness to learn the R statistical programming language. 

*This project is available until August 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Associate Professor Kim Nichols

k.nichols@uq.edu.au

Community-based STEM professional learning for teachers of middle years

This project, in collaboration with the Queensland Museum (QM), the Department of Education (DoE), Australian Catholic University (ACU) and QGC, integrates museum objects, industry professionals and STEM experts from the University and community in order to improve student academic gains, scientific language and proficiencies in Science and foster more positive attitudes towards STEM career.

The overall aim is to develop a sustainable professional development framework through a school-community-industry partnership; building connections between schools, museum and STEM professionals, and enhancing teachers’ knowledge of teaching science. It will be achieved through developing museum educators to in turn provide ongoing teacher professional development around STEM-based science curriculum that integrates museum objects and industry professionals, in order to develop a sustainable model to enhance teachers’ professional capacity in teaching STEM.

The PhD candidate will work under the supervision of Associate Professor Kim Nichols in collaboration with the Queensland Museum to develop learning resources and strategies for middle year teachers' professional learning.

Students will enrol through the School of Education.

  • A B.Sc with 1st or 2nd class honours and a teaching qualification 
  • Knowledge of the Australian Science Curriculum
  • Research experience around science curriculum
  • Must fulfil the PhD admission criteria for the University of Queensland, including meeting English language requirements

*This project is available until March 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka

n.dissanayaka@uq.edu.au

Anxiety in persons with dementia

One in two persons with dementia experience anxiety. Anxiety often coexists with depression and is a significant contributor to a poor quality of life, increased progression and early institutionalisation. This project will investigate anxiety in persons with dementia using an existing dataset, and develop and test a psychological package to combat anxiety in persons with dementia attending hospital outpatient clinics. The package will include virtual reality, telehealth and online health modalities to increase access and effectiveness of the treatment.

Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

A background in Psychology,  Software engineering, web development and virtual reality is desirable.

*This project is available until July 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka

n.dissanayaka@uq.edu.au

Virtual Reality in Residential Aged Care

Virtual reality (VR) is an emerging field within residential aged care for the management of behavioural and psychological symptoms in residents. This project will develop and test a suit of VR applications in RAC facilities.

Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

A background in Psychology, design and virtual reality applications is desirable.

*This project is available until December 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Sara Dolnicar

s.dolnicar@uq.edu.au

Triggering pro-environmental behaviour in pleasure-seeking contexts

This project aims to reduce the environmental harm done by the 5th most polluting industry – tourism – by
triggering environmentally friendly behaviours in tourists rather than relying on government or industry action. Using field experiments, the effectiveness of newly developed theory-based measures to reduce plate waste at hotel buffets will be tested, resulting in: (1) a new theoretical understanding of pro-environmental behaviour in pleasure-seeking contexts which challenges current theories; (2) practical measures hotels can use to reduce plate waste. Given one billion tourists travel each year, such measures can substantially improve sustainability of tourism globally, regionally and locally.

Students will enrol through the UQ Business School.

(experimental) psychology

Associate Professor Timothy Carroll

timothy.carroll@uq.edu.au

How do past actions and rewards bias goal directed movement?

It is often possible to perform the same physical task with movements that have very different characteristics. Current theories of sensorimotor control assume that the brain chooses from the abundance of possibilities by actively seeking the most accurate or economical way to move. By contrast, human movements tend to resemble previous actions, even if this results in inaccuracies or inefficiencies. This project uses innovative timing methods and brain recordings to test how the history of movements we have executed in the past, and the rewards associated with those movements, interact to affect subsequent movement execution. In so doing, the project should advance our basic understanding of how the human brain controls movement.

Students will enrol through the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences.

Psychology, Exercise Science, Physiotherapy, Engineering, Biology.

Dr Aude Bernard

a.bernard@uq.edu.au

Understanding the long-term decline in internal migration

Internal migration rates have declined continuously since the 1970s in most advanced economies, including Australia. This decline in human mobility has potentially profound implications for the functioning of the economy and for individuals’ aspirations, but remains poorly recognised and understood. This project aims to establish the onset and pace of the migration decline for a global sample of countries. It also seeks to identify the causes of this change by identifying linkages between the drop in migration rates and the broader socio-demographic transitions of the past 30 years in countries of interest to PhD students involved in this project.

Students will enrol through the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Social science, economics, geography, sociology, demography.