Available PhD projects - agribusiness, agriculture, environment & science

Chosen a project? Find out what to do next.

Chief Investigator

Project title

Project description

Preferred educational background

Professor Debra Bernhardt

d.bernhardt@uq.edu.au

Improving nanostructured supercapacitors through computational insight

Nanostructured supercapacitors offer the potential to provide improved storage of renewable energy resources and to power portable devices. This project aims to enhance the understanding of the mechanism of charge and discharge in these systems to guide in the development of better energy storage systems.  This will be achieved using molecular computations of the structure and diffusion coefficients.

Students will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

Chemistry, physics, applied maths, chemical engineering or related disciplines

*This project is available until December 2018 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Alan Rowan
alan.rowan@uq.edu.au

Dr Jan Lauko
j.lauko@uq.edu.au

Characterisation of Cytoskeleton information transfer

This project studies the intracellular mechanisms that allow the transfer of mechanical force imposed by the ECM to the cell nucleus as a result of an internal cell signalling reaction cascade. For this study, biomimetic synthetic materials will be employed, and the cellular events studied using microfluidic devices.

Students will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

MSc or honours in cell biology, biochemistry, material science or bioengineering.

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

Synthesis of biomimetic materials

For this project, in a synthetic/rheological approach, the candidate will examine material changes as a function of chemical modification of semiflexible polymers. By modifying the monomer structure, the stiffness and helical pitch of the polymers can be altered and the effect upon bundling studied. Ultimately, the project aim is to characterise what the structural parameters are that control the onset and gradient of the strain stiffening – the two key parameters of biomimetic hydrogels.

Students will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

MSc or honours in physical organic and/or polymer chemistry, with experience in structural and material characterisation.

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

Controlling hybrid systems

The candidate will examine the properties of synthetic/biopolymer interpenetrating networks as a function of polymer binding density and investigate the dependence in stiffness and strain-stiffening on crosslinking density, interpenetration and altered pore size. The project will also study how these hybrid extracellular matrix materials interact with the cell cytoskeleton, and study these interactions from a mechanistic perspective employing high resolution spectroscopy.

Students will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

MSc or honours in polymer/materials chemistry or bioengineering. Previous experience with live cells and tissue culture will be a plus.

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

Dr Elizabeth Dann

e.dann@uq.edu.au

Investigating fungi causing fruit stem end rot and branch dieback in avacado

Avocado is affected by fruit and orchard diseases caused by several different fungi. Stem end rot of fruit and branch canker and dieback are diseases associated with Botryosphaeria fungi (eg. Fusicoccum, Neofusicoccum and Lasiodiplodia), Phomopsis, Pestalotiopsis and others, yet we don't really know if fungi are specific to either fruit disease or branch dieback, or whether they are generalists and can infect all plant parts. Firstly, a survey of fruit and orchards from all growing regions across Australia will establish an isolate collection. These will be accurately identified, and molecular phylogeny studies undertaken. Pathogenicity tests will check for ability of different species or isolates within a species to cause disease in different plant tissues. The student will evaluate factors exacerbating severity and potential management strategies.

Students will enrol through the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation (QAAFI).

MSc or Honours in Plant Sciences, with experience in plant pathology

*This project is available until December 2018 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Marina Fortes

m.fortes@uq.edu.au

Phenobank for female fertility

This project aims at creating a reference population database for improving female fertility traits in tropically adapted cattle.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Genetics, molecular genetics, Animal Breeding

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

Associate Professor Daniel Rodriguez

d.rodriguez@uq.edu.au

Optimising sorghum yield through agronomic management

In the Northern Grains Region, managing heat and moisture stresses around critical growth stages remains the focus for sorghum adaptation and systems agronomy.  The overall aim of this project is to answer How do combinations of hybrid and crop managements positively modify stress environments and yield distributions in early sown sorghum; and how the practice positively influences the cropping system, increases farm profits and reduces risks?

Students will enrol through the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences.

Agriculture

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

Professor Alpha Yap

a.yap@uq.edu.au

A mechanotransduction apparatus to coordinate epithelial collective cell migration.

This project studies the cellular mechanisms that allow epithelial cells to detect changes in mechanical force as a form of cell-cell communication for tissue homeostasis.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

B.Sc. (or equivalent)

*This project is available until September 2018 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Qinghong Yuan

qinghong.yuan@uq.edu.au

Alloy catalysts design for synthesis of graphene and boron nitride sheet

The project aims to explore the growth mechanism and optimal synthesis of high-quality, continuous 2D films. First-principles theoretical calculations will be used to determine the mechanism of graphene (Gr) and hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) growth on alloy catalysts.  The success of the project will lead to an in-depth understanding of growth mechanisms and rational catalyst design guidelines for high-quality and large-area Gr/h-BN synthesis.

Students will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

Applicants with a background in chemistry and/or physics are sought.

*This project is available until September 2018 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Debra Bernhardt

d.bernhardt@uq.edu.au

Improving nanostructured supercapacitors through computational insight

Nanostructured supercapacitors offer the potential to provide  improved storage of renewable energy resources and to power portable devices. This project aims to enhance the understanding of the mechanism of charge and discharge in these systems to guide in the development of better energy storage systems.  This will be achieved using molecular computations of the structure and diffusion coefficients. 

Students will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

Applicants with a background in chemistry, physics, applied maths, chemical engineering or related disciplines are sought.

*This project is available until September 2018 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Paul Burn

paul.burn@uq.edu.au

Poly(dendrimer)
Organic light-
Emitting diodes

In this multidisciplinary project we aim to create innovative semiconductor materials and diode architectures that optimise each step in light generation; from charge injection, transport and capture, to light emission, the project aims to deliver transformative OLEDs that can be used in lighting.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

An Honours or Masters degree in the physical sciences, preferably in the area of synthetic chemistry or physical chemistry or physics.

*This project is available until December 2018 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Transformational
lighting: changing the way we live

The Fellowship project aims to advance the science of ultrathin efficient lighting technologies based on low embedded energy organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). The intended outcomes of the project are design rules for OLED componentry, including thin, flexible architectures and demonstrating a large-area lighting module with power efficiency of 150 lm/W.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

An Honours or Masters degree in the physical sciences, preferably in the area of synthetic chemistry or physical chemistry or physics.

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

Australian Centre for Advanced
Photovoltaics

The project will develop new materials and device architectures for thin film photovoltaics.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Honours or Masters chemistry or physics graduate.

*This project is available until December 2018 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Ian Gentle

i.gentle@uq.edu.au

Vapour phase detection of chemical warfare agents

In this multidisciplinary project we aim to create luminescent plastic optoelectronic materials that can detect airborne chemical warfare agents, and in particular nerve agents. We will create new sensitive and selective materials as well as new analytical methods and sensing protocols for the detection of lethal compounds.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

An Honours or Masters degree in the physical sciences, preferably physical chemistry or physics.

*This project is available until December 2018 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Craig M. Williams

c.williams3@uq.edu.au

Pioneering Chemical Building Block Size Principles for Discovery Chemists

Caged hydrocarbon chemical building blocks have been at the forefront of multibillion dollar industries, however, a fundamental void exists in understanding the impact of subtle changes in building block size. The project will develop empirical rules for the next generation of discovery chemists designing new pharmaceuticals, catalysts and microelectronics.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Honours or Masters degree in synthetic organic chemistry.

*This project is available until December 2018 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Elizabeth Krenske

e.krenske@uq.edu.au

Computational Tools for Organic Synthesis

This Project aims to develop new computer modelling techniques with the ability to rapidly identify efficient synthetic routes to target molecules. This technology will have the potential to increase the speed, efficiency, and environmental sustainability of chemical synthesis, an enterprise which underpins innovations in the fields of manufacturing, energy, agriculture, and medicine.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

First class Honours degree or equivalent in Chemistry, including a significant component of organic chemistry. Prior experience in molecular modelling (computational chemistry) is valuable, but not essential.

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

Dr Jacinda Ginges

j.ginges@uq.edu.au

Heavy atoms and ions and precision tests of fundamental physics

Precision studies of atomic properties provide powerful probes of fundamental physics. Studies of violations of fundamental symmetries, in particular atomic parity violation and atomic electric dipole moments (parity and time-reversal violation), complement the searches for new physics performed at the Large Hadron Collider and in some cases exceed its energy reach. A PhD project is available in the development of high-precision atomic many-body methods and codes, and their application to fundamental and applied problems including violations of fundamental symmetries, superheavy elements, and atomic clocks. 

Students will enrol through the School of Mathematics and Physics.

High-level achievement in theoretical physics undergraduate courses, particularly in quantum mechanics. Ideally, the candidate should be able to demonstrate high-level research ability or capacity through  successful completion of an Honours or Masters research project.

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

Professor Andrew Whittaker

a.whittaker@uq.edu.au

Next-generation Lithography - Photo-directing Assembly of Block Copolymers

This project aims to develop photo-reactive materials for directing self-assembly of polymers on surfaces. The application is new device for memory storage.

Students will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

Chemistry, preferable polymer chemistry or organic synthesis

*This project is available until December 2018 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Bernard Degnan

b.degnan@uq.edu.au

Biocontrol of crown-of-thorns starfish using genomics and proteomics

Two PhD positions are available to develop and test novel genome-based strategies to mitigate the destructive outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) on the Great Barrier Reef.  We will use natural protein attractants synthesised and released by COTS to develop peptide mimetics that can affect COTS behaviour at different stages of their life cycle. Outcomes from these analyses will allow us to fabricate and test COTS-specific baits in the laboratory and field. This project is expected to provide an environmentally-benign and scalable solution to one of the biggest threats to the world’s coral reefs.

Students will enrol through the School of Biological Sciences.

Applicants should have a strong educational background in biological sciences.

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

Professor Warwick Bowen

wbowen@physics.uq.edu.au

Nanomechanical Computing

Background: Computers based on the flow of electrical currents are ubiquitous in modern technology. However, they have limitations: they cannot be forever miniaturised with Moore’s Law already starting to saturate, their energy efficiency is fundamentally constrained by the laws of physics, and they cannot operate when exposed to high radiation levels such those found in some space environments and caused by space weather. An alternative approach to computation that can evade these constrains is to use vibrations confined on a silicon chip, rather than electrons, to perform logic. In our laboratory, we are developing nanoscale logical processors based on mechanical vibrations in collaboration with Lockheed Martin, and for ultimate applications in aerospace and satellite technologies. Projects are available to lead the development of this new form of computing.

Students will enrol through the School of Mathematics and Physics.

Experience/interest in micro-/nanofabrication and/or technology translation would be an advantage.

*This project is available until December 2018 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Michael Bell

m.bell4@uq.edu.au

Phosphorus (P) nutrition relevant to the Australian grains industry

A PhD candidate is sought to undertake research on phosphorus (P) nutrition relevant to the Australian grains industry, with a particular focus on the alkaline clay soils that predominate in the cropping regions of northeast Australia.

The successful applicant will work within the research team led by Professor Michael Bell. This research group is currently active in a number of projects focussing on development of management responses to declining indigenous P fertility reserves, especially in subsoils. These projects are focussing on issues related to the efficacy of banded fertilizer applications, the residual value of occasional P fertilizer applications and the differences in crop species response to varying concentrations and distributions of labile P in the soil profile.

The opportunity exists for a successful candidate to work with the team to integrate findings from current and historical experiments into a functional understanding of factors determining crop P acquisition under a variety of tillage practices and seasonal conditions. Targeted experimentation will form part of the program, and will focus on addressing knowledge gaps as they are identified. The ultimate goal of the work will be to develop a model of soil-plant interactions in alkaline clay soils, and to integrate that model into the APSIM (Agricultural Production Systems sIMulator) modelling framework.  

Please note this project is open to domestic applicants only. It includes an annual top-up of $20,311 provided by the Grains Research & Development Corporation, so the total annual living stipend is $47,393 (2018 rate).

Additional funding of up to $15,000 per year may also be available, consisting of $10,000 for operating funds and $5,000 for travel.

Please contact Professor Michael Bell for more information.

Students will enrol through the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences.

Applicants should have a strong academic background in Environmental Science, Agricultural Science, Soil Science, or Agronomy. Experience and/or training in crop nutrition or soil chemistry would be advantageous, while well-developed computer skills will also be essential.

*This project is available until December 2018 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Christine Beveridge

c.beveridge@uq.edu.au

A new signalling component in shoot architecture: trehalose 6-phosphate

Shoot branching in plants is regulated by a balance between auxin and sucrose. Auxin inhibits the outgrowth of axillary buds into branches by controlling the synthesis of cytokinins and strigolactones. However, how sucrose interacts with the two other signals is not fully understood. This project aims to highlight the sugar signalling pathways involved during shoot branching and to investigate how sucrose interacts with cytokinins and strigolactones at the molecular level. This PhD will give to the student a good background in plant physiology and molecular biology.

Students will enrol through the School of Biological Sciences.

Plant biology; molecular biology, physiology

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

Associate Professor Bhagirath Chauhan

b.chauhan@uq.edu.au

Innovative crop weed control for northern region cropping systems

Over the last two decades northern region crop production has changed dramatically from systems dominated by cultivation and residue removal to those with little or no soil disturbance and complete residue retention.  These dramatic changes in production practices will likely have also impacted on the biology of weed species infesting these production systems. For example, it is now evident that the effectiveness of harvest weed seed control is improved through crop competition increasing the height of retained seed. Additionally as we move towards the development of site specific weed control technologies the efficacy of these systems will rely on a thorough understanding of the biology of the weeds being targeted. 

The general approach for this area of research is to investigate key biological attributes (dormancy, seedbank viability, seed dispersal, phenological development etc.) of northern region problematic weed as they occur in crop and fallow situations with the aim of identifying control opportunities.  

Students will enrol through the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation (QAAFI).

Masters in Agronomy 

*This project is available until 30 June 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

New Uses for Existing Chemistry

Herbicide resistance is a major problem in Australian grain cropping, reducing the herbicide choices available to growers and increasing their costs. There is a need to increase the availability and flexibility of controls for herbicide-resistant weeds, including new herbicide uses. This project will broaden the choice of herbicide uses available to growers.

Students will enrol through the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation (QAAFI).

Masters in Agronomy 

*This project is available until July 2018 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Thomas Cribb

t.cribb@uq.edu.au

Life-cycles of hemiuroid trematodes of pelagic fishes

Pelagic marine fishes are an ecologically and economically important component of global fisheries. The most important components are the tunas, sailfish, marlin, mahi mahi and flyingfishes. Probably the richest group of parasites in these fishes is the hemiuroid trematodes (flukes) which comprise hundreds of species in multiple families: the Didymozoidae, Hirudinellidae, Sclerodistomidae and Syncoeliidae. The Didymozoidae is by far the richest; true tuna species (Thunnus), have as many as 20 didymozoid species each and marlin species have up to six. Despite their richness, there is almost no information on their life-cycles; not a single pelagic trematode life-cycle is known in full. Only a handful of fragments of life cycles have been reported. These fragments allow the hypothesis that holoplanktonic and pelagic molluscs are the crucial first intermediate hosts of these parasites. The lack of knowledge of these life-cycles relates to the difficulty of their study. Parasite life cycles were traditionally elucidated by infection experiments but these are practically impossible for pelagic cycles. We will use a DNA-based approach to infer life cycles of these significant parasites.

Students will enrol through the School of Biological Sciences.

BSc (Honours) in Biology, with an interest in marine systems and parasitology.

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

Dr Angela Dean

a.dean@uq.edu.au

Promoting stewardship: identifying pathways to greater participation

This project explores the role of stewardship to promote biodiversity. In particular, this project explores the environmental impact of different stewardship behaviours, and integrates environmental science with behavioural science to promote stronger uptake of stewardship behaviours. 

Students will enrol through the School of Biological Sciences.

Environmental science
Sustainability
Practical experience working with industry partners

Professor Gene Tyson

g.tyson@uq.edu.au

Genome-level insight into the dynamics of a model coral microbiome

Microorganisms form an intimate symbiotic relationship with corals and are critical to their health. However, our basic understanding of how the microbiome composition and metabolic function changes within a coral species over seasonal cycles is limited. Here, we will reconstruct microbial genomes from the branching coral Acropora tenuis, to examine the structural and functional microbiome dynamics in response to natural temperature variation on the Great Barrier Reef. This will provide insight into the role the microbiome plays in maintaining coral health.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemical and Molecular Biosciences.

Excellent academic performance to Honours/Masters level (First Class/Distinction), evidenced by a high Grade Point Average (GPA); and a general interest in microbial ecology. 

Desirable requirements for applicants: One or more peer-reviewed research publications. A background in bioinformatics (Linux/Unix, python, R) is preferred.

Dr Mark Blaskovich

m.blaskovich@uq.edu.au

Lipopeptide antibiotics for XDR Gram-negative infections

The polymyxins are a drug class considered to be a last-resort treatment option for multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extremely drug resistant (XDR) Gram-negative infections. Unfortunately resistance is rapidly developing against these antibiotics, leaving no effective therapies and resulting in patient death. This project aims to develop an antibiotic with superior spectra of action and improved safety profiles compared to the polymyxins, with activity against polymyxin-resistant bacteria. It is based on a related class called the octapeptins, for which we recently published the first synthesis (Cell Chemical Biology, 2018. DOI: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2018.01.005; Biorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2017, 27, 2407). This project will conduct additional structure-activity relationship studies with associated microbiological and ADMET testing.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Medicinal chemistry with strong synthetic chemistry background; peptide chemistry a benefit. This project is cross disciplinary, and a background or aptitude to also conduct biological testing (MIC assays, cytotoxicity, protein binding, plasma and microsomal stability, confocal microscopy) would be beneficial.

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

Dr Jianhua Guo

j.guo@awmc.uq.edu.au

Application of bacteriophages to control antibiotic resistant bacteria in urban water systems

The spread of antibiotic resistance has posed major threats for public health. The increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) has prompted the need for an efficient antibacterial control other than antibiotics. In this project, bacteriophages will be isolated from activated sludge and bacteriophage-based control will be assessed in vitro for its ability to inhibit or damage emerging ARB. The outcomes will offer a novel approach to controlling ARB in urban water systems.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemical Engineering.

First class (I) honours or MSc, with a background of Environmental Microbiology, Bioengineering, or Genetics

Dr Magdalena Zych

m.zych@uq.edu.au

Quantum and gravitational causal structures – foundations and information-processing applications

Quantum information processing offers quantifiable advantages over information processing according to the rules of classical physics. It has recently been discovered that exploiting quantum rules for ordering the application of information-processing steps according offers additional advantages. These new protocols thus make use of quantum causal order to the benefit of quantum information processing. Surprisingly, connections have been found between such protocols and causal structures arising from the combination of quantum theory and general relativity. This PhD project will provide a comprehensive description of quantum and general-relativistic causal structures and identify which of them offer advantages in quantum information processing. It will then design and contribute to implementation of quantum optics experiments illustrating the power of these novel causal structures. The outcomes of this project will contribute to the research on the structure of space-time in the context of quantum gravity theories as well as to the research in quantum information, by providing novel quantum information processing protocols with a quantum-gravitational interpretation.

Students will enrol through the School of Mathematics and Physics.

Ideally, the candidate will have a  background in basic quantum mechanics, general relativity (and/or astrophysics, and will have some practical experience in experimental quantum optics.

Dr Ebinazar Namdas

e.namdas@uq.edu.au

Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs)

Positions are available for PhD students to work on the Commonwealth supported project in developing a new class of lighting technology based on organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs). The research is interdisciplinary and the candidates will work closely with world-class researchers in physics and chemistry and gain a first class postgraduate education at the state-of-the-art research centre, (http://www.physics.uq.edu.au/cope/node/2).

Students will enrol through the School of Mathematics & Physics.

1st class Honours degree or equivalent degree in Physics or Engineering with skills and experiences in condense matter physics/semiconductors/optics
Organic photo-detectors (OPDs)

Positions are available for PhD students to work on the  Commonwealth supported project in developing a new class of photo-detectors based on organic semiconductors.  research is interdisciplinary and the candidates will work closely with world-class researchers in physics and chemistry and gain a first class postgraduate education at the state-of-the-art research centre, (http://www.physics.uq.edu.au/cope/node/2).

Students will enrol through the School of Mathematics & Physics.

1st class Honours degree or equivalent degree in Physics or Engineering with skills and experiences in condense matter physics/semiconductors/optics
Spectroscopy of light emitting semiconductor materials

Positions are available for PhD students to work spectroscopy of light emitting organic semiconducting materials. The candidate will work closely with world-class researchers in physics and chemistry and gain a first class postgraduate education at the state-of-the-art research centre, (http://www.physics.uq.edu.au/cope/node/2).

Students will enrol through the School of Mathematics & Physics.

1st class Honours degree or equivalent degree in Physics or Physical Chemistry with skills and experiences spectroscopy and optics

Dr Jacqui Romero

m.romero@uq.edu.au

Knowledge, Ignorance, and Security in Higher-dimensional Quantum Systems

In quantum physics, the best possible knowledge of a whole does not include the best possible knowledge of the parts-- not knowing any of the letters of a word does not imply not knowing what the word is. In this project, we will exploit the high-dimensional transverse spatial modes of photon to experimentally show that the converse is also true: not knowing the word does not imply not knowing any of the letters. This counter-intuitive notion is unique to higher-dimensional systems, and impacts the security of quantum cryptography.

Students will enrol through the School of Mathematics & Physics.

Honours/Masters in Physics, preferably with experience in experimental optics

Dr Elizabeth Krenske

e.krenske@uq.edu.au

Computational Chemistry

Positions are available for PhD students to work on the Commonwealth supported project in developing new classes of light-emitting and light-absorbing materials for use in lighting technology and photo-detectors. The research involves computational modelling of the properties of new materials, and the use of theoretical techniques to model chemical reactivity. The candidates will work closely with world-class researchers in chemistry and physics and gain a first class postgraduate education associated with the state-of-the-art research centre, (http://www.physics.uq.edu.au/cope/node/2).

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences.

1st class Honours (or equivalent) degree in Chemistry with excellent skills and experiences in organic chemistry and/or computational chemistry

Dr. S.-C. Lo

s.lo@uq.edu.au
Synthesis of organic light-emitting materials

Positions are available for PhD candidates to work on a project supported by the Commonwealth in developing new classes of organic light-emitting materials for solid lighting. The research is interdisciplinary and the candidates will work closely with world-class researchers in physics and chemistry and gain a first class postgraduate education at the state-of-the-art research centre, (http://www.physics.uq.edu.au/cope/node/2).

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences.

1st class Honours (or equivalent) degree in Chemistry with excellent skills and experiences in organic synthesis and characterisation
Synthesis of organic photo-detector materials

Positions are available for PhD candidates to work on a project supported by the Commonwealth in developing new classes of organic light absorbers for photo-detectors. The research is interdisciplinary and the candidates will work closely with world-class researchers in physics and chemistry and gain a first class postgraduate education at the state-of-the-art research centre, (http://www.physics.uq.edu.au/cope/node/2).

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences.

1st class Honours (or equivalent) degree in Chemistry with excellent skills and experiences in organic synthesis and characterisation

Dr Christian Rinke

c.rinke@uq.edu.au

Archaeal Dark Matter and the Origin of Eukaryotes

The overall aim of this project is to investigate the highly controversial origin of eukaryotes and thus all multicellular life within Archaea, a domain of single-celled microorganisms. The project aims to develop a novel high-throughput single-cell genomics approach to recover archaeal genomes from the deep sea.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences.

First class (I) honours or MSc, with a background in molecular biology or bioinformatics.

Professor Gene Tyson

g.tyson@uq.edu.au

Uncovering new microbial players and processes in the global methane cycle

The overarching aim of this proposal is to utilise multiple analytical strategies (including metagenomics and metatranscriptomics) to substantially expand our understanding of the key microorganisms, metabolic strategies, and interspecies relationships involved in the formation and consumption of methane.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences.

Have completed at least four years of tertiary education studies at a high level of achievement and have an appropriate Honours 1 (or equivalent) undergraduate degree.

Associate Professor Mary Fletcher

mary.fletcher@uq.edu.au

Modelling the controlled release of toxins from biopolymer composites in a model rumen environment

The controlled release of bioactives from degradable polymer matrices is a well-established route for the delivery of functional compounds over a sustained period. It is a powerful tool for managing the health and wellbeing of our cattle. However, the release rates and degradation profiles of biopolymers in cattle rumen is poorly understood or modelled. This project will address those gaps, using both practical and theoretical modelling approaches.

The principal advisor for this project will be Dr Bronwyn Laycockb.laycock@uq.edu.au and students will enrol through the School of Chemical Engineering.

Preferred B Eng (four year, 1st class honours) or B.Sc. (Hons 1 or 2A) or equivalent.
Improving beef production through management of plant toxins

Consumption of poisonous plants by livestock does not necessarily equal uptake of the toxin, and the approach of the proposed research is to devise strategies to enable toxin breakdown in the cattle rumen before absorption into the bloodstream.  This applied industry project is aimed at mitigating the effects of the Pimelea plant toxin simplexin and requires analytical chemistry skills to measure both the toxin and its degradation products. This investigation capitalises on natural rumen response by isolating microbes capable of degrading the simplexin (for use as preventative probiotics), and investigating toxin absorbents and/or biopolymers to foster toxin-degrading microbe populations.  Additional top-up scholarship ($8,000 p.a.) is available for suitable domestic student.

Students will enrol through the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation (QAAFI).

Honours Degree or Masters in Chemistry or related field

Associate Professor Robbie Wilson

r.wilson@uq.edu.au

Ecology of metal contamination in native Australian mammals & birds on a remote northern island

This study aims to evaluate the impacts of metal contamination on the health and performance of native Australian mammals and birds in a northern tropical ecosystem. The project will investigate how a species’ ecology contributes to their risk of contamination. The research also aims to provide local Indigenous Rangers with scientifically based strategies to improve wildlife conservation on Groote Eylandt.

Students will enrol through the School of Biological Sciences.

Bachelor of Science with Honours (or equivalent), with a background in mammal or bird ecology and behaviour or exotoxicology
Predicting the movement speeds of animal movement

Movement is fundamental to animal behavior, governing the way animals use habitats, interact with conspecifics, avoid predators, obtain food and even negotiate human-modified landscapes. The rapidly expanding field of movement ecology offers a unifying paradigm for the causes, consequences, underlying mechanisms and patterns of movement-related phenomena. The project will develop models to understand the movement behaviour and test these using wild animals.

Students will enrol through the School of Biological Sciences.

Bachelor of Science with Honours (or equivalent), with a background in behavioural ecology or ecology.

Professor Geoff Goodhill

g.goodhill@uq.edu.au

Advanced statistical methods for analysing maps in the visual brain

This project will provide new and powerful statistical tools for analysing data from brain imaging experiments. This improved approach will yield important new information about normal brain structure, the development of brain structure, and how brain structure is affected by altered sensory experience.

Students can enrol through the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) or the School of Mathematics & Physics. Discuss with Professor Goodhill.

Maths/physics/engineering
How are axons guided to their targets in the developing nervous system?

For the brain to function correctly it must be wired correctly. Axon guidance occurs primarily via the sensing of molecular cues in the environment, and a critical mechanism by which such cues are believed to act is via concentration gradients. However we do not have a quantitative understanding of how axons actually respond to concentration gradients. To address this problem we will first use novel microfluidics technologies to create precisely controlled molecular gradients in vitro, measure axon trajectories over long periods of time as gradient parameters are systematically varied, and develop computational models to quantitatively explain the key properties of these trajectories. Second, we will computationally model the spatiotemporal distribution of guidance cues believed to steer axons in two paradigmatic model systems, the development of the corpus callosum and of thalamocortical connections.

Students can enrol through the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) or the School of Mathematics & Physics. Discuss with Professor Goodhill.

Maths/physics/engineering/neuroscience

Dr Tim O'Hare

t.ohare@uq.edu.au

Naturally Nutritious

This project explores the development of selected nutritionally-biofortified fruit, vegetable and nuts, identifying limitations and potential of increasing targeted phytonutrients.  Biofortification harnesses the plant’s potential (genetic or otherwise) to optimise synthesis and storage of phytonutrients necessary for human health. The project overlaps several fields including plant genetics, biochemistry, biology, human nutrition. Top-up scholarships are potentially available for up to four applicants.

Students will enrol through the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation (QAAFI).

Plant biochemistry
Plant physiology
Plant molecular biology

Professor Mike Bennett

m.bennett@uq.edu.au

Contemporary and retrospective genomic analyses of tiger and white sharks

The tiger shark and white shark are two highly charismatic apex oceanic predators, and are species with important social, biological and economic significance within Australia and around the globe. However, the spatial and temporal dimensions of their demographies are poorly known. By conducting detailed genomic analyses on both living and long-dead specimens we will gain valuable insight into the biology of both species and provide information for conservation and management purposes.

Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

Potential PhD student requires Bachelor degree in Marine Science (with honours) plus training and experience in bioinformatics.

Dr Bin Luo

b.luo1@uq.edu.au

Designing solar rechargeable battery system for efficient solar energy storage

This project aims to develop a new prototype of solar rechargeable battery for the direct capture and storage of abundant but intermittent solar energy. These will provide advances in material science and solar energy storage technologies, thus addressing the global energy shortage and environmental pollution issues.

Students will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

Electrochemistry, Material Science, or Nanoscience
New hierarchical electrode design for high-power lithium ion batteries

This project aims to develop new types of hierarchical electrodes for high-rate lithium ion batteries with long cycling life. The project outcomes will lead to innovative technologies in low carbon emission transportation and efficient energy storage systems.

Students will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

Material Science, Electrochemistry
Design of New Two-dimensional Materials for Lithium Sulfur Batteries

Effective energy storage system plays an important role in the installation of renewable energies and electric vehicles. This project aims to develop new types of hierarchical cathode composites for high capacity lithium-sulfur battery with long cycling life. The outcomes will lead to innovative technologies in low carbon emission transportation and efficient energy storage systems.

Students will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

Electrochemistry, Material Science

Professor Yu Chengzhong

c.yu@uq.edu.au

A Nano-platform for Affordable and Ultra-sensitive Bio-marker Detection z

This project aims to develop a next-generation nano-platform and device for ultra-sensitive detection of biomarkers.

Students will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

Materials science or Chemistry

Nano-Pesticides for Animal Healthcare

This project will use state of the art nanotechnology to develop a new generation nano-pesticide with improved safety and performance. The nano-pesticide is expected to have enhanced efficacy and effective duration in field conditions compared to conventional pesticides, significantly reducing the cost of pest control.

Students will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

Materials science, Chemistry or Pharmacy