Available PhD projects - Science, agriculture, environment & agribusiness

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Chief Investigator

Project title

Project description

Preferred educational background

Professor Bryan Mowry

bryan_mowry@qcmhr.uq.edu.au

and

Dr Jean Giacomotto

j.giacomotto@uq.edu.au

Investigating the neuronal and developmental role of brain-disorder associated genes using the fast-developing zebrafish brain

We have a fantastic opportunity funded by the University of Queensland for a PhD student scholarship. The position will be with the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI). This institute focuses on understanding the normal and pathologic functions of the nervous system and on looking for treatments against diseases of the brain. The host group, which combine supervision from a senior clinician and a senior research fellow initially trained in the industry (genetics and drug discovery), is currently working at identifying risk-genes involved in neurodevelopmental and mental disorders (mainly schizophrenia) using patients’ samples and at understanding the role of these genes in the nervous system. The main focus of this PhD will be to translate some of their genetics discoveries into functional knowledge. The PhD student will handle several high-priority genes and investigate their function using the zebrafish animal model. The primary goal will be to successfully generate knockout mutant animals and investigate the impact of the corresponding loss-of-function to the brain development and function, with a particular emphasis with synaptogenesis and synaptic function.

The applicant will benefit from an international network and top-notch supervision from experts in the field of mental disorders, genetics, animal models and drug discovery. This is a unique opportunity that, beyond self-development, will help the applicant to learn state-of-the-art techniques such as animal transgenesis, CRISPR-technology and high-end microscopy (including optogenetics, calcium imaging and super-resolution microscopy). The applicant will also have the opportunity to play a role in side projects focusing on drug discovery using the zebrafish.

The successful applicant will also benefit from a $3500 conference travel funding. Subject to conditions and the applicant application, the applicant could be eligible to an additional $5,000 top‐up per annum proved by the QBI.

The appointee will have a first-class Honours degree or hold equivalent qualifications in Genetics/Neuroscience or relevant and substantial research experience in an appropriate sector. The appointee will be familiar with project management, writing and administration skills and be able to work well as part of a team to achieve common goals. Ideally, the applicant would be familiar with mouse or zebrafish animal models. She/He would have started worked on similar project aiming at studying gene function and accumulated extensive experience in molecular biology, transgenesis and/or microscopy.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2020. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons. 

Associate Professor Eve McDonald-Madden

e.mcdonaldmadden@uq.edu.au

Tackling pests using game theory to support cooperative management

This project seeks to improve conservation management by designing cooperative planning tools for multiple conservation agencies. Using an interdisciplinary decision analytic approach combining game theory, spatial modelling, ecology, and cost-effectiveness analysis we aim to create a novel framework identifying how and when agencies might collaborate, and how collaboration might impact on costs and benefits of pest control strategies. This exciting PhD project aims to develop spatial approaches to modelling pest management for multiple agencies using Queensland as a case study.

This PhD project will specifically aim to develop novel spatial modelling and decision theoretic approaches to integrate data on pests, management effectiveness, and management actions available to different Queensland Government agencies. Then to use this to evaluate spatial priorities for the different agencies given their differing objectives.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences 

Hold a BSc or MSc degree in environmental sciences, agriculture, engineering, mathematics, economics or a related field • Have knowledge and experience with spatial analysis and modelling • Have knowledge of statistics and programming languages (Python, R or Matlab)

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 3, 2020. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons. 

Dr Milos Tanurdzic

m.tanurdzic@uq.edu.au

Discovery of gene networks regulating development in tree crops

Tree crops account for half of the Australian horticulture industry’s value, with mango, macadamia, avocado, almond and citrus being the major tree crops. Horticulture is also an important strategy for ensuring future global food security. This PhD project will utilize next generation sequencing, functional genomics, and bioinformatics analyses to identify gene regulatory networks controlling key developmental processes (juvenility, flowering time, tree architecture) as part of the National Horticulture Tree Genomics Program. The prospective student should be interested in interdisciplinary approaches to biology, especially plant biology,  and would be expected to work well as part of a team of plant scientists across several universities working on the National Horticulture Tree Genomics Program.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Biological Sciences.

B.Sc. with Honours, or M.Sc. degree in Genetics, Plant Science, Biotechnology, Genomics, or Bioinformatics

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons. 

Dr Gabriele Taraglino-Mazzucchelli

g.tartaglino-mazzucchelli@uq.edu.au

Supersymmetry and Supergravity: New Approaches and Applications

This project aims at improving our understanding of general supersymmetric theories and supergravity-matter couplings. The outcomes of this project will advance our knowledge of supersymmetry and its mathematical formulation towards the solution of challenging open questions in the study of quantum field theories and gravity. The project’s results will find potential applications to various research branches of high-energy theoretical physics such as quantum field and string theories, matter-coupled gravity, cosmology and holographic dualities.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Mathematics and Physics.

Theoretical and/or Mathematical Physics of fundamental interactions.

Compulsory: good knowledge of quantum field theory and General Relativity.

Preferred: knowledge of supersymmetry, supergravity and topics related to string theory.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 4, 2020. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons. 

Professor Daniel Rodriguez

d.rodriguez@uq.edu.au

Optimising sorghum yield through agronomic management

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?

Across Australia’s Northern Grains Region, managing heat stress and dry spells around critical growth stages remain critical to increase farmers yields and reduce the likelihood of un-economical sorghum crops. For the case of heat stress at flowering, the main adaptation strategy farmers have to reduce yield losses, is to avoid the overlap between heat stress events and flowering, by targeting optimum flowering windows. Initial results show that to fit the flowering of sorghum around low risk windows for heat and water stresses, the crop would need to be sown into soil moisture, at soil temperatures lower than the recommended 16°C. Under these conditions, farmers need to achieve rapid and uniform crop establishments, and balance the decision on the likely benefits of reduced stresses around flowering, with the higher risk of early frost damage.

Topics that this PhD project could address include: crop establishment in cold soils; the crop sensitivity to early frost damage; how early sowing changes the frequency of stress environments around flowering, and how these changes impact yields; cropping systems benefits i.e. early crops offer the opportunity of sowing a winter crop after a short summer fallow; the existing genetic diversity and the role of different physiological traits in relation to early planting and stresses also require specific researching.

The successful student will enrol through Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation.

Agriculture, crop physiology, cropping systems, stress physiology

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2021. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons. 

Associate Professor Brett Ferguson

b.ferguson1@uq.edu.au
Characterising novel molecular components of legume nodulation regulation

Legumes form a complex beneficial symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria that is tightly controlled by the host plant through a molecular signalling pathway, called Autoregulation of Nodulation (AON). As a result of this symbiosis, legumes require less nitrogen fertiliser and will be pivotal in promoting sustainable agricultural practices. 

This project aims to use cutting-edge molecular biology techniques to characterise components of the AON pathway to increase our understanding of nodulation control and identify potential targets for selecting and/or generating superior plant varieties.  

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences.

BSc with Honours or MSc; Background in molecular biology and genetics. Experience with plants is desirable, but exceptions made for candidates with strong skills in molecular biology.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2020. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons. 

 

Professor Alan Rowan

alan.rowan@uq.edu.au

 

Dr Jan Lauko

j.lauko@uq.edu.au
Cellular mechanics in unusual systems

This project will use a multifaceted approach to investigate the effects of microgravity/force on cell differentiation in 3D biomimetic cell matrices and to quantify force-mediated changes in stem cell behaviour. This will be achieved through synthesis of novel synthetic extracellular matrix materials, their detailed mechanical characterisation and the study of their interactions with biological materials in altered gravity.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

Material chemistry or polymer chemistry or biophysics
background preferably with experience using/preparting synthetic ECM. Experience in mechanical characterisation of materials will be an advantage.

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor Justin Marshall

justin.marshall@uq.edu.au
Unravelling reef fish vision through gene-editing and behavioural ecology

This project aims to enhance our understanding of visual neuroscience, genetic control of vision and
environmental ecology on The Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Using the anemonefish, as a model, together with new genetic, photographic and behavioural approaches, the project aims to reveal novel aspects of colour vision on the reef.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Queensland Brain Institute.

A Masters degree or equivalent in Evolutionary Biology, Neurosciences or Marine Sciences. Bioinformatic experience is preferred but not necessary.

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor Bostjan Kobe

b.kobe@uq.edu.au
Molecular mechanisms of signalling by plant immune receptors

Effector-triggered immunity is a key mechanism by which plants detect invading pathogens and trigger immune responses. In this process, a pathogen effector (avirulence) protein is recognized by plant resistance proteins, typically from the “plant NLR” family. Ongoing work in the applicants’ laboratories suggests that signalling by cooperative assembly formation and NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) cleavage play central roles in the process. Building on these data, the project aims to characterize the molecular basis of the TIR (Toll/interleukin-1 receptor) domain-mediated NAD+ cleavage and the structural architecture of plant NLR complexes. This knowledge will support the long-term objective of protecting crops from pathogens.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Biochemistry and molecular biology (preferably including adequate chemistry and physics background, and some lab experience, especially structural biology)

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor Bostjan Kobe

b.kobe@uq.edu.au
Molecular basis and inhibition of TIR-domain function in Toll-like receptor and neuronal cell-death pathways

TIR (Toll/interleukin-1 receptor) domains feature in TLRs (Toll-like receptors) and their adaptors involved in innate immunity, as well as the protein SARM1 (sterile-alpha and TIR motif containing 1) involved in axon degeneration. These pathways are associated with a number of pathological states ranging from infectious, autoimmune, inflammatory, cardiovascular and cancer-related disorders to neurodegenerative diseases. The proposed research will build on two key observations: (i) TIR domains signal through cooperative assembly formation (SCAF); and (ii) SARM1 TIR domain possesses SCAF-dependent enzymatic activity responsible for cleavage of NAD+, a key step in axon degeneration. The project will characterise the specificity of assembly formation in TLR pathways and the molecular and structural basis of NADase activity, test structure-based hypotheses for functional effects in cells, and design inhibitors of interactions by these proteins. The outcomes of the proposed research will include an improved understanding of signaling in TLR and SARM1 pathways, identify new target sites for therapeutic design, and provide inhibitory molecules as leads for therapeutic development against chronic inflammatory, neurodegenerative and related diseases.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Biochemistry and molecular biology (preferably including adequate chemistry and physics background, and some lab experience, especially structural biology)

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor Debra Bernhardt

d.bernhardt@uq.edu.au
Promoting new reaction pathways with nonequilibrium flow

This project aims to understand how to control reactions using external forces such as those due to shear.  Theoretical studies and molecular level computations will be used to gain insight into the mechanisms that promote reactions under shear, and how these are related to molecular structure and fluid composition. This is relevant for advancement of many technologies, from development of new synthetic pathways and products, to design of lubricants that can withstand extreme strain rates.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

Chemistry, Physics, Chemical Engineering, Mathematics

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Dr Craig Hardner

c.hardner@uq.edu.au
National Tree Genomics Platform – Phenotype Prediction Toolbox

The PHD successful candidate will develop technology to support implementation of genome based prediction models in horticultural tree crops
Potential projects include:

  • genomic prediction models for priority traits (including vigour, phenology, precocity, fruit quality) in mango, macadamia, and citrus
  • genomic methods to fast track rootstock breeding in avocado for resistance to phytophthora and control of scion vigour and precocity,
  • genomic based global prediction of performance.

The successful candidate will develop skills in big data management, genomics, genetics, statistics, bioinformatics, and translation to applied genetic improvement and will work with international partners in mainland US and Hawaii, European Union, and China.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation (QAAFI).

Graduates with background in, or ability to learn, quantitative genetics and /or statistics, plant (preferably tree) biology, and bioinformatics. First Class Honours Degree, Masters Research Degree or equivalent, with at least one peer reviewed publication.  Applicants must meet the requirements for admission into the UQ Graduate School PhD program

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor Tamara Davis

tamarad@physics.uq.edu.au
Understanding the Dark Universe

This PhD project will test models of dark energy, dark matter, and advanced theories of gravity.  We will use the latest observational data from supernovae, galaxies, and/or gravitational waves to test cosmological models and investigate the nature of the dark components of our universe.  The candidate will have the opportunity to be embedded in large international cosmology teams such as the Dark Energy Survey (DES) and the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI).

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Mathematics and Physics.

First Class Honours, or Masters, in astrophysics or related discipline

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Associate Professor Mehdi Mobli

m.mobli@uq.edu.au
Accessing structurally elusive states of sodium channels as novel analgesic targets

The project involves identification and characterisation of structurally distinct and functionally important regions of sodium channels. These proteins are then used as targets for drug screening using biophysical assays.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Queensland Brain Institute.

Biochemistry, Chemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Associate Professor Mehdi Mobli

m.mobli@uq.edu.au
A new source of bivalent molecules from nature

The project aims to discover and characterise disulfide rich peptides with a tandem repeat architecture. The candidate will identify, produce and characterise novel tandem repeat peptides with the aim of discovering new protein structural arrangements and unique biological activities as a source for development of drugs and insecticides.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Queensland Brain Institute.

Biochemistry, Chemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Dr Patricio Opazo

p.opazo@uq.edu.au
The role of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II in synaptotoxicity in Alzheimer's disease models

In this project, we aim to understand the molecular mechanism underlying synaptic loss in  Alzheimer’s disease models.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Queensland Brain Institute.

Biomedical Sciences and Neurosciences

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor Frédéric A. Meunier

f.meunier@uq.edu.au
Unveiling the nanoscale organisation and dynamics of synaptic vesicle pools

Communication between neurons relies on the fusion of synaptic vesicles containing neurotransmitters with the presynaptic plasma membrane. The nerve terminals also process surviving cues that are controlled by the level of synaptic activity. How the synaptic vesicles recycling mechanism cross talk with that generating signalling endosomes remains unknown. In this project, we aim to use our recently developed single synaptic vesicle super-resolution tracking methods to establish how various molecules impact on these two trafficking processes. Ultimately, this project will establish how neurons manage to preserve their astonishing ability to communicate and survive.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Queensland Brain Institute.

Candidates should have a BSc with 1st class Hons (or equivalent), majoring in a relevant discipline (Biology, Neuroscience, Biophysics). 

One or more peer reviewed publication, prior experience with microscopy, tissue culture and animal handling would be advantageous.

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Dr Tatsuya Amano

t.amano@uq.edu.au
Why are waterbirds declining globally?

Assessing changes in global biodiversity is critical for formulating conservation policy, yet few groups are sufficiently well studied globally. Waterbirds have been monitored since the 1980s in over 130 countries, providing an excellent opportunity to understand changes in the status of biodiversity in wetlands, one of the most-threatened ecosystems. The student will collaborate with Cambridge University, Wetlands International, the National Audubon Society and others to assess global patterns and drivers of changes in waterbird distribution, abundance and community structure. The results will inform wetland conservation policy development globally.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Biological Sciences.
  • Undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline
  • Experience of using R and GIS preferable
  • Basic knowledge on bird ecology preferable
  • Good writing skills
  • Ability to work collaboratively with a wide range of people, often internationally
  • Be passionate about applying science to biodiversity conservation

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor Michael Monteiro

m.monteiro@uq.edu.au
Precision-built dynamic and functional polymer vesicles

The research in this project will provide significant new knowledge in the fundamental chemical synthesis of
polymer vesicles, their physical and functional capabilities, and the ability to manipulate the fine structure on the nanoscale to mimic some key dynamic features used by the cell.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).
  • A bachelor’s degree with at least honours class IIA
  • A coursework master’s degree 

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Dr Xiuwen Zhou

x.zhou6@uq.edu.au
Rational design of light-emitting materials for lighting and displays

The project is on the development of computational strategies for the design of light-emitting molecules/materials, especially those with potential application in organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs).  

The research will involve a range of computer modelling techniques including quantum chemistry, chemical  physics and data science.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Mathematics and Physics.

BSc with Honours or MSc, with a strong motivation in tackling challenges in multi-disciplinary areas

Background in computational/theoretical chemistry and/or computational condensed-matter physics and/or computer programming is desirable, but not essential.

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Associate Professor Andrew Barnes

a.barnes@uq.edu.au
A trivalent vaccine for sustainable kingfish production

Explore the evolutionary HGT amongst Photobacterium damselae ssp. piscicida, ssp. damselae and Vibrio harveyi from kingfish and identify pathotypes. Design intervention strategies for vaccination.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Biological Sciences.

Microbiology, evolutionary biology, bioinformatics

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Associate Professor Cynthia Riginos

c.riginos@uq.edu.au
Tracking origins and spread of Crown-of-Thorns Seastars on the Great Barrier Reef

An Australian Research Council funded project will be examining key hypotheses regarding the spatio-temporal dynamics of Crown-of-Thorns Seastars (CoTS) outbreaking populations, drawing upon genomic and eDNA enabled tools and methodologies. We are seeking highly a motivated individual with experience or strong interests in some combination of population genomics, landscape genetics, invasive species/pathogen spread dynamics, and population modelling. Competitive applicants would have demonstrated relevant research experience in evolution and population genetics (Masters or Honours degree with associated publications) and some experience with bioinformatics and computer scripting (R, python, perl or other relevant language)

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Biological Sciences.

Masters degree with experience in bioinformatics

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Associate Professor Femi Akinsanmi

o.akinsanmi@uq.edu.au
Pathogenomics of husk spot fungus in macadamia

This study will utilize genomic and metagenomics data to profile Pseudocercospora macadamiae interactions with macadamia and provide beneficial insight for disease control.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation (QAAFI).

Postgraduate studies in Agriculture, Biological Sciences

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor Zhiping XuProfessor Bernard CarrollProfessor Neena Mitter

gordonxu@uq.edu.au
Clay nanoparticle-facilitated RNAi for non-transgenic modification of crops

This project will investigate the topical delivery of large dsRNA and siRNA to plant cells using a clay nanoparticle as the vehicle to identify whether topically applied large dsRNA or small interfering RNA is more efficient in inducing silencing of plant genes. The long term aim is to induce systemic silencing of plant genes for trait modification and enhanced crop productivity.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Masters in Biotechnology or Molecular Biology, experience required in Arabidopsis genetics, florescent protein imaging in plants including confocal microscopy, small RNA gel blot analysis in plants, growing Arabidopsis in soil and in axenic culture, grafting Arabidopsis, PCR genotyping of plants, construction of Agrobacterium binary vectors & transformation of Arabidopsis, sound knowledge of RNA interference (RNAi) pathways in Arabidopsis

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor Ben Hayes

b.hayes@uq.edu.au
FastStack - evolutionary computing to stack desirable alleles in wheat

A major emerging challenge in wheat breeding is how to stack desirable alleles for disease resistance, drought and heat tolerance, and end-use quality into new varieties with elite high yielding backgrounds in the minimum time. As the number of known desirable alleles for these traits increases every year, the number of possible crossing combinations that need to be considered increases exponentially. We will use evolutionary computing algorithms, widely used for solving highly combinatorial problems, to address this challenge. In a large scale trial with our  project partners we will evaluate the decrease in variety development time that can be achieved with this approach compared to traditional breeding approaches.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation (QAAFI).

Background in at least one of the following fields would be preferred: quantitative genetics, statistics, plant breeding, animal breeding, human genetics, bioinformatics/computer science

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor Chengzhong Yu

c.yu@uq.edu.au
A Nano-platform for Affordable and Ultra-sensitive Bio-marker Detection

Lateral flow assays (LFA) are used for the rapid detection of biomarkers, however their sensitivity is relatively low.

This project aims to develop a next-generation nano-platform and LFA device for ultra-sensitive detection of biomarkers. Innovative porous silica nanoparticles with uniform particle size and controllable structures will be prepared.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

Preferred candidate has background on biomedical or pharmacy or agriculture or nanotechnology.

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor Craig Franklin

c.franklin@uq.edu.au
Environmental and physiological drivers of immune function in frogs

The environment can shape ecological processes through effects on an individuals' physiology. This project aims to investigate how ultraviolet B radiation and temperature interact during early development to influence amphibian physiology. The project utilises a combination of genetic, biochemical and physiological approaches to investigate the effects of ultraviolet B and temperature on a key fitness determinant – immune system function. Important outcomes of this research will be detailed, fundamental information on how environmental conditions experienced during development influence the growth and fitness of frogs. These data will improve our capacity to forecast potential ecological-level effects of environmental change on amphibians.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Biological Sciences.

Ecological & evolutionary physiology

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Associate Professor Daniel Ortiz-Barrientos

d.ortizbarrientos@uq.edu.au
Recombination and the genomic landscape of speciation

This project aims to evaluate how genomes become different during the origin of species by utilising an innovative system where multiple replicates of the speciation process exist. This project expects to generate knowledge in the area of speciation genetics by exploring the effects of sex, migration and selection on the diversity of hundreds of genomes from an Australian wildflower. 

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Biological Sciences.

BSc with Honours, MSc or equivalent; Background in genetics, evolution and/or plant biology, with strong quantitative skills.

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Dr Philip Stevenson

p.stevenson@uq.edu.au
Vaccination against herpesviruses

Herpesviruses establish persistent, systemic infections that cause considerable disease. Vaccines are needed, but have proved hard to design as the immunological correlates of protection are poorly understood. So far the only successful vaccines have been live attenuated viruses. Delivering these depends on understanding how individual viral gene products contribute to systemic infection and disease, so they can be removed from vaccine viruses to ensure safety without compromising immunogenicity. Also it is necessary to understand which steps in host colonization are amenable to immune control. Mechanisms have to be worked out in animal models. We are using Murid Herpesvirus-4 and Murine Cytomegalovirus to understand gamma-herpesvirus and beta-herpesvirus pathogenesis and immune control, and to develop new vaccine approaches that can be translated to the equivalent human pathogens.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Applicants should have a BSc Hons or equivalent in virology, immunology, or a related discipline.

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Dr Philip Stevenson

p.stevenson@uq.edu.au
Dissemination of cytomegaloviruses

Cytomegaloviruses establish chronic infections of myeloid cells. We have shown that infected myeloid cells are driven to recirculate by a viral take over of host chemokine receptor signaling. Dendritic cells infected by murine cytomegalovirus follow a novel route, entering the blood from lymph nodes via high endothelial venules before extravasating into new tissues. This has important implications for our understanding of both cytomegalovirus infections and normal innate immune function. The project will analyse targeted mutant viruses in vivo and work towards a new understanding of how chemokine receptor signals drive dendritic cell function.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Applicants should have a BSc Hons or equivalent in virology, immunology, or a related discipline.

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor David Jordan

david.jordan@uq.edu.au
Next generation plant breeding: integrating genomic selection and high throughput phenotyping to enhance genetic gain in sorghum and mungbeans

This project aims to develop approaches that will integrate genomic selection and high throughput field and platform based phenotyping to generate step change in the rate of genetic gain in the sorghum and mungbean breeding programs.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation (QAAFI).

Masters or Honours in:
•    Quantitative Genetics
•    Genomic prediction 
•    Bioinformatics
•    Plant Breeding

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Dr Cheong Xin Chan

c.chan1@uq.edu.au
Genomics and evolution of symbiont transmission in coral reefs

This Project aims to understand how genomes of differently acquired microalgae have evolved to support symbiosis with corals, through sequencing of algal genomes of Symbiodiniaceae from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and free‐living relatives. Genes that have been gained or lost, or are under adaptive selection will be identified. These genes, systems and functions are potential targets for new management strategies for protecting Australian coral reefs in the face of climate change.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Molecular biology, genomics, bioinformatics, computer science, evolution

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Associate Professor Jack Clegg

j.clegg@uq.edu.au
Flexible Molecular Crystals: Single Crystals that Bend, Stretch and Twist

Single crystals are typically brittle, inelastic materials that crack, shatter or deform irreversibly when they are struck or bent. Such mechanical responses limit the use of these materials in new applications like flexible electronics and optical devices. Crystals that can be reversibly and repeatedly bent - characteristics normally associated with soft matter - would be extremely attractive for a host of engineering applications that require materials with properties that can be tuned through external stimuli. We have recently discovered a series of materials that possess the characteristics of both crystallinity and significant flexibility including single crystals of a metal-organic complex that exhibit sufficient elastic flexibility that they can be tied in a knot. This project will develop and apply molecular design principles to produce new metal-organic crystals that display elastic flexibility and use this flexibility to tune the physical properties of these materials. The project will involve a mixture of coordination chemistry, crystallography and materials science.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Hons Class 1 in Inorganic Chemistry and/or Materials Science

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor Liz Gillam

e.gillam@uq.edu.au

Professor Ben Hankamer

b.hankamer@imb.uq.edu.au

Solar-Driven Biocatalysis: Development of Cytochrome P450 Enzyme Systems for Pharmaceutical Synthesis in Microalgae’

The project will involve the development of microalgal systems for using cytochrome P450 enzymes as biocatalysts in the pharmaceutical industry. The research is aimed at gaining a fundamental understanding of the way in which P450 catalysis can be supported by photosynthesis as well as how such systems can be customised for industrial application. The research is supported by an industry-funded collaboration and will involve frequent interactions with the industry partner.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Candidates should have an Honours or Masters degree in Biochemistry, Chemistry, Biotechnology or Plant Molecular Biology. Advanced undergraduate training in biological chemistry and/or enzymology is strongly preferred. Skills in HPLC analysis of small molecules, demonstrated expertise in working with redox biochemistry, cytochrome P450 enzymes and/or microalgae, and industrial research experience are highly desirable.

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor Michael Monteiro

m.monteiro@uq.edu.au

Precision-built dynamic and functional polymer vesicles

The research in this project will provide significant new knowledge in the fundamental chemical synthesis of polymer vesicles, their physical and functional capabilities, and the ability to manipulate the fine structure on the nanoscale to mimic some key dynamic features used by the cell. The proposed new artificial polymer vesicles will impact the field of chemistry through the synthesis of new dynamic and responsive polymer nano-vesicles.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Candidates should have a first class BSc Hons (or equivalent), majoring in chemistry, materials science, or related discipline.

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor Paul Bernhardt

p.bernhardt@uq.edu.au
Molybdenum enzyme electrochemical communication

This project aims to understand the activity of three novel, but related, molybdenum enzymes, human mARC and its bacterial homologs YcbX and YiiM. The role of mARC in humans remains unknown twelve years after its discovery. All three enzymes catalyse the reduction of potentially harmful N-hydroxylated compounds and there is interest in this area from the perspective of drug design. This project will apply an electrochemical methodology to rapidly identify enzyme substrates and inhibitors. Molybdenum enzymes pervade all life forms and the outcomes of this research include a unified understanding of an emerging enzyme class involved in drug metabolism.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Should possess a BSc Hons, or equivalent, majoring in chemistry. Experience in electrochemical methods and evidence of peer reviewed publications will be an advantage.

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Associate Professor Shih-Chun Lo

s.lo@uq.edu.au
Development of functional organic materials for opto-electronics

To develop (synthesise and characterize) functional organic materials (including organometallics) for opto-electronics (e.g., organic light-emitting diodes and photodetectors).

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Should possess a BSc Hons (1st class or equivalent in chemistry) or MSc, or equivalent, majoring in a relevant discipline (e.g. chemistry or materials chemistry).

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

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.

The successful applicant 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.

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Dr Rochelle Soo

r.soo@uq.edu.au
Exploring the evolution and ecology of non-photosynthetic Cyanobacteria

The dogma that all Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic has recently been challenged by the discovery of non-photosynthetic lineages. This project should expand our rudimentary understanding of non-photosynthetic Cyanobacteria by obtaining representative genome sequences using metagenomics and culturing. Predicted surface structures will be visualised using immuno-DNA labelling and electron microscopy. The proposed research should provide insights into the function and evolution of non-photosynthetic Cyanobacteria and their viruses, and pure or enriched cultures to enable future studies.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Honours in Microbiology, Biochemistry or related disciplines.

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Associate Professor Yao-Zhong Zhang

yzz@maths.uq.edu.au
From superintegrability to quasi-exact solvability; theory and application

This project is in the area of integrability and exact solvability. Quantum integrable systems and exact solvable models are of central importance for understanding the correct behaviours of complex quantum problems without approximation. This project aims to  develop mathematical frameworks and novel techniques to solve important questions across a variety of models such as superintegrable systems, quantum spin chains and spin-boson systems.

Prospective PhD students will work on specific aspects of the project, e.g. (1) the design and exploration of computational experiments to support the theoretical developments of new techniques for solving Rabi type spin-boson models, and (2) the exploration of specific applications of polynomial algebras and orthogonal polynomials, in the context of specific models.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Mathematics and Physics.

Honours or Master’s degree or equivalent in Theoretical or Mathematical physics

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Associate Professor Ulrike Kappler

u.kappler@uq.edu.au
Responses of respiratory pathogens to host-generated antimicrobial compounds

The human innate immune response to infection leads to the generation of a variety of highly reactive antimicrobial agents which include hypochlorite (HOCl). HOCl causes oxidative damage to sulfur-containing molecules such as amino acids, as well as lipids and DNA, and can also give rise to derivative antimicrobials such as N-Chlorotaurine that can cause further damage.

This project will target mechanisms by which respiratory pathogens such as Haemophilus influenzae are able to evade the effects of HOCl and derivative antimicrobials by exploring HOCL-induced changes in cellular physiology as part of a larger research program exploring interactions between H. influenzae and the human host.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Applicants must hold a 1st class Honours or Masters degree (or equivalent) in microbiology or biochemistry

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Dr John Dwyer

j.dwyer2@uq.edu.au

 

Professor Margie Mayfield

m.mayfield@uq.edu.au
Diversity maintenance in patchy environments

Plant diversity and composition is well known to vary across patchy environments, but the mechanistic drivers of these patterns remain poorly understood. Using data from threatened Western Australian wildflower communities and novel ecological models of species coexistence, this project aims to deliver a mechanistic understanding of biological diversity, and provide fundamental knowledge needed to improve ecosystem management and restoration outcomes.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Biological Sciences.

Bachelor of Science majoring in ecology

Australia: First class Honours thesis on topic related to the project

Elsewhere: Masters thesis on topic related to the project

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor Neal Menzies

n.menzies@uq.edu.au
Economics of ameliorating soil constraints in the Northern Region: Project D:  Program co-ordination – communication, extension and evaluation

GRDC project will develop coordination and communication strategy to increase awareness, facilitate learning and help growers and advisers implement strategies to manage their soil constraints.  

A number of questions are relevant and important to improve our understanding on how growers and advisors learn and make decisions to implement strategies to manage soil constraints. The PhD project will evaluate growers’ and advisors’ existing Knowledge, Attitude, Skills, Aspiration and Practice to identify gaps. This will ensure clear and consistent messages are developed and delivered across the soil constraints program to increase the adoption of strategies to identify and manage soil constraints. 

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences.

BSc or MSc with knowledge and skills in agriculture, rural science, extension and communication

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Associate Professor Ethan Scott

ethan.scott@uq.edu.au
Optical Physics in Neuroscience

We seek PhD students who are ready to contribute to our program in integrative circuits neuroscience.  Neuroscientists are welcome to apply, and we are also very eager to recruit optical physicists interested in applying their skills to problems in neuroscience. Such work might include design and optimisation of light sheet microscopes, optical trapping in vivo, targeted illumination in vivo, and sculpted light for optogenetics.  Our publications and details of the exciting interdisciplinary projects available in the group can be found at the Scott Lab’s website

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Biomedical Sciences.

Bachelor with Honours or Masters

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Associate Professor Ethan Scott

ethan.scott@uq.edu.au
Quantitative analysis of whole-brain neural activity during sensory processing 

Our group uses calcium indicators and light sheet microscopes to perform whole-brain functional imaging at cellular resolution in larval zebrafish.  This work produces vast activity datasets encompassing millions of neurons and billions of timepoints. We seek new PhD students with expertise in mathematics, coding, and high-performance computing to contribute to our analyses of these data.  Supervision will be provided both by neuroscientists and mathematicians. Details of our current analytical methods can be found in our recent publications, and details of the exciting interdisciplinary projects available in the group can be found at the Scott Lab’s website

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Biomedical Sciences.

Bachelor with Honours or Masters

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Professor Sassan Asgari

s.asgari@uq.edu.au
A novel approach in understanding regulation of development in mosquitoes

Development of novel approaches in mosquito control or inhibition of transmission are urgently required to combat against mosquito-borne pathogens. One such approach is to interrupt the reproduction or reduce the fitness of mosquitoes. This project aims to explore the role of microRNAs in regulation of the synthesis of a key
hormone, juvenile hormone, involved in mosquito development and reproductive maturation.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Biological Sciences.

Molecular biology, familiarity with insects is preferable

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

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.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Biological Sciences.

Plant biology; molecular biology, physiology

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

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.  

The successful applicant will enrol through the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation (QAAFI).

Masters in Agronomy 

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Dr Nicholas J. Hudson

n.hudson@uq.edu.au
The Gateway to selecting for nutrient efficient livestock – ‘Better doers’

This project explores various aspects of mitochondrial function as it applies to ruminant farm animals. The aim is to better understand the basis of variation in feed efficiency and other metabolic traits.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences.

Molecular biology; metabolism; biochemistry

Please contact the Chief Investigator to check on this project's availability.

Associate Professor Ethan Scott

ethan.scott@uq.edu.au

Quantitative analysis of whole-brain neural activity during sensory processing

Our group uses calcium indicators and light sheet microscopes to perform whole-brain functional imaging at cellular resolution in larval zebrafish.  This work produces vast activity datasets encompassing millions of neurons and billions of timepoints. We seek new PhD students with expertise in mathematics, coding, and high-performance computing to contribute to our analyses of these data.  Supervision will be provided both by neuroscientists and mathematicians.

Details of our current analytical methods can be found in our recent publications, and details of the exciting interdisciplinary projects available in the group can be found at the Scott Lab’s website

The successful applicant will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

Bachelor with Honours or Masters

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

Associate Professor Eugeni Roura

e.roura@uq.edu.au

Peri-hatching strategies to endure enteric pathogens in broilers

The project aims to develop a perinatal program to improve embryonic development and post-hatching gut health in chickens. The embryonic interventions will be “in ovo” and will consist of using essential oils (EOs) selected based on antimicrobial, antioxidant and digestion stimulant activities to promote early feed intake, gut development and a stable healthy microbiome early in the life of the chicken.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation (QAAFI).

Animal or Veterinary science. 
Biotechnology background would be of value.

*This project is available until September 2020 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Matthew Holden

m.holden1@uq.edu.au

The value of model complexity for fisheries management

The project aims to quantify the benefits of using dynamic multi-species models (e.g. ODEs, difference equations, etc.) fitted to data for deciding how many fish can sustainably be removed from the ocean. Expected outcomes of the project include 1) guidance for fisheries scientists on when to use multi-species models for management, 2) improved decision making to reduce the risk of fishery collapse, 3) a new method for dynamic model validation in the face of limited data, and 4) enhanced collaboration between modellers and applied agencies.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Mathematics and Physics.

The applicant should have a background in applied mathematics, or statistics, or quantitative ecology. Familiarity with differential equations, calculus-based probability theory, and some programming language (e.g. R, MATLAB, Python, C, or other) is preferred.

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

Dr Anne Sawyer

a.sawyer@uq.edu.au

RNA vaccines for next generation crop protection against fungal pathogens

The aim of the project is to develop BioClay-based RNA vaccines to protect key Queensland crops and native plants from pre- and post-harvest fungal diseases. Conventional fungicides suffer from issues of resistance, run-off, lack of specificity and toxicity to humans and the environment. This project will deliver clean green safe produce from pre to
post-harvest, from field to supermarket trolley. These biodegradable RNA vaccines will provide sustainable protection of fruit and native plants from fungal diseases.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

BSc with Honours Class I or Masters in a relevant field.  Experience in plant pathology, fungal or microbial molecular genetics, and/or plant molecular genetics, and a sound knowledge of RNA interference (RNAi) pathways in plants and fungi

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

Professor Anthony J. Richardson

a.richardson@maths.uq.edu.au

Future fisheries under climate change: the missing role of zooplankton

Tuna fisheries are some of the biggest, most valuable and iconic globally, but are found in the marine equivalent of deserts on land. How the marine food web supports these productive fisheries is an open question, as is how these fisheries will respond to climate change. This project will answer these questions by modelling the global marine ecosystem from bacteria to whales using size spectrum models, based on systems of partial differential equations. The successful student needs a background in applied mathematics and an interest in the natural world.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Mathematics and Physics.

BSc (Honours) in mathematics

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

Professor Kevin Thomas

kevin.thomas@uq.edu.au

and

Dr Phong Thai

p.thai@uq.edu.au

Estimating use of tobacco and nicotine products through wastewater analysis

This project aims to equip the Australian public health and security sector with a tool to accurately measure tobacco consumption in the general population. Specific human biomarkers in urine will be identified using nontarget approaches and their pharmacokinetics quantified.

The new data will address critical gaps in our knowledge on the population-level excretion of biomarkers for the consumption of tobacco and alternative nicotine products.

The outcomes of this project will provide reliable, cost-effective estimates of tobacco consumption for use with wastewater-based epidemiology assessments. This will enable changes in tobacco use to be accurately evaluated for the first time and improve the efficacy of tobacco control measures.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Pharmacy.

Applicants must hold a 1st Class Honours or Masters degree (or equivalent) in environmental or analytical chemistry or related fields.

A background in pharmacology would be advantageous

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

Dr Chenming Zhang

chenming.zhang@uq.edu.au

Physical and geochemical coupling in a subterranean estuary

This four-year PhD project aims to determine and quantify key mechanisms governing chemical transport and transformation in a tidally dominated subterranean estuary.

Field campaigns will be carried out to monitor in long term the hydrodynamic and geochemical processes at the cross-shore transect near Moreton bay and Brisbane river estuary.

Laboratory work will be involved to analyse the samples from the field. Mathematical modelling will be carried out to describe the hydro-geo-chemical process identified from the field conditions.  

Students be enrolled through the School of Civil Engineering. and a larger team based in the Southern Cross University and Westlake University in China.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Civil Engineering.

Degree in Civil and/or environmental related disciplines;
Experience in programming;
Ability to work independently;
Excellent written and oral communications skills;
Formal research process including writing and presenting results/findings.

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

Dr Jingwei Hou

jingwei.hou@uq.edu.au

and

Professor Lianzhou Wang

l.wang@uq.edu.au

Single-enzyme membrane biofuel cells for wastewater and flue gas treatment

This project aims to mitigate the energy and environmental problems by fusing the fields of membrane separation, biocatalysis and electrochemistry. The novel single-enzyme  biofuel cells can generate electrical power from the processes like wastewater micropollutant degradation and flue gas CO2 conversion. The bottleneck, however, is the lifetime of enzymes and the lack of efficient reactor design. In this project, the CI Hou will overcome the challenges by developing metal-organic framework-based bioelectrode materials, and integrate them with separation membranes and single-enzyme fuel cells for energy generation. Success in this endeavour is expected to transform the current biocatalytic process for wastewater treatment and gas separation.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemical Engineering.

Students with chemistry and material background.

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

Dr Andrii Slonchak

a.slonchak@uq.edu.au

and

Professor Roy Hall

roy.hall@uq.edu.au

Noncoding RNAs of insect-specific flaviviruses: biogenesis and functions

This project aims to understand biogenesis and functions of viral noncoding RNA (sfRNA) produced by insect specific flaviviruses (ISFs). Flaviviruses is a large group of positive strand RNA viruses, which includes important human pathogens such as Dengue, Zika and West Nile virus. ISFs is a subgroup of flaviviruses that can only replicate in mosquito host and are not capable of propagation in vertebrates. They have recently attracted significant attention due to their potential use as a backbone for development of the vaccines against pathogenic flaviviruses. Flaviviruses have evolved to subvert host mRNA decay pathway to generate a functional noncoding RNA by incomplete degradation of their genomic RNA. Production of this RNA is highly conserved amongst all members of Flavivirus genus and has been identified as an important determinant of replication for pathogenic flaviviruses. However, the mechanism of action for sfRNA in insects is largely unknown.

In this project we will identify structural determinants of ISF sfRNA biogenesis, elucidate the role of sfRNA in their replication and identify host pathways targeted by sfRNA in mosquitoes. We will also asses if ISF-specific aspects of sfRNA production contribute to restriction of their replication in mammalian host. UQ researches involved in this project have always been at the forefront of flavivirus research with their achievements including discovery of sfRNA biogenesis and functions, characterization of novel insect-specific flaviviruses and testing their applications for vaccine development. By joining this project, the successful candidate will have an excellent opportunity to develop skills in RNA biology, molecular virology and bioinformatics.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

1st class Honours in virology, microbiology, molecular biology or related discipline. Experience required in isolation and handling of RNA, work with viruses and cell culture, recombinant DNA techniques, quantitative RT-PCR. Additional experience in computational biology/bioinformatics is preferred. Applicant should demonstrate good knowledge in virology, molecular biology and insect innate immunity.

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

Candidates cannot commence under this project prior to Research Quarter 1, 2020

Muxina Konarova

m.konarova@uq.edu.au 

Exploiting municipal solid waste: towards building-waste based refinery

The project aims to develop multifunctional catalysts that efficiently remove “hetero-atoms” from biomass and plastic waste. In this project, catalysts will be developed by studying waste chemistry at molecular level using advanced analytical tools, which enable design catalysts with deoxygenating (oxygen-removal), desulphurization (sulfur), and denitrification (nitrogen) characteristics. Catalysts will be screened in the structured format, i.e., 3D printed cylindrical shape. The chemical and structural properties of catalysts will be optimised by studying reaction intermediates with X-ray computer tomography (CT) coupled with NMR spectroscopy to develop a full surface composition.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

Bachelor in Chemical Engineering or Physical Chemistry

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

 
Stress signalling in industrial Gram-positive bacteria

This project involves determining the physiological roles and receptors of the bacterial stress signalling molecule cyclic-di-AMP (c-di-AMP) in industrial Gram-positive bacteria.  This will involve various biochemical, ‘omics’ and genetics approaches to reveal the input signals and output pathways of this common second messenger.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences.

Candidates should have an Honours or Masters (or equivalent) degree in biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology or analytical chemistry.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2020. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons. ​

Professor Hamish McGowan

h.mcgowan@uq.edu.au

Unlocking the archives of the Kimberley’s past

The project will focus on numerical modelling of the paleoclimates of the Kimberley region of northwest Australia. This will include downscaling of global climate model simulations with WRF.

A top-up scholarship of $5,000 is also available for this project.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

First class Hons degree in geography, meteorology or maths/physics with experience in climate modelling including the use of WRF.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2020. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons. ​

Dr William Woodgate

w.woodgate@uq.edu.au

 

Professor Stuart Phinn

s.phinn@uq.edu.au

 

 

Scaling dynamic plant function from leaf to landscape

This broad topic could take you in many directions based on your specific interests. From leaf-level physiological and spectral measurements, to detailed 3D canopy reconstructions from laser scanning data, through to simulation models to scale the leaf signal to above-canopy sensor platforms. This research topic will involve field site visits across Australia and then recreating these sites in a computer vision environment. It will lead to a more direct link between satellite earth observation and plant productivity and health monitoring. 

This PhD is part of a collaborative project with domestic and international partners including CSIRO, The University of Western Sydney, the University of Tasmania, University of New England, CalTech, the University of Valencia, Ghent University and Oxford University. 

The successful applicant will be part of the Remote Sensing Research Centre at the University of Queensland in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and have access to its resources and staff support. 

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Desired criteria: Bachelor or Masters in biophysical remote sensing or plant physiology, with well-developed scientific programming (e.g. python), image processing, and field work experience. Ability to combine field instrument measurements with image data processing workflows.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 4, 2020. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Professor Jonathan Aitchison

sees.hos@uq.edu.au

Diamonds in ophiolite: Recycling deep mantle into supra-subduction zones

Investigation of mantle components of ophiolitic assemblages in eastern Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia to unravel the petrogenesis of microdiamonds which occur in associated chromite deposits.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

BSc/MSc in Geology with experience in field geology, tectonics, petrology, geochemistry, metamorphic and structural geology

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

Dr Michael Taylor

m.taylor@sbs.uq.edu.au

Brillouin microscopy to study cell biomechanics

A Brillouin microscope measures sample stiffness and viscosity using only light, and thereby allows detailed mechanical studies with high resolution in inaccessible regions such as the cell interior. This project implements new techniques and data analysis in Brillouin microscopy to improve sensitivity and speed, for use in cellular biomechanics.

The successful applicant will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

Physics or Engineering. Experience and interest in optics, signal processing, or biomechanics is an advantage

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

Dr Jan Engelstaedter

j.engelstaedter@uq.edu.au

Predicting the evolutionary dynamics of adaptation

The successful candidate will work on a project investigating the evolutionary genetics of multidrug resistance in bacteria, aiming to gain a better understanding of distributions of fitness effects of resistance mutations and their epistatic interactions, as well as the repeatability and predictability of resistance evolution. Methods to be employed include high-throughput fitness assays, whole genome sequencing, experimental evolution and mathematical modelling. This is a joint project with and will be co-supervised by Dr Isabel Gordo (Gulbenkian Institute, Portugal). For more information about our research, please visit www.engelstaedterlab.org and www.igc.gulbenkian.pt/igordo.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Biological Sciences.

BSc with Honours, MSc or equivalent; Background in genetics, evolution and/or microbiology, with strong quantitative skills.

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

Professor Paul Burn

paul.burn@uq.edu.au

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.

The successful applicant 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.

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. 

The successful applicant 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.