Launch your research career

APA scholarships are funded by the Commonwealth Government to provide assistance for living costs to domestic students during completion of a PhD. This special APA round offers scholarships for projects which are aligned with recently awarded ARC and NHMRC projects. Work with leading researchers, and learn to conduct research independently and think critically, while contributing to large projects of national significance. 

Scholarship value: $26,288 per annum, indexed annually. Tuition fees do not apply.

Closing date: Sunday 21 August. Offers will be sent to successful applicants in late September or very early October.

Commencement: Monday 3 - Monday 31 October, 2016.

Eligibility and how to apply

58 projects are available covering a wide range of areas - view their details below.

School of Political Science and International Studies

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Professor Alex Bellamy

ARC Civilian Protection and the Use of Force in UN Peacekeeping operations This project assesses the impact of the implementation of mandates to use force to protect civilians in UN peacekeeping operations. Research aims to identify ways of improving the protection of civilians into the future. With currently close to 100,000 peacekeepers deployed to UN missions around the world, the performance of peacekeepers can be literally a matter of life or death for civilians.; Moreover, the UN is judged above all on its effectiveness to protect civilians. To date, there has been little systematic evaluation of the impact of use of force for civilian protection mandates. This project aims to: nderstand how mandates to use force to protect civilians are implemented in UN peacekeeping operations, identify the extent to which the use of force by UN peacekeepers for civilian protection purposes aids, or hinders, the pursuit of sustainable peace, and Identify practices that might reduce the risks and increase the effectiveness of civilian protection mandates International relations, international law, peace and conflict studies


School of Communication and Arts

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Dr Kim Wilkins

ARC Genre worlds: Australian popular fiction in the 21st century This research project will offer the first systematic examination of 21st-century Australian popular fiction, the most significant growth area in Australian trade publishing since the turn of the century. Its three areas of investigation are: the publishing of Australian popular fiction; the interrelationships between Australian popular fiction and Australian genre communities; and the textual distinctiveness of Australian popular novels in relation to genre. Research will centre on novels across genres, building a comprehensive picture of the practices and processes of Australian popular fiction through detailed examination of trade data, close reading of texts, and interviews with industry figures. Literary studies, publishing studies, cultural studies

Dr Shuang Liu

ARC Ageing well in a foreign land: identity, social connectedness and well-being

The project advances knowledge of how to best harness and develop identity resources as substantial and concrete assets for enhancing well-being among people ageing in a foreign land.

A mixed methods approach is used to: (a) identify the factors that contribute to social isolation and low well-being; (b) understand when and how engagement in ethnocultural and multicultural activities enhances social connectedness and well-being; and (c) evaluate and determine key principles underlying effective identity-based interventions. The project’s outcomes will inform a new policy model that harnesses identity resources to optimise their health-enhancing potential.

Psychology; cross-cultural psychology; health communication


School of Social Science

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Dr Greg Marston

ARC Grassroots transitions towards sustainable prosperity  Since the 1970s, environmentalists have pursued grassroots initiatives in a way that prefigures what a sustainable society would be like in practice. This research will explore the dynamics of associational activity directed at sustainability and examine the complex relationship between formal governmental systems and social movement initiatives. It will do this through exploring traditions of small scale sustainability initiatives and the contested meanings to local community members and environmental activists. This project will explore these issues in a range of place based communities recognising the wide range of current community activities (Transition Town Movements, community energy, waste management, city farms etc).  Sociology
Political science 


Institute for Social Science Research

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Professor Mark Moran

ARC Assessing the Impact of Public Finances on the Australia-PNG Borderland Torres Strait Islanders and Papua New Guinea (PNG) nationals living in the PNG–Australia borderland have relatively unrestricted access across the border for traditional activities, under the legal framework of the Torres Strait Treaty. This project examines both sides together as a borderland region in an attempt to understand how the policies and funding modalities in place affect the lives of people living in this region. The interdisciplinary project aims to further the understanding of the PNG-Australia border region, particularly in relation to political economy, legal frameworks, public finances and cross-border culture. The research will draw on work from various disciplines, including economics, legal pluralism, human geography and public health. Prospective applicants should have experience in the social sciences (eg sociology, development studies, anthropology, political science, economics) or law. The successful applicant will propose a suitable research project that is strongly linked to the PNG-Australia border region, and aims to contribute to the wider project’s aims. Knowledge of or experience with Torres Strait Islander or PNG communities in the project area would be advantageous.


School of Psychology

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Associate Professor Winnifred Louis

ARC Outcomes of collective action: After the blockade, what next? If a democratic protest rally is ignored by authorities, does support for violence increase? If a turbulent riot attracts favourable media attention and concessions, does this increase the likelihood of future riots or undercut them? This research aims to answer these questions. It tests a new, integrative model of collective action and the intergroup dynamic, using a mixed-methods approach including experiments, small group research, and longitudinal field surveys. This project will provide an evidence basis for policy makers' debates about trajectories of radicalisation and deradicalisation, and for recommendations about engagement and negotiation of tactics for activists, political parties, and NGOs. Psychology

Professor Catherine Haslam

ARC Adjustment to retirement through social identity change Retirement involves a major life change, to which 30% of people fail to adjust successfully. Previous work in the social identity tradition suggests that the negative effects of significant life changes (e.g. moving into care) can be buffered by access to social group networks, but this possibility has not been examined in the context of retirement. This project addresses this gap through studies that establish the importance of social group factors for successful adjustment among Australian, English, American and Chinese retirees. It also tests the efficacy of a new model that seeks to improve adjustment to retirement by incorporating various forms of social planning into preparation for this transition Honours degree in Psychology


School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Professor David Copland

NHMRC Predicting and promoting aphasia recovery The aim of this research is to determine whether brain activity and structure observed after stroke predict subsequent language symptom recovery and response to treatment. Participants with post-stroke aphasia will be tested on a clinically language battery and scanned at 1, 3 and 6 months post-onset, with half the participants receiving language treatment at 1 month. Imaging will be used to identify language-related brain activity, white matter tract integrity, and lesion-symptom mapping.This research will determine the best clinical and imaging predictors of language improvement and treatment response. Speech pathology, cognitive psychology or cognitive neuroscience


National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Professor Jochen Mueller

ARC Estimating per capita use and release of chemicals by wastewater analysis This multidisciplinary project aims to assess human use and exposure to chemicals including drugs, pharmaceuticals, lifestyle chemicals and environmental pollutants in the Australian population through the systematic collection and analysis of wastewater. Up to 4 PhD positions will focus on different aspects, including estimating per-capita human usage/exposure to chemicals, relating trends in measured chemicals to exposure, use and/or population health, wastewater treatment plant efficiency, and release of chemicals to the environment via effluent and biosolids. PhD students will gain experience in state-of-the-art chemical analytical techniques, as well as theoretical and practical experience in waste water epidemiology and temporal/spatial analysis techniques. Environmental science/ chemistry/ toxicology (or related)

Professor Jochen Mueller

ARC Fate of fluorinated surfactants and hydrocarbons at coastal airports The extensive past use of fluoro-surfactants and hydrocarbons at firefighting training grounds has resulted in costly remediation worldwide. Risk based decision making requires understanding the fate of these compounds from point sources. This PhD project aims to combine innovative environmental monitoring techniques and laboratory experiments to understand the fate of fluoro-surfactants and hydrocarbons in a coastal aquifer system. This PhD is part of a collaboration between environmental chemists, hydrologists, affected industry and regulators and will give the successful candidate experience in state-of-the-art environmental monitoring and chemical analytical techniques, as well as theoretical and practical experience in quantifying contaminant transport processes. Environmental science/ chemistry/ toxicology (or related)


School of Geography Planning and Environmental Management

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Dr Talitha Santini

ARC From tailings to soil: in situ remediation in mine site rehabilitation Tailings are geochemically dynamic materials at extremes of pH and salinity. Their unusual geochemistry and mineralogy pose major challenges for geochemical modelling and prediction of weathering behaviour. This project focusses on improving understanding of trace element geochemistry and zeolite mineralogy at alkaline pH, and characterising speciation and mobility of trace elements and zeolite mineral reactivity as pH decreases. This information will expand current geochemical models and improve their accuracy in predicting weathering behaviour. Techniques including X-ray absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy, Rietveld refinement, and electron microscopy will be used to map the distribution and speciation of trace elements during tailings remediation. The ideal candidate will have a Bachelors or Masters degree in Chemistry or Environmental Science, with previous experience in quantitative mineralogy or trace element geochemistry.

Dr Talitha Santini

ARC From tailings to soil: in situ remediation in mine site rehabilitation Tailings and mine wastes typically host low diversity, low biomass microbial communities without targeted remediation, posing a major barrier to development of a functional, healthy soil. Opportunities also exist to engineer microbial communities to play active roles in achieving remediation goals. This project will evaluate microbially-based strategies for tailings remediation in combination with traditional chemical and physical approaches, as well as primary succession and development of functional capacity in microbial communities in tailings. Microbiological techniques will be coupled with geochemical and mineralogical analyses to build a comprehensive understanding of how microbial communities contribute to geochemical and physical transformations in tailings. The ideal candidate will have a Bachelors or Masters degree in Microbiology or Environmental Science, with previous experience in mining environments.

Dr Talitha Santini

ARC From tailings to soil: in situ remediation in mine site rehabilitation As a result of the physical and chemical processes used during minerals extraction, tailings are usually fine-grained, structureless materials deposited into large scale field storage facilities at high water content. The high sodicity and extreme pH of most tailings materials exacerbate these physical challenges to prevent development of stable structure. This project focusses on combining novel, microbially-driven approaches based on extracellular polysaccharide production with standard chemical and physical approaches for promoting formation of stable aggregates in tailings, and modelling and understanding the impacts of structure development on hydrology and aeration. The ideal candidate will have a Bachelors or Masters degree in Geotechnical, Civil, or Environmental Engineering, with previous experience in hydrological and/or geochemical modelling, or geotechnical characterisation.

Dr Jonathan Corcoran

ARC Barriers and Facilitators of Neighbourhood Networks and Cohesion Neighbourhoods are critical contexts for health, safety and well-being. In the face of significant urban growth, understanding and enhancing neighbourhood networks and cohesion are high priorities in Australia and internationally. Drawing on longitudinal survey data from 148 Brisbane suburbs combined with census and spatial data, this project will be the first to examine how a neighbourhood’s physical and socio-structural context influences neighbourhood networks and cohesion over time and across the landscape of an entire city. Results will advance scientific understanding of neighbourhood networks and cohesion, provide unique insights into its underpinning drivers, and inform urban policy. Sociology, Criminology or Human Geography allied with strong empirical skills.


School of Biological Sciences

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Professor Peter Mumby

ARC Marine reserve design for coral reefs Marine reserves are the standard tool for conserving marine biodiversity and managing unregulated fisheries. However, the benefits of a reserve might take decades to  occur and cause unacceptable short-term costs in terms of lost access to fishing grounds. This project works with partners, including WWF, to identify reserve implementation strategies that are economically and ecologically achievable. Research will partly take place in Indonesia, the centre of marine biodiversity. Experience in tropical coral reef ecosystems; interests in the interface between ecological and social sciences; a willingness to learn modelling techniques 

Dr Lyn Cook

ARC Why are Australian cycads endangered: pollinators, climate or humans? Globally, and in Australia, a majority of cycad species are currently listed as vulnerable or endangered. Land-clearing post-European settlement is thought to be the major threat, but there are other possible explanations.  This project aims to determine whether Australian cycads are threatened mostly by historical processes, such as ancient climate change, megafaunal extinction, increased fire regimes and pollinator disruption, or by post-European changes to their environment. A project could focus on the cycads, or on their interactions with specialist thrips and weevil pollinators. Honours or Masters degree with strong background in ecology, evolutionary biology or genetics. Excellent writing and quantitative skills desirable.


School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Professor Bostjan Kobe

ARC Molecular mechanism of action of 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 a plant resistance (NLR) protein. Building on our ongoing genetic, biochemical and structural work on the flax, Arabidopsis and wheat immune receptors, the proposed work focuses on understanding the molecular basis of action of NLR proteins using structural biology approaches complemented by mutagenesis and functional assays, in model as well as crop pathosystems. The new knowledge will support the long-term objective of effectively manipulating immune responses to reduce the economic and environmental implications of plant diseases. Ideally major/Honours in biochemistry, with reasonable background in chemistry/physics/math

Professor Bostjan Kobe

NHMRC Characterization and inhibition of higher-order assembly signalling in Toll-like receptor pathways Toll-like receptors (TLRs) recognize pathogens and endogenous danger signals and initiate innate immune responses that lead to the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. TLR-mediated inflammation is associated with a number of pathological states, including infectious, autoimmune, inflammatory, cardiovascular and cancer-related disorders. The signaling depends on TIR (Toll/interleukin-1 receptor) domain-containing adaptor molecules interacting with TIR domains in the cytoplasmic segments of TLRs. We have found that TLR adaptor TIR domains form large assemblies, and hypothesize that they signal through a higher-order assembly signaling mechanism. We propose to apply a cross-disciplinary approach to characterize the structures and interactions of TLR adaptor proteins and their assemblies, test structure-based hypotheses for functional effects in cells, and design inhibitors of these interactions. The objective will be achieved through four specific aims: (1) define the molecular architecture of higher-order assemblies formed by TIR domains; (2) determine the role of cysteines in MAL in TLR signaling; (3) analyze structurally and functionally the SAM domains of SARM; and (4) design inhibitors targeting interactions by TLR adaptors. The outcomes of the proposed research will include an improved understanding of signaling in TLR pathways, identify signaling interfaces as new targets for therapeutic design, and provide inhibitory peptides and small molecules as leads for therapeutic development against chronic inflammatory diseases and related disorders. Ideally major/Honours in biochemistry, with reasonable background in chemistry/physics/math

Associate Professor Craig Williams

ARC Pioneering new oxidation catalysis paradigms for organic synthesis The societal impact of catalyst promoted chemical reactions can be measured by the 15 Nobel prizes awarded in this field, and the enormous volume of manufactured goods (e.g. plastics, pharmaceuticals) provided to the market place and consumer. The proposed body of research aims to paradigm shift known catalyst behaviour, through sophisticated mechanistic understanding, novel chemical reaction development, and technology transfer to both basic science applications and industrial settings. The multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional approach underpins a holistic program facilitating landmark discoveries, industrial process efficiency gains, and substantial hybrid knowledge training to students en route to the entrepreneurial world. Organic chemistry

Professor Alan E. Mark

ARC Understanding biological membranes in atomic detail The aim is to develop the capacity to represent specific mammalian, fungal and bacterial membranes in atomic detail and to use such models to understand the role of membrane composition in the structure and dynamics of membrane proteins at an atomic level. Membrane protein assemblies are the ultimate nano-scale machines. Understanding these sub-cellular components is both a fundamental theoretical challenge and of widespread practical importance in biochemistry, structural biology and medicine. By representing in detail the complexity of biological membranes we will elucidate the role played by specific membrane components in determining the mechanism of action of proteins involved in transport and signal transduction in context. Applicants work at the interface between, structural biology, chemistry, physics and computational sciences. Students who have studied physical computational chemistry, biochemistry or biophysics will be considered.

Professor Alexander Khromykh

NHMRC Novel approach for identifying host genes controlling replication of mosquito-borne Flaviviruses Project aims to identify host genes that control infection with mosquito-borne flaviviruses, mainly focusing on Zika virus, by using a powerful in vivo RNAi screening approach with virus libraries encoding precursors of artificial microRNAs (pre-amiRs). In virus-infected cells these pre-amiRs are processed into siRNAs with 100% complementarity to the mRNA of targeted host genes, thereby effectively inhibiting their expression. Further selection in vivo enriches for viruses encoding pre-amiRs targeting host genes that inhibit virus replication. This approach represents a novel strategy for studying virus-host interactions by relying on the power of virus competition and selection in physiological conditions most relevant to a natural infection. Downstream applications will include enhancing immunogenicity of flavivirus vaccine candidates and of flavivirus-based vaccine and cancer therapy vectors.  Virology, small RNA biology 

Professor Matt Trau

Dr Yuling Wang

ARC Trapping and Watching Biomolecular Complexes near Nanopores Nano-sized molecular complexes in water provide the core machinery of biological systems and require detailed understanding to help unravel fundamental biological mechanisms. The aim of this project is to produce a generic platform technology that is capable of in-situ characterisation of the full spectrum of nano-scaled objects on a particle-by-particle basis by further understanding and exploiting the underlying fundamental scientific principles of an integrated Nanopore/optical system. Students will require skills in optical techniques for biological material characterization and background in chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, biotechnology,  or related disciplines. 

Associate Professor Mikael Boden


Reconstructing protein populations of the past to explain functional specificity and engineer biological diversity

The aim of the broader project is to computationally design and then bring to life novel proteins that operate in combinations Nature never tried. We will use bioinformatics to establish what specific changes led to the evolutionary success of ancient proteins, and to re-run evolution to generate novel proteins that perform in scientifically relevant conditions.

Our research and this PhD project focuses on the development and application of computational methods capable of integrating and learning from biological data and expertise. This focus underpins our recent success in reconstructing ancient proteins that are 400 million years old.
Computing skills, with interests in molecular and evolutionary biology. Experience and interest in machine learning.


School of Mathematics and Physics

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Professor Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop

ARC Contact and thermalisation between quantum systems The mechanisms of thermalisation for quantum systems remain open research questions; these topics are at the heart of the crossover of the quantum world and our everyday experiences well described by classical physics. This project will utilise a two-component ultracold quantum gas — one of the cleanest, most flexible, precisely controllable, and isolated quantum many-body systems available. By using one system as a bath, with tunable coupling to the system under test, this project will experimentally explore thermalisation between systems prepared with different internal properties and external thermodynamic properties such as particle number and temperature. Physics Honours

Dr Ebinazar Namdas

ARC Light emitting transistors: a new route to digital display and Lasers Positions are available for two PhD students to work on an ARC supported project, in developing a new class of lasers and next generation display using organic semiconductor materials. 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, ( . 
Applicants should have first class honours degree in a scientific discipline that is relevant to the project, including Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science and Engineering. 
1st class honours degree or equivalent degree in Physics or Engineering with skills and experiences in condense matter physics/semiconductors/optics /Lasers 

Professor Matthew Davis

ARC Nonequilibrium flows in polariton superfluids Polaritons are hybrid particles of light and matter that can be engineered in two-dimensional layers inside a semiconductor. At sufficiently high densities a Bose-Einstein condensate emerges, a form of superfluid that exhibits features such a quantised vortices and frictionless flow.  This PhD project will design schemes to generate and control novel nonequilibrium states of a polariton superfluid, and study their properties using computational methods.  It is in collaboration with an experimental team at the Australian National University, who will be studying these new states of matter in the laboratory. The project will suit a physics graduate with an interest in theoretical and computational physics, but also in working closely with experimentalists.  You will develop skills in the quantitative modelling of physical systems that are transferable and highly valued in research and in industry.


School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Dr Amin Abbosh

ARC Design and implementation of planar reconfigurable antennas This project aims at the design and development of low-cost beam-steerable end-user antennas that can be integrated with the rapidly evolving low-earth-orbit satellites. Those antennas will enable accessing broadband services by people in regional and remote areas. Moreover, the antennas will generally enable accessing those services in the air, at sea, or on the move. Electrical or Electronic Engineering with background in electromagnetics and/or microwave engineering

Dr Amin Abbosh

ARC Integrated microwave system for traffic monitoring and vehicle identification With the ever increasing number of vehicles on our roads, conventional approaches to traffic management have become less effective and prohibitively expensive. This project aims to develop a cost-effective, in-road microwave system for traffic monitoring and vehicle identification. The system integrates chip-enabled license plate technology with novel microwave techniques to produce real-time data that supports immediate intervention for improved road safety, vehicle identification and driver validation.
[There are three projects available within this large project; one focussing on the antenna and radar part, one will focus on signal processing, whereas the third one will focus on image processing]
Electrical or Electronic Engineering with background in one or more of the following topics; electromagnetics, radar, microwave engineering, signal processing, or image processing

Associate Professor Marcus Gallagher

ARC Advanced Active Learning Algorithms for Large-Scale Data Many real-world data analysis problems present challenges for standard machine learning algorithms and statistical techniques.  For example, drug prescription monitoring programs collect large amounts of transactional data that has both spatial and temporal characteristics. Active learning presents a promising approach towards developing efficient and effective techniques that can perform tasks such as anomaly detection using this type of data.  The aim of this project is to develop active learning techniques by extending recent ideas in machine learning around non-parametric Bayesian models and stochastic sampling and optimisation algorithms. A high-achieving (e.g. Hons I) graduate in computer science or a related discipline. Studies including courses in machine learning, artificial intelligence, statistics, numerical methods, algorithms and data structures would be highly suitable.

Associate Professor Graeme Smith

ARC Verification of concurrent programs under weak memory models Compilers for programming languages like Java, C and C++ optimise code by reordering accesses to memory, and hence these languages have what is termed a `weak memory model'. While such optimisations do not affect the execution of sequential code, they can affect the execution, and hence correctness, of concurrent code. This project will develop state-of-the-art formal, i.e. mathematical, verification techniques and automated tools for verifying the correctness of concurrent code under weak memory models. Software Engineering, Computer Science, Information Technology, or Mathematics


School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Associate Professor Matt Dargusch

ARC ARC Research Hub for Advanced Manufacturing of Medical Devices The project will investigate the vascular biomechanical environment by constructing artificial vessels and characterising their physical performance.

Biomedical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering

Materials Science

Associate Professor Matt Dargusch

ARC ARC Research Hub for Advanced Manufacturing of Medical Devices The project will develop and assess biodegradable metallic alloys in a variety of biomedical applications.

Biomedical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering

Materials Science


School of Civil Engineering

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Professor Jose Luis Torero

ARC Timber infrastructure from softwood plantations Approximately 100km North West of Brisbane lies the Benarkin and Jimna State Forests, containing significant forestry plantations of Hoop Pine or Araucaria Cunninghamii. Large railway bridges and fire lookout towers were historically made in this region as timber structures, however most were demolished when the railway was decommissioned in 1995. This research topic is for an architecture or civil engineering candidate to develop a proposition for rehabilitation or reconstruction of these structures using plantation softwood. Key concerns will be an appropriate design with protection of the structure against weather, decay, insect attack and fire events. Students would be required to use both manual and digital modelling and analysis techniques with timber, including digital fabrication processes. Architecture or civil engineering.

Dr Badin Gibbes

ARC Assessing water quality risk in sub-tropical water supply lakes This project aims to use a combination of innovative environmental monitoring systems and water quality models to assess the risk of oligomictic/meromictic conditions in sub-tropical water supply reservoirs. Should the long-term stable state of these systems be oligomictic/meromictic it could lead to significantly increased water treatment costs or loss of water supply. Further scientific information is needed to better assess this risk to the long term sustainability these systems. Through this project the PhD student will gain experience in the use of a combined monitoring-modelling approach to understand water resource systems.
Applications are sought from engineering and science graduates who are able to commence study from January 2017. Ideally the suitable candidate will have a solid background in fluid mechanics and hydraulic engineering. Knowledge of physical limnology and density dependent flow systems will also be an advantage.


School of Chemical Engineering

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Professor Zhiguo Yuan

ARC Advanced mathematical modelling to support wastewater infrastructure management Wastewater infrastructure such as sewer and wastewater treatment plants are critical for the modern society. The management of these infrastructure faces many challenges due to continuous aging of such public assets and the adding complexity of population growth, urbanization, and climate change. To support the practical management and planning by water utilities, it is essential to develop and apply advanced mathematical modelling tools for the underlying physiochemical and biological processes in both wastewater and the infrastructure itself. Our previous investigations through award-winning research projects about sewers identify many modelling opportunities. The existing datasets would support the development of models for the prediction of key parameters for management, control and planning purposes. Calibration and validation of the model outputs would eventually lead to impacts to water industry through substantial engagement with water utilities in this research project. A candidate with sound academic knowledge in process and dynamic modelling is preferred. The training of PhD student through this project would support a diverse future career in academic, industry or governmental department. Environmental Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil engineering

Professor Victor Rudolph

ARC Relative Permeability in Coal Coal relative permeability is a key factor in reservoir models; however, current understanding of relative permeability is wrong for coal systems and predictions based on it are misleading. Relative permeability is currently carried over from conventional gas reservoirs as a function of the degree of water saturation only. This misunderstands the physical differences between coal and other rocks as gas reservoirs, fails to recognise the determinants of coal relative permeability, and misrepresents the flow system. This project aims to deliver phenomenologically-based understanding and functional relationship for coal-relative permeability based on the principles than govern physical flow interactions. Chemical Engineering, Petroleum Engineering

Dr Yongjun Peng

ARC Engineering the sulphidising reactions for flotation of low quality ores This project aims to engineer sulphidisation reactions to enhance the flotation of low quality ores the minerals industry is dealing with. Sulphidisation offers a way to use flotation to enrich base metal and precious minerals from low quality ores containing oxides and oxidised sulphides prior to expensive leaching or smelting. However, the current sulphidisation method has a low efficiency and found limited application. We will tailor sulphidisation reactions to generate desirable surface products which are not sensitive to flotation conditions. The intended outcome of this project is to provide a step change value in processing low quality resources while minimizing environmental impacts of existing stockpiles. Chemical or Metallurgical Engineering

Professor Jason Stokes

ARC Engineering biomimetic lubrication with mucin Engineeringcoatings forwaterto bean effectivelubricantis asignificant challenge.Weseek toemulatehow nature buildshighlylubricatingwater-richpolymerfilmsonbiologicalsurfaces. Thiswillbeachievedby directing the self-assembly of mucin macromolecules onto polymer brushes attached to a substrate, and thencross-linking theconstituents toobtain ahydratedgel-likelubricatingcoating. Thisresearch willprovide new insights on the mechanisms by which mucin-rich fluids lubricate and protect biosurfaces, which is importanttohumanhealth. This PhD project will construct biomimetic films and investigate how they vary with solution conditions (ph, salt) and interact with food components.  Chemical Engineering

Professor Peter Halley

ARC Designing starches for increased productivity in mineral flotation Natural and modified starches are used as depressants and flocculants in mineral flotation, but knowledge of mechanisms describing starch-mineral surface interactions is lacking, particularly with respect to processing base metal sulphides. In this project, the aim is to understand this process and design and develop tailored starch depressant/flocculant biopolymers for mineral beneficiation via the froth flotation process. Newly  developed starch characterisation techniques and novel methods for modifying starch structures and functionalities will also be developed. Success in this project will provide new novel manufacturing applications for starch in Australia. Chemical engineering, Minerals processing, Starch/biopolymer/polymer processing, Starch/biopolymer/polymer chemistry


School of Architecture

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Professor Paul Memmott

ARC How Meston's 'Wild Australia Show' Shaped Australian Aboriginal History The Wild Australia Show (1892-93), staged by a diverse company of Aboriginal people for metropolitan audiences, provides the focus for an interdisciplinary study of performance, photography, collections, frontier environments and race relations in colonial Australia. Using archival and visual records, and in partnership with key cultural institutions and Indigenous communities, the research seeks to produce an authoritative and original interpretation of the Show situating it within local, national and transnational narratives informed by contemporary Indigenous perspectives. It aims to illuminate Aboriginal agency in the ensemble, reconnect Aboriginal kin to performers, and chart changing concepts of race at a critical juncture in Australian history. Aust'n history, or social science, or material culture or cultural studies or architectural history

Professor Paul Memmott and Dr Tim O’Rourke



ARC Architectural design to improve Indigenous health outcomes

The goal of this research project is to improve the experience and use of healthcare architecture for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  The aim is to identify the best design principles and practices through an analysis of existing clinics and hospitals and surveys of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users.

The overarching research question is: “When it comes to health service engagement, does design matter to Indigenous people, and how does it affect their decisions around accessing health care?”

The project will suit applicants with degrees in architecture, planning, anthropology and social science.


School of Biomedical Sciences

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Dr Shyuan Ngo

NHMRC Bioenergetic deficit in neurodegeneration: studies in motor neuron disease (MND) Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease. In the absence of a cure for MND, more research is needed to find new therapeutic approaches. Studies indicate that patients with MND have impairments in whole body physiology and energy homeostasis, with evidence that an imbalance in energy metabolism negatively influences the rate of progression of disease. Our project will investigate and modulate energy metabolism responses to neurodegeneration in a mouse model of MND, and in human iPSC-derived neurons and myoblast-derived muscle fibres to define how energetic deficit causes the catastrophic death of motor neurons and progressive muscle weakness in MND. Neuroscience, Molecular Biology. Biochemistry, and Physiology

Associate Professor Michael Piper

ARC Molecular control of adult neural stem cell quiescence Within the mammalian brain neural stem cells persist throughout adult life. These cells continually produce new neurons that are pivotal for processes including learning and memory, and deficits in adult neurogenesis have been linked to dementia. Adult neural stem cells are predominantly quiescent, dividing rarely to ensure that they are not prematurely exhausted. However, the factors that maintain this quiescence are very poorly defined. The goal of this proposal is to understand how sulfate levels regulate stem cell quiescence in vivo within the mouse brain, work that will greatly enhance our understanding of adult neural stem cell biology and function. Biology background

Dr Allison Pettit

NHMRC Recipient bone marrow macrophages contribute to haematopoietic stem cell transplantation success Bone marrow (BM) resident macrophages (BM-Macs) are required for maintenance of blood stem cell niches, the specialized environments within BM that support and instruct stem cells. We have shown that BM-Macs are resistant to a myelo-ablation and persist long-term post-autologous transplant. The recipient BM-Macs autonomously expand post-transplant and are required for engraftment of long-term repopulating blood stem cells. We hypotheses that increasing the number and function of recipient BM-Macs post-Tx will increase the number of viable blood stem cell niches, which in turn will accelerate and improve efficiency of blood stem cell engraftment and haematopoietic reconstitution. We will test the hypotheses using 3 Aims that will determine: 1) the necessity of recipient BM-Macs for successful BM transplantation, 2) Identify the molecular mechanisms underpinning BM-Mac resilience and blood stem cell supportive roles, and 3) determine whether expanding BM-Macs using a novel chimeric colony stimulating factor-1 molecule, can improve HSC transplantation outcomes. Immunology, cellular and molecular biology and physiology.

Professor Maree Smith

NHMRC Novel prolonged-release polymeric microparticles for relief of intractable cancer-related pain

For the 10-30% of patients with advanced cancer who experience unremitting severe pain despite administration of escalating doses of clinically available analgesics by conventional oral or parenteral routes, more invasive dosing routes may be warranted. These include chronic implantation of programmable pumps, accessible reservoir systems, and tunneled, exteriorized catheters. Intra-spinal delivery systems enable logarithmic scale reductions in medication dosing relative to systemic routes of administration. Pain medications that have been given spinally include strong opioid analgesics (e.g. morphine and hydromorphone), local anaesthetics (e.g. lignocaine), alpha2-agonists (e.g. clonidine) and ziconotide. Intra-spinal delivery systems enable logarithmic scale reductions in medication dosing relative to systemic dosing routes. Due to the close proximity of the administered analgesic/adjuvant agents to their target receptors and ion channels, analgesia has a longer duration and systemic side-effects are reduced. However, use of implanted devices is associated with a range of catheter-related problems that occur in up to 25% of patients, including kinking, obstruction, disconnection, and granuloma formation at the catheter tip with prolonged, high-rate infusion. Hence, we will address these issues by developing biodegradable prolonged-release polymer formulations of painrelieving drugs for administration by the intrathecal route in close proximity to their target receptors or ion channels in the spinal cord, as a means to produce prolonged periods of analgesia with markedly reduced systemic side-effects.

*Please note that this grant is held under the Centre for Integrated Preclinical Drug Development, however a student who is succesfully aligned with this project would be enrolled through the School of Biomedical Sciences.

Chemistry, drug delivery, drug formulation, biomedical sciences


The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Associate Professor Michelle Hill

ARC Regulation of inter-cellular communication by cholesterol-rich membranes The goal of the research program is to understand the regulation of extracellular vesicles (exosomes and microvesicles) to effect cell-to-cell communication. Cholesterol-rich membrane microdomainss, also called lipid rafts, as are involved in the biogenesis and release of extracellular vesicles. Altered lipid raft function is implicated in chronic diseases such as inflammatory conditions and cancer. This research program utilises cell and systems biology, omics and bioinformatics to elucidate mechanisms involving cholesterol, caveolin, cavin family genes which are implicated in cancer.
Projects are available on several aspects, using cell models:
- Cell biology and omics: Subcellular proteomics and lipidomics to elucidate the intracellular trafficking changes as a result of cholesterol alteration, cavelolin, cavinfamily expression.
- Bioinformatics: Computational modelling using subcellular correlation profiling. Systems biology analysis of the mechanism of cholesterol, caveolin, cavin family
- Extracellular vesicle biology: detailed characterisation of molecular machineries for vesicle release and impact of cholesterol, caveolin, cavin family.
bioinformatics, biochemistry or cell biology


School of Business

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Associate Professor Marta Indulska

ARC Assessing ideas in an open innovation setting Open innovation promises to increase the potential of innovation in organisations.  While the academic community has begun to provide initial guidance for improving the various stages of the open innovation process, still little is known about how organisations currently assess ideas once they are collected.  Yet, the potentially vast quantity of ideas collected through an open innovation approach has limited benefits to an organisation that is not able to categorise and assess ideas.  This project aims to understand current practices in assessing ideas in an open innovation initiative and identify success factors and guidance for appropriate assessment methods in various settings.  Commerce or business 


Queensland Brain Institute

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Professor Geoffrey Goodhill

NHMRC How are axons guided to their targets in the developing nervous system? For the brain to function correctly it must be wired correctly. Nerve fibre guidance during development 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 nerve fibres actually respond to concentration gradients. First, we will use novel microfluidics technologies to create precisely controlled molecular gradients in vitro, measure nerve 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 nerve fibres in vivo. This project will provide the first direct way of quantitatively predicting axon trajectories in the developing brain. Mathematics, Physics, Engineering, CS, Neuroscience

Professor Peter Visscher

ARC Prediction of environmental exposures and phenotypes from pigenetic and genetic signatures in DNA samples The aim of the project is to quantify the
accuracy of prediction of past or current environmental exposures from ulti-locus epigenetic models and to develop, test and validate unbiased and accurate predictors of age, smoking and other environmental factors
from existing data on genome-wide methylation. For environmental exposures that also have a genetic component, the aim is to combine epigenetic and genetic information to maximise the accuracy of phenotypic prediction. The outcome from this project will be accurate
prediction of important characteristics of an individual from which a biological sample has been obtained using DNA methylation profiling.
statistics, quantitative genetics,
computer science, bioinformatics, forensic science

Associate Professor Jian Yang

ARC The X-chromosome and  human complex trait variation X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) is an important biological phenomenon but its effect on complex trait variation remains largely unknown. This project aims to develop novel statistical methods to estimate the X-linked genetic variance and the proportion that escapes XCI, and identify trait-associated genetic variants affected and not affected by XCI. The methods will be applied to large datasets from genome-wide association studies for a large number of human complex traits. The unique methods and new knowledge will be of great significance to better understand the role of XCI in complex trait variation in humans. Biology, statistics, mathematics, or
computer science

Associate Professor Bruno van Swinderen


Molecular mechanisms underlying recovery from general anaesthesia

Even though general anaesthesia is an extremely common and safe procedure, doctors do not really know how it works. We have found that general anaesthetics might work in two steps, by first promoting natural sleep, and then by impairing communication between all nerve cells in the brain. It is this second step that makes surgery possible, but also makes recovery difficult – especially among patients with brain disorders. This project uses super-resolution microscopy and electrophysiology in cell cultures and animal models to understand exactly how general anesthetics impair synaptic release mechanisms of neurons.

Honours or Masters; some experience in microscopy techniques desirable.


Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Professor Robert Henry

ARC Impact of domestication on the genomes of rice Recent research has identified that wild Australian rice populations may represent the ancestors of domesticate rice. This project will characterize the genome and transcriptome of these rice grains to determine the impact of human selection. Both the functional cooking and eating qualities and the nutritional value may have been altered. The outcome should suggest ways in which rice biodiversity could contribute to improved rice genotypes. Honours with molecular biology or genomics experience

Professor Mike Gidley

ARC Design rules for nutritionally-functional grains Grain-based foods can be a major source of positive human nutrition if the starch they contain is slowly or incompletely digested by enzymes in the small intestine, such that starch passes to the large intestine where it is fermented by the resident microflora. This project will use diverse experimental approaches to define the molecular and microscopic features of grain foods that limit small intestinal digestion of starch, and provide the first comprehensive description of how enzyme-resistant starch is fermented in a model for the large intestine. Biochemistry/chemistry, Microbiology, and/or Food Science


Institute for Molecular Bioscience

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Professor David Craik

NHMRC Development of peptide-based scaffolds for intracellular cancer targets The overall aim of this project is to develop peptide-based drugs that are able to cross cell membranes and inhibit specific targets inside cells leading to more effective, safer and cost effective drugs for cancer. One potential outcome of the project will be new drug leads to treat melanoma and leukemia that are likely to be less toxic, more potent and less likely to develop resistance than current treatments.  Chemistry, structural biology, biochemistry

Professor David Craik

NHMRC New drug leads for cholesterol We aim to develop a new class of cholesterol-lowering drugs by blocking the interaction between a protein in the blood called PCSK9 and its receptor, which is implicated in cholesterol absorption. We will do this by designing small stable peptides (mini proteins) that mimic part of the receptor and have the potential to interfere with the normal PCSK9 binding process. These drugs should be less expensive and potentially less immunogenic than competing therapies based on antibodies. Chemistry, structural biology, biochemistry

Professor David Craik

ARC The chemistry and biology of circular proteins The broad aims of this project are to exploit our competitive edge in plant-derived ultra-stable cyclic peptides to develop them for pharmaceutical and agricultural applications. It is based on discoveries made in our laboratory over the last 15 years and on our proposed development of innovative new methodologies for discovery, chemical synthesis and engineering of these molecules. The project is significant because it will contribute to high value biotechnology and agricultural industries in Australia. The major outcomes include fundamental new knowledge on the biosynthesis of circular proteins in plants, new approaches for their discovery and technologies of applying them as drug leads and agricultural products. Chemistry, structural biology, biochemistry

Dr Mathias Francois

NHMRC Dynamics of SOX18 protein-protein interactions during the transcriptional control of endothelial cell differentiation In embryogenesis, cell fate decisions are under the control of an unexpectedly limited number of transcription factors. How a handful of proteins dynamically coordinate gene expression and instruct cell fate has long been a puzzling question. Transcription factors function in networks of protein-protein interactions, coordinating their activity through physical contact. This PhD proposal will investigate how SOX18 transcription factor swaps protein partners in vivo during blood vessel development in a zebrafish model system, based on the utilisation of a split-GFP technology. Biomedical significance: this project will explore the molecular mechanism of a key protein that modulates tumour-induced angiogenesis and metastasis.  Molecular biology and biophysics

Professor Ben Hankamer

ARC Model-guided design and optimization of algal production systems

This project involves the integration of microalgal biomass production models with techno-economic and life cycle analyses to enable model guided design of next generation photobioreactor systems and process optimisation.

The project requires a student with an engineering background and strong mathematical skills, preferably with experience in MATLAB or Python programming. The project will combine theoretical and experimental work at laboratory and pilot scale.

Engineering, mathematics, computer programming

Associate Professor Matt Sweet

NHMRC Molecular mechanisms in innate immune cells providing specificity to inflammatory cytokine outputs Macrophages are innate immune cells that coordinate inflammatory responses upon detection of danger in the form of infection, tissue damage and/or dysregulated homeostasis. These cells use pattern recognition receptors, such as the Toll-like Receptors (TLRs), to sense such danger. This project will explore the role of a novel signalling pathway in providing specificity to inflammatory cytokine outputs downstream of TLRs. The project will use molecular and cellular approaches, as well as in vivo studies, to characterize the biological significance of the pathway. 1st class honours in Immunology, Cell Biology, Microbiology or Biochemistry


Sustainable Minerals Institute

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Associate Professor Longbin Huang

ARC Eco-engineering soil from mine tailings for native plant rehabilitation   Sustainable rehabilitation of tailings at metal mine sites is severely constrained by soil resource deficiency.
Building on our recent findings of critical processes in soil formation from Cu/Pb-Zn tailings, we aim to develop an
integrated technology through eco-engineering the mineralogy and organic constituents of tailings to initiate and
accelerate soil formation by using magnetite tailings as a template. The technology will be underpinned by
research to mediate and stimulate key biogeochemical and rhizosphere processes in the tailing-soil towards a
functional 'technosol'. We aim to apply this technology at metal mines in Australia, to offset the soil required for
rehabilitating tailings landforms with native plant communities.
Soil science (biology, and/or mineralogy), geomicrobiology, molecular microbial ecology/bioinformatics, or biomineralization


University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Professor Hayden Homer

NHMRC Understanding the molecular basis for age-related female fertility decline Improved understanding of oocyte quality is essential for developing novel fertility treatments targeted at the increasing numbers of older women who are embarking on pregnancy after oocyte quality has deteriorated. A 7-member family of proteins termed sirtuins are known to delay ageing in somatic cells. This project will study oocytes and embryos obtained from genetically engineered mouse models lacking sirtuin genes in order to define for the first time the importance of sirtuins in female fertility. Techniques to be employed include mouse IVF, oocyte/embryo culture, oocyte microinjection, time-lapse confocal imaging of live oocytes/embryos, Westerns blotting and mating trials. Honours Class I (or equivalent) in Biomedical Sciences or Science.

Dr  Judith Greer

NHMRC Investigating the aetio­patho­genic role of auto­antibodies against the M1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor in patients with first episode of schizophrenia Previously we have found that a proportion of patients with schizophrenia have elevated levels of antibodies that target the M1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (m1AChR), and that those patients who had the highest levels of antibodies tended to have more severe negative symptoms of schizophrenia. In this project, we will try to confirm this relationship by using samples collected at the first manifestations of psychosis and to investigate more fully the relationship between the presence of anti-m1AChR autoantibodies and development of specific symptoms of schizophrenia. In addition, in vitro studies will be used to assess how the antibodies might worsen specific symptoms by assessing the effects of anti-m1AChR antibodies on receptor signalling and neuronal health. Science, with  experience in one or more of: cell culture, immuno­logical assays, immuno­histo­chemistry, molecular biology, neuroscience.


Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology

Chief Investigator Grant type Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Dr Barbara Rolfe

NHMRC Targeting the Complement Cascade: A Novel Therapeutic Strategy for Cancer Our recent research has demonstrated a role for a key component of the innate immune system (the complement system) in tumour growth. This project will investigate the mechanisms by which the complement system regulates tumour growth, and then utilise this knowledge to test novel therapeutic strategies for cancers such as melanoma. BSc with  a background in Immunology, cell biology and/or molecular biology.

Professor Matt Trau

Dr Yuling Wang

ARC Trapping and Watching Biomolecular Complexes near Nanopores Nano-sized molecular complexes in water provide the core machinery of biological systems and require detailed understanding to help unravel fundamental biological mechanisms. The aim of this project is to produce a generic platform technology that is capable of in-situ characterisation of the full spectrum of nano-scaled objects on a particle-by-particle basis by further understanding and exploiting the underlying fundamental scientific principles of an integrated Nanopore/optical system.
Students will require skills in optical techniques for biological material characterization and background in chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, biotechnology,  or related disciplines. 

Professor Justin Cooper-White

NHMRC Repairing hearts through targeted cell reprogramming Efficient directed reprogramming of one cell type into another cell type so as to achieve functional tissue repair in vivo remains a significant challenge. Utilising high throughput screening platforms, nanoparticle delivery vehicles, iPSC-generated 3D micro-cardiac tissues and transgenic mouse models, this project will firstly define the exact molecular pathways that need to be manipulated to drive effective reprogramming, and thereafter, through targeted gene delivery, aims to achieve highly efficient reprogramming of specific cardiac cell populations to encourage regeneration of cardiac tissue post a heart attack.  

Bachelor of Engineering and/or Science with 1st Class Honours, majoring  in one or more of the following: Chemical Engineering, Biological Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Developmental Biology, Cell Biology, Genetics.

Associate Professor Kris Thurecht

NHMRC Immuno-polymeric drugs for Prostate Cancer Therapy Recent synthetic advances that facilitate control over polymer structure and functionality have led to the advent of polymer theranostics; devices capable of simultaneously diagnosing disease, delivering a therapy and monitoring the treatment and disease progression. While the potential application of such nanomaterials is tremendous, in vivo monitoring remains a significant scientific challenge. While the ultimate aim in polymer theranostics is the development of a multi-modal, multi-functional, biodegradable delivery device with the possibility of facile conjugation of therapeutics, imaging agents and targeting moieties, current methodologies are plagued by poor drug loading, inefficient cell uptake, targeting inefficiencies, synthetic complexities or a combination of all of these factors. This project explores the design, synthesis and preclinical testing of polymeric theranostics that incorporate various molecular imaging modalities (PET, MR, Optical Imaging) as a means of monitoring drug and gene therapies. Chemistry and/or Engineering and/or Biology