STEM Summer Research Brisbane Courses

Earn 6 research credits over 6 weeks of study at University of Queensland. You will participate in weekly research group meetings, as well as attend departmental seminars that relate to the discipline of your project. Available research projects will focus on math, engineering, biology, physics and chemistry.

  • Make sure your courses transfer back for credit with your home school – this is your responsibility.

Choosing Your Research Project

  • Review Project titles and descriptions below.
  • List 3 (in order of preference) in your personal essay.
  • Program is highly individualized, with limited enrollment.
  • You will need to complete a brief Literature Review in consultation with your research supervisor prior to departure before the start of the program. More details here.
  • We encourage you to contact Arcadia’s Assistant Dean of STEM programs, Dr. Jessie Guinn, to discuss your particular research interests further.

Course

Course ID Title Credits Syllabus
AUUQ RSLW 392S International Independent Research in STEM Fields 6 PDF

Summer 2018 Research Projects

Biochemistry
Visualization of neuronal protein sorting events by high-resolution structural biology methods. (read more)
Biological Science
"Do fairy-wrens respond to the alarm vocalisations of neighbouring species?" (read more)
"Do fairy-wrens respond equally to the alarm calls of birds they regularly see compared to those that they would never encounter under natural conditions?" (read more)
“Tracking sea turtles in global oceans and seas” (read more)
How does density influence the growth and survival of newly settled Tropical Pacific corals? (read more)
Ecology Meets IT – Indo-Pacific Database of Symbiodinium Diversity (read more)
Discovery of new noncoding RNA in wheat (read more)
microRNA targets in wheat (read more)
Are caterpillars thermal optimisers? (read more)
Abandoning your birth place: caterpillar movement between plants (read more)
Systematics of haplosplanchnid parasites of surgeonfishes (read more)
Biological Science and Genomics
Brett Ferguson Project A: Discovery and Characterisation of New Components Required for the Development and Control of Legume Nodules: those required early in the molecular process of legume nodule development (read more)
Brett Ferguson Project B: Discovery and Characterisation of New Components Required for the Development and Control of Legume Nodules: acting to control legume nodule numbers (read more)
Brett Ferguson Project C: Discovery and Characterisation of New Components Required for the Development and Control of Legume Nodules: regulated by acid soils to inhibit nodule formation (read more)
Biomedical Science
Smart magnetic resonance imaging nano-sensor for detecting and grading diseases (read more)
Innovative reversible blood clotting agents for emergency treatment of internal bleeding (read more)
Novel solutions for theranostics of diseases such as cardiovascular disease and inflammatory disease (read more)
Chemistry
Chemical reactions of Nitrogen (N) in soil (read more)
Effect of novel soil amendments on soil buffer capacity (read more)
Characterisation of soil organic matter - clay mineral complexes (read more)
Soil respiration and organic matter turn-over in soils treated with soil conditioners (read more)
CHEMISTRY & Molecular Bioscience
Characterization of bioactive components from human breast milk (read more)
Structure activity relationship studies of trefoil factor peptides (read more)
Building a novel system for peptide delivery (read more)
Characterisation of peptides encoded by short open reading frames (read more)
Genomics
Evolutionary genomics of coral reef symbionts (read more)
Geographical Science
Late Quaternary Environments of South East Queensland (read more)
Microbiology
Co-cultivation Inspired Microbial Biodiscovery (read more)
Science Education
STEM Education - Enabling large-scale video feedback in Higher Education Assessment (read more)
What communication skills do science employers value (and expect) in new recruits? (read more)
How do science employers develop the communication skills of new employees? (read more)
Tell me a story: your biggest learning experience around communicating science in the workplace (read more)
Can I get a job with a science qualification? Analysis of student interviews (read more)


*OPEN - PROJECT STILL AVAILABLE FOR STUDENT COMPLETION
RESERVED - PROJECT ALREADY TAKEN BY A STUDENT

Description of Research Projects

Biochemistry

Visualization of neuronal protein sorting events by high-resolution structural biology methods.

Dr. Rajesh Ghai

We are focused on understanding the fundamental cellular process of intracellular protein sorting in human neuronal cells. Specifically, we study protein machineries that operate as cargo vans within the cell. These protein complexes direct the cargo (cell surface receptors) either to recycling or degradative sorting routes thereby maintaining the overall cellular homeostasis. Defects in these protein machineries result in abnormal trafficking of cell surface receptors that has implications in several neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We take advantage of hybrid structural biology approaches to obtain an overall three-dimensional map of these trafficking protein complexes. We also employ biophysical, biochemical and molecular biology methods to decipher how these protein assemblies (cargo vans) engage their cargo (cell surface receptors). We adopt multidisciplinary approach and together with our cell biology collaborators we aim to construct atomic resolution maps of cellular sorting events.

Background that the student needs to have: Biochemistry or cell biology 3rd to 4th year students.

Biological Science

"Do fairy-wrens respond to the alarm vocalisations of neighbouring species?"

A/Prof Salit Kark and Dr Will Feeney

These projects will involve field and data base analysis work on birds.

Background that the student needs to have: Ability to work in the field, high motivation and database analysis interest required.

"Do fairy-wrens respond equally to the alarm calls of birds they regularly see compared to those that they would never encounter under natural conditions?"

A/Prof Salit Kark and Dr Will Feeney

These projects will involve field and data base analysis work on birds.

Background that the student needs to have: Ability to work in the field, high motivation and database analysis interest required.

“Tracking sea turtles in global oceans and seas”

A/Prof Salit Kark and Dr Will Feeney

These projects will involve field and data base analysis work on sea turtles.

Background that the student needs to have: Ability to work in the field, high motivation and database analysis interest required.

How does density influence the growth and survival of newly settled Tropical Pacific corals?

Professor John Pandolfi

Given the sedentary lifestyle of corals, dispersion only takes place over generations when planktonic larvae disperse into (often distant) reefs to search for a suitable settlement substrate. Once the coral larvae settle and attach, they are considered new ‘recruits’ into the community. This period is also the greatest bottleneck in a coral’s life history, with exceedingly high mortality and thus low recruitment rates, given the large numbers of offspring released. Successful recruitment has consequences for local population maintenance and renewal, and any process that reduces recruitment will have direct effects on adult community structure and resilience. Density-dependent feedbacks regulated by the density of the resident adults as well as other recruits have been shown to affect growth and survival across many different taxa. However, understanding recruit-recruit and recruit-adult interactions are largely lacking from the coral ecological literature and this forms a major hindrance to understanding how we manage coral populations in the face of environmental change. The main aim of this project is to understand how density and species interactions influence coral recruitment dynamics across multiple species. This project would suit a student with a marine and/or ecology background, good data management skills, and some familiarity using excel and imaging software (not essential).

Background that the student needs to have: Marine ecology background and Data management, Statistics (or willingness to learn statistics)

Ecology Meets IT – Indo-Pacific Database of Symbiodinium Diversity

Professor John Pandolfi

Symbiodinium are photosynthesizing dinoflagellates that form a mutualistic symbiosis with marine invertebrates, including corals. The symbiotic relationship between corals and Symbiodinium underlies the ability of corals to form the large, extensive, biodiverse reefs that we know today. Although global distribution patterns of reef corals are well documented, comparatively little is known about ocean wide community dynamics of these important marine symbionts. The main aim of the project is to build an Indo-Pacific database of known Symbiodinium diversity and use this information to identify broad phylogeographic patterns of host-symbiont associations. In addition, the database will form a first comprehensive record of known symbiont species across the Indian and Pacific Oceans and serves to identify areas that currently remain unexplored. For this project, we are looking to recruit a self-motivated student with a strong background in database management or computer sciences, plus an interest in Marine Biology, to help build a user-friendly and searchable database.

Background that the student needs to have: Strong Computer Science background, Database skills (assembly, building complex query search options; programs used may include Postgres, MySQL, Access), Statistics

Discovery of new noncoding RNA in wheat

Dr Milos Tanurdzic

These projects will combine bioinformatics analyses of RNAseq datasets from bread wheat and molecular genetics experiments to discover new noncoding RNA in bread wheat and to predict and test gene targets of novel microRNA from wheat.

Background that the student needs to have: Understanding of basic molecular biology principles (DNA, RNA, central dogma of molecular biology) is required, basic molecular biology skills such as gel electrophoresis and PCR is desired.

microRNA targets in wheat

Dr Milos Tanurdzic

These projects will combine bioinformatics analyses of RNAseq datasets from bread wheat and molecular genetics experiments to discover new noncoding RNA in bread wheat and to predict and test gene targets of novel microRNA from wheat.

Background that the student needs to have: Understanding of basic molecular biology principles (DNA, RNA, central dogma of molecular biology) is required, basic molecular biology skills such as gel electrophoresis and PCR is desired.

Are caterpillars thermal optimisers?

Prof Myron (Meron) P. Zalucki

Track diurnal movement and feeding behaviour of monarch caterpillars with respect to environmental temperatures available on the host plant. Test the hypothesis that caterpillars move to optimise body temperatures given what is available to them on a plant.

Background that the student needs to have: Basic biology, physiology.

Abandoning your birth place: caterpillar movement between plants

Prof Myron (Meron) P. Zalucki

It is often assumed in the “mother knows best” hypothesis that female lepidoptera select plants that are optimal for growth and development of their immatures. This hypothesis ignores movement of later instars between plants. Here we will quantify the how often caterpillars abandon natal hosts, how successful they are at finding new ones and what influences this process.

Background that the student needs to have: Basic biology, physiology.

Systematics of haplosplanchnid parasites of surgeonfishes

Dr Thomas Cribb

Digenetic trematodes are a group of parasitic flatworms which are at their most diverse in marine fishes. On the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), herbivores such as the surgeonfishes (Acanthuridae) support coral reef resilience and fill important roles in reef food-webs. Despite the importance of surgeonfishes in coral reef ecosystems, knowledge of their parasites is limited. This lab-based project will explore species diversity in the poorly studied trematode family Haplosplanchnidae from GBR surgeonfishes. Skills to be gained include classic parasitological techniques as well as training in taxonomy, systematics, molecular sequencing and phylogenetics.

Biological Science and Genomics

Brett Ferguson Project A: Discovery and Characterisation of New Components Required for the Development and Control of Legume Nodules: those required early in the molecular process of legume nodule development 

Dr Brett Ferguson

Nitrogen fertiliser use in agriculture is inefficient, costly and can be environmentally damaging. Legume crops represent an economically and environmentally sound alternative, as their relationship with nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria enables them to thrive in the absence of nitrogen fertiliser. The bacteria (commonly referred to as rhizobia) are housed in specialised root organs, called nodules. Identifying critical components in the development and control of legume nodules is now needed to optimise the process and improve agriculture sustainability. Project aims to discover and functionally characterise novel factors that are required early in the molecular process of legume nodule development. Findings could enhance the current nodulation model and could help to underpin future strategies to reduce the over-reliance on nitrogen fertiliser use in agriculture.

Background that the student needs to have: background/interest in genetics, molecular signaling and development, and plant physiology.

Brett Ferguson Project B: Discovery and Characterisation of New Components Required for the Development and Control of Legume Nodules: acting to control legume nodule numbers

Dr Brett Ferguson

Nitrogen fertiliser use in agriculture is inefficient, costly and can be environmentally damaging. Legume crops represent an economically and environmentally sound alternative, as their relationship with nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria enables them to thrive in the absence of nitrogen fertiliser. The bacteria (commonly referred to as rhizobia) are housed in specialised root organs, called nodules. Identifying critical components in the development and control of legume nodules is now needed to optimise the process and improve agriculture sustainability. Project aims to discover and functionally characterise novel factors that act to control legume nodule numbers. Findings could enhance the current nodulation model and could help to underpin future strategies to reduce the over-reliance on nitrogen fertiliser use in agriculture.

Background that the student needs to have: background/interest in genetics, molecular signaling and development, and plant physiology.

Brett Ferguson Project C: Discovery and Characterisation of New Components Required for the Development and Control of Legume Nodules: regulated by acid soils to inhibit nodule formation

Dr Brett Ferguson

Nitrogen fertiliser use in agriculture is inefficient, costly and can be environmentally damaging. Legume crops represent an economically and environmentally sound alternative, as their relationship with nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria enables them to thrive in the absence of nitrogen fertiliser. The bacteria (commonly referred to as rhizobia) are housed in specialised root organs, called nodules. Identifying critical components in the development and control of legume nodules is now needed to optimise the process and improve agriculture sustainability. Project aims to discover and functionally characterise novel factors that are regulated by acid soils to inhibit nodule formation. Findings could enhance the current nodulation model and could help to underpin future strategies to reduce the over-reliance on nitrogen fertiliser use in agriculture.

Background that the student needs to have: background/interest in genetics, molecular signaling and development, and plant physiology.

Biomedical Science

Smart magnetic resonance imaging nano-sensor for detecting and grading diseases

Dr Hang Ta

The early detection and accurate characterization of life-threatening diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer are critical to the design of treatment. Knowing whether a thrombus in a blood vessel is new/fresh or old/constituted, and whether a tumour mass has hypoxia region is very important for physicians to decide a treatment protocol. This project will develop smart magnetic resonance imaging nano-sensors that can detect, sense and report the stage or progression of cardiovascular diseases such as thrombosis, the leading cause of death in Australia and worldwide.

Background that the student needs to have: background/interest in chemistry, nanotechnology, biotechnology, molecular biology, chem/bio engineering, or a related discipline.

Innovative reversible blood clotting agents for emergency treatment of internal bleeding

Dr Hang Ta

Currently, there is a lack of effective therapeutics for internal bleeding following a traumatic event. In this project, novel reversible blood clotting nanomaterials will be designed to be able to hunt for internal injuries and bleeding and then stop the bleeding quickly.

Background that the student needs to have: background/interest in chemistry, nanotechnology, biotechnology, molecular biology, chem/bio engineering, or a related discipline.

Novel solutions for theranostics of diseases such as cardiovascular disease and inflammatory disease

Dr Hang Ta

Cardiovascular disease is the major cause of mortality and morbidity in developed countries. Inflammation is part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants. Chronic inflammation might lead to a host of diseases, such as hay fever, periodontitis, atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer. This project will investigate novel approaches to develop nanomaterials which combine both therapeutic and diagnostic capabilities for these diseases in one dose.

Background that the student needs to have: background/interest in chemistry, nanotechnology, biotechnology, molecular biology, chem/bio engineering, or a related discipline.

STEM Education - Enabling large-scale video feedback in Higher Education Assessment

Dr Jack Wang

Continually increasing class sizes in Higher Education (E.g. >1000 in many first year UQ courses) have made it very difficult for instructors to provide detailed, individualised feedback for student assessment. To address this issue, we are trialling video feedback to capture instructor comments in “stream-of-consciousness” style short videos, which are then emailed to individual students in the course. This project will involve surveying and interviewing students and instructors across a number of Higher Education courses to map out the effective features of video feedback applications, before measuring their impact on student learning gains. Note: Science Education - not typical lab based course.

Background that the student needs to have: Survey design and analysis, focus group interviews, generating and analysing video and multimedia content, coding and thematic analyses of qualitative and quantitative data, communicating with a variety of audiences.

What communication skills do science employers value (and expect) in new recruits?

A/Prof Susan Rowland & Louise Kuchel

In this project you will speak with science employers about the kinds of communication skills they want new recruits to have. What do they value? What do they expect? What is the most important communication skill new graduates should have? You will interview employers and film the interviews using provided equipment. As part of the project you will create web content for the project site CLIPS (Communication Learning in Practice for Scientists). You can see the website here: www.clips.edu.au After the interviews you will analyse the content of the interviews for common themes and develop a taxonomy of employer-valued communication skills in science. Note: Science Education - not typical lab based course

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: Interest in learning qualitative research methodologies (or existing skills in qualitative methodologies). These methodologies will include thematic analysis of text and structured interviewing. Interest in speaking with people, interviewing, filming, and editing (or prior experience in these areas). Note, equipment for filming and editing will be provided.

How do science employers develop the communication skills of new employees?

A/Prof Susan Rowland & Louise Kuchel

In this project you will speak with science employers about the ways in which their organisation develops the communication skills of their new employees. You will interview employers and film the interviews using provided equipment. As part of the project you will create web content for the project site CLIPS (Communication Learning in Practice for Scientists). You can see the website here: www.clips.edu.au After the interviews you will analyse the content of the interviews for common themes and develop a taxonomy of employer development of communication skills in science. Note: Science Education - not typical lab based course

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: Interest in learning qualitative research methodologies (or existing skills in qualitative methodologies). These methodologies will include thematic analysis of text and structured interviewing. Interest in speaking with people, interviewing, filming, and editing (or prior experience in these areas). Note, equipment for filming and editing will be provided.

Can I get a job with a science qualification? Analysis of student interviews

A/Prof Susan Rowland & Louise Kuchel

In this project you undertake a range of research methodologies to increase understanding employability in science graduates. This will include qualitative and quantitative research techniques, analysing student interviews in which they talk about their understanding of how to get a job with a science qualification. Note: Science Education - not typical lab based course

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: Interest in learning qualitative research methodologies (or existing skills in qualitative methodologies).

Chemistry

Chemical reactions of Nitrogen (N) in soil

Research fellow Ryosuke Fujinuma

Several mechanism-based experiments investigating: (a) vapour movement of N in soil; (b) solubility of commercial N products; (c) N release from polymer technology under different application techniques. Students will be working in soil science laboratories and be involved in the design, set-up, maintenance, data collection, and analysis of these experiments.

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: Secondary-school level of chemistry knowledge. Basic statistics and math desired.

Effect of novel soil amendments on soil buffer capacity

Dr Bernhard Wehr

Numerous soil amendments are marketed for agricultural use. These products often have a low or slow solubility compared to conventional soil amendments such as limestone. Therefore, the mode of action of these products needs further research and this project focusses on the effect of these products on the soil buffer capacity. The laboratory trials will investigate the effect of increasing rates of soil amendments on the pH buffer capacity and CEC of several soils. This project would suit a student with a background/interest in agronomy or soil chemistry. The outcome of the project is a better understanding of how these products reacts with soils, and the rate with which the products dissolve. The results may help explain some of the results observed in field trials.

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: Some chemistry knowledge required

Characterisation of soil organic matter - clay mineral complexes

Dr Bernhard Wehr

Organic matter plays an important role in stabilising soil aggregates. Clay minerals are known to interact with organic matter and protect organic matter from microbial degradation, thereby maintaining aggregate stability. The interaction between organic matter and clay depends on the chemical characteristics (functional groups) on both the organic matter and clay. This project investigates the association between organic matter and clay minerals in several soils and how these interactions change over time.  The laboratory-based project will develop methods to fractionate clay-organic matter complexes and quantify organic matter bound in various forms in soils. This project is suitable for a student with interest in soil chemistry. The outcome of this project is an improved methodology to fractionate soil organic matter-clay complexes and to quantify the organic matter held in the respective fractions in soils.

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: Basic chemistry background and knowledge required

Soil respiration and organic matter turn-over in soils treated with soil conditioners

Dr Bernhard Wehr

Sustainable agriculture aims at preserving or increasing soil carbon stocks. Soil carbon is a slow release source of plant nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, and is important to support soil microbial processes. The soil carbon stocks in soils can be increased by either increasing input of carbon into soil, or decreasing losses of carbon from soil by changing land use practices. Some soil conditioners are claimed to improve soil carbon stocks while increasing soil microbial activity. Yet, increasing soil microbial activity utilises soil carbon and decrease soil C stocks. This project will investigate the effect of various soil conditions on C turnover and soil respiration over time. The trials will utilise laboratory-based incubation studies to determine dynamics of various carbon pools. This project is suitable for a student with interest in agronomy/agriculture/soil chemistry.

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: Basic Science background required

Chemistry & Molecular Bioscience

Characterization of bioactive components from human breast milk

Dr Markus Muttenthaler

Breast milk is a well-known source of bioactive compounds that facilitate the development of a healthy gut in infants. We aim to isolate anti-inflammatory and/or protective components from human milk to investigate their physiological function and therapeutic potential. Mass spectrometry will be used to identity the sequence of the isolated breast milk peptides, which will then be synthesised by solid phase peptide synthesis for further characterisation on gastrointestinal cell lines. Applicants will gain skills in learning to use HPLC chromatography, mass spectrometry, peptide synthesis, neuropeptide extraction methods and wound healing assays.

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: background in chemistry or biochemistry

Structure activity relationship studies of trefoil factor peptides

Dr Markus Muttenthaler

Trefoil factor (TFF) peptides are key players in gastrointestinal epithelial protection by stabilizing the mucosal barrier and promoting wound healing. Many studies have highlighted their therapeutic potential for gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and inflammatory bowel syndrome. In addition, their functionality in the hostile environment of the gut makes them interesting leads for drug design. However, little is known about their receptors, mechanisms of action, pharmacophores, and structure activity relationships (SAR). In this project, we aim to carry out TFFs SARs by synthesizing and characterizing different structural parts of TFFs. These studies will guide the development of novel analogues with improved efficacy (potency and selectivity), maintaining the biological activity and stability exhibited by TFFs. In addition, we expect to gain further insights on how TFFs interact with their targets. Applicants will gain skills in peptide synthesis, HPLC chromatography, mass spectrometry, circular dichroism, and wound healing bioassays.

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: background in chemistry or biochemistry

Building a novel system for peptide delivery

Dr Rachel Stephenson & Prof. Istvan Toth

Vaccination is one of the most effective public health strategies ever undertaken. Instead of whole killed pathogens, next generation vaccines use pathogen derived peptides, allowing fine control when tailoring the vaccine. This project aims to build a new, multi-component self-adjuvanting carrier system for the delivery of Group A Streptococcus (GAS) antigens. This project will build molecules of biological interest for biological evaluation.

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: background in chemistry (preferred), nanotechnology or biotechnology (preferrably 3rd or 4th year student). knowledge in peptide synthesis, HPLC and mass spectrometry would be useful (but is not essential).

Characterisation of peptides encoded by short open reading frames

A/Prof Joe Rothnagel

Short peptides (sPEPs)that are encoded by short Open Reading Frames (sORFs) are surprisingly common in eukaryote genomes. Recently, a mutation in a sPEP has been associated with a genetic disorder. Recent bioinformatic and ribosomal footprinting studies have identified several thousand sORFs with coding potential and several sPEPs have been identified by mass spectrometry. However, their role in cellular functions remains to be determined. You will identify and characterize sPEPs using bioinformatic tools, proteomics (mass spec) and cell biology. You will help to determine the contribution of sPEPs to the human proteome, and provide insights into their roles. This project will involve analysing raw proteomic (mass spec) data.

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: Knowledge of molecular and cell biology methods. Bioinformatics and computational skills would be an advantage.

Science Education

Evolutionary genomics of coral reef symbionts

Cheong Xin Chan

Symbiodinium are a specialized group of phytoplankton (dinoflagellate algae) that grow symbiotically with diverse coral reef animals including corals, jellyfish and sponges. These algae are critical primary producers in the oceans, and contribute to the survival of coral reefs. We are interested in the genome evolution of these algae and their closely related polar species, specifically related to (1) their evolutionary transition from free-living to symbiotic lifestyles, and (2) its functional implications for the coral host and health of the coral reefs in light of global climate change. Thus far we have generated ten genomes of these isolates, including the first from the Great Barrier Reef (https://doi.org/10.1101/198762). In this project, the candidate will adopt advanced bioinformatic and database approaches in (a) comparative algal genomics and gene discovery, (b) studying microbial genome evolution and environmental adaptation, (c) de novo genomics of non-model organisms, and/or (d) scalable phylogenomics. Most of these analyses will be conducted in the high-performance computing environment.
Note: This project is strictly computational with no wet-lab component.

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: This project is strictly computational with no wet-lab component. A strong background in genomics, bioinformatics, molecular biology, marine biology and/or phycology is essential. Prior experience with scripting languages (e.g. Python or PERL), UNIX environment, and/or R is highly desirable.

Geographical Science

Late Quaternary Environments of South East Queensland

A/Prof Patrick Moss

This project will focus on the environmental reconstruction of a sediment core collected from South East Queensland. At this stage the site will be selected in consultation with the student and me but could include locations from North Stradbroke Island, Mount Tamborine, Sunshine Coast or Cooloola sand mass. The student will be involved in field work and palynological laboratory analysis during the course of the project.

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: ecology and/or archaeology would be helpful but not essential.

Microbiology

Co-cultivation Inspired Microbial Biodiscovery

Prof Rob Capon

Co-cultivation of microbes (bacteria and fungi) can reveal inter-species chemical communication that controls transcription activation of silent biosynthetic genes coding for defensive chemicals. Students that take on this project will work with a team of researchers who aim to decipher the molecular language that underpin microbial chemical communication, and use this knowledge to activate, isolate and identify new classes of antibiotic.

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: Applicants must have an interest in microbiology and/or organic chemistry. They must be highly organized, self-motivated and up to the challenge of performing in a high pressure, multi-disciplinary research laboratory.

Science Education

STEM Education - Enabling large-scale video feedback in Higher Education Assessment

Dr Jack Wang

Continually increasing class sizes in Higher Education (E.g. >1000 in many first year UQ courses) have made it very difficult for instructors to provide detailed, individualised feedback for student assessment. To address this issue, we are trialling video feedback to capture instructor comments in “stream-of-consciousness” style short videos, which are then emailed to individual students in the course. This project will involve surveying and interviewing students and instructors across a number of Higher Education courses to map out the effective features of video feedback applications, before measuring their impact on student learning gains. Note: Science Education - not typical lab based course

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: Survey design and analysis, focus group interviews, generating and analysing video and multimedia content, coding and thematic analyses of qualitative and quantitative data, communicating with a variety of audiences.

What communication skills do science employers value (and expect) in new recruits?

A/Prof Susan Rowland & Louise Kuchel

In this project you will speak with science employers about the kinds of communication skills they want new recruits to have. What do they value? What do they expect? What is the most important communication skill new graduates should have? You will interview employers and film the interviews using provided equipment. As part of the project you will create web content for the project site CLIPS (Communication Learning in Practice for Scientists). You can see the website here: www.clips.edu.au After the interviews you will analyse the content of the interviews for common themes and develop a taxonomy of employer-valued communication skills in science. Note: Science Education - not typical lab based course

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: Interest in learning qualitative research methodologies (or existing skills in qualitative methodologies). These methodologies will include thematic analysis of text and structured interviewing. Interest in speaking with people, interviewing, filming, and editing (or prior experience in these areas). Note, equipment for filming and editing will be provided.

How do science employers develop the communication skills of new employees?

A/Prof Susan Rowland & Louise Kuchel

In this project you will speak with science employers about the ways in which their organisation develops the communication skills of their new employees. You will interview employers and film the interviews using provided equipment. As part of the project you will create web content for the project site CLIPS (Communication Learning in Practice for Scientists). You can see the website here: www.clips.edu.au After the interviews you will analyse the content of the interviews for common themes and develop a taxonomy of employer development of communication skills in science.
Note: Science Education - not typical lab based course

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: Interest in learning qualitative research methodologies (or existing skills in qualitative methodologies). These methodologies will include thematic analysis of text and structured interviewing. Interest in speaking with people, interviewing, filming, and editing (or prior experience in these areas). Note, equipment for filming and editing will be provided.

Tell me a story: your biggest learning experience around communicating science in the workplace

A/Prof Susan Rowland & Louise Kuchel

In this narrative analysis project you will ask working scientists about their biggest learning experience in communicating science in the workplace. You will then analyse the narrative using one or more accepted narrative analysis practices. Stories are an important way of communicating and building culture. In this project you will ask scientists to tell their stories so you can uncover things they learned about the value of communication, the process of communication, and the things they needed to know about communication (but didn’t). You will use parts of these stories to build web content for the project site CLIPS (Communication Learning in Practice for Scientists). You can see the website here: www.clips.edu.au
Note: Science Education - not typical lab based course

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: Interest in learning qualitative research methodologies (or existing skills in qualitative methodologies). These methodologies will include thematic analysis of text and structured interviewing. Interest in speaking with people, interviewing, filming, and editing (or prior experience in these areas). Note, equipment for filming and editing will be provided.

Can I get a job with a science qualification? Analysis of student interviews

A/Prof Susan Rowland & Louise Kuchel

In this project you undertake a range of research methodologies to increase understanding employability in science graduates. This will include qualitative and quantitative research techniques, analysing student interviews in which they talk about their understanding of how to get a job with a science qualification.
Note: Science Education - not typical lab based course

Suitable for a student with a background/ interest in: Interest in learning qualitative research methodologies (or existing skills in qualitative methodologies).