Internship options for UQ and non-UQ students

Internship options for UQ and non-UQ students

What size research project suits you? Choose from the following options.

Why do a research internship?

AIBN research internships provide an opportunity for high achieving science and engineering students interested in a career in research to experience the unique environment of one of Australia’s leading research institutes. Your AIBN research internship is an authentic research project that provides:

  • Valuable research skills;
  • Access to some of the best facilities in Australia;
  • Remuneration;
  • Publication potential;
  • Career mentoring; and
  • Academic credit toward to your undergraduate or masters degree in approved circumstances.

Internship options to match your needs

1. AIBN Research Internship

  • Duration: 6 - 24 weeks
  • Available to: Students currently enrolled in an appropriate degree at any university
  • Commences: Continuing
  • Remuneration: $300/week stipend

2. BE(Hons)/ME Industry Placement

3. UQ Summer Research program

  • Duration: 8 - 10 weeks
  • Available to: UQ students only
  • Commences: November 2016
  • Remuneration: $300/week stipend

4. UQ Winter Research program

  • Duration: 4 - 6 weeks
  • Available to: UQ students only
  • Commences: June 2016
  • Remuneration: $1000 grant
Eligibility criteria

Eligibility criteria

Who can apply?

Applicants should be currently enrolled Undergraduate, Honours or Masters (by coursework) students who:

  • have completed at least one year of study;
  • are studying for a degree relevant to the research discipline;
  • have a high level of academic achievement during their degree;
  • have the potential to undertake postgraduate study (masters or PhD);
  • are able to demonstrate a high level of English language proficiency; and
  • are eligible for a visa to visit Australia if from an international university.
Current projects

Current projects

Research project options for both UQ and non-UQ students

The AIBN Research Internship difference

Our projects are available both to UQ and non-UQ students. Projects may be "scalable", meaning there is potential for successful and motivated students to continue working on their project beyond the initial internship. In such cases arrangements are negotiated with the research group to ensure continuing involvement does not interfere with your study load, but rather enhances your scientific knowledge and application.

Last updated: 21/12/2016


Project titleNew Types of Polyisocyanide Polymers for Cell Growth and Biomedical Applications

Positions available: 1-3

Description: A new type of material recently discovered by our group has been shown to have the unique properties needed to develop a whole new class of cell culture systems. It is based on a fully synthetic, biomimetic, physically cross-linked soft hydrogel derived from helical oligo(ethylene)glycolpolyisocyano-peptides. In this project, changes in the structure of monomeric units will be made and the relationship to the physical properties of the resulting hydrogels will be studied.*

Expected outcomes and deliverables: This work will be conducted in the Biomimetics group of Prof. Alan Rowan, which recently moved to the AIBN from the Netherlands. Successful applicants can expect to gain experience with a variety of synthetic, polymerization and characterization techniques (e.g., peptide chemistry, click reactions, AFM, rheology), through the synthesis of a library of monomeric and polymeric compounds. The outcomes of your successful project will be directly applied in studies focusing on understanding the relationship between cell growth and the physical properties of the hydrogels as well as their biomedical applications for wound dressings and regenerative medicine. 

Students will be expected to actively participate in weekly group meetings, and conduct their work in an environment opened to independent thought and research. The close collaboration of the group with the Institute for Molecules and Materials in the Netherlands, will also provide opportunities for joint research projects.

Suitable for: Students will require a background in materials chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, polymer chemistry and/or a related discipline.

Publication potential: This is a great project and has great potential to be an Honours project. Furthermore, we expect the outcomes together with current studies may yield a paper which can be published in good journals in polymer field.

Availability and Project duration:

  • UQ Winter Research program (6 weeks);
  • AIBN Research Internship (6 - 24 weeks).

Primary supervisor: Dr Jan Lauko (j.lauko@uq.edu.au) or Professor Alan Rowan (alan.rowan@uq.edu.au). Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information and potential research projects.

*R. K. Das, V. Gocheva, R. Hammink, O. F. Zouani and A. E. Rowan, Nat. Mater. 2016, 15, 318; P. H. Kouwer, M. Koepf, V. A. Le Sage, M. Jaspers, A. M. van Buul, Z. H. Eksteen-Akeroyd, T. Woltinge, E. Schwartz, H. J. Kitto, R. Hoogenboom, S. J. Picken, R. J. Nolte, E. Mendes and A. E. Rowan, Nature 2013, 493, 651.


Project title: Stimuli-responsive Nanoworms from Emulsion Polymerization

Positions available: 1

Description: Synthesis of functional responsive polymer nanostructures is increasingly attractive due to their great potential in bioapplications such as in drug delivery and extracellular matrix. Our lab has developed a temperature-directed morphology transformation (TDMT) method to make a variety of thermoresponsive nanostructures via the reaction in water. These nanostructures have shown great potential in stem cell expansion. The aim of this project is to introduce a new type of monomer to our current system which will impart the nanostructures with both temperature and pH response.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: This work will be conducted in Prof. Michael Monteiro’s lab in AIBN and supervised by Prof. Michael Monteiro. This lab has solid fundamental knowledge and extensive experience in organic synthesis, polymer chemistry especially in emulsion polymerization. You will, through this project, gain experience in organic chemistry and emulsion polymerization. This lab also has state-of-art equipment for polymer characterization.

Suitable for: Students will require a background in organic chemistry and or a related discipline.

Publication potential: This is a great project and has great potential to be an Honours project. Furthermore, we expect the outcomes together with current studies may yield a paper which can be published in good journals in polymer field.

Availability and Project duration:

  • UQ Winter Research program (6 weeks);
  • AIBN Research Internship (6 - 12 weeks);
  • UQ BE/ME Industry Placement (12 - 24 weeks).

Primary supervisor: Prof. Michael Monteiro     Further info: z.jia@uq.edu.au


Project title: New Types of Nitroxide Radical Polymers for Electrochemical Applications

Positions available: 1

Description: Radical polymer battery has great potential to power the flexible electronic devices in the future. Currently, precise molecular design is still lacking in this area. This project is aiming to develop a hyperbranched radical polymer to be able to conjugate with molecular carbon materials such as graphene oxide or carbon nanotubes. This design will allow the material have much better electrochemical performance thereby improve the performance of radical polymer battery.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: This work will be conducted in Prof. Michael Monteiro’s lab in AIBN and supervised by Dr Zhongfan Jia. This lab has solid fundamental knowledge and extensive experience in organic synthesis, polymer chemistry. You will, through this project, gain experience in organic chemistry and polymerization techniques. This lab also has state-of-art equipment for polymer characterization.

Suitable for: Students will require a background in organic chemistry or electrochemistry and or a related discipline.

Publication potential: This is a great project and has great potential to be an Honours project. Furthermore, we expect the outcomes together with current studies may yield a paper which can be published in good journals in organic chemistry, polymer chemistry and material fields.

Availability and Project duration:

  • UQ Winter Research program (6 weeks);
  • AIBN Research Internship (6 - 12 weeks);
  • UQ BE/ME Industry Placement (12 - 24 weeks).

Primary supervisor: Dr Zhongfan Jia     Further info: z.jia@uq.edu.au


Project title: New approaches to responsive medical imaging agents

Positions available: Up to 2 positions

Description: The introduction of contrast agents has revolutionized the field of medical diagnosis. In their simplest form contrast agents enhance the signal in an image from a particular tissue type, for example cancerous cell. This has great potential for improved diagnosis and treatment. However in recent years there has been growing interest in the imaging agent providing a signal which is reflective of the local (bio)chemical environment, for example the pH, ionic strength, or the presence of specific cell markers. This allows for more accurate diagnosis and even monitoring of treatment.
In this project we will prepare new polymers which respond to the local environment, i.e. smart imaging agents. Two classes of material will be developed, based on extensive research work done in our group. The project will involve preparation and characterisation of the novel materials and their evaluation in solution and cell models, using cutting edge imaging technologies.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: You will gain experience in synthesis and characterisation of polymers, and in the study of how the polymers behave in biological fluids. You will acquire advanced laboratory skills and learn how to operate sophisticated spectroscopic equipment. You will also learn about materials-cell interactions.

Suitable for: Students will require a background in chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, biotechnology, bioengineering, or a related discipline.

Publication potential: This project contributes to an established area of research in the group with high publication potential for contributors. We expect to publish the work in a leading journal. There is also potential for the work to lead to an Honours project.

Availability and Project duration:

  • UQ Winter Research program (6 weeks);
  • AIBN Research Internship (6 - 12 weeks);
  • UQ BE/ME Industry Placement (12 - 24 weeks).

Primary supervisor: Prof Andrew Whittaker     Further info: E: a.whittaker@uq.edu.au | W: www.uq.edu.au/polymer-chemistry/


Project titleSynthetic biology and metabolic engineering

Positions available: 1

Description: The research group focuses on metabolic engineering in microbes (yeast, E. coli, and cyanobacteria) using synthetic biology to both understand fundamental biological processes and to engineer improved production of isoprenoid natural products with industrial applications. We also exploit systems biology approaches, particularly metabolomics. We have research projects available for internships in the following areas: chromosome engineering in E. coli, isoprenoid production in yeast, and plant hormone production in yeast/cyanobacteria. For further details, see http://www.aibn.uq.edu.au/claudia-vickers and http://researchers.uq.edu.au/researcher/753

Expected outcomes and deliverables: Applicants to expect to gain experience in advanced molecular biology/biochemistry approaches, experimental design, laboratory execution, record keeping, data analysis, and presentation skills. Publication opportunities exist where the intern contributes sufficiently to a research project. Interns will be asked to prepare an oral presentation and brief written report at the conclusion of their project.

Suitable for: Applicants should have a background in molecular biology, biochemistry, microbiology, or a related field. Previous lab experience an advantage but not essential. This project is open to both domestic and international applicants who are in their 3rd or 4th year of study.

Publication Potential: This project has potential for Co-authorship in future publications, continuation in a subsequent internship, continuation as an Honours/Masters/PhD research project.

Availability and Project duration:

  • UQ Winter Research program (6 weeks);
  • AIBN Research Internship (6 - 12 weeks);
  • UQ BE/ME Industry Placement (12 - 24 weeks).

Primary supervisor: Dr Claudia Vickers - c.vickers@uq.edu.au


Project titleDesigning new molecular tests for cancer pathology

Positions available: 1 - 3

Description: Projects are available in Clinical and Cancer Genomics team within Group Trau. The research program is focused on molecular biology and genomics-based diagnostic assays to detect and characterize cancer from a variety of sample types (e.g., tissue, blood), with a specific focus on applications for the early detection of cancer and/or residual disease. Several different projects are available which can accommodate a variety of student backgrounds and interests. Aspects of the project also incorporate advanced bioinformatics analysis and custom software scripting, so student with backgrounds in computer science who are interested in exploring biological questions are encouraged to apply.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: Successful applicants can expect to gain experience with a variety of fundamental molecular biology applications (e.g., PCR, DNA/RNA extraction, qPCR, cell culture, protein analysis, Western blotting), as well be introduced to cutting edge genomics applications and next-generation sequencing technologies. Student will be expected to participate in weekly group lab meetings, and contribute to a lab culture which promotes independent thought and research.

Suitable for: The project is open to students with backgrounds or interests in molecular biology, biochemistry, biotechnology, bioengineering, engineering, computer science, chemistry, or related disciplines. Aspects of the project also incorporate bioinformatics analysis and custom software scripting, so student with backgrounds in computer science and computer engineering who are interested in exploring biological questions are also encouraged to apply.

Publication Potential: Successful research internship students may have the opportunity to leverage their work into an Honours project within Group Trau. As well, this project contributes to an emerging area of research in the group with high publication potential for enthusiastic students.

Availability and Project duration:

  • UQ Winter Research program (6 weeks);
  • AIBN Research Internship (6 - 12 weeks).

Primary supervisor: Dr Darren Korbie (d.korbie@uq.edu.au) or Professor Matt Trau (m.trau@uq.edu.au) for more information and to discuss potential research projects.


Project titleNovel porous 2D carbon membranes as lithium or sodium ion battery anode materials

Positions available: 1

Description: The lithium ion battery is one of the most essential technologies for the development of portable electronics. Graphite is widely used as an anode in commercial lithium ion batteries. However, due to its small capacity research has turned to other layered carbon based materials. Also, it was found that graphite is unsuitable as a sodium ion battery anode. Graphene is a 2D carbon membrane with properties that promise application in many areas including lithium and sodium ion batteries. Graphene provides a multitude of new materials that can be tuned to a specific application by introducing holes or by doping with heteroatoms. This project will investigate the suitability of novel porous graphene type membranes as a lithium or sodium ion battery anode material. We will use density functional theory methods (DFT) to computationally investigate the possible capacity for lithium/sodium uptake of materials. The results of these calculations will provide us with the theoretical specific capacity of the material and its suitability as an anode material.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: You will be required to carry out quantum chemical calculations and to analysis the results. It is expected that you would gain a good understand of computational chemistry methods and lithium/sodium ion battery anode materials

Suitable for: Students with a background in Chemistry, Physics or Chemical Engineering and with interest in computational modelling.

Publication Potential: Co-authorship in future publications, Continuation in a subsequent internship, Continuation as an Honours/Masters/PhD research project.

Availability and Project duration:

  • UQ Winter Research program (6 weeks);
  • AIBN Research Internship (6 - 12 weeks).

Primary supervisor: Dr Marlies Hankel - m.hankel@uq.edu.au


Project titleNanofunctional Surfaces for Control of the Biological Interface

Positions available: 1

Description: Biomaterials support, repair or protect the human body. The surface of the biomaterial interacts with the body’s immune system, or for external devices with pathogens. Control of the surface and how it interacts with the biological system is essential for effectiveness in its intended application. This project aims to develop innovative strategies for surface functionalisation using polymers that can either augment or attenuate the body’s response to the material. The specific focus of the project is the preparation of anti-microbial surfaces. These are novel polymers which are anchored to the substrate, and which either repel or kill surfaces. The project is important as it addresses one of the major sources of hospital-acquired illness.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: You will gain experience in synthesis and characterisation of polymers for antimicrobial surfaces. The candidate will also be involved in evaluation of antimicrobial activity of the surfaces against common pathogens.

Suitable for: Students will require a background in polymer or materials chemistry, biochemistry, biotechnology or a related discipline.

Publication Potential: Potential for co-authored publication in a leading journal. Potential to grow into an Honours project.

Availability and Project duration:

  • UQ Winter Research program (6 weeks);
  • AIBN Research Internship (6 - 12 weeks).

Primary supervisor: Dr Hui Peng - h.peng@uq.edu.au


Project title: Hierarchical assembly of nanoparticles with smart glues

Positions available: 1

Description: Designer materials are a grand challenge for modern materials science. The next generation of materials will be multifunctional and have properties that can be predictively tuned to meet the performance requirements of specific applications, or devices. Such materials may also exhibit novel phenomena, which opens the door for development of novel technologies. To fully realise these goals, however, multicomponent materials are required that have morphological hierarchy from the nanoscale up to the mesoscale. In this project you will develop polymer-based ‘smart glues’ that direct the self-assembly of nanoparticles into controlled morphologies.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: You will gain experience in self assembly and characterisation of nanomaterials. You may also be required to undertake synthesis of polymers.

Suitable for: Students will require a background in chemistry, chemical engineering, or a related discipline.

Publication Potential: This project contributes to a core area of research in the group and applicants that generate results that provide new insight will have a high potential for publication. There is also scope for the project to evolve into an Honours project or research higher degree project.

Availability and Project duration:

  • UQ Winter Research program (4+ weeks);
  • AIBN Research Internship (4+ weeks).

Primary supervisor: Assoc/Prof Idriss Blakey   Further info: Contact Assoc/Prof Idriss Blakey for further information (i.blakey@uq.edu.au).


Project title: Nanostructured optical Sensors

Positions available: 1

Description: Exposure to environmental chemicals is increasingly recognised as an important contributor to human and wildlife diseases. Assessment of contaminant exposure of populations demands the challenging tasks of identifying and quantifying low chemical levels in complex mixtures. Current biomonitoring approaches are, however, constrained by costly and time-consuming methods. In this project you will develop novel hybrid polymeric/ nanoparticle materials that can be used as sensitive and selective chemical sensors.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: You will gain experience in nanoparticle synthesis and assessment of sensor materials. You may also be required to undertake synthesis of polymers.

Suitable for: Students will require a background in chemistry, chemical engineering, or a related discipline.

Publication Potential: This project contributes to a core area of research in the group and applicants that generate results that provide new insight will have a high potential for publication. There is also scope for the project to evolve into an Honours project or research higher degree project.

Availability and Project duration:

  • UQ Winter Research program (4+ weeks);
  • AIBN Research Internship (4+ weeks).

Primary supervisor: Assoc/Prof Idriss Blakey   Further info: Contact Assoc/Prof Idriss Blakey for further information (i.blakey@uq.edu.au).


Project title: Controlling the nanomorphology of block copolymers with external stimuli

Positions available: 1

Description: The properties and performance of heterogeneous materials are strongly dependent on their morphology over length scales of 5 – 100 nm. Block copolymers can self-assemble into a rich diversity of nano-morphologies, which can be manipulated by controlling the chemical composition and sizes of these building blocks. An additional approach to control morphology is to introduce functional groups that respond to external stimuli. This can lead to materials with nano-morphologies that respond to particular environments.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: You will gain experience in synthesis and characterisation of block copolymers.

Suitable for: Students will require a background in chemistry, chemical engineering, or a related discipline.

Publication Potential: This project contributes to a core area of research in the group and applicants that generate results that provide new insight will have a high potential for publication. There is also scope for the project to evolve into an Honours project or research higher degree project.

Availability and Project duration:

  • UQ Winter Research program (4+ weeks);
  • AIBN Research Internship (4+ weeks).

Primary supervisor: Assoc/Prof Idriss Blakey   Further info: Contact Assoc/Prof Idriss Blakey for further information (i.blakey@uq.edu.au).


 Project title: Intracellular delivery by VLPs

Positions available: 1

Description: This project will seek to modify virus-like particles (VLPs) to investigate cell uptake and intercellular fate of bioactive molecules encapsidated within the particles. We have recently developed a system for Polyomavirus coat protein co-expression in Escherichia coli that allows for the assembly of VLPs encapsidating a protein of interest. This project will use this approach to encapsidate fluorescently labelled peptides to assemble fluorescent reporter VLPs. With the precise control over self-assembly that we have, an interesting aspect of this project will be to demonstrate the co-encapsidation of multiple functional molecules that such complex particles may be assembled in vitro. To explore the utility of Polyomavirus VLPs in bio-nanotechnology, the uptake and intracellular distribution of fluorescent VLPs in various cell types will be monitored by confocal microscopy.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: The student will gain experience in protein expression and purification, self-assembly and characterisation of VLPs. We use state-of-the-art techniques to analyse the assembly of VLPs such transmission electron microscopy and various light scattering approaches. The student will also learn bioconjugation and confocal microscopy techniques.

Suitable for: This project is suitable for a student in molecular and/or cell biology with an interest in bioengineering and biotechnology. General knowledge in biochemistry and recombinant protein expression would be helpful.

Publication Potential: This project will support the development of VLP-based delivery vehicles and the student will be a part of an exciting new effort to develop a proof-of-concept application for this approach. Therefore, in support of this application there is great potential for this project to contribute to a publication in a peer reviewed journal. The project is part of an emerging focus of the group and will develop into research higher degree projects.

Availability and Project duration:

  • UQ Winter Research program (6 weeks);
  • AIBN Research Internship (6 weeks).

Primary supervisor: Dr Frank Sainsbury   Further infof.sainsbury@uq.edu.au, Ph: +61 (0)7 3346 3179


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

Positions available: 2

Description: 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.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: This project will enable the student to gain experience in synthesis and characterisation of nanomaterials, chemical conjugation and bio-conjugation techniques, biochemistry, cell culture, animal work, experimental design, data analysis, and presentation skills.

Suitable for: This project would suit students with background/interest in chemistry, nanotechnology, biotechnology, molecular biology, chem/bio engineering, or a related discipline.

Publication potential: This project has potential for co-authorship in future publications, continuation in a subsequent internship, continuation as an Honours/Masters/PhD research project.

Availability and Project duration:

  • UQ Winter Research program (6 weeks);
  • AIBN Research Internship (6-12 weeks).
  • UQ BE/ME Industry Placement (12 - 24 weeks).

Primary supervisor: Dr Hang Ta   Further info: h.ta@uq.edu.au


Project title: Novel nanomaterials for theranostics of diseases such as cardiovascular disease and inflammatory disease

Positions available: 1-2

Description: Cardiovascular disease is the major cause of mortality and morbidity in developed countries. It kills one Australian every 12 minutes. 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.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: This project will enable the student to gain experience in synthesis and characterisation of nanomaterials, chemical conjugation and bio-conjugation techniques, biochemistry, cell culture, animal work, experimental design, data analysis, and presentation skills.

Suitable for: This project would suit students with background/interest in chemistry, nanotechnology, biotechnology, molecular biology, chem/bio engineering, or a related discipline.

Publication potential: This project has potential for co-authorship in future publications, continuation in a subsequent internship, continuation as an Honours/Masters/PhD research project.

Availability and Project duration:

  • UQ Winter Research program (6 weeks);
  • AIBN Research Internship (6-12 weeks).
  • UQ BE/ME Industry Placement (12 - 24 weeks).

Primary supervisor: Dr Hang Ta   Further info: h.ta@uq.edu.au


Project title: Innovative reversible blood clotting agents for emergency treatment of internal bleeding

Positions available: 1

Description: 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.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: This project will enable the student to gain experience in synthesis and characterisation of nanomaterials, chemical conjugation and bio-conjugation techniques, biochemistry, cell culture, animal work, experimental design, data analysis, and presentation skills.

Suitable for: This project would suit students with background/interest in chemistry, nanotechnology, biotechnology, molecular biology, chem/bio engineering, or a related discipline.

Publication potential: This project has potential for co-authorship in future publications, continuation in a subsequent internship, continuation as an Honours/Masters/PhD research project.

Availability and Project duration:

  • UQ Winter Research program (6 weeks);
  • AIBN Research Internship (6-12 weeks).
  • UQ BE/ME Industry Placement (12 - 24 weeks).

Primary supervisor: Dr Hang Ta   Further info: h.ta@uq.edu.au


Project title: Flexible printed circuit board for biopotential signal acquisition through the human skin

Positions available: 1

Description: We are working on a minimally invasive, flexible electrode system for acquiring useful biopotentials, such as ECG signals through the human skin. The main challenge in recording through the skin is that the outermost skin layer is made up of dry keratinocytes that are not conductive and present high electrical impedance (typically in mega Ohms). We have fabricated a device that senses signals by bypassing the dry layer and accessing the more hydrated epidermis and dermis. To make our device suitable for long term recording on the skin, we are now exploring ways to integrate the sensing circuits into the device.

This project will involve fabrication of electrical circuits on a flexible substrate using methods such as 3D printing or chemical etching, experimentation in excised animal skin and data acquisition.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: The student will be involved in the process of circuit printing on flexible substrates, signal acquisition and processing using programming language such as LabView and MATLAB, as well as experimentation with biological tissues. The student will be expected to produce a report on their findings and to give presentations to the research group as well as the institute at the conclusion of the project.

Suitable for: We are looking for a student who meets the following criteria:

  • Background in biomedical, electrical or electronic engineering
  • Ideally in their penultimate years of study
  • Some experience in programming (LabVIEW and MATLAB or similar) and circuit design
  • A keen interest in research and ability to work independently

Project duration: 10-12 weeks.

Primary supervisor: Dr Michael Crichton michael.crichton@uq.edu.au (Principal supervisor) and Nick Hong Seng Lee nickhongseng.lee@uq.edu.au (Day to day supervisor).

Further information: More details on the group can be found at http://www.aibn.uq.edu.au/kendall-group-media-releases


Project title: Engineered Photosensitizer Loaded Disulfide-bridged Porous Silica Nanosystem for Enhanced Photodynamic Therapy

Positions available: 1

Description: Photodynamic therapy (PDT) utilizes photosensitizers (PSs) and harmless visible light in combination with oxygen to produce cytotoxic reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as singlet oxygen (1O2), which oxidize tissue biomolecules and kill cancer cells. However, a high concentration of glutathione (GSH) existing in cancer cells can consume ROS, impeding PDT efficiency. This project aims to address this issue by engineering disulfide-bridged porous silica nanoparticles to deliver PSs for highly proved PDT efficiency. In our approach, novel disulfide-bridged porous silica nanoparticles will be synthesized to load a hydrophobic PS of chlorin e6 (Ce6) and efficiently deliver it into skin cancer cells (B16F0). Once endocytosed, the high content of disulfide bond in silica nanoparticles will be reduced by intracellular GSH in B16F0. As a result, silica nanoparticles will be degraded, releasing Ce6 and decreasing intracellular GSH level of skin cancer cells. Finally, the PDT efficiency for skin cancer treatment will be significantly improved upon light irradiation.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: The applicant can expect to gain skills in synthesis and characterisation of functional porous nanomaterials as well as cell culture. Through this project, the applicant may also gain professional skills in data collection and analysis. The applicant has a high opportunity to generate good publications from this proposed project.

Suitable for: This project is open to applications from students with a background in biochemistry, material science or a related discipline.

Project duration: 12 weeks.

Primary supervisor: Prof Chengzhong (Michael) Yu c.yu@uq.edu.au.  Further information: To discuss details please contact Professor Chengzhong (Michael) Yu (+61 7 3346 3283, c.yu@uq.edu.au). About Professor Yu: http://www.aibn.uq.edu.au/michael-yu

Project title: Multi-shelled porous hollow carbon spheres for high-performance supercapacitors

Positions available: 1

Description: Energy storage system, such as supercapacitors, has attracted great research interest due to the increasing demand for clean and renewable energy sources in modern society. Currently, one major challenge for the development of high-performance supercapacitors is to increase the relatively low energy density. One promising solution is choosing an electrolyte with a large voltage window since the energy density of supercapacitors is proportional to the square of the operating voltage. In this context, ionic liquids (ILs), offering a voltage window up to 4 V, have been widely considered. Nevertheless, the low ion conductivity, high viscosity and large ion sizes of ILs significantly increase the ion transport resistance, resulting in unsatisfactory performance especially when charged/discharged under high current densities.
In this project, multi-shelled porous hollow carbon spheres will be designed via our established method – sequential heterogeneous nucleation pathway, and applied as electrode materials for IL-based supercapacitors. The multi-shelled structures will increase the surface area, providing more active site for adsorption of ions during charging/discharging process. The large pores on the shells may act as pathways and are beneficial for the diffusion and transport of electrolytes. Moreover, the carbon framework will increase the conductivity of electrodes, which will lead to improved rate performance. It is expected that excellent electrochemical performance will be achieved by using the unique multi-shelled porous hollow carbon spheres as electrode materials for ILs-based supercapacitors.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: Scholars may gain skills in nanomaterial synthesis, characterisation, electrochemical measurements, and data collection and analysis. They also have an opportunity to generate publications from their research. Students may also be asked to produce a report or oral presentation at the end of their project.

Suitable for: This project is open to applications from students with a background in chemistry, 3-4 year students, UQ enrolled students only.

Project duration: 12 weeks.

Primary supervisor: Prof Chengzhong (Michael) Yu c.yu@uq.edu.au.  Further information: To discuss details please contact Professor Chengzhong (Michael) Yu (+61 7 3346 3283, c.yu@uq.edu.au). About Professor Yu: http://www.aibn.uq.edu.au/michael-yu

Project title: Deciphering the role of atypical DNA methylation in neuronal maturation

Positions available: 1

Description: DNA methylation (mC) is a covalent modification in post-mitotic cells that has been implicated in neural plasticity. Although methylation of DNA in the context of CG (on the cytosine of CpG dinucleotides) is a well-established, epigenetic mechanism regulating gene expression, DNA methylation can also occur in the CH context, where H=A, T or C. Post-natal accumulation of mCH has been found to occur in the brain of both mice and humans, where it is enriched in neurons, suggesting a role in neuronal maturation. This project will investigate the role of mCH in gene expression during the maturation of neurons derived from mouse embryonic stem cells.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: Depending on the outcome, the project has potential to transition to an Honours project.

Suitable for: Students will require a background in biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, and/or biotechnology.

Project duration: 6-12 weeks.

Primary supervisor: Prof Ernst Wolvetang, Dr Sally Martin.  Further informations.martin@uq.edu.au or e.wolvetang@uq.edu.au.

Project title: Nanomaterial design for rechargeable battery application

Positions available: 1

Description: Energy storage system plays a significant role in securing our sustainable energy future, while how to develop low cost and high efficient energy storage system remains a key challenge. Rechargeable batteries such as lithium ion batteries and sodium ion batteries are promising energy storage systems to address this challenge. In this program, the applicants are required to work on the design and development of innovative semiconductor nanomaterials as high capacity battery electrode materials, which are expected to improve the capacity and cycling performance of batteries.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: The applicants will gain skills in nanomaterial synthesis, battery assembly and testing, data collection and interpretation, and have an opportunity to generate publications from their research. The students will also be asked to deliver an oral presentation at the end of their project.

Suitable for: This project is open to applications from students with a background in chemical engineering and other engineering related disciplines, 2-4 year students, UQ enrolled students only.

Project duration: 10 weeks.

Primary supervisor: Professor Lianzhou Wang, Dr. Bin Luo.  Further informationl.wang@uq.edu.au.

Project title: Mutation correction and introduction in ATAXIA TELANGIECTASIA (A-T) iPSC using CRISPR-Cas9 assisted genome editing

Positions available: 1

Description: A-T is due to mutations in the ATM kinase, a protein involved in repair of DNA double strand breaks. Patients with A-T develop cancer as well as degeneration of the cerebellum, which is a poorly understood pathology because animal models of A-T do not show ataxia. To investigate the hind brain pathogenesis of A-T we have generated A-T iPSC and now wish to correct the mutations in ATM using CRISPR-Cas9 assisted homologous recombination in IPSC and introduce ATM mutations in control iPSc lines using the same strategy. This will be critical for proper comparison of gene expression profiles and provide unprecedented insight into the disease mechanisms underlying A-T.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: Skills in iPSC culture, genome editing, immunofluorescence, FACS, westernblotting and plasmid construction, cloning, q-PCR and sequencing will be gained in this project. Expected outcomes include genome edited lines that will form the basis of future research projects and papers.

Suitable for: Year 3-4 students with molecular biology and cell biology skills.

Project duration: 8 weeks.

Primary supervisor: Professor Ernst Wolvetang.  Further informatione.wolvetang@uq.edu.au.
 

Project title: Developing computational models of early neurogenesis using human stem cell models and bioinformatics approaches.

Positions available: 1

Description: The development of a healthy human brain starts with the correct transitioning of early stem cells to become functional neurons. Stem cells are shunted towards a specific cell fates via signals that are controlled by transcriptional regulatory networks. These networks are complex entities that require the integration of statistical methods, computational modelling and experimental approaches that we are only just beginning to understand. The goal of this project is to develop regulatory network models for human stem cells undergoing differentiation into early-stage neurons. Data currently exists to derive network models for cells isolated from two populations, a control (wild-type) group and a Down syndrome patient group. The project aims to identify how these network models differ in the presence of disease. By using cells from Down syndrome donors, not only do we have the opportunity to gain insight into the genetic determinants of neuronal symptoms of this disorder, but the results of the study will also have relevance for Alzheimer’s disease, and aging.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: Interns will gain hands-on skills in bioinformatics and computational biology approaches. They will learn how to work with genomic and transcriptomic data, interact with genome browsers, and learn how to collect information related to disease, function and other attributes for the human genome. The research output of the intern’s project is expected to be incorporated into a publication from which they can expect to be listed as a co-author. Depending on the productivity of the internship period, the intern may have the opportunity to contribute to more than one research publication.

Suitable for: This project is open to students with a keen interest in computational biology research, and those who are especially curious about human genetics, disease and genomics. A background in quantitative skills is preferable, e.g. statistics, probability, or mathematics. Programming skills are helpful, e.g. R, python, Matlab, but by no means a prerequisite.

Project duration: 8-12 weeks.

Primary supervisor: Associate Professor Jessica Mar.  Further information: j.mar@uq.edu.au.

Project title: Finding new cancer genes by integrating transcriptomic and proteomic signatures.

Positions available: 1

Description: Despite advances in therapeutic options, cancer remains a leading cause of death worldwide. Genome sequencing projects have demonstrated that cancers have dynamic, variable and robust genomes where DNA mutations allow tumor cells to proliferate wildly, develop resistance to therapies, and metastasize to other parts of the body. In an effort to understand how tumors acquire these detrimental superpowers, this project applies bioinformatics approaches to mine existing data sets collected from large cancer patient cohorts. Our lab has developed novel approaches to analyse these data sets that make use of measures of inter-patient heterogeneity. An opportunity exists to apply these methods in the context of patient transcriptomes and proteomes, and the aim of the project is to identify new genes that are involved in cancer.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: The intern will learn practical skills in bioinformatics, computational biology and big data analysis. Skills in R programming, statistics and big data analysis will be acquired. It is expected that the research output of the intern will be included in a publication and that the intern will be listed as a co-author. Depending on the productivity of the internship, the intern has the opportunity to develop research that has wider impact on several related projects, or alternatively produce research that will lead to their own publication.

Suitable for: This project is open to students with an interest in learning about bioinformatics and computational biology research. Some quantitative training is preferable, e.g. mathematics, statistics or probability. Programming skills are helpful but by no means a prerequisite.

Project duration: 8-12 weeks.

Primary supervisor: Associate Professor Jessica Mar.  Further information: j.mar@uq.edu.au

Project title: Synthesis CaBP nanoparticles and test on cancer cells

Positions available: 1

Description: To synthesize new nanoparticles and test on cancer cell lines using bisphosphonates and calcium as precursors.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: You will gain experience in synthesis and characterisation of nanoparticles and drug delivery. You will gain experience in cancer biology and cancer therapy. This project contributes to an emerging area of research in the group with high publication potential for contributors.

Suitable for: Students will require a background in biochemistry, molecular biology, biotechnology, nanotechnology or a related discipline.

Project duration: 6 weeks.

Primary supervisor: Dr. Wenyi Gu and A/Prof. Gordon Xu.  Further information: w.gu@uq.edu.au or gordonxu@uq.edu.au
  

Project title: Development of 3D multicellular tumor models for therapeutic testing

Positions available: 1

Description: Comparing to conventional 2D cell culture models, 3D multicellular tumor models have attracted significant interest in recent years for evaluating anticancer drugs and treatments. Currently, there are a number of methods available for making 3D tumor structures, including magnetic levitation, hanging drop, pellet cultures and rotating wall vessel etc. However, how to build a reliable 3D tumor model which can mimic the in vivo tumor structure and microenvironment remains a significant challenge. This project will develop 3D tumor models using traditional plate and microfluidic methods, and exploring their applications in therapeutic testing.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: You will gain experience in making and characterising 2D and 3D cellular models, and designing and fabricating microfluidic devices. You will acquire laboratory skills and learn how to analyse and interpret these results.

Suitable for: The students will require a background in biochemistry, molecular biology, biotechnology, bioengineering, or a related discipline.

Project duration: 6-10 weeks.

Primary supervisor: Dr Chun-Xia Zhao.  Further informationz.chunxia@uq.edu.au
 

Project title: Tumor-on-a-chip for testing nanomedicines

Positions available: 1

Description: Nanomaterials for cancer treatment have attracted considerable research interest, but optimising their properties and therapeutic efficacy remains challenging due to a lack of reliable and efficient testing systems. Traditional 2D cell culture systems are simple and convenient, but lack of the complexity of biological systems. Animal models are valuable platforms, but they are expensive and time-consuming. This project aims to use the tumor-on-a-chip developed in my lab to test different formulations of nanoparticle-based delivery systems.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: You will gain experience in making and operating tumor-on-a-chip, as well characterization techniques like Dynamic light scattering, flow cytometry, etc. You will acquire laboratory skills and learn how to analyse and interpret these results.

Suitable for: The students will require a background in molecular biology, bioengineering, pharmacology, or a related discipline.

Project duration: 6-10 weeks.

Primary supervisor: Dr Chun-Xia Zhao.  Further informationz.chunxia@uq.edu.au 
 

Project title: Biological gas to liquid

Positions available: 1

Description: Gas fermentation enables reduction of “new carbon” while continuing to meet growing global energy demand. Gas fermentation enables re-capturing and recycling waste carbon, hence mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, while meeting transportation needs. Gas fermentation can contribute to Queensland bio-economy. For example, industrial biotechnology in Queensland is limited to three relatively small-scale biofuels refineries that produce ethanol and biodiesel for domestic purposes using conventional 'first generation' production techniques. However, a ‘second generation’ ethanol alternative which avoids competition with food production and captures carbon is needed.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: Scholars will gain skills in fermentation, and be part of an ARC linkage project with Lanzatech.

Suitable for: Students with a background in Bioengineering and chemical engineering, only 3-4 year students. UQ enrolled students only.

Publication potential: Continuation as an Honours/Masters/PhD research project.

Project duration: 6 weeks.

Primary supervisor: Dr Esteban Marcellin and Dr Kaspar Valgepea.  Further informatione.marcellin@uq.edu.au 
 

Project title: Improving tetanus vaccine production

Positions available: 1

Description: Bacteria produce some of the most potent molecules known, of which many cause serious diseases such as tetanus. For prevention, billions of people and countless animals are immunised with the highly effective vaccine, industrially produced by large-scale fermentation. However, tetanus toxin production - precursor of the toxoid vaccine - is often hampered by low yields and batch-to-batch variability. Improved productivity has been constrained by a lack of understanding of the molecular mechanisms controlling toxin production. Detailed molecular maps of fermentation have been generated in our lab using a multi-omics approach. These fermentation maps will be used to design a new generation of superior fermentation processes.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: Scholars will gain skills in fermentation, and be part of an ARC linkage project with Zoetis.

Suitable for: Students with a background in Bioengineering and chemical engineering, only 3-4 year students. Suitable for students planning to undertake a PhD in the future.

Publication potential: Continuation as an Honours/Masters/PhD research project.

Project duration: 8 weeks.

Primary supervisor: Dr Esteban Marcellin and Dr Camila Orellana. Further informatione.marcellin@uq.edu.au 
 

 

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