QBI offers summer and winter research programs for undergraduate, honours, and post-graduate coursework students enrolled at UQ.

Summer Research Program 2018/19 

UQ’s Summer Research Program provides an excellent opportunity for interested students to work with a researcher in a formal research environment to experience the research process and discover what research is being undertaken in their field of interest.

Students interested in pursuing a research career in neuroscience are encouraged to apply for the UQ Summer Research Program offered at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI). QBI is looking for exceptional and highly motivated students to spend up to 10 weeks contributing to research projects currently underway in our laboratories while earning $360 per week.  The program will begin on Monday 19 November 2018 and run through until Friday 01 February 2019 with a holiday break from 25 December 2018 to 01 January 2019.

Applications for the 2018-2019 Summer Program have now closed

Benefits

Summer research at UQ provides a range of benefits, including:

  • Experience to ‘test-drive’ research before embarking on future research studies (eg. Honours) or higher degree research projects (eg. master’s, MPhil or PhD);
  • An opportunity to develop new academic and professional skills to enhance employability;
  • Access to research networks and the opportunity to build connections with staff and postgraduate students;
  • Supervision by world-class UQ researchers;
  • Access to world-class facilities and experiences;
  • The possibility of obtaining credit towards your degree or the UQ Employability Award; and
  • A scholarship for qualifying students to receive an allowance of AUD$360 per week, paid jointly by QBI and the UQ Student Employability Centre (UQSEC).

Eligibility

To be eligible for the UQ Summer Research Program at QBI, students must:

  • Be currently enrolled in an undergraduate or honours or master’s by coursework degree at UQ at the time of application;
  • Be studying for a degree relevant to the research discipline;
  • Have a high level of academic achievement during their degree studies;
  • Have the potential to and an interest in undertaking postgraduate study (Master’s, MPhil or PhD); and
  • Undertake the research program at QBI, located on the UQ St Lucia campus.

Students may be eligible to participate in the program and receive a scholarship more than once at the discretion of QBI. However, if the number of applicants exceeds available places and funding, preference will be given to first-time applicants.

Selection

Applications for QBI will be assessed by the Institute and placements will be awarded on a competitive basis, taking into account:

  • The availability of projects and supervisors;
  • The academic merit of the applicant;
  • Reasons provided for wanting to participate in the program;
  • Skills and attributes of applicants to meet project requirements; and
  • Available funding.

Scholarship Support

All applicants will be automatically considered for a Summer Research Scholarship and those who qualify will receive funding of AUD$360 per week, paid jointly by QBI and the UQ Student Employability Centre. The scholarship funding is not paid during periods away from the University such as during the Christmas break when the University is closed (from 25 December 2018 to 1 January 2019). This stipend will be paid in two lump sums during the program (unless the scholarship is taxable and paid fortnightly), based on weekly participation; no part-week payments will be made. Scholars must participate in the program for a minimum of 6 weeks to be eligible to receive a stipend.  No scholars are permitted to participate in the program in a voluntary capacity.  If a student withdraws from the program, their scholarship will need to be returned for the full weeks unworked.  More information about scholarships is available in the UQ Summer Research Program Guidelines for Scholars and Conditions of Participation documents via the UQSEC website.

What will be my time commitment and obligations?

Scholars are expected to actively participate in an ongoing research project or to undertake a substantial piece of supervised research work. Where appropriate to the project, additional discipline-/project-specific obligations may also be required, such as training in research safety and ethics.

The period of eligibility for scholarship payments is from 6 weeks up to 10 full weeks, commencing 19 November 2018 through to 01 February 2019.  The research period is normally offered in two parts to allow for the Christmas holiday when the University is closed.

Summer research project work should not conflict with teaching weeks and should not commence prior to completing assessment or semester exam requirements.

At QBI, it is expected that scholars will work on a full-time basis (up to 36 hours per week) during the program.

Participating students at QBI will be requested to prepare and provide a short oral presentation towards the end of the program about their project work and summer research experience at the Institute.

How to apply

Step 1 - Peruse the research projects listed below and choose a project from the list of available projects.  Please note that students can submit only one application, but can specify a second QBI project preference option on the Application Form, if desired.

Step 2 – Check your eligibility:  carefully read through all of the UQ Summer Research Program information, including Guidelines for Scholars document, and Conditions of Participation contained at the UQ Student Employability Centre’s website: employability.uq.edu.au/summer-research

Step 3 – Email the relevant project contact person before applying to express your interest in the project and provide your available start and end dates, and ascertain if they will support your application (attach your detailed academic CV and academic transcripts to your email).  Important Note:  scholars accepted for the program at QBI are strongly encouraged to commence on Monday 19 November 2018 to participate in the compulsory UQ Student Employability Centre’s Summer Research Welcome event and QBI’s compulsory student induction activities and requirements organised for that day including OHS training.

Step 4 – Submit an online application via the StudentHub and upload supporting documentation (CV, academic transcripts, supporting statement from a QBI supervisor) by Friday 31 August 2018.  Reminder:  applicants can submit only one application, but can specify a second QBI project preference option on the Application Form, if desired.  Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

All applicants will be notified if they will be invited to participate in the Program by Friday 05 October 2018.

If you have any questions regarding the 2018 UQ Summer Research Program at QBI, please contact Ms Janet Voight, Senior Administration Officer, Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane Queensland, 4072 Australia, Email: collaborators@qbi.uq.edu.au Phone: +61 7 3346 6364.

Available projects

Project title:

Investigating neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease

Project duration:

10 weeks, full-time

Description:

This is a unique opportunity for a talented individual to join the Neurula Lab (http://www.neurula.org) to investigate the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying human aging and age-related neurodegeneration. You will develop projects exploring novel immune-based targets for Alzheimer’s disease. Our laboratory has long-standing interests to address the molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration using cross-species laboratory models, including human iPCSs, transgenic mouse models and human samples. Candidates must display an ability to learn, execute and analyse a research project and should have exceptional organizational and verbal and written communication skills. Preference will be given to self-motivated and career oriented individuals, with a commitment to solving biological problems.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The applicants can expect to gain laboratory experience and actively participate in histology, microscopy, molecular biology and analytical techniques as part of an ongoing research project in the laboratory. Students will present their results in lab meetings and will produce a final report, which may contribute towards research publications.

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from students with an interest in neuroscience and immunology.

Primary Supervisor:

Dr Rodrigo Medeiros (https://qbi.uq.edu.au/medeirosgroup; https://www.neurula.org/careers.html)

Further Information:

Students are requested to contact Dr Rodrigo Medeiros (r.medeiros@uq.edu.au) for any enquiries, or to discuss the project prior to submitting an application. All communication should include details of your research interests, CV, and your academic transcripts.

 

Project title:

Function of genes and molecules in agenesis of the corpus callosum and brain developmental disorders

Project duration:

10 weeks, full-time

Description:

Identifying a causal genetic mutation in a person requires functional studies to determine if the mutation causes a change in the function of the gene. This work requires in-depth analysis in animal models to examine gene function in cellular proliferation, differentiation, migration and cortical wiring. We are interested to understand the basic mechanisms regulating these developmental events and how they are altered in human brain disorders including macrocephaly, agenesis of the corpus callosum, ventriculomegaly and cortical malformations. This work has a significant translational impact on understanding the causes of brain developmental disorders.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The applicants can expect to gain laboratory experience and actively participate in histology, microscopy and analytical techniques as part of an ongoing research project in the laboratory. Depending on the enthusiasm and commitment of the applicant, this project offers a great opportunity to be trained in advanced concepts of comparative neuroanatomy, brain development and evolution.

Suitable for:

This project is suitable for year 3-4 students with a background in science and who are looking for an Honours or PhD project.

Primary Supervisor:

Dr Jens Bunt Research Fellow, Professor Linda Richards lab group

Further Information:

Prior to submitting an application or for further information, please contact Dr Jens Bunt (j.bunt@uq.edu.au).  All communication should be accompanied by your CV and academic transcripts.

 

Project title:

Principles of neural development applied to understanding brain cancer

Project duration:

10 weeks, full-time

Description:

Brain cancer is a significant health problem in Australia. One of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer is glioblastoma (GBM) and the prognosis for these patients is extremely poor. What is needed is a deeper understanding of the cause of brain cancer. We are approaching this challenge by utilising the principles of neural development to understand how tumours first arise in the brain and how they are able to continue to grow and metastasize in order to find the causes and treatments for adult and pediatric brain cancers that originate from glia. Nuclear factor one (NFI) genes have been implicated in brain cancer and in glial development. We have generated a number of animal models of Nfi gene mis-expression to determine the function of NFI genes in brain cancer. This work will have a significant impact on our understanding of the cause and progression of brain cancer.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The applicants can expect to gain laboratory experience and actively participate in histology, microscopy and analytical techniques as part of an ongoing research project in the laboratory. Depending on the enthusiasm and commitment of the applicant, this project offers a great opportunity to be trained in advanced concepts of comparative neuroanatomy, brain development and evolution.

Suitable for:

This project is suitable for year 3-4 students with a background in science and who are looking for an Honours or PhD project.

Primary Supervisor:

Dr Jens Bunt Research Fellow, Professor Linda Richards lab group

Further Information:

Prior to submitting an application or for further information, please contact Dr Jens Bunt (j.bunt@uq.edu.au).  All communication should be accompanied by your CV and academic transcripts.

 

Project title:

Studying mechanisms and treatments for motor neuron disease and frontotemporal dementia

Project duration:

6-10 weeks, by arrangement between student and lab

Description:

Neurodegenerative diseases such as motor neuron disease (MND) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) are inevitably fatal and have no effective therapeutics. MND primarily affects the spinal cord and causes paralysis, whereas FTD primarily affects the brain and causes progressive and debilitating changes to behaviour, language and personality. Despite these many differences in disease symptoms, most patients with MND and FTD develop the same characteristic pathology in neurons involving a DNA/RNA-binding protein known as TDP-43. Our lab aims to understand how TDP-43 protein dysfunction causes neurodegeneration. We use various biochemical and imaging techniques to study neuronal cell cultures, genetically modified mice, and human samples. We have recently identified several proteins that are altered in the brains and/or spinal cords of genetically modified TDP-43 mice during disease. These proteins may be involved in causing or protecting against neurodegeneration in MND and FTD. The aim of this project is to define how these potential new therapeutic targets contribute to neurodegeneration, to guide future drug development.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The student involved in this project will be trained in a range of techniques including neuronal cell culture and transfections, mouse brain and spinal cord dissection and processing, immunoblotting, immunofluorescent staining and fluorescence microscopy.Students will present their results in lab meetings and will produce a final report, which may contribute towards research publications.

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from students with an interest in neuroscience and cell biology.

Primary Supervisor:

Dr Adam Walker (https://qbi.uq.edu.au/walkergrouphttp://www.walkerneurolab.org/)

Further Information:

Students are requested to contact Dr Adam Walker (adam.walker@uq.edu.au) or Dr Rebecca San Gil (r.sangil@uq.edu.au) for any enquiries, or to discuss the project prior to submitting an application.  All communication should include details of your research interests, CV, and your academic transcripts.

 

Project title:

Tracking developmental changes in the brain through adolescence

Project duration:

6-10 weeks

Description:

Adolescence is a time of rapid change in the brain, but few studies have detailed changes in brain development during this sensitive period. Using brain imaging (MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging), we are studying developmental brain changes that occur from late childhood into the teenage years in 400 twins, and how changes in the brain relate to differences in cognitive and emotional functioning. This will substantially increase our understanding of the adolescent brain. It will also provide leads into how neurodevelopmental processes can go wrong during this period and contribute to mental health problems e.g. anxiety and depression, and help us understand why adolescence is not an equally vulnerable period for all individuals. For the Summer project, students will have the opportunity to assist with image processing.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Scholars may broaden their skills in image processing. At the end of the project, students will be asked to give a short oral presentation of the work undertaken and achievements.

Suitable for:

This project is suitable for Psychology/Biology/Engineering students interested in the human brain. Programming skills (e.g. Matlab, R) and/or some experience in image processing (e.g. Freesurfer, FSL, SPM) would be an advantage.

Primary Supervisor:

Associate Professor Margie Wright, Wright lab group, QBI

Further Information:

For more information or to discuss suitability, please contact Dr Narelle Hansell (n.hansell@uq.edu.au).  All communication should be accompanied by your CV and academic transcripts.

 

Project title:

Investigating sensory stimulation vs. attention in individual subjects using 7T fMRI

Project duration:

6-10 weeks

Description:

The overarching theme of this project is to use ultra-high field (7T) fMRI to study how sensory-driven processes and attentional modulation interact across multiple cortical areas as well as across the cortical layers within a given area. Specifically, we will investigate how changing the relative strength of bottom-up (sensory stimulation) vs. top-down (attentional modulation) inputs influence activity across cortical depth and across cortical areas in an otherwise identical experimental design.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The scholar will gain skills in signal processing, data analysis, and science communication. The student will be asked to give an oral presentation at the end of their project, and the project has been designed to provide the opportunity to contribute to a publication – either an original research article or technical report, depending on the degree of progress made.

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from UQ students with a background in engineering or neuroscience, preferably year 3-4 students.

Primary Supervisor:

Dr Alexander M. Puckett, Cunnington lab group, QBI

Further Information:

For more information or to discuss suitability, please contact Dr Alexander Puckett a.puckett@uq.edu.au  All communication should be accompanied by your CV and academic transcripts.

 

Project title:

Computational neuroscience: decoding neural activity

Project duration:

8-10 weeks

Description:

We aim to understand the computational principles by which stimuli in the world are represented by patterns of neural activity, and how these representations emerge during development. To do this we are recording the activity of hundreds to thousands of neurons simultaneously, at single-cell resolution, in the brain of the larval zebrafish. These data require the development of sophisticated mathematical/computational tools.  You will join an interdisciplinary team working on these problems.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

You will be exposed to an interdisciplinary environment ranging from experimental neuroscience to mathematical analysis. The main deliverables will be Matlab code implementing particular algorithms for analysing our data.

Suitable for:

A strong background in mathematics and computer programming is required. Previous knowledge of biology is optional.

Primary Supervisor:

Prof Geoffrey Goodhill

Further Information:

Please  contact Prof Goodhill at g.goodhill@uq.edu.au prior to submitting an application. Further background information can be obtained here (pdf).

 

Project title:

Imaging neural activity and behaviour

Project duration:

8-10 weeks

Description:

We aim to understand the basic principles by which stimuli in the world are represented by patterns of neural activity, and how these representations emerge during development. To do this we are recording the activity of hundreds to thousands of neurons simultaneously, at single-cell resolution, in the brain of the larval zebrafish, and attempting to correlate these measurements with the behaviour of the larvae in pre-capture assays. You will join an interdisciplinary team working on these problems.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

You will assist with the experimental aspects of this this project, and be exposed to an interdisciplinary environment ranging from experimental neuroscience to mathematical analysis.

Suitable for:

Students with a strong background in neuroscience.

Primary Supervisor:

Prof Geoffrey Goodhill

Further Information:

Please  contact Prof Goodhill at g.goodhill@uq.edu.au prior to submitting an application. Further background information can be obtained here (pdf).

 

Project title:

Epigenetic signalling of mitochondrial genome damage

Project duration:

6-10 weeks

Description:

Mitochondria are a remarkable hub of metabolic activity that house their own DNA, RNA, and protein synthesising systems. The mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) is a small (~16.5-kilobases in humans), circular, double-stranded DNA molecule, which is also extremely gene dense and almost completely lacking in intergenic and intragenic material. Mutations in this genome cause a range of severe disorders and have been linked to age-onset disease such as cancer and neurodegeneration. In this project, we aim to reveal novel epigenetic signalling pathways involving small non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), specifically microRNAs (miRNAs), that are activated in response to mtDNA damage. We hypothesise that these miRNAs relay the status of the mitochondrial genome to the nucleus and orchestrate changes in gene expression that dynamically adapt and protect the cell. We will also aim to address the intriguing possibility that activated miRNAs are involved in communicating the health status of the mitochondrial genome across cells and tissues. To achieve these aims, we will use the genetically tractable C. elegans system in which we have established transgenic cell-specific approaches for damaging mtDNA and purifying miRNAs.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

In this project, you will learn molecular biology, cloning, cell biology, transgenic work, and C. elegans techniques. You will also learn how to present your work during meetings and how a lab runs.

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from students with a background in genetics and molecular biology enrolled at UQ. We encourage students with ambitions to undertake a PhD in the future.

Primary Supervisor:

Dr Steven Zuryn

Further Information:

For further information about the lab, please visit www.zurynlab.com

You can contact Dr Zuryn at s.zuryn@uq.edu.au if you have any enquiries about the project. Prospective students are encouraged to contact Dr Zuryn before applying.  All communication should be accompanied by your CV and academic transcripts.

 

Project title:

Butyrylcholinesterase gene transfer effects on anxiety-like behaviour in mice

Project duration:

10 weeks

Description:

Our recent mouse studies show that ghrelin hydrolysis by butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), an enzyme that hydrolyses acetylcholine and ghrelin, lowers aggression and bolsters physiologic resilience. We hypothesize that BChE gene therapy also affects anxiety-like and depression-like behaviours in mice. To evaluate this concept, we will expose male C57BL6 mice to stress hormones with and without BChE gene transfer. Animals will then undergo behavioural tests to assess the effects on anxiety-like behaviour and stress coping. These tests will include an elevated plus-maze, open field test and forced swim test. We predict that animals with elevated levels of BChE activity in the brain will show reduced anxiety- and depression-like behaviours in the elevated zero maze and forced swim tests. Immunohistochemistry will be performed post-mortem to quantify ghrelin and cholinergic receptor expression.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Scholars may gain skills in behavioural testing, immunohistochemistry, and data analysis. They may also have an opportunity to generate publications from their research and present an oral presentation at the end of their project.

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from 3rd and 4th year students with a background in biotechnology and neuroscience.

Primary Supervisor:

Dr Susannah Tye

Further Information:

For further information about the Tye lab group, please visit https://qbi.uq.edu.au/tyegroup

You can contact Dr Tye at s.tye@uq.edu.au if you have any enquiries about the project.

 

QBI’s Winter Research Program 2018

Learn new laboratory techniques in a world-class research environment.

Students fascinated and motivated by the potential of a research career in neuroscience are encouraged to apply for the Winter Research Program offered at the Queensland Brain Institute.

Applications for 2018 have now closed

Information about the 2019 program will be advertised when available in early 2019.

 

Contact

Ms Janet Voight 
Senior Administration Officer

   +61 7 334 66364

  collaborators@qbi.uq.edu.au

 

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