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

Summer Research Program 2019-2020

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 ten (10) weeks contributing to research projects currently underway in our laboratories while earning AUD$360 per week.  The Program will commence on Monday 25 November 2019 and run through until Friday 07 February 2020 with a holiday break from 25 December 2019 to 01 January 2020.

Applications

Applications for the 2019-2020 Program are 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 (UQ SEC).

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;
  • Remain an enrolled full-time student at UQ for the entirety of the Summer Program (ie. continuing study in the same degree in Semester 1, 2020 and not completing/graduating in December 2019);
  • 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:

  • Student eligibility;
  • The availability of projects and supervisors;
  • The academic merit of the applicant;
  • Reasons provided for wanting to participate in the Program;
  • The quality of the project;
  • 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 to assist with living costs (food, accommodation, incidentals) 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 officially closed (from 25 December 2019 to 01 January 2020). This stipend will be paid in two lump sums during the Program 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 the Program and scholarships is available in the UQ Summer Research Program Guidelines for Scholars and Conditions of Participation documents via the UQ SEC 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 for the Program is from 6 weeks up to 10 full weeks between the time period of 25 November 2019 to 14 February 2020.  The research period is normally offered in two parts to allow for the Christmas/New Year holidays when the University is officially 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:

  1. complete a Student Intellectual Property and Confidentiality Deed for their research project; and
  2. 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 (note that new projects may be added for display up until Friday 23 August 2019).  Please note that students can submit only one application by the closing date, 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:  all scholars accepted for the Program at QBI are strongly encouraged to commence on Monday 25 November 2019 to participate in the compulsory UQ Student Employability Centre’s Summer Research Welcome event and QBI’s compulsory student induction sessions and activities 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 11:59pm on Sunday 08 September 2019Reminder: 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 11 October 2019.

If you have any questions regarding the 2019-2020 UQ Summer Research Program at QBI, please contact Ms Janet Voight, Senior Project Officer, Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, St Lucia campus, Brisbane Queensland, 4072 Australia, Email: collaborators@qbi.uq.edu.au Phone: +61 7 3346 6364.

Available projects

Project title: 

Implementation of state-of-the-art microscopy techniques to study the response of neurons to new compounds with neurotrophic activity

Project duration:

6 to 8 weeks

Description:

Our brain has a very low ability to regenerate new neurons. That is why it is extremely sensitive to insults that may compromise their viability and promote neurodegeneration.

Neuroprotection refers to the relative preservation of neuronal structures and neuronal integrity that implies a reduction in the rate of neuronal loss and cell death over time. Neurotrophic factors (NTFs) are a family of biomolecules that support the growth, survival, and differentiation of both developing and mature neurons. The use of NTFs has been proposed as an strategy to promote neuroprotection.

The aim of this project is to evaluate the neurotrophic activity of new molecules using different microscopic techniques.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

We expect that the student will gain a basic knowledge in tissue culture, transfection, microscopy, data collection and image analysis during the project duration.

At the end of the project we will ask the student to present a final report and give an oral presentation at the end of their project, during one of our weekly lab meetings to show the knowledge learned and any biological insights that the student may have gathered during his/her Summer Research Project.

Suitable for:

This is open to applications for UQ enrolled students in their 3-4th year, who have an special interest in neuroscience and the use of state-of-the-art microscopy techniques. Any previous knowledge of MATLAB and Fiji-ImageJ is not required but will be strongly valuated during the selection process. Applications from students who may be interested in undertaking Honours in our lab in 2020 will be viewed favourably.

Primary Supervisor:

 

Professor Frederic Meunier (lab group leader) and Dr Ramon Martinez-Marmol (senior post-doctoral fellow), Meunier lab group, QBI

Further info:

Please contact Dr. Ramon Martinez-Marmol (r.martinezmarmol@uq.edu.au) if you require any further information.

Please include in your initial email:

-Your CV

-Academic transcript

-Research interests and future goals (no more than half page).

 

We will invite selected candidates to meet and discuss the details of available projects prior to application submission.

 

Project title: 

Reconstruction of larval lamina in mantis shrimp

Project duration:

8-10 weeks

Description:

Stomatopods, or mantis shrimp, have the most complex retinas in the world, with two hemispheres and a specialized midband. The midband contains 12 narrow spectral sensitivities, but behaviour experiments suggest that stomatopods do not have very good spectral discrimination and likely do not use opponency between all twelve colour channels. To investigate the method of processing colour information, we are reconstructing the first neuropil beneath the retina, the lamina, in different mantis shrimp species using serial block-face scanning electron microscopy. This project would continue this investigation by using a similar procedure on larval animals, which do not have the specialized midband. Morphological differences between the larvae and adult will likely show differences in function.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Students will have the opportunity to learn how to reconstruct neurons in images taken using an electron microscope using the Amira software, which is a rapidly growing area of study in neuroanatomy. Students will be asked to give an oral presentation at the end of their project.

Suitable for:

This project is opened to applications from 3-4 year UQ students with a background in biology. It is best suited to students who are looking to do an honours project with our group and have an interest in sensory biology.

Primary Supervisor:

 

Professor Justin Marshall, lab group leader, Sensory Neurobiology group (https://ecovis.org.au/), QBI

Further info:

If interested, please contact Amy Streets (a.streets@uq.edu.au) and Professor Justin Marshall at (Justin.marshall@uq.edu.au) with a copy of your CV, academic transcript, and a brief description of your research interests and future goals.

 

Project title: 

Brain development and disorders

Project duration:

8-10 weeks

Description:

The Brain Development and Disorders laboratory headed by Professor Linda J. Richards investigates how the brain becomes wired up during development. The lab is focusing on the development of the cerebral cortex, a region of the brain where all higher order cognition is processed. The lab investigates the development of the largest fibre tract in the brain, called the corpus callosum, that connects neurons in the left and right cerebral hemispheres. The lab utilises both mouse, marsupial and human tissue in its projects and applies the results to identifying the basis of agenesis of the corpus callosum, a condition that occurs in more than 300 different human congenital syndromes.

Our research areas include:

  • Human agenesis of the corpus callosum, autism spectrum disorder and brain wiring;
  • Function of genes and molecules in agenesis of the corpus callosum and brain developmental disorders;
  • The function of early neuronal activity on the formation of neocortical circuits; and
  • Evolution and development of brain wiring genes in marsupials and placentals.
 
 

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The applicant can expect to gain laboratory experience and actively participate in ongoing research projects in the laboratory. This project offers a great opportunity to be trained in advanced concepts of comparative neuroanatomy, brain development, molecular biology, genetics, brain imaging and / or evolution prior to starting an Honours or PhD project in our lab.

Suitable for:

Projects are only offered to 3-4 year UQ students with a relevant (science) background and a clear intention to pursue an Honours or PhD in our laboratory.

Primary Supervisor:

 

 

Further info:

Prior to applying or for further information, please contact us at richardslab@uq.edu.au
 
In your initial email, please include:
  • your CV;
  • academic transcript; and
  • a short description of your research interests and future goals.
We will invite shortlisted candidates to meet and discuss specific details of the project prior to application submission.
 

 

Project title: 

Antidepressant Effects of Ketamine vs GLYX-13 on Cultured Neuronal Cells

Project duration:

10 weeks

Description:

GLYX-13 is a novel glutamatergic compound that produces rapid antidepressant effects, similar to Ketamine, but without the transient psychotomimetic and dissociative side effects associated with Ketamine. Ketamine increases synaptic number and function in the mPFC through mTOR signalling pathway. This project is designed to elucidate if Ketamine and GLYX-13 have overlapping mechanisms in the mTOR signalling pathway in rodent cortical neuronal cells, in response to Rapamycin, an inhibitor of mTOR. The protein expression levels of mTOR, GSK3B and Akt will be measured in response to Ketamine and GLYX-13 in cortical neuronal cells. Understanding the mechanistic differences between these two drugs could provide insights into the rapid antidepressant effects vs psychotomimetic effects of modulating glutamate transmission. The data will be used to inform clinicians and future clinical trials for development of effective antidepressants without unwanted psychotomimetic and dissociative side effects.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Scholars will gain skills in neuronal cell culture, protein extraction, Western Blot, drug-response and cell viability methods 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 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students with a background in biomedical sciences and neuroscience.

Primary Supervisor:

 

Dr Susannah Tye, Group Leader, Tye lab, QBI

Further info:

Please contact Dr Susannah Tye (s.tye@uq.edu.au) if you have any questions about the project and/or before submitting an application.  Your CV and academic transcript should accompany all communication.

 

Project title: 

Metamorphopsia and Face Recognition

Project duration:

10 weeks

Description:

Metamorphopsia is a perceived distortion of visual space and is a common symptom of retinal disease. This project will investigate the impact of metamorphopsia on face perception. The student will be trained in visual psychophysics and data collection, and, depending on the progress of the project, the implementation of general linear models in the R programming language.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The student will be trained in psychophysical methods, and depending on the progress of the project, the implementation of general linear models in the R programming language for data analysis. The student will give a presentation of the project to the lab group.

Suitable for:

This project is suitable for students with a background in undergraduate Psychology courses at UQ, particularly those at the end of their third year.

Primary Supervisor:

 

Dr William Harrison and Professor Jason Mattingley,

Mattingley Laboratory Group at QBI

Further info:

Please contact Dr Will Harrison (w.harrison@uq.edu.au) if you have any questions about the project and before submitting an application.  Your CV and academic transcript should accompany all communication prior to applying.

 

Project title: 

Queensland Twin Adolescent Brain Project

Project duration:

6-10 weeks

Description:

Adolescence is a period of rapid development characterised by a variety of neuroanatomical and behavioural changes.  It is also a time of vulnerability to stressors that may alter neurobehavioural processes and negatively impact mental health.  To further our understanding of factors mediating risk for psychopathology we are deep phenotyping a cohort of young adolescent twins.  In addition to brain imaging, measures include pubertal development, emotional and social behaviours, daily stress, social support and family functioning, sleep quality, and cognitive performance.  Our aim is to extend knowledge of the role of risk and protective factors influencing psychiatric illnesses that frequently emerge during adolescence, and further, to disentangle sources of genetic and environmental influence.  This is a longitudinal study, with baseline data available for approximately 200 young adolescent twin pairs.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Students will have the opportunity to assist with data collection; to prepare a literature review in an area of research interest complimentary to our study aims and the data available; and to conduct exploratory data analysis.  At the end of their project, they will give an oral presentation on the work undertaken.

Suitable for:

This project is open to 3-4 year students in Psychology (Neuropsychology, Experimental psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience) and would be suitable for candidates looking to progress to honours and/or a PhD with our group.

 

Primary Supervisor:

 

Associate Professor Margie Wright, Lab Group Leader, Neuroimaging Genomics Group, QBI

Further info:

Before submitting an application, please contact Dr Narelle Hansell (n.hansell@uq.edu.au) or A/Prof Margie Wright (margie.wright@uq.edu.au), including a copy of your CV, academic transcript, and short description of your research interests and future goals.  We will meet with shortlisted candidates prior to application submission to discuss available projects.

 

Project title: 

Antidepressant Effects of Ketamine and XPro1595

Project duration:

10 weeks

Description:

This projects is designed to test our central hypothesis that the anti-inflammatory compound XPro1595 can enhance the rapid antidepressant-like effects of ketamine in tricyclic antidepressant resistant rats at the neurobiological and behavioural level. We will use a battery of behavioural tests to assess antidepressant-like behavioural efficacy and will determine whether the effects associated with reduced central markers of inflammation and upregulation of synaptic plasticity. These data will be used to inform future clinical trials for refractory depression, as well as novel drug design. Elucidating the role of inflammation in treatment resistant depression will help us to develop more effective and individualised therapies for refractory psychiatric illnesses in the future.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Scholars will 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 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students with a background in biomedical sciences and neuroscience.

Primary Supervisor:

 

Dr Susannah Tye, Group Leader, Tye lab, QBI

Further info:

Please contact Dr Susannah Tye (s.tye@uq.edu.au) if you have any questions about the project and/or before submitting an application.  Your CV and academic transcript should accompany all communication.

 

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 people 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 proteins that are altered in the brains and 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 for people living with these diseases.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

You will work alongside current lab members using a range of techniques including CRISPR/Cas9 genetic engineering, neuronal cell culture and transfections, lentiviral production and cell transductions, transgenic mouse motor behaviour assessment, mouse brain and spinal cord surgery and dissection, immunoblotting, immunofluorescent staining and fluorescence microscopy.

Students will present their results in a lab meeting 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.

We particularly encourage applications from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, LGBTIAQ+ students and others from backgrounds underrepresented in STEMM.

Applications from students who may be interested in undertaking Honours in our lab in 2020 will be viewed favourably.

Primary Supervisor:

 

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

Further info:

Please contact Dr Adam Walker (adam.walker@uq.edu.au), Dr Rebecca San Gil (r.sangil@uq.edu.au) or Dr Heledd Brown-Wright (h.brownwright@uq.edu.au).

In your initial email, please include:

  1. your CV,
  2. academic transcript, and
  3. a short description of your research interests and future goals.

We will invite shortlisted candidates to meet and discuss specific details of available projects prior to application submission.

 

Project title: 

Using deep learning to study joint kinematics of insect locomotion

Project duration:

6-10 weeks

Description:

The goals of this project include: 1. implement high-speed video recording of walking Drosophila, synchronized with 2-photon imaging and other stimuli. 2. to extract joint kinematics from the videos by deep neural networks.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

From this project, the student will get hands-on experience of implementing cutting-edge computational technology to probe challenging biological problems. A co-authored research publication is expected and related honours projects will be offered based on the performance and interests of the candidate.

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from 3-4 year UQ enrolled students. An engineering and computational background is preferred but not required. Applicants should be comfortable with instrumentation and simple programming.

Primary Supervisor:

 

Professor Barry Dickson (Dickson lab group, QBI).

Co-supervision by Dr Kai Feng, Research Fellow, Dickson lab group.

Further info:

Please contact Dr Kai Feng (k.feng@uq.edu.au) if you have any questions about the project and/or before submitting an application.  Your CV and academic transcript should accompany all communication.

Further background information can be obtained from the following links:

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/344/6179/97.long

https://github.com/NeLy-EPFL/DeepFly3D

https://github.com/AlexEMG/DeepLabCut

 

 

Project title:

Computational neuroscience: decoding neural activity and behaviour

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, and also recording zebrafish behaviour. 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:

Professor Geoffrey Goodhill (Goodhill lab group, QBI)

Further info:

Please contact Professor Goodhill (g.goodhill@uq.edu.au) prior to submitting an application.  Your CV and academic transcript should accompany all communication.  Further background can be obtained from the following article: http://cns.qbi.uq.edu.au/pub/avitan18.pdf

 

QBI’s Winter Research Program 2019

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 (QBI).

Applications for 2019 have closed
Information about the 2020 Program will be advertised when available early next year

 

 

Contact

Ms Janet Voight 
Senior Project Officer

   +61 7 334 66364

  collaborators@qbi.uq.edu.au

 

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