Student Projects

AIBN has a range of projects available in various impact areas. After you have found a project you are interested in contact the HDR team with an expression of interest form

Understanding And Controlling Strain Stiffening

What molecular and architectural properties cause strain stiffening and how can it be controlled?

Tailoring Silica Nanomaterials to Immobilize Lipase as High-performance Feed additives

Supplemental enzymes have become common additives to animal feeds. Among these enzymes, lipase aids fat digestion and subsequent improvement of feed efficiency and animal growth.

Synthesizing metal oxide based adsorbent for arsenic sequestration

​Arsenic is one of the heavy metal pollutants that affects millions of people across the world.

Synergic co-delivery for enhanced treatment

Chemotherapy is one of most common cancer treatments in clinics. In most cases, the clinical responses show that the efficacy of chemotherapy is limited by the development of multidrug resistance (MDR) in cancer cells during a long period of treatment.

Quick and effective monitoring of food quality

An effective survey system for food safety and quality has attracted constant interests from governments, the food industry and consumers. One of the most important requirements for this system is to assess the risks of the food, so that consumers can make informed choices.

Novel oral vaccine-nanoplatform to stimulate immune response

With the rapid increase in population and economy, the demand for food has increased dramatically. The use of antibiotics to control bacterial and virus diseases is restricted in the livestock. Vaccination is widely used to manage livestock diseases in farm industry.

Nanoparticle- organ interaction

With the rapid development of nanotechnology, nanomaterials (NMs, 1-100 nm or generally extended to 500 nm in one or more dimensions) have been broadly applied in various fields. More than 1600 products containing nanomaterials are available in the market.

Monitoring diseases and treatment progress with a responsive biosensor

In-situ monitoring of specific biomarkers, such as reactive oxygen species, ions, proteins (including enzyme),  at the molecular level is key to understanding their roles in physiological and pathological processes, and plays fundamental roles in early prediction of diseases treatment.

Is Cell Differentiation Altered By Strain Stiffening

Bone tissue engineering with autologous or allogenic mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has been widely developed. MSCs can be isolated from bone marrow or other tissues such as adipose tissue or umbilical cord, and can be implanted in bone defects with or without prior amplification and stimulation.

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AIBN offers Masters (by coursework) projects through enrolment in collaborating Schools at The University of Queensland. Summer and Winter research interns may have the opportunity to continue to pursue their projects into a Masters degree.

    What to do

    1. Select the Masters project advisor name to download a PDF document with contact details and additional project information.
    2. Contact the project advisor directly to discuss the project and arrange a meeting or visit to the AIBN lab.

    AIBN offers Honours projects through enrolment in collaborating Schools at The University of Queensland. Summer and Winter research interns can continue to pursue their projects into an Honours degree.

      Professor Debra Bernhardt

      • Transport in nanoporous systems
      • Computational studies of ionic liquids
      • Statistical mechanics of nonequilibrium fluids
      • Quantum mechanics for the design of new materials.

      Professor Peter Gray

      • Developing transient protein expression systems
      • Developing high throughput approaches for rapid selection of clones
      • Using modern ‘omics’ approaches to gain better understanding of cellular metabolism
      • Developing novel therapeutic monoclonal antibodies for infectious diseases.

      Professor Andrew Whittaker

      • Biodegradable polyurethanes as scaffolds for spinal cord repair (Dr Bronwin Dargaville & Dr Firas Rasoul)
      • Sulfamethazine-based hydrogels network and potential application for protein release and wound healing (Dr Truc Huynh)
      • Peptide Hydrogels for Cell Delivery (Dr Annette Dexter & Dr Fiona Filardo)
      • MRI Imaging Agents for Disease Detection (Dr Kris Thurecht, Associate Professor Idriss Blakey & Dr Hui Peng)
      • Novel Block Copolymer for Lithographic Application (Dr Imelda Keen).

      Dr Kris Thurecht

      • Polymer vectors for gene delivery
      • Polymer Theranostics: Imaging a Treatment in vivo.

      Associate Professor Idriss Blakey

      • Development of Ionic Liquid/polymer “Iono-gels” as Conducting Materials

      Professor Matt Trau

      • Microfluidic Devices for Capturing Rare Circulating Tumour Cells
      • Nanodevices/Nanobiosensors for Cancer Biomarker Proteins
      • DNA Nanomachinery for Early Breast Cancer Detection
      • Point-of-Care Diagnostics.

      What to do

      1. Select the Honours project advisor name to download a PDF document with contact details and additional project information.
      2. Contact the project advisor directly to discuss the project and arrange a meeting or visit to the AIBN lab.

      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: 12/07/2017

      Chemistry of Thin Films for Lithography

      Project duration options:

      • AIBN Research Internship Program (12 weeks)

      Description: Photolithography is the process of manufacturing integrated circuits. Current technologies for manufacture are approaching a limit, determined by the limits to the size of the features needed to be printed onto silicon wafers. New approaches are needed and one of these is assembly of polymer guided by the surface chemistry of a film. This project aims to change the surface energy of a photo-reactive film by exposing to UV light, and treating with a chemical capable of binding to the new chemical units so formed. The project will involve working with a PhD student on preparation, exposure and characterisation of thin films. The emphasis of the project will be on understanding how the changes in chemistry affect the surface properties.

      Expected outcomes and deliverables: The student will learn about the novel field call chemo-epitaxy, i.e. directing the alignment of polymers through changes in surface energy. The project will involve training in materials preparation and analysis.

      Applicant requirements: This project is open to applications from students with a background in chemistry, or chemical engineering.

      Primary supervisor: Professor Andrew Whittaker Email: a.whittaker@uq.edu.au

      Printed Flexible Perovskite Solar Cells

      Project duration options:

      • AIBN Research Internship Program (6 - 12 weeks)

      Website: http://researchers.uq.edu.au/researcher/1479

      Project key words: Printing, Perovskite Solar Cells, Flexible, Nanomaterials

      AIBN Research Pillars: Advanced Materials

      Description: Organic-inorganic halide perovskites (OIHP) are recognized as promising candidates of photoactive materials for lightweight and flexible photovoltaic devices owing to their extraordinary optoelectronic properties and compatibility to low-temperature solution process, while the fabrication of high efficiency perovskite solar cells on flexible substrates via a scalable deposition method remains a key challenge. In this project, the applicants will be working with experienced researchers on the development of high performance flexible perovskite solar cells by printing techniques as well as the design of inorganic charge transport materials for improving the operational device stability. This study will pave the way for large-scale practical application of perovskite photovoltaic technology in the future.

      Learning Objectives: Wet-chemical materials synthesis, microscopy analysis, device physic

      Expected outcomes and deliverables: The applicants will gain skills in nanomaterial synthesis, solar cell fabrication 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.

      Applicant requirements: 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*

      Primary supervisor: Professor Lianzhou Wang, Dr. Yang Bai Email: l.wang@uq.edu.au

      Solid lipid nanoparticles for oral drug delivery

      Project duration options:

      • AIBN Research Internship Program (6 - 12 weeks)
      • BE/ME Industry Placement (12 - 24 weeks)
      • Canadian QES Co-Op Placements (16 weeks)
      • Honours Project (39 weeks)
      • Masters Coursework Project (26 weeks)

      Website: http://www.uq.edu.au/polymer-chemistry/

      Project key words: Solid lipid nanoparticles, oral delivery, drug delivery

      AIBN Research Pillars: Advanced Materials; Industrial Biotechnology

      Description: The oral route is one of the most preferred routes of drug administration as it is more convenient, cost effective, and ease of administration lead to high level of patient compliance. However, low tolerance to an acidic stomach environment with proteolytic enzymes and bile salts and low levels of drug absorption and bioavailability in oral administration limited its application. This project aims to develop functional solid lipid nanoparticles for oral drug delivery.

      Learning Objectives: Several techniques including Zetasizer for particle size distribution and charge measurement, UV-vis, FT-IR and microscopy, etc.

      Expected outcomes and deliverables: This project involves synthesis and characterization of solid lipid nanoparticles (SLN) developed in our lab. Through this project, the students can master various preparation methods and characterization techniques such as XRD, DLS, TG-DSC, FT-IR and Uv-vis. You will gain the excellent experience in material preparation and knowledge on nanotechnology and nanomaterials in drug delivery. It has capacity to grow into an PhD project and has a publication potential.

      Applicant requirements: This project is suitable for the students with Chemistry, Science, Biomedical Science, Chemical Engineering, Biochemistry and Biotechnology.

      Primary supervisor: Dr Li Li and Prof. Zhi Ping Xu Email: l.li2@uq.edu.au and gordonxu@uq.edu.au

      Optimal dissolution of lignin in to polyol for sustainable rigid polyurethane foam

      Project duration options:

      • Canadian QES Co-Op Placements (12-24 weeks)

      Website: http://researchers.uq.edu.au/researcher/650 and http://researchers.uq.edu.au/researcher/2859

      Project key words: Polyurethane foam, lignin, polyol, compressive mechanical properties

      AIBN Research Pillar: Advanced Materials

      Description: The development of sustainable and low-cost rigid polyurethane foam is very important for the modern and innovative insulation materials. In this regard, this project aims to prepare the polyol precursors based on the lignin. This will be achieved by dissolving lignin at low temperature, with suitable range of rheological properties for processing rigid polyurethane foam. This will be achieved by studying the dissolution temperature range by thermal analysis, incorporating lignin in various loading in to the specific mixture polyhydric alcohols, screening the blends by rheological measurements.

      Learning Objectives: The student/intern may gain skills in the laboratory wet-chemical preparative methods, thermal analysis (DSC, TGA), rheological measurements (Rheometer), spectroscopies (FTIR) data collection and research reports.

      Expected outcomes and deliverables: From this research, the hypothesis of polyhydric alcohol-assisted dissolution of will be understood as a major outcome. He/she has a great opportunity to generate publications from his/her research. He/she will require to present the research results in the form of either report or oral group presentation.

      Applicant requirements: This project is open to applications from 4th year UQ students or International students with a background on Chemical or Materials Engineering, Chemistry.

      Project duration: 12 - 24 weeks

      Primary supervisor: Prof. Darren Martin; Dr Pratheep Kumar Annamalai Email: darren.martin@uq.edu.auand p.annamalai@uq.edu.au

      Cell Surface Engineering for Biomimetic Encapsulation of Individual Cells

      Project duration options:

      • AIBN Research Internship Program (6-12 weeks)

      Website: http://www.aibn.uq.edu.au/bioinspired-nanomaterials-controlled-release

      Project key words: biomimetic synthesis; encapsulation; layer-by-layer processes; silica; living cells

      AIBN Research Pillar: Advanced Materials

      Description:

      The cytoprotective coating of physicochemically labile living cells with a thin, but strong, shell material (cell-in-shell hybrids) has potential applications in cell-based sensors, cells-on-a-chip and cell therapy, which require the long-term protection and preservation of living cells, as well as providing a platform for fundamental single-cell studies in cell biology.

      The formation of siliceous cell walls in diatoms has inspired researchers to mimic and apply the protein-based silicification processes to single-cell coating. This is due to the mild reaction conditions involved and the physicochemical properties of silica which are essential for protecting the cell from harmful environments and manipulating cellular activities at a single-cell level.

      Inspired by Nature, our lab has recently patented the design and use of a bacterially-produced protein that is able to catalyse silica formation at interfaces. In this project, the protein will be initially adsorbed at the cell interface and, upon the addition of a silica precursor, the protein will create cell–cell repulsion forces but will attract the silica species to undergo interfacial polymerisation forming silica shells encapsulating the individual cells. Escherichia coli will be used as the model living cell. Mechanical durability, selective permeability, functionalisability and degradability of the resultant cell-in-shell hybrids (sporulation and germination) will be investigated as compared to the uncoated cells.

      Learning Objectives: protein expression in microbial cells; protein recovery and purification; protein analysis e.g., gel electrophoresis, liquid chromatography; material characterisation e.g., electron microscopy, optical microscopy; cell viability assays

      Expected outcomes and deliverables: Scholars may gain experimental skill-sets at the intersection of microbiology and inorganic chemistry. Scholars may also have an opportunity to generate high-impact publications from their research. Scholars may be asked to produce a report and/or oral presentation at the end of the projects.  

      Applicant requirements: This project is open to applications from students with a background in biology, chemistry, or chemical engineering.

      Project duration: 6 - 12 weeks

      Primary supervisorDr Chun-Xia Zhao; Dr David Wibowo Email: z.chunxia@uq.edu.aud.wibowo@uq.edu.au

       

      Microfluidic platform for diagnostic tests

      Project duration options:

      • AIBN Research Internship Program (6-12 weeks)
      • UQ BE/ME Industry Placement (12-24 weeks)
      • UQ Honours Project (39 weeks)
      • UQ Masters Coursework Project (26 weeks)

      Project key words: Clinical diagnostics; Point-of-Care testing; Multi-channel microfluidic ; biochip; Biosensor; Biomarker; Cardiovascular disease

      AIBN Research Pillar: Industrial Biotechnology

      Description: The increased demand for point-of-care testing (POCT) has initiated the development of advanced microdevices. POCT is important in clinical situations where timing is critical such as emergency treatment, where laboratory facilities is not accessible, and where resources are limited such as developing countries. POCT and microdevices help to offer accurate and prompt diagnosis and dramatically improved clinical outcomes. Compared to centralized clinical laboratories, microdevices only required small sample and reagent volumes. They are low cost, small in size and portable, delivering rapid and parallel clinical analysis.

      This project aims to establish a multi-channel microfluidic platform for rapid diagnosis of acute and chronic heart failure. Based on the guidelines from European Society of Cardiology (ESC), multiple biomarkers have been selected and will be integrated in the microfluidic chips. They are heart fatty acid binding protein (H-FABP), B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) and its N-terminal fragment (NT-proBNP), troponin I (TnI), D-dimer, mid-regional pro-atrial natriuretic peptide (MR-proANP), mid-regional pro-adrenomedullin (MR-proADM) and ST2 protein. Some of these biomarkers are important predictors of future cardiovascular events in patients presenting with acute chest pain.

      Learning Objectives: The student will gain experience in designing, fabricating and applying the microchips for diagnosis.

      Expected outcomes and deliverables: The student may gain skills in data collection, or 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.

      Applicant requirements: This project is open to applications from students with a background in biology, chemistry, chemical engineering, medical science & engineering.

      Project duration: 6 - 39 week options

      Primary supervisorDr Chun-Xia Zhao Email: z.chunxia@uq.edu.au

       

      Janus-Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery

      Positions available: 1

      Description: Janus nanoparticles are a fascinating family of materials with two distinct structures and functions integrated in one particle. By tuning the compositions, nanostructures and their spatial arrangements, Janus nanoparticles have a large variety of structures and promising applications. However, their synthesis, interaction with cells and potential in drug delivery applications are not fully exploited. This project aims to synthesise Janus nanoparticles with asymmetrical morphologies and tunable structures. Their interaction with different types of cells will be investigated, focusing on the influence of asymmetric morphology on cell internalisation pathways. Knowledge from this study will be used in the rational design of a new family of nanoparticles for drug delivery.

      Expected outcomes and deliverables: The applicant can expect to gain skills in synthesis and characterisation of Janus nanoparticles as well as cell culture techniques. 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 project.

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

      Project duration: 12 weeks

      Primary supervisor: Prof Chengzhong (Michael) Yu c.yu@uq.edu.au. Dr Jun Zhang j.zhang11@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 Yuhttp://www.aibn.uq.edu.au/michael-yu

       

      New 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.

       

      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

       

      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/

       

      Novel 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

      Nanofunctional 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

       

      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).

       

      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).

      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).

      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.

      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.

      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.

       

      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 informationw.gu@uq.edu.au or gordonxu@uq.edu.au

      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

      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 

       

      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 

      Bioengineering receptor targeted VLPs

      Project duration: 6 weeks

      Positions available: 1

      Description: This project will seek to modify virus-like particles (VLPs) such that they can be used to deliver a protein cargo to a cell of choice. Future application could include the delivery of cytotoxic protein to cancer cells. We have recently developed a system for coat protein co-expression in Escherichia coli that allows for the assembly of VLPs that encapsulate a protein of interest. This project will use this system to simultaneously encapsulate a fluorescent reporter protein, while modifying the exterior of the particles to present a receptor-targeting antibody fragment. With the exacting control over self-assembly defined by previous research by Dr Sainsbury, a key aspect of this project is to demonstrate that such complex particles may be assembled in vitro.

      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 take part in the development of assays to determine the receptor-binding activity or targeted VLPs.

      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: The approach to simultaneous exterior modification is unknown in the scientific literature. Therefore, 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.

      Primary Supervisor: Dr Frank Sainsbury

      Further info: f.sainsbury@uq.edu.au, Ph: +61 (0)7 3346 3179

       

      Cardiac repair through direct reprogramming

      Positions available: 1

      Description: The project would be focused on probing the impacts of changes in biomechanical and biochemical signaling during the induction of cardiomyogenesis from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), ultimately ending in the creation of human heart tissue mimics for screening applications.

      The project will utilise a novel family of "remodelling" hydrogels - recently produced and validated with mesenchymal stem cells in the laboratory of Professor Cooper-White - and it will apply them to other stem cells, particularly induced pluripotent stem cells. The project will involve stem cell culture, property measurement, standard molecular biology procedures ( immunohistochemistry, PCR, western blot, FACS), higher end molecular biology procedure (RNAseq, proteomics), hydrogel synthesis and formulation, peptide functionalisation of hydrogels, cell encapsulation, bioprinting and image analysis and cytometry. The final aim of the project is to develop tailored, cell-specific delivery vehicles designed for clinical translation and uptake. These delivery vehicles will be validated using human (iPSC-derived) heart tissue (in vitro).

      Expected outcomes and deliverables: The applicant can expect to gain skills in synthesis and characterisation of polymers as well as cell culture techniques. Through this project, the applicant may also gain professional skills in data collection and analysis, along with the opportunity of co-authorship in a publication from this project.

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

      Project duration: 12 weeks

      Primary supervisor: Prof Justin Cooper-White j.cooperwhite@uq.edu.au

      Further information: To discuss details please contact Professor Cooper-White or Dr Ilaria Stefani: i.stefani@uq.edu.au

      Localised, actively triggered, drug delivery using metal microcapsules for the treatment of high grade glioma

      Description: Background: Brain and central nervous system cancers are the third most commonly occurring cancer in adolescents and young adults, and the third most common cause of cancer death. The prognosis of patients with brain tumours, particularly high-grade tumours (glioma) is devastatingly poor. Our project aims to improve the prognosis of patients with high grade glioma by providing an alternative, more effective treatment to those currently available. Typical treatment of brain tumours involves surgical removal of as much of the tumour as possible, followed by both radiotherapy and chemotherapy.  However, the residual tumour left following surgery shows considerable resistance to traditional chemo/radiotherapy and recurrence is common, often resulting in patient mortality. A significant improvement to the current treatment approach could be gained by actively triggering drug release at the site of tumour recurrence. Our research team has made considerable progress in the development of metal-shell microcapsules as responsive drug delivery vehicles. Using such vehicles, we can deliver high doses of drug to recurrent tumours in a highly localised, controlled and non-invasive fashion.

      Aims: This project will focus on exploring the potential of using a peptide-stabilised emulsion as a template to form metal-shell microcapsules for drug delivery.

      Expected outcomes and deliverables: Students can expect to develop skills in nanotechnology and electron microscopy, as well as data collection and analysis. A review of the literature should be conducted prior to commencing lab work. There may be an opportunity to publish work from the research conducted. A written report will be required at the end of the research project.

      Suitable for: Students with a chemistry or chemical engineering background with an interest in colloids/nanotechnology and polymers.

      Publication potential: Yes

      Availability and Project duration: 10-12 weeks

      Primary supervisor: Dr Alison Tasker a.tasker@uq.edu.au, Dr Frank Sainsbury

      Metal microcapsules – finding a cost effective alternative to gold shells

      Description: Background: Polymer microcapsules have been used to provide protection of the core contents from the external environment, and to allow controlled release. However, the inherent porous nature of polymer shells means that they are unable to prevent unwanted release, particularly of small volatile molecules in challenging environments, such as when the core molecules are soluble in the bulk phase.

      We have developed a technology whereby we can prevent unwanted leakage of such volatile molecules, by growing a metal shell on the polymer using electroless plating techniques. We first adsorb metal nanoparticles to the polymer and use them as catalytic sites for the nucleation and growth of the secondary metal, forming a complete, non-porous shell around the capsule. To date we have successfully grown gold shells using platinum nanoparticles as the catalyst, however the cost implications of using gold limits the potential applications of this technology.

      Aims: This project will focus on exploring potential metal pairings to grow impermeable shells onto polymer microcapsules in order to allow full retention of the core oil.

      Expected outcomes and deliverables: Students can expect to develop skills in nanotechnology and electron microscopy, as well as data collection and analysis. A review of the literature should be conducted prior to commencing lab work. There may be an opportunity to publish work from the research conducted. A written report will be required at the end of the research project.

      Suitable for: Students with a chemistry or chemical engineering background with an interest in colloids/nanotechnology

      Publication potential: Yes

      Availability and Project duration: 8-12 weeks

      Primary supervisor: Dr Alison Tasker a.tasker@uq.edu.au

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