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 project opens the doors to a completely new type of materials and their application in cell growth research. It has a great potential to be continued as an Honours and/or PhD project. This emerging area of research, together with current studies is expected to have a great publication potential.

Availability and Project duration:

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

Primary supervisor: Dr Jan Lauko ( or Professor Alan Rowan (

Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information and potential research projects.