Submit your expression of interest for a Student Research Project

Mater Research offers research project opportunities across biomedical or medical research, nursing, midwifery or allied health for university students interested in undertaking an undergraduate, honours, masters by research, PhD or MPhil project. 

Our current student research opportunities are listed below.

If you are unable to find a project in the list of current student opportunities that is in the your area of interest, please email us to discuss your options.

How to submit your expression of interest  

Step 1: Find a project
Review the current project vacancies listed below to find a project that matches your area of interest, and ensure you meet the eligibility requirements. 

Step 2: Submit your expression of interest application online 
Click the apply now button at the bottom of the project listing to and complete the online Expression of Interest application form. As part of your expression of interest application, you are required to provide an up to date copy of your CV as well as your most recent academic transcript. 

Step 3: Your expression of interest application will be reviewed by the project supervisor.
If your application is then shortlisted, then the project supervisor will contact you directly to advise next steps.

Current Student Opportunities

This project aims to elucidate placental changes in pregnancies complicated by perinatal hypoxia. It will involve developing models of trophoblast culture, investigating hypoxia related changes and potentially identifying suitable biomarkers for clinical use to identify pregnancies at risk. This project will be nested within a larger Medical Research Future Fund funded trial.


Positions available for:
Honours, PhD

Contact Person: Professor Sailesh Kumar

Would you like to take part in this research project? Download the information flyer (PDF, 56KB)

Our research team is working on translational projects consisting in the development of innovative agents for cancer detection and treatment.



Our research projects are segregated into several aims:




  1. Identification of novel cancer-specific targets: Interrogation of publicly available databases; Determine targets’ expression by immunohistochemistry or mass spectrometry using patients-derived material

  2. Development of novel targeting agents: Generation of antibodies in pre-clinical models; Production of recombinant proteins; Screening of ligand libraries, Chemistry of antibodies to conjugate ligand with various payloads (radionucleotide, cytotoxins, …)

  3. Pre-clinical testing of agents: In vitro testing on cancer cell lines and patient-derived material; Utilization of pre-clinical models for cancer imaging (PET/CT) and therapy.



Be involved in our research project means that you will be integrated in a translational research team which works at developing novel agents to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer with the ultimate goal to improve cancer patients’ life.


Positions available for:
Honours, MPhil, PhD

Contact Person: Dr Thomas Kryza

Interested? Download the information flyer (PDF, 141Kb) now.

Stillbirth affects over 2,100 families annually in Australia, often preceded by maternal perception of decreased fetal movement. My Baby’s Movements trial (MBM) was a stepped-wedge cluster-randomised controlled trial of a fetal movement awareness intervention to reduce stillbirths, implemented between 2016-2019. MBM aimed to evaluate the impact on stillbirth rates of a multifaceted awareness package, including a novel mobile phone application (app) for pregnant women to monitor their baby’s movements. Mobile apps have become an integral source of information for women during pregnancy; however, limited evidence exists to support the impact of mobile apps, compared to other communication methods, on maternal behaviour change or perinatal health outcomes. This project aims to analyse the MBM app usage data and associated perinatal health outcomes of women who participated in MBM.


Positions available for:
Honours, MPhil, PhD

Contact Person: Dr Harriet Lawford

Would you like to take part in this research project? Download the information flyer (PDF, 61KB)

Chronic and uncontrollable stress such as that experienced during the current COVID-19 pandemic is a major risk factor for many neuropsychiatric disorders, including anxiety and depression, for which treatment remains a challenge. Therefore, the search for neurobiological mechanisms, specifically those involving defined cell subtype(s) or circuit(s) that confer resilience i.e. the ability to avoid deleterious behavioural changes in response to chronic stress, represents a novel strategy for discovering antidepressant therapeutics. 



The discovery of neurogenesis (i.e. the production and integration of new neurons) in the adult mammalian brain has emerged as an unparalleled mechanism to understand how life experiences shape cellular plasticity, and in turn alter behavioural outcomes. A major focus of our lab is to understand how adult-born neurons contribute to the development of, and recovery from, stress-induced affective behaviour. Using mouse models, our lab has uncovered an important role for adult-born neurons in the regulation of anxiety-like behaviour.  Recently, advanced transcriptomics approaches have identified new molecular candidates that may play critical role(s) in this mechanism of stress resilience. 



The primary aim of the project is to establish whether and how these candidate genes contribute to stress-induced anxiety-like behaviour.


Positions available for:
Honours, PhD

Contact Person: Dr Dhanisha Jhaveri

Would you like to take part in this research project? Download the information flyer (PDF, 125KB)

Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the provision of healthcare and efficiency of healthcare systems and is likely to have significant implications for pregnant and postpartum women and their families including those who experience the tragedy of stillbirth or neonatal death. This study is a global collaboration across 15 high- and lower-income countries as part of the International Stillbirth Alliance network to explore maternity care experiences following the birth or death of a baby and the psychosocial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This study will identify areas for maternity care and bereavement care improvement, examples of best practice, and provide baseline data for ongoing monitoring and evaluation. 


Positions available for:
Honours, MPhil, PhD

Contact Person: Dr Siobhan Loughnan

Would you like to take part in this research project? Download the information flyer (PDF, 61KB)

Food insecurity can be attributed to various physical and economic factors present in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including limited food supplies, and lack of affordability of quality produce and nutritional education.  In the past year, more than one in five Australians (about 22%) have faced food insecurity. Indigenous Australians experience food insecurity at a disproportionate rate. More than 26% of Indigenous households ran out of food at least once in 2019 and were unable to buy more due to high prices. The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) found that percentage to be even higher at 43% in remote Indigenous communities.[3]



More recently, conversations related to nutritional sources have reflected upon food sovereignty, food sources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Food sovereignty draws upon the community’s relationship with their land, food sources on country and the ongoing losses to land.



Nutrition is a key environmental influence in the early developmental stages, and optimal nutrition throughout the lifespan is protective of a broad range of adverse health outcomes. A healthy, nourishing diet is important for maternal health during pregnancy and for optimal foetal growth and development. Equally, in the period following pregnancy, a healthy diet is important for mothers to manage any pregnancy weight gain and as well as for children to support the growth and development as the grow and become increasingly active.



To date, there is limited existing literature that reports on how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers make their decisions around nutrition for themselves and their families. This team has a focus to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community voices are embedded within health interventions, including those related to nutrition and health.



This project will work with a number of Indigenous communities of Australia to determine the views of Indigenous women around conceptualisation around food and its associations with culture, nutrition decision making during this time for their families.



The student will have opportunities to use both qualitative and quantitative skills to undertake this work.



 The student will collaborate within a larger research team from the NHMRC TCR Grant titled: ‘Indigenous worldview’s incorporated into m-health approaches for Indigenous women and children’. This project involves a multidisciplinary team from the areas of Indigenous health, nutrition, software engineering and app design that spans a number of institutes.


Positions available for:
PhD

Contact Person: Associate Professor Kym Rae

Would you like to take part in this research project? Download the information flyer (PDF, 307KB)

The QLD Family cohort team are working towards a visionary program of research that will undertake a view of the current health and wellbeing of families across Queensland to understand parental health, aging and its impact on pregnancy outcomes. Its vision is to determine how a baby’s health and exposures in early life impacts the risk of disease development or health and wellbeing later in life. 



They are doing this through recruitment of 12,500 families across the state to collect in-depth data on families across 21 research themes. Families can also donate a variety of biological samples for discovery-based projects. The study aims to understand influences of the environment, lifestyles, backgrounds on the biological mechanisms that drive chronic disease risk and determine if there were any early markers of poor health that could have been addressed to prevent future adverse health outcomes. 



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have the right to self-determine health priorities, and research directions. Our team has a focus to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community voices are embedded within research protocols of the QLD Family cohort study. This project will work with a number of Indigenous communities of QLD to determine the health research priorities around disease, lifestyle, wellbeing and culture for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families of these communities.



The student will use qualitative skills in undertaking this work and will co-design a protocol for the QLD Family Cohort that is supported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.  Following on from the co-designed protocol the student will undertake establishment of the protocol at a small number of sites, and a preliminary implementation analysis to determine successful models of implementation within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.



 The student will collaborate within a larger research team from the QLD Family Cohort study as well as within the QLD Family Cohort Research Consortium that has ~ 150 scientists from multiple disciplines.


Positions available for:
PhD

Contact Person: Associate Professor Kym Rae

Would you like to take part in this research project? Download the information flyer (PDF, 53KB)

Transposable elements are sequences of DNA derived from viruses and genetic parasites. At one stage, transposable elements were able to propagate throughout our genome. They now account for roughly half of our genetic material. Over evolutionary time, the vast majority of transposable elements have become immobile and no longer replicate. However, many remnant transposable element sequences have been co-opted into regulatory functions to fine-tune cellular gene expression. Because of their repetitive nature, co-option of transposable elements can serve as a means for coordinating expression from a network of genes involved in a given biological process. 

This project aims to identify transposable elements that drive transcriptional programs in preclinical models of solid tumours. We will identify and characterise the protein complexes that effect transposable element regulatory function. Further, we will modulate transposable element expression and investigate the effect on tumour progression and therapeutic outcomes. 

The PhD candidate will be supervised by Dr Natasha Jansz (Mater Research) and Professor Geoff Faulkner (Mater Research/QBI).


Positions available for:
PhD

Contact Person: Dr Natasha Jansz

Would you like to take part in this research project? Download the information flyer (PDF, 62KB)

This project aims to provide a better understanding of the crosstalk between distinct NK cell and DC subsets. Specific interactions between human cell subsets in response to different stimuli will be investigated in vitro and in vivo. By addressing an important knowledge gap in the field, this project will lay the foundation for preclinical research in a wide range of pathologies including cancer, infectious diseases and autoimmune disorders.


Positions available for:
Bachelor, Masters

Contact Person: Camille Guillerey

Are you ready to expand your research knowledge? Download the information flyer (PDF, 70KB)

Metabolic diseases including type 2 diabetes (T2D) increase severity of bacterial and viral lung infections. The underlying immune-metabolic mechanisms however remain elusive.



Our laboratory has recently shown that oxidised cholesterols and the oxidised cholesterol receptor GPR183, expressed on innate and adaptive immune cells, are important players in Mycobacterium tuberculosis pathogenesis: a) decreased expression of GPR183 in blood from tuberculosis (TB) patients with T2D is associated with more severe TB disease, b) activation of GPR183 by the oxysterol 7a25OHC induces autophagy and reduces intracellular bacterial growth and c) GPR183 is a negative regulator of type I IFNs. Bartlett S, et.al. Frontiers Immunology 2020 https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2020.601534



This project expands on our published work to investigate the role of oxysterols in viral infections and determine the impact of cholesterol lowering medications on systemic and local oxysterol production in the lung and respiratory infection outcomes in preclinical murine models.


Positions available for:
Honours, MPhil and PhD

Contact Person: A/Prof Katharina Ronacher

Would you like to take part in this research project? Download the information flyer (PDF, 70kB)

Benign moles or nevi are proliferations of melanocytes, the pigment producing cells in the skin.  The melanocytes proliferate in an uncontrolled manner for a short period of time, resulting the in mole but then stop and normally remain benign for the person’s lifetime.  However, very infrequently (>1/300,000) they will continue to develop to melanoma.  One of the changes that characterises the change is increased genomic instability, loss or gain of chromosomes or parts of chromosome.  We have identified a potential mechanism by which this might occur, and interestingly, components of this mechanism are common targets for genomic loss in early melanomas.  Projects are available to investigate how this occurs, and what initially triggers the genomic instability.  This project intersects cancer cell biology and genomics.  


Positions available for:
Honours, PhD

Contact Person: Professor Brian Gabrielli

Would you like to take part in this research project? Download the information flyer (PDF, 55KB)

The success of immunotherapies has demonstrated that harnessing the patient’s immune system to combat their cancer is feasible strategy that can lead to long term remissions.  However, cancer have developed a wide range of strategies to avoid immune surveillance.  We have found that by using drugs that selectively target defects in cancers the result increased DNA damage and cell death we can overcome the immune suppressive mechanisms of cancer to promote enhanced anti-cancer immune responses.  There are projects available to investigate these approaches working in the intersection between cancer cell biology and immunology.


Positions available for:
Honours students, PhD students

Contact Person: Professor Brian Gabrielli

Would you like to take part in this research project? Download the information flyer (PDF, 53KB)

Stillbirths and neonatal deaths are a devastating event for both families and health professionals. Structured clinical management following perinatal death is required to ensure appropriate investigation into causes of death occurs, to understand prevention, and to ensure appropriate bereavement care is provided to families. The ‘Improving Perinatal Mortality Review and Outcomes Via Education’ (IMPROVE) workshop established by the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand has been designed to address this need. In 2020, the IMPROVE program was developed into an eLearning program hosted by the Stillbirth Centre for Research Excellence (Stillbirth CRE).



This study will evaluate the online IMPROVE program using questions based on the New World Kirkpatrick Model (NWKM), providing an understanding of how this education is received online compared to the previous face to face model .


Positions available for:
Honours, MPhil, PhD

Contact Person: Dr Christine Andrews

Would you like to take part in this research project? Download the information flyer (PDF, 63KB)

Mucosal epithelial cells in the lung, are uniquely positioned at the interface between the host immune system and an environment teeming with antigens. We are interested in looking at the pathways that regulate epithelial cell antigen presentation, their role and whether this is disrupted with age, making the elderly more susceptible to infection.


Positions available for:
Highly motivated individual with an interest in immunology and a willingness to progress work with further studies (PhD) after completing the Honours.

Contact Person: A/Prof Sumaira Hasnain

Join the team and use state-of-the-art lab facilities. Download the information flyer (PDF, 62KB).

Macrophages are specialised phagocytic cells that are present in all mammalian tissues, where they play critical roles in homeostasis and host defence. A PhD opportunity is available on an Australian Research Council-funded Discovery Project for a student with an honours/master’s degree in immunology, physiology, molecular biology or a related field to join the Macrophage Biology research group at Mater Research.


Positions available for:
Graduate

Contact Person: Dr Katharine Irvine

Expand your research skills with this diverse team. Download the information flyer (PDF, 69KB)for more information.

Most organs contain Stem cells—yet we still do not fully understand how Stem Cells are normally controlled in the body, or what stops them from becoming malignant.

Our team’s focus is on how the micro-environment (or niche) tells stem cell what they can and cannot do in the body.


Positions available for:
These research projects involve preclinical mouse models of disease and treatment. Although preclinical research is highly rewarding and clinically relevant, they also require commitment to ensuring your animals are fine as well as strong creative thinking and critical evaluation skills.

Contact Person: A/Prof Ingrid Winkler

Is this your niche? Find out more from the information flyer (PDF, 73KB).

This is an inter-disciplinary project involving research in multiple fields. Candidates can expect to gain knowledge and learn technique in areas including material science, drug formulation, immunological assays and animal studies.



We expect to generate novel data with commercial interest and produce high-quality publications.


Positions available for:
Potential PhD candidates with experience in biology, immunology, or drug formulation are welcome to apply.

Contact Person: Dr Ran Wang

Want to take part in this research project? Download the information flyer (PDF, 63KB) and find out how.

This project will investigate immune responses to leukaemia in order to develop new immunotherapies. We will focus on Natural Killer (NK) cells, a population of lymphocytes that owe their name to their ability to recognise and kill tumour cells. Early studies suggested that NK cells could protect against leukaemia. However, leukaemia tumours have developed an arsenal of mechanisms to escape from NK cell killing. A better understanding of these immune escape mechanisms is a prerequisite to the design of effective NK cell-based therapy.


Positions available for:
This project is suitable for Honours or Master students. A good knowledge of Immunology is required.

Contact Person: Camille Guillerey

Interested? Download the information flyer (PDF, 64KB) now.

Most organs contain Stem cells—yet we still do not fully understand how Stem Cells are normally controlled in the body, or what stops them from becoming malignant.

Our team’s focus is on how the micro-environment (or niche) tells stem cell what they can and cannot do in the body. We believe the identification and targeting of such niche factors will lead towards the discovery of novel therapeutics to further enhance the efficacy of cancer therapy and alleviate cancer therapy side-effects.


Positions available for:
These research projects involve preclinical mouse models of disease and treatment. Although preclinical research is highly rewarding and clinically relevant, they also require commitment to ensuring your animals are fine as well as strong creative thinking and critical evaluation skills.

Contact Person: A/Prof Ingrid Winkler

Want to help alleviate cancer therapy side effects? Grab your copy of the information flyer (PDF, 74KB) and join the team today.

Photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy (light therapy) is a safe, non-invasive, non-pharmacological method of treating / preventing symptoms such as pain and fatigue, promoting healing and reducing inflammation. Photonic energy stimulates mitochondrial activity (mitochondria are the powerhouse of cells). Depending on the targeted cells, different effects have been identified. There are five projects currently in various stages of development at the Mater.


Positions available for:
Please read flyer for study relevant qualifications

Contact Person: Prof Liisa Laakso

Find out more from the information flyer (PDF, 78KB).

People with intellectual and developmental disability experience numerous barriers to accessing hospital based healthcare. As a result, people with intellectual and developmental disability experience poor health outcomes and die earlier.  This project aims to gain an in-depth understand the barriers people with intellectual and developmental disability experience using qualitative methods. Using a co-design approach we will develop of tools, resources and training aimed at improving the accessibility of the health system. We will implement the tools, resources and training and evaluate their effectiveness.


Positions available for:
Individuals wanting to improve health for marginalised population and develop qualitative research skills

Contact Person: Dr Katie Brooker

Download your copy of the information flyer (PDF, 64KB) and find out more about this project.

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gut. It is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer (colitis associated cancer – CAC). Our group has previously demonstrated that a medication called thioguanine, which is sometimes used in the treatment of ulcerative colitis, can prevent CAC in a murine model by inhibition of B-catenin, a transcription factor commonly activated in colon cancers. Molecular modelling indicated that there may be a direct interaction between thioguanine and B-catenin. This project will determine if this interaction can be observed in vitro and in vivo. If the interaction is confirmed this will be mapped and potentially confirmed using structural biology.


Positions available for:
This project would be suitable for an Honours candidate who has taken lab based courses and is familiar with basic laboratory techniques. Prior experience with protein biochemistry is a plus but not required. This project could easily be expanded into a PhD project in the future.

Contact Person: Jakob Begun

Join the project now. Find out more from the information flyer (PDF, 89KB)

Mounting evidence supports a central role for the gut-brain axis in development of Parkinson’s disease (PD). We are analysing in-house and publicly available genomic datasets, including spatial and single cell transcriptomics from mouse models and human samples to progress understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in gut-to-brain spread of cellular pathology in PD.


Positions available for:
Students with strong quantitative skills (programming, statistics, HPC) and an interest in human genetics and neurodegeneration are encouraged to apply.

Contact Person: Dr Jake Gratten

Want to take part in this research project? Download the information flyer (PDF, 64KB) and find out how.

The bacteria within the gut microbiome produce a variety of metabolites and bioactives with untapped biologic activity.



Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in Australia with significant morbidity and mortality. It has been associated with an altered microbiota. My group has successfully identified multiple anti-inflammatory bioactives from cultured gut bacteria. We now wish to expand this program to identify potential bacterially derived anti-cancer bioactives that could be used as future therapeutics.


Positions available for:
This project would be suitable for an Honours candidate who has taken lab based courses and is familiar with basic laboratory techniques. Prior experience with cell culture work is a plus but not required.

Contact Person: Jakob Begun

See yourself here? Why not download the information flyer (PDF, 74KB) and find out more.