The UQ Winter Research Program provides the chance to road-test research alongside UQ academics and researchers.

The program enables you to extend your knowledge of an area of interest, and to develop your analytical, critical thinking and communication skills.

Applications are open to undergraduate (including honours) and master's by coursework students who are enrolled at UQ at the time of submission.

All winter scholars receive a Winter Research Scholarship valued at $1500.

Find your project

Applications for 2018 have closed. We will advertise 2019 projects in the coming months.

See the list of past (closed) projects, below, to get a feel for what might be on offer in 2019. 

Advanced organic synthesis

Description: you'll perform a range of advanced synthetic organic chemistry techniques to gain experience in constructing bioactive molecules

Expected outcomes: you'll gain skills in synthetic organic chemistry and molecule characterisation, which may provide an opportunity to generate publications from your research. You'll be asked to produce a report at the end of your project

Primary supervisor: Professor Craig Williams

Eligibility: students who have successfully completed CHEM3001

Duration: 6 weeks

Before you apply: contact the primary supervisor

Alternative sigma factors in H. influenzae

Description: alternative sigma factors coordinate bacterial stress responses and are essential to enable them to respond to changing environmental condition, such as interactions with host cells for pathogens. We have discovered that during host cell interactions, several uncharacterised alternative sigma factors are highly expressed in Haemophilus (H.) influenzae, and this project aims to start exploring their role in coordinating H. influenzae host cell interactions by creating gene knockout mutations and studying their effects of bacterial survival

Expected outcomes: you'll learn how to create a gene knockout mutation in H. influenzae and conduct a survey of alternative sigma factors present in H. influenzae and their likely mode of action

Primary supervisor: Associate Professor Ulrike Kappler

Eligibility: students with a background in molecular biology and microbiology/biochemistry. The project can be tailored to candidates at different levels of experience

Duration: 4 to 6 weeks

Before you apply: contact the primary supervisor. Other projects may be available

Computer simulations of bioactive molecules

Description: this project uses sophisticated computer simulations to study how certain types of drug candidates interact with biological molecules. It aims to understand what controls how a drug molecule binds to its intended target in the body and how to tailor the properties of the bioactive molecule. These insights will help in the design of new anti-cancer drug leads

Expected outcomes: you'll gain skills in computer-based molecular modelling. You'll use high-performance supercomputer technology to perform simulations and learn how these types of simulations can be applied to drug design as well as many other areas of chemistry. You may be asked to produce a short written report

Primary supervisor: Dr Elizabeth Krenske

Eligibility: students majoring in Chemistry who have studied organic chemistry at second- and/or third-year level and have an interest in biological, organic and/or theoretical chemistry

Duration: 4 to 6 weeks

Before you apply: contact the primary supervisor

Development of targeted nanocarrier delivery system for gene delivery

Description: antisense gene therapy is a technology that uses molecules for treatment of neoplastic diseases. The molecules include antisense oligonucleotides (asODNs), which are short nucleotides. AsODNs act by either activating RNase H or Hybridising to mRNA and blocking its access to ribosome. Also, AsODNs can distort DNA transcription. As asODNs are unstable if they are injected directly, modification is required. Liposomes are artificial lipid-based vesicles comprising mono- or bi-lipid layers, which can be used to transport asODNs into the cell.

Chemical coupling of antibodies to the liposomes are needed to make transport more specific. This project aims to construct and characterise an appropriate nanocarrier (micelle/liposomal-based delivery system) in which siRNA can be complexed. It also aims to improve the siRNA delivery to specific organs or cells such as the uterus and thyroid glands through the attachment of peptide, antibody or other ligands to the delivery system to increase the uptake of the liposomes, deliver the encapsulated siRNA to a specific site in the body and increase its release into the cytoplasm

Expected outcomes: you'll acquire skills related to drug delivery, organic synthesis and using the HPLC, mass spectrometer, NMR and Zeta sizer, and gain experience in cell culture and how to use flow cytometry.

Primary supervisor: Professor Istvan Toth

Eligibility: students with a background in chemistry (preferably), biotechnology or nanotechnology

Duration: 4 to 6 weeks

Before you apply: contact Dr Waleed Hussein before you apply

Hitting the sweet spot: A radical new route to rare L-sugars

Description: this project explores new radical chemistry as a means of gaining synthetic access to specific rare L-sugars, which are important components of bacterial capsular polysaccharides and are important for vaccine development

Expected outcomes: you'll learn how to synthesise, purify and characterise compounds of biological interest

Primary supervisor: Associate Professor Vito Ferro

Eligibility: students only with a background in chemistry. Applicants must have completed CHEM2054 as a minimum. Previous research experience, such as SCIE3260, is an advantage

Duration: 6 weeks

Before you apply: contact the primary supervisor

Ketol-acid reductoisomerase: An important antituberculosis drug target

Description: the alarming increase in resistance to current medications to treat human tuberculosis (TB) represents a major threat to global human health. The development of inhibitors of ketol-acid reductiosomerase (KARI) as novel anti-TB agents is urgent. In bacteria and plants, KARI is a central enzyme in the biosynthetic pathway of the branched chain amino acids (such as leucine, isoleucine and valine), essential building blocks of almost all proteins. Importantly, this pathway, including KARI, is not present in animals. Therefore, highly specific inhibitors of KARI aren't expected to be toxic to the human host. The activity of this pathway has been proven essential to the growth and survival of many bacteria, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mt).

This project will provide new classes of therapeutic drug leads to combat TB, and potentially other bacteria. One of the most effective ways to combat resistance is to develop new drugs that have new modes of action. In respect to resistance, KARI is a particularly interesting target as it has several immutable active site features (such as metal and NADPH binding sites) that if blocked should result in powerful inhibition. Thus, these compounds should also have a low propensity to develop site-of-action resistance. The main hypothesis is that inhibitors of KARI can be developed into new drugs to prevent the growth of TB in infected humans

Expected outcomes: you'll acquire skills related to organic synthesis and purification, mass spectrometry, NMR, and enzyme assay

Primary supervisors: 

Eligibility: students with a background in chemistry and biochemistry (preferably)

Duration: 6 weeks

Before you apply: contact Dr Waleed Hussein before you apply

New components for the synthesis of metal-organic frameworks

Description: Metal-Organic Frameworks are a class of polymeric material formed from organic and metallic components. This project explores new ways to form these materials following an innovative hierarchical self-assembly methodology

Expected outcomes: you'll design and prepare a new organic compound, then investigate its interactions with a variety of metal ions. This project requires some synthetic laboratory work

Primary supervisor: Associate Professor Jack Clegg

Eligibility: students who have completed CHEM2054 as a minimum

Duration: 4 to 6 weeks

Before you apply: contact the primary supervisor

Systemic RNA interference (RNAi) in flowering plants

Description: gene silencing is a highly conserved process in plants and animals. It's of fundamental importance to gene regulation, virus defence, genome response to environment and genome evolution. Remarkably, when silencing is triggered against a virus or an abundantly expressed gene in plants, it can spread throughout the organism. This systemic signally pathway is a particularly important defence mechanism against viruses.

This project aims to identify plant genes required for systemic movement of gene silencing in plants. Expected outcomes include increased understanding of the role of RNAi in defence against viruses. The findings may also be relevant to mechanisms of gene silencing in animals

Expected outcomes: you'll gain experience and knowledge in PCR-based genotyping of plants for mutations in genes involved in RNAi, grafting Arabidopsis plants, genetic mapping, screening for a reporter gene, and collection and analysis of data. You may be asked to produce a report or oral presentation

Primary supervisor: Professor Bernard Carroll

Eligibility: students with a strong interest in molecular genetics, genetic and epigenetic mechanisms; Year 2 or 3 undergraduates

Duration: 4 to 6 weeks

Before you apply: contact the primary supervisor

Application details

Find out more about the UQ Winter Research Program , including eligibility guidelines and application details.