Undergraduate Scholarships


UNSW SCIENCE Vacation Research Scholarships (SVRS) 2017 - 2018

Applications closed Friday 22 September 2017. SVRS 2018 - 2019 TBC.

Are you a science student who would like the opportunity to experience the real world of scientific research first-hand?
Students in the penultimate (second last) year of their undergraduate program in Science or a related discipline are invited to apply for a SVRS to join a BABS research team and participate in research over the coming summer.

Each SVRS scholarship is valued at $3,800 and students will participate in a 6-week research project. 

The School facilitates collaborative research efforts across discipline boundaries for fundamental discoveries, generation of commercial opportunities and clinical research. BABS has key strengths in environmental microbiology, genetics and cellular biology, molecular medicine, and associated technology development in the areas of functional genomics and many facets of biotechnology. The School has a unique strength in combining fundamental biological and biomolecular sciences with a strong applied biotechnology and medical focus. 

Interested in Applying?
The first step of the application process is to contact the supervisor of your chosen project to discuss the project's requirements. When you have decided on your project preferences please submit an application form by the closing date (22/09/2017).

Full details (including how to apply) are provided on the Scholarships website here.

Enquiries can be directed to science.adrt@unsw.edu.au

SVRS PROJECTS IN BABS 2017-18 (SVRS 2018 - 2019 TBC)

NOTE: If you identify a BABS staff member whose work you are interested in but they do not have a project listed on our website, you are encouraged to approach them to inquire whether they would be interested in offering a SVRS project.

Supervisor: Dr Richard Edwards

Contact details: Email: Richard.edwards@unsw.edu.au, Phone: 9385 0940, Office: Room 2110, Level 2, E26 Bioscience South Building.

Project: Australian vertebrate genome annotation
We are leading the bioinformatics component of three genome projects for iconic Australian vertebrates: two of the world’s most deadly snakes (the tiger snake and eastern brown snake), and one of the most famous invasive species, the cane toad. This project will assist with the annotation of our draft genomes by identifying and characterising key protein-coding genes of interest.

Time project is available: From December 2017 to February 2018.

Preferred students: Students should have an interest in genomics/genetics and bioinformatics. Prior experience or an interest in programming would be beneficial but is not required.

Other conditions: This project is 100% computational.

Supervisor: Dr Dominic Glover

Contact details: Email: d.glover@unsw.edu.au, Phone: 9385 3382, Office: Room 114, Level 1, Samuels Building.

Project: Engineering ultrastable protein scaffolds for nanomaterials
The fabrication of nanoscale devices requires architectural templates on which to position functional molecules in complex arrangements. Protein scaffolds are particularly promising templates for nanomaterials due to inherent molecular recognition and self-assembly capabilities combined with genetically encoded functionalities. In this project, students will produce ultrastable protein filaments and examine the stability of these proteins under varying environmental conditions (pH, temperature, solvents). Ultimately, these filaments will be used as scaffolds for the fabrication of nanomaterials.

Time project is available: From Mid-December 2017 to February 2018.

Preferred students: Students majoring in molecular biology or a related field, and an interest in synthetic biology or bioengineering.

Supervisor: Prof Hazel Mitchell

Contact details: Email: h.mitchell@unsw.edu.au, Phone: 9385 2040, Office: Room 3114, Level 3 East, E26 Bioscience South Building. 

Project: The role of autophagy in gastric carcinogenesis
Gastric cancer (GC) is the fifth most common cancer and the third leading cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide. While Helicobacter pylori has been established as the most important risk factor for GC and was classified as a class 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization in 1994, the aetiology of GC involves the combined effects of bacterial, host and environmental factors. Given that H. pylori is initially targeted by autophagy, it is conceivable that dysfunction within genes of this arm of the immune system could affect the extent and direction of the host response against the infection, resulting in an increased risk of GC development. We have demonstrated that polymorphisms involved in autophagy (ATG16L1 and IRGM) dramatically modulate GC risk in Chinese and Colombian subjects, two high GC risk populations. Thus, with this project, we now aim to investigate the underlying mechanisms of a number of these autophagy polymorphisms in H. pylori-related inflammation through in vitro studies. This project will increase our understanding of autophagy, an important cellular mechanism that remains understudied in H. pylori infection and related GC.

Time project is available: From Mid-January 2018 to End February 2018.

Preferred students: Third year students with a special interest in immunogenetics and microbiology.

Supervisor: Dr Kate Quinlan

Contact details: Email: kate.quinlan@unsw.edu.au, Phone: 9385 8586, Office: Room 3105, Level 3, E26 Bioscience South Building.

Project: Using immune cells to combat obesity
Obesity is a global problem. We study the molecular pathways that control the switch between fat accumulation and fat burning. It was recently discovered that humans have cells called “beige adipocytes” that specialise in burning fat. Our team has recently identified signals from immune cells that convert normal adipocytes into “beige adipocytes”. We hypothesise that these signals can be used in a therapeutic setting to create more “beige adipocytes” to promote fat loss. This project aims to understand these signals. Ultimately we hope to determine how normal adipocytes are converted into “beige adipocytes” and translate these findings into a therapeutic strategy to reverse obesity.

Time project is available: From January 2018 to February 2018.

Preferred students: Commencing third year in 2018. Students with an interest in molecular biology, cell biology, genetics and/or immunology.

Supervisor: A/Prof Mark Tanaka

Contact details: Email: m.tanaka@unsw.edu.auPhone: 9385 2038, Office: Room 2111, Level 2, E26 Bioscience South Building. 

Project: Modelling variation in evolving bacterial genomes
Bacterial genomes continually change through the process of mutation, which produces variation within and between protein-coding genes. Variants or polymorphisms within coding sequences can be non-synonymous or synonymous. In recent years whole-genome sequencing studies have revealed interesting patterns in single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in bacterial populations. This project will investigate these patterns by collecting data from published studies and interpreting them in the light of mathematical and computational models of the short-term evolutionary dynamics of bacteria.

Time project is available: From Early December 2017 to Early February 2018.

Preferred students: This project would suit either a student with a quantitative background (e.g. mathematics, statistics, physics, engineering) with an interest in biology, or a biology student with an interest in picking up skills in computing or modeling. 

Supervisor: Dr Fatemeh Vafaee

Contact details: Email: f.vafaee@unsw.edu.au, Phone: 9385 3281, Office: Room 2106, Level 2 West, E26 Bioscience South Building. 

Project: Computational Drug Repositioning
Traditionally, most drugs have been discovered using target-based or phenotypic screens to identify a lead compound which will be then optimized to avoid putative side effects due to off-target binding or unexpected physiologic roles of the intended target. This is an expensive and time-consuming process resulted in only around 50 molecular compounds being approved by the US Food and Drug Administration between 1999 and 2008.

During the past years, there has been a surge of interest in drug repositioning to find new uses for existing drugs. Repositioning is economically attractive when compared with the cost of de novo drug development; it can reduce the traditional timeline of 10-17 years and make drugs available for use in 3-12 years. The number of repositioning success stories is rapidly increasing and more companies are scanning the existing pharmacopoeia for repositioning candidates.

Computational repositioning is an emerging multidisciplinary field to develop automated workflows that can generate hypotheses for new indications of a drug candidate using multitude of high dimensional molecular data. This project is aimed to use transcriptomics, drug-target interactions, and/or genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to systematically generate repurposing hypotheses for candidate drug molecules.

Time project is available: From January to end of February 2018.

Preferred students:
Students with interest or experience in machine learning and bioinformatics;
Students with computational background having interest in biomedical applications.




ROY and Lois Tirrell AWARD (UGCA1213)

Applications close 31 March 2018

Applications are now open for students commencing stage 2 or 3 of a Science program:  

Amount - $4,000

Criteria - to be eligible to apply:

o Applicants must have completed (at a minimum), stage 1 of their degree.

o Applicants must be undertaking a major in “Molecular and Cell Biology” in a Science degree program.  

Applicants must be Australian citizens or permanent residents. 

To apply: complete and submit the Application Form by 31 March 2018.