Undergraduate Scholarships

UNSW Science Vacation Research Scholarships (SVRS) 2018 - 2019

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 an 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 strong applied biotechnology and medical focus. 

How to apply

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 TBC.

Full details (including how to apply) are provided on the Scholarships website and all enquiries can be directed to science.adrt@unsw.edu.au.

UNSW Science Vacation Research Scholarships (SVRS) Projects 2018 - 2019

Supervisor: Dr Matthew Baker

Contact details: 

Email: matthew.baker@unsw.edu.au

Phone: 9385 1255

Office: Room 4102, Level 4, E26 Bioscience South Building.

Project: In this project we explore the directed evolution of the flagellar motor in the lab by evolving it to swim under different energy sources and selecting for motility. Recent work in antibiotic resistance by Michael Baym has shown that the resistance of antibiotics occurs in lockstep when progressing through 10-fold increases in antibiotics.

We aim to explore how motility can evolve across interfaces, when a bacterium faces a change in environment between, for example, H+ and Na+ environments, and how the bacteria adapts to dwindling nutrient across this interface.

This project has scope for designing and building custom tanks to optimise bacterial evolution using 3D printing and prototyping, as well as investigating microbiology and bacterial motility in multiple dimensions using layered swim devices.

Period: From January 2019 to February 2019.

Preferred students: Students who have some background in microbiology, or alternatively, interest physical sciences like computing, physics, programming.

Supervisor: Dr Irina Voineagu

Contact details: 

Email: i.voineagu@unsw.edu.au

Phone: 9385 0114 

Office: Room 3107, Level 3, E26 Bioscience South Building.

Project: Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a novel class of non-cording RNAs formed by non-canonical back-splicing. Remarkably, circRNAs are enriched in the brain relative to all other tissues, and this property is conserved from mouse to humans. We recently carried out an extensive analysis of circRNA expression in the human brain, and identified hundreds of novel circRNAs, characterised inter-individual variability of circRNA expression in the human brain, and identified brain region-specific circRNAs. This project will involve (a) experimental validation of some of the novel circRNAs and (b) circRNA knock-down by genome editing, to assess their functional roles. The project will deepen your understanding of gene expression regulation, and will expose you to molecular cloning, cell culture, qRT-PCR and genome editing, as well as (optionally) bioinformatics.

Period: From January 2019 to February 2019.

Preferred students: Third year students with an interest in molecular biology, neurogenetics, or bioinformatics.

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: Deep learning has revolutionized research in image processing and speech recognition and will soon transform research in molecular biomedicine. Deep learning models can capture multiple levels of representation and extract informative features directly from raw data. Omics data is one of the most prominent examples of feature‐rich and high‐dimensional heterogeneous data and thus multi-omics data analysis and integration have increasingly become a deep learning harvesting field in computational biology. We are developing deep learning models to leverage large omics data for finding hidden structures within them, for integrating heterogeneous data and for making accurate predictions in different biomedical applications. Students in this project will get involved in this fascinating and transforming research field and will assist with developing deep learning models for cutting-edge biomedical applications. 

Period: From January 2019 to February 2019.

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

Supervisor: Professor Mark Tanaka

Contact details: 

Email: m.tanaka@unsw.edu.au 

Phone: 9385 2038

Office: Room 2111, Level 2, E26 Bioscience South Building.

Project: Pathogenic bacteria and viruses are successful from an evolutionary point of view, in part because they are able to adapt rapidly to their hosts. With the growth of large amounts of genome sequencing data in recent years, it has become feasible to probe changes in pathogen genomes at a very fine genetic level. Useful computational tools are currently available to interpret genome variation. However, deeper, more detailed questions about adaptation in pathogens will require specific processes to be carefully considered. Here, we will develop computational models towards understanding and explaining the observed variation in microorganisms. These models will be used to examine the features of genomes and populations that enable microbial adaptation. 

Period: From December 2018 to February 2019.

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 modelling.

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: Long read sequencing offers new opportunities for fully resolving both copies of diploid genomes during whole genome assembly. This project will be to help test and optimize approaches for phasing diploid genomes and/or resolving structural variation between the two parental versions of diploid chromosomes in yeast. 

Period: From December 2018 to February 2019.

Preferred students: Students should have an interest in genomics/genetics and bioinformatics. Some prior experience of commandline tools and R is required for this project. 

Conditions: This project is 100% computational.

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: 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. 

Period: From December 2018 to February 2019.

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.  

Conditions: This project is 100% computational.

Supervisor: Dr Dominic Glover

Contact details: 

Email: d.glover@unsw.edu.au

Phone: 9385 3382

Office: Room 110, Level 1, F25 Samuels Building.

Project: Living cells are filled with proteins and other molecules that can serve as “building blocks” for scientists to assemble functional devices, such as biosensors for the detection of toxic pollutants. Typical biosensors make use of complicated genetic circuits that allow cells to probe their environment for specific molecules and then compute the results. However, such circuits involve several rounds of transcription, translation and regulatory events that slow down the response time. In this project, students will produce and characterise protein components that will be used to replace synthetic gene circuits with synthetic protein circuits. Ultimately, protein circuits are expected to improve the sensitivity and response time of biosensors, as well as reducing the number of “parts” required to build a biodevice. 

Period: From mid-December 2018 to February 2019.

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

Supervisor: Dr Jai Tree

Contact details: 

Email: j.tree@unsw.edu.au

Phone: 9385 9142

Office: Room 3113, Level 3, E26 Bioscience South Building.

Project: Pathogenic bacteria must sense and respond to a broad range of environments, including the host, to cause a productive infection. Virulence gene expression is controlled at both the transcriptional and post-transcriptional level allowing multiple environmental cues to be “layered” onto a gene regulatory circuit. In this project, we will be examining how RNA-based regulation of the MazEF toxin-antitoxin system controls pathogenesis in the foodborne pathogen, enterohaemorrhagic E. coli. 

Period: From mid-December 2018 to February 2019.

Preferred students: Microbiology or Molecular Biology

Conditions: PC2 and OGTR training will be required.

Supervisor: Professor Bill Ballard

Contact details: Email: w.ballard@unsw.edu.au, Phone: 9385 2021, Office: Room 3111, Level 3, E26 Bioscience South Building.

Project: Captive experiments have shown that many species regulate their macronutrient (i.e. protein, lipid and carbohydrate) intake by selecting complementary food types. The goal of this study is to compare the ratio of foods selected by the dingo with that chosen by the German Shepherd dog. The microbiome of the dingo and the German Shepherd dog would then be assessed to see how they differ.  

Time project is available: To be negotiated. 

Preferred students: Genetics, ecology

Any other conditions: Field work at dingo sanctuary and at dog breeders.

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.

Roy and Lois Tirrell Award (UGCA1213)

Amount: $4,000

  • Applicants must have completed (at a minimum), stage 1 of their degree.
  • Applicants must be undertaking a major in “Molecular and Cell Biology” in a Science degree program.  
  • Applicants must be Australian citizens or permanent residents. 

Apply Now