Faculty of Science

Furthering human knowledge and serving humanity

A selection of current projects in this research theme is listed here.

We welcome you to discuss other research project ideas with us. To do this:
Domestic students can contact the Graduate Research Coordinator at the School or Centre in which you wish to undertake research.
International students can use our online enquiry form, which helps us match your research interests with a potential supervisor.

Human milk metabolomics and environmental contaminants
Our overarching research goal is to understand how external influences (for example the environment and milk handling) change the components in human milk and whether these changes influence infants' health.
Detecting nanohertz gravitational waves using pulsar timing arrays
Pulsars are fast spinning neutron stars with exceptional rotational stability. By timing an array of the most stable pulsars, gravitational waves of nanohertz frequency can be detected. This project aims to search for gravitational waves from binaries of supermassive black holes using Australia’s Parkes Pulsar Timing Array data.
Detecting gravitational waves from coalescing binaries of neutron stars and black holes
Gravitational waves represent an entirely new window to listen to the Universe. We aim to make real-time detections of gravitational waves using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) data, allowing prompt follow up observations with conventional telescopes, and to understand the astrophysics of the gravitational wave sources.
Growing galaxies in supercomputers
Using powerful supercomputers as virtual laboratories, we model the growth of structure in the Universe and follow the formation and evolution of galaxies and their dark matter halos. This work allows us to interpret observations of the real Universe and their theoretical implications.
Enabling astronomy in the era of big data
Study with the Data Intensive Astronomy (DIA) team at ICRAR/UWA, which is deeply involved in the design and architecture of the future Square Kilometre Array (SKA) data system, enabling astronomers to maximize the scientific return from exabyte-scale datasets.
Mapping gas, star formation, and black holes activity in galaxies with the Square Kilometre Array and its Pathfinders
We use next generation radio telescopes such as the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) to obtain unique insights into how galaxies form and evolve over the last several billion years of cosmic time.
A multiwavelength window into galaxy formation and evolution
We trace the assembly of gas, stars, and dark matter in galaxies over the last several billion years of cosmic time using detailed multiwavelength observations from a range of state-of-the-art telescopes.
Clustering in episodic memory
Episodic memory refers to our ability to remember when and where events occurred, and specific details of events. This project will extend and test a theory of episodic memory developed in our lab.
Unique components of human milk
Trace metals and synthetic contaminants are not synthesised by the lactocyte and yet have enormous potential to influence the growth and development of infants.  Our research group seeks to discover new components of human milk, and to advance the scientific accuracy of human milk analysis.
Opto-mechanics for beating the quantum noise for gravitational wave detection
We use opto-mechanic interactions in various optical cavities to investigate schemes that can improve the gravitational wave detectors beyond the standard quantum limit.
Computational antioxidant design
This project will design novel bio-inspired antioxidants that specifically target oxidative stress occurring in many chronic diseases. .
Cold atom manipulation in optical lattices for clocks and fundamental physics
UWA is building a state-of-the-art atomic lattice clock as part of a ground station for the Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space (ACES) mission. The mission is designed to explore various of aspects of fundamental physics; for example, the constancy of fundamental constants. The UWA ground station is the only one in the southern hemisphere and will be Australia’s first cold-atom optical clock.
Evolution of the mammalian baculum
This project investigates the most evolutionary divergent bone in the mammalian body - the baculum (os penis). Our research aims to provide a comprehensive view of the proximate mechanisms of selection and its ultimate consequences for evolutionary divergence of this most remarkable bone.
Escape responses in fiddler crabs
Understanding the sensory information which prompts flight from predators shows us how animals measure risk and avoid predation. Comparing field and laboratory experiments, this project has many possible variations to pursue.
Reproductive and behavioural ecology of guppies
Using the guppy (Poecilia reticulata), this research is focussed on pre- and postcopualtory sexual selection and their potential interactions within a number of contexts.
Molecular components for electronics and Moore
This project will explore the molecular chemistry and single molecule conductance measurements that will allow us to take steps along the road toward a hybrid molecular electronic technology.
Vocal communication in the cooperatively breeding Western Australian magpie
This project invesigates the incredibly complex world of magpie vocal communication.
News ways of identifying signs of life in Earth's oldest rocks
This project will combine several state-of-the-art microscopy techniques to provide more robust criteria for differentiating ancient cellular life from non-biological cell-like artefacts and then to apply this knowledge to determine the biogenicity of controversial cell-like objects from early Archean (c. 3.5-3.0 billion-year-old) rocks.
Magnetoreception: Characterising the cellular basis of the magnetic sense in animals
Using honeybees as a model system, the researcher will use cutting-edge microscopy, microanalysis and magnetometry techniques to find and characterise magnetoreceptive cells. This fundamental research has potential relevance to bee diseases, such as colony collapse disorder or navigational disruption resulting from anthropogenic sources of electromagnetic field emission. In addition, solving the principles of magnetoreception in animals will have high impact in relation to the development of new biotechnologies and biomedical applications.
Exploring the structure and function of biominerals
Teeth, shells and skeletons are stunning examples of natural materials that are assembled using a combination of organic and inorganic building blocks and endowed with superior materials properties, such as strength, flexibility and hardness compared to synthetic analogues. Using microscopic and microanalytical tools, biomineral research aims to explore the complex hierarchical structure of these materials and the cellular processes that govern their fabrication.
Unravelling the social organisation of a primate super-group
This project is aimed at resolving the social organisation of a primate super-group which has implications for an understanding of human social evolution.
The evolutionary genetics of phase polyphenism in the Australian plague locust
This project will be at the cutting edge of research into the evolutionary genetics of phase polyphenism in locusts. Rearing facilities for the locusts are provided, together with access to our state-of-the-art genetics laboratory.
Protein scissors that evolved to glue: The mechanism for a ligating endoprotease
This project will study the details of a protease existing in the common sunflower, by making it in bacteria, purifying it and examining its properties in vitro. We will also endeavour to understand what changes in sequence allowed this protease to cut as well as join proteins.

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