Faculty of Science

School of Molecular Sciences

A selection of current projects in the School 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 in 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.

Design and development of novel therapeutics for multidrug resistant bacteria
This project aims to use a molecular structure-guided approach to identify and optimize high potency inhibitors of a key virulence determining enzyme in bacteria for development into a novel antibiotic.
Which cellular cues regulate seasonal perception and shoot growth?
This project will investigate the convergence of oxygen, redox and energy cues in regulating the cell cycle in plant meristems. Studies can span several domains, from the apical meristem of Arabidopsis or tomato, to the axillary quiescent or dormant buds of perennial species.
Protein turnover to measure the role of degradation in the costs of cell function and the acclimation of plants to environments
The objective of this project is to use peptide mass spectrometry approaches to determine the turnover rate of specific plant proteins and follow up key observations with physiological, proteomic and metabolomic investigations in mutant lines altered in their protein degradation machinery.
What are the wheat proteins that define wheat quality, enable disease resistance and tolerate harsh environmental conditons?
This project will link to industry partners in assessing metabolic pathway expression in wheat tissues to develop protein markers for industry and learn about metabolic pathway responses linked to real world problems in improving grain production.
Understanding how salinity damages wheat and barley crops
This project will use proteomic techniques to build a more complete picture of global protein expression changes that occur in salt-stressed wheat or barley seedling roots using genetic resources that different in tissue tolerance to salt.
Discovering the roles for mitochondrial metabolite transporters in plants
This project will take a reverse genetics approach to the study of organic acid transporters and also other carriers that impact on the function of these transporters to understand the process of respiration in plants that occurs inside mitochondria.
Discovering how respiration effects plant development and defence signalling
The objective of this project is to use knockout and overexpressing lines of plant specific complex II subunits to characterise their functions at the physiological, proteomic and metabolomic levels and therefore to uncover the hidden role of these proteins and this respiratory pathway in plants.
Applications of NanoSIMS Analysis on Biological Studies
This project aims to develop innovative analytical methodologies to decipher mysteries in biological systems
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.
Genome mining of virulent small molecules in human fungal pathogens
Using a combination of functional genomics and chemical/synthetic biology tools, this project aims to discover novel biological active compounds from fungal plant pathogens and investigate their roles in causing plant diseases.
Smoke alarm: Discovering new signalling compounds that operate in plants
Some chemicals released from smoke stimulate seed germination. Despite the fact that most plant species never experience fire, all plants have the genetic machinery to sense these chemicals. Why? We hypothesise that there are new compounds of biological origin with similar activity that are waiting to be discovered.
Exploiting chemical signals to boost plant performance
Combining molecular biology, traditional genetics and plant physiology, this project will investigate the function of a hormone-like signalling pathway that plants use to regulate seed germination and water use efficiency.
Synthetic biology tools for biosynthesis of small molecules
The production of bioactive small molecules in microorganisms involves orchestrating multiple genes encoding various biosynthetic enzymes.
Secondary metabolite biosynthesis in plant pathogens
Using a combination of functional genomics and chemical/synthetic biology tools, this project aims to discover novel biological active compounds from fungal plant pathogens and investigate their roles in causing plant diseases.
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.
Computational antioxidant design
This project will design novel bio-inspired antioxidants that specifically target oxidative stress occurring in many chronic diseases.
Probing the roles bacteria play in infant health
Projects described here will be to design and synthesize molecules of interest for use in biological studies with the beneficial bacteria to understand how these bacteria process these important oligosaccharides.
Tackling carbohydrate-processing enzymes head on
The projects in this research area will investigate a wide variety of enzymes ranging from those in humans that have been implicated in cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, dysfunction of carbohydrate metabolism and neurological diseases, to those in bacteria that are involved in antibiotic resistance and correct digestion.
Revealing the structural basis of gene regulation in paraspeckles
This project uses the tools of structural and molecular biology to investigate the protein:protein interactions central to gene regulation. Disturbances in these processes can lead to serious conditions including cancer. We aim to better comprehend the molecular basis of these changes, and so develop targets for use in rational drug development.
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.
Hunting for new herbicides: The human connection
A connection between plants and drugs made for human has led to the discovery of new herbicidal compounds, which this project will evaluate using a model plant system and by employing genetic, biochemical and physiological approaches.
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.