HDR opportunities at the Thompson Institute | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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HDR opportunities at the Thompson Institute

The Thompson Institute invites expressions of interest from students for Higher Degree by Research (HDR) projects.

Students with undergraduate and/or postgraduate backgrounds in the following disciplines are encouraged to apply: Engineering; Medical and Health Sciences; Allied Health; Psychology; Social and Behavioural Sciences; Nutrition and Dietetics; Sport and Exercise Science; Computer and Data Science; IT and Communications Technology.

There are multiple entry pathways to a USC Higher Degree by Research program. For information about the degree options available, visit the Research Students page. For information on eligibility and how to apply, visit the HDR Applicants page.

Further information on scholarships, including round opening and closing dates is available here.

Male student studying at desk
Healthy brain ageing

The ground-breaking Health Brain Ageing program investigates targeted lifestyle interventions, using neuroimaging, and biomarker, neuropsychological and cognitive testing. The program seeks to uncover neurobiological markers capable of detecting the earliest signs of neurodegenerative disease.

  • Mapping functional MRI network changes in healthy ageing and neurodegenerative disease
  • Assessing electroencephalographic (EEG) markers of neural synchronisation following mindfulness
  • Developing simultaneous MRI/EEG techniques to assess brain changes in healthy ageing and neurodegenerative disease
  • Longitudinal comparison of the unique effects of mindfulness vs exercise on neurophysiology and healthy brain ageing
  • Investigation of cerebrovascular perfusion and glymphatic function following lifestyle interventions for healthy brain ageing

Research contact: Dr Sophie Andrews

Youth mental health
  • HDR projects are available in the ground-breaking Longitudinal Adolescent Brain Study, particularly those involving brain imaging (EEG, magnetic resonance spectroscopy), cognition and onset of mental disorder
  • Cyberbullying and functional MRI in adolescents

Research contact: Professor Daniel Hermens

Suicide prevention

Higher degree researchers can advance world-first clinical trials of promising treatments for suicidality, or assist in building evidence of the community’s role in suicide prevention, particularly through education and public awareness.

Research contact: Professor Daniel Hermens

Molecular biology

The molecular biology platform underpins the Thompson Institute's programs, investigating molecular biomarkers of PTSD, depression, suicidality, eating disorders and dementia.

This platform integrates molecular biology into neuroimaging-based mental health research programs

The research opportunities in this area include investigating inflammatory and endothelial markers and their association with mental disorders.

Research contact: Dr Bonnie Quigley


Research projects employing cutting-edge neuroimaging methods combined with quantitative, data-driven modelling and analyses are available for:

  • Machine learning applications in neuroimaging
  • Neurological underpinnings of unrefreshing sleep in ME/CFS
  • Neuroimaging of central autonomic control
  • Individual mental risk/disease severity prediction using multimodal MRIs
  • Imaging interactions between the immune and central nervous systems

Research contact: Dr Zack Shan, Dr Jacob Levenstein