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Honours Opportunities

欧洲杯开户Improve your employment prospects, enhance your research skills or prepare for postgraduate study by undertaking an Honours degree in one of the specialisations below.


Environmental, Biomedical and Life Sciences

These projects are available at the times indicated under each proposal as full-time (9 month) or part-time (18 month) undertakings.

  • Agricultural Sciences
    Students with interests in Animal Science, Animal Health or Crop and Pasture Science should consider these projects. For general information on Honours in this area, contact Associate-Professor David Miller. For more specific information on individual projects, contact the academic supervisor named in the project description.

    Project area
    Supervisor
    Meat quality; Animal nutrition
    David Pethick
    Meat quality, Animal nutrition, Biochemistry Graham Gardner 
    Pigs John Pluske
    Sheep production Andrew Thompson
    Serina Hancock
    Animal behaviour & welfare, Camels, Goats, Endocrinology David Miller
    Equine, Welfare, Health Anne Barnes
    Equine
    David Murphy
    Agricultural technology
    David Murphy
    Jayaseelan Marimuthu
    Ethics, Welfare Teresa Collins
    Health, Nutrition Caroline Jacobson
    Cattle, Meat Quality, Equine Fiona Anderson
    Eating quality Liselotte Pannier
    Behaviour, Ecology, Welfare

    Trish Fleming

    Meat quality
    Caroline Stewart
    Honor Calnan
    Aquaculture Alan Lymbery
    Dairy Joshua Aleri
    Plant nutrition Professor Richard Bell
    Legume symbioses; Agricultural microbiology; Microbial physiology Dr Graham O’Hara
    Soil carbon Professor Richard Harper
    Agricultural biotechnology Professor Michael Jones
    Grain genetics and genomics Professor Chengdao Li
    Symbiotic nitrogen fixation
    Dr Jason Terpolilli
  • Environmental and Conservation Sciences
    Students with interests in Biological Sciences, Conservation and Wildlife Biology, Environmental Management and Sustainability, Environmental Science, Environmental Management and Sustainability, Marine Biology or Marine Science should consider these projects. For general information on Honours in this area, contact Dr Jatin Kala. For more specific information on individual projects, contact the academic supervisor named in the project description.

    Project
    Pelagic food web structure in the SE Indian Ocean
    The pelagic food web of the SE Indian Ocean is poorly understood but, like other oligotrophic ocean basins, is expected to be complex with many trophic levels. An opportunity exists to use 13C and 15 N isotopes in biological material collected over 30° of latitude in the SE Indian Ocean to elucidate these trophic relationships. Interests in chemical oceanography, marine ecology, zooplankton and being involved in an international science programme are necessary. This project is available from July 2020.
    Supervisor: Professor Lynnath Beckley
    Trophodynamics of mesopelagic fishes in the SE Indian Ocean
    Mesopelagic fishes such as lantern fishes are vital components of the pelagic food web but relatively little is known about their feeding. This project will examine and compare the diet of lantern fishes along the 110°E line of the International Indian Ocean Expedition using microscopic and isotopic techniques and compare with results obtained by molecular techniques. Interests in deep sea fishes, zooplankton, biological oceanography and being involved in an international science programme are necessary. This project is available from July 2020 and will be co-supervised by Dr Pilar Olivar.
    Supervisor: Professor Lynnath Beckley
    Changes in distribution and abundance of pteropods in the SE Indian Ocean
    Pteropods, because of their calcium carbonate shells, are extremely important sentinel species with respect to ocean acidification. An opportunity exists to compare distribution and abundance of pteropods collected along 110°E during 2019 as part of the 2nd International Indian Ocean Expedition against published data from the same stations during the first Expedition in 1963. Interests in zooplankton, biological oceanography and being involved in an international science programme are necessary. This project is available from July 2020 and will be co-supervised by Dr Fred Wells.
    Supervisor: Professor Lynnath Beckley
    Changes in distribution and abundance of copepods in the SE Indian Ocean
    Copepods are the most numerous crustacean zooplankton in the open ocean and are critical components of oceanic food webs. An opportunity exists to compare distribution and abundance of copepods collected along 110°E during 2019 as part of the 2nd International Indian Ocean Expedition against published data from the same stations during the first Expedition in 1963. Interests in zooplankton, biological oceanography and being involved in an international science programme are necessary. This project is available from July 2020 and will be co-supervised by Claire Davies of IMOS and CSIRO (Hobart).
    Supervisor: Professor Lynnath Beckley
    Oceanography of the Southern Bluefin Tuna spawning ground off NW Australia
    Commercially important Southern Bluefin Tuna undertake massive annual migrations from circum-global, cool temperate waters to tropical spawning grounds located between NW Australia and Indonesia. This project will collate and analyse all available oceanographic data in the Indo-Australian Basin from the IMOS AODN portal to establish the oceanographic conditions in the tropical spawning grounds. Environmental factors (physical and bio-geochemical) which influence spawning, development of larvae and dispersal mechanisms will be investigated. A marine science background, and interests in fisheries oceanography and being involved in an international science programme are essential. This project is available from July 2020 and will be a pre-cursor to a research voyage being run by a USA research vessel in 2022 as part of the second International Indian Ocean Expedition.
    Supervisor: Professor Lynnath Beckley
    Ningaloo: Planktonic duration and the influence of oceanographic variables 
    A neat data set from concurrent sampling of larval fishes (meroplanktonic), krill (holoplanktonic) and marine environmental variables has been collected for several cross-shelf transects off Ningaloo Reef. These data are available to test hypotheses about planktonic duration and the influence of oceanographic variables. An interest in biological oceanography is essential, the project is available from July 2020 and will be co-supervised by Dr Alicia Sutton.
    Supervisor: Professor Lynnath Beckley
    Biological oceanography of the Kimberley
    A detailed sampling programme in the Kimberley collected a suite of zooplankton samples together with data on various oceanographic variables. These are available to explore distribution and abundance patterns of various zooplankton taxa relative to the gradients of major environmental variables (e.g. turbidity, chlorophyll etc) in the dynamic, macro-tidal waters of the Kimberley. An interest in biological oceanography is essential and the project is available from July 2020.
    Supervisor: Professor Lynnath Beckley
    Role of submerged plants in wetland biodiversity: developing knowledge to underpin wetland restoration
    This project follows on from a recent BSc. Honours project examining whether native and exotic submerged plants support different freshwater invertebrate assemblages in wetlands. That project showed that both native and exotic submerged plants increase invertebrate biodiversity in wetlands. This new project focuses on investigating whether the physical structure that plants provide is their most important role in increasing invertebrate biodiversity. A field experiment will place plastic aquarium plants that mimic the shape of common plant species (plant analogues) into local wetlands and observe their colonization by invertebrates. Real plants will also be sampled to identify what species live on the real plants in the same wetland. By comparing the analogues to the natural plants, we will be able to see whether structure alone is driving the positive effect of plants on invertebrate diversity. Mixed plant stands can also be compared, and the diversity and abundance of algal epiphytes can also be examined as they are an important food source. Exotic and native plants can also be compared. This is a field and lab-based experimental project suitable for 1 or 2 students. This project is available in February or mid-year start and co-supervised by Dr Jane Chambers.
    Supervisor: Assoc. Professor Belinda Robson
    Urban ecology of dragonflies
    South West WA has more than 40 species of dragonflies, including many endemic species. Around half of these species were found in urban wetlands and streams in the past. However, land use intensification and climate change have altered urban habitats, but the impacts on dragonfly breeding are unknown. This project will involve sampling urban wetlands for dragonfly larvae and exuviae to identify which species are breeding and determine habitat correlates for successful breeding in urban wetlands. Students may also explore whether some species are accelerating their development to make use of seasonal wetlands before they dry out. This project will use field and lab skills and is suitable for 1 or 2 students. This project is available from mid-year and is co-supervised by Dr Edwin Chester.
    Supervisor: Assoc. Professor Belinda Robson
    The contribution of waterfalls to regional freshwater biodiversity in a flat landscape.
    South-western Australia is described as being part of the southern Australian flatlands bioregion. Flat landscapes have fewer waterfalls and fast-flowing riffles in their rivers than do mountainous regions. This can increase the importance of waterfalls for providing fast-flowing habitat. Research in another flat region, western Victoria, showed that waterfalls contained unique species of invertebrates not found elsewhere in rivers. Elsewhere in the world, specialised dragonflies, mayflies and stoneflies have been found living only in waterfalls. Southwestern Australian waterfalls have not yet been examined, but may also contain unique species. As our climate dries, waterfalls will be very vulnerable to lower flows and shorter flow periods. They may require special management if they are to retain unique species, but the first step is to determine whether waterfalls do contain species not found elsewhere in the landscape. This project involves fieldwork suited to a single or pair of students. A good level of physical fitness is required for this project, as reaching some waterfalls will require hiking and carrying field equipment. This project is best suited to a mid-year start and is co-supervised by Dr Edwin Chester.
    Supervisor: Assoc. Professor Belinda Robson
    Do stream confluences provide a unique form of habitat for stream biota?
    Understanding longitudinal changes in assemblages of freshwater plants and animals has a long history in the field of freshwater ecology. River flow dynamics change along a hierarchy of spatial scales along the length of a river and are often associated with changes in biotic assemblages. There are several important morphological elements that can cause a sharp change in the flow dynamics along the length of a stream, including tributary confluences (i.e. point where two streams meet). The aim of this project is to assess the importance of river confluences for structuring invertebrate or benthic algal assemblages in small streams in southern Australia, comparing streams in Victoria and Western Australia. Invertebrates or algae will be sampled above and below tributary confluences in both States. This project involves fieldwork suited to a single or pair of students. A good level of physical fitness is required for this project, as reaching some confluences will require hiking and carrying field equipment. The student(s) may also have the opportunity to travel to Deakin University in Victoria for field and laboratory work for a period of a few weeks. This project is co-supervised by Dr Ty Matthews (Deakin University).
    Supervisor: Assoc. Professor Belinda Robson
    The role of spiders in controlling mosquitoes emerging from saltmarsh wetlands
    When saltmarsh wetlands are in good condition they are surrounded by fringing trees, including species of Melaleuca, Casuarina and Eucalyptus. This vegetation provides places for web-spinning spiders to build webs and trap flying insects. Anecdotal evidence suggests that where fringing vegetation is removed, more mosquitoes enter nearby residential areas. The aim of this project is to quantify both the density of web-spinning spiders and their diet in saltmarsh wetlands. What vegetation features enhance densities of web-building spiders? This project involves field and lab work and is suited to 1 student.
    This project has a February or mid-year start and is co-supervised by Dr Edwin Chester.
    Supervisor: Assoc. Professor Belinda Robson
    Does the mosquito Aedes camptorhynchus rely on autogeneous egg production to stock egg banks in saltmarsh wetlands?
    Recent research suggests that the saltmarsh mosquito A. camptorhynchus may lay an egg batch before taking a blood meal, to ensure that each female contributes at least some eggs to the egg bank. This project will involve field sampling in saltmarsh wetlands in the Peel-Harvey wetlands. The student will collect adult female mosquitoes as they oviposit and determine whether they have taken a blood meal. Adult trapping may also be used. This project involves field and lab work and is suited to 1 student. This project has a February or mid-year start and is co-supervised by Dr Edwin Chester.
    Supervisor: Assoc. Professor Belinda Robson
    The flora and fauna of wheatbelt gnammas and climate change
    Gnammas are rock pools at the top of the granite inselbergs scattered across the WA wheatbelt. These gnammas have been found to contain rare species of aquatic plants and to have a much higher invertebrate biodiversity than gnammas in other parts of Australia and the rest of the world. Because gnammas are rainfed and unconnected to groundwater, they are unaffected by the salinisation that afflicts much of the wheatbelt, so they may be refuges from salinity. Little is known about the interactions between species in Australian gnammas. Although algae are assumed to provide the base of the food web in gnammas, leaf litter has also been found to be important, but quantities of litter vary dramatically between gnammas in different subregions. Food web structure in gnammas is also poorly understood. These projects will investigate the role of algae and leaf litter in gnamma food webs through sampling gnammas with naturally occurring differences in leaf litter abundance and describing invertebrate food webs and through experimental manipulation of leaf litter abundance. This project only suited is a pair of students, to ensure that you have fieldwork companions, for mid-year start, not suited to drought conditions and is co-supervised by Dr Edwin Chester.
    Supervisor: Assoc. Professor Belinda Robson
    What is responsible cat ownership? Making international comparisons
    We think we know what responsible cat ownership means in keeping cats safe and preventing environmental problems, but how much of this is coloured by national perceptions? With the aid of trusty Google Translate, one can ask the question in different languages and see what comes up. Does one get different answers in Europe, North America, Australasia, China, Japan, or the Middle East? And to what extent do recommendations vary between veterinary specialists, lay groups of cat fanciers, and regulatory advice from government? There may be opportunities to collaborate with Dr Mark Farnworth, University of Nottingham on Trent (UK).
    Supervisor: Professor Michael Calver
    Quantifying the research achievements of Australia’s natural history museums
    Museums throughout the world are repositories of valuable collections of natural history specimens that are a major resource for research, while museum curators undertake extensive taxonomic and conservation research of their own. Unfortunately, budgetary constraints impede on the ability of museums to collaborate in research and use collections effectively. Therefore it is important to document the range of research conducted by museum scientists or by others using museum collections and to highlight its significance. This project will focus on Australia’s natural history museums and their research in the decade 2005-2014. This is sufficiently recent to be relevant to pressing contemporary issues, while also old enough for indicators of research uptake to have accumulated. The project will focus on:
    - The topics of the research
    - The research personnel involved (museum staff, external scientists, research students)
    - The impact and quality of the research.
    There may be opportunities to collaborate with Dr Pat Hutchings from the Australian Museum, Sydney.
    Supervisor: Professor Michael Calver
    Why do catbibs work?
    Catbibs are collar-worn devices made from neoprene (the same substance used for wetsuits) that are effective in reducing prey capture by pet cats. While their effectiveness is established, their mode of action is unclear. In brief, the state of play is:
    1. We know that catBibs reduce prey captures significantly.
    2. But we don’t know exactly how: is it that the colour warns prey (birds and lizards have great colour vision)? Is it that cats don’t roam as far and hence don’t encounter as many prey? Is it that the bib interferes with some aspect of the capture behaviour?
    3. Recent studies on the roaming question found that cats with and without the bibs have similar home ranges, so that can’t be the reason. Further data on show that colour doesn’t have an effect. That points to the last explanation, but it needs to be tested. This would involve (i) noting cats’ behaviour playing with hunting toys with and without the bib, (ii) getting accelerometer traces for cat hunting movements, (iii) looking at accelerometer records for roaming cats to see if some behaviour patterns are depressed when the cat wears the bib.
    The project will involve collaboration with Dr Adrian Gleiss from the Harry Butler Institute.
    Supervisor: Professor Michael Calver

  • Medical, Molecular and Forensic Sciences
    Students with interests Medical, Molecular or Forensic Sciences should consider these projects. For general information on Honours in this area, contact Dr Andrew Currie. For more specific information on individual projects, contact the academic supervisor named in the project description.

    Project Supervisor
    Sarcoma; Signal transduction; Erythrocytes; Metastasis; Personalised medicine
    Dr Evan Ingley
    Haematology; Thrombosis; Haemostasis; Inflammation; Exercise Associate Professor Murray Adams
    Vertebrate functional anatomy and evolution Dr Natalie Warburton
    Bioinformatics; Biostatistics; Data science; Computational genomics; Statistical modelling
    Dr Penghao Wang
    Herbal medicine; Dietary supplements; Toxicology; Biochemistry Dr Garth Maker
    Ticks; Human & animal vector-borne pathogens; Next-generation sequencing; Bioinformatics Dr Charlotte Oskam

    Parasitic infections; Zoonotic transmission and diagnostics

    Dr Amanda Ash
    Bacterial metabolism; Horizontal gene transfer and evolution; Molecular genetics; Endosymbiosis Dr Jason Terpolilli
    Forensic science; Wildlife crime; Serology; Phylogenetics; Metagenomics Dr Shane Tobe
    Forensic DNA; Cold Case Investigations; National Security and Defence; Metagenomics; Crime Scene Investigation Mr Brendan Chapman
    Neonatal immunology; Sepsis; Milk immunology
    Dr Andrew Currie
    Synthetic biology; Genetic engineering; Microbial genomics; CRISPR-Cas editing Associate Professor Wayne Reeve
    Physiology education; Neuroscience; Transcranial magnetic stimulation Dr Sarah Etherington

How to apply

Once you’ve contacted the project supervisor and made your choice, you can apply directly to Murdoch using our easy-to-use online application system.

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