The Summer and Winter Research Programs provide students with an opportunity to gain research experience working alongside some of the university’s leading academics and researchers.

Applications are now open
 


Available QAEHS Summer Research Programs:

Dr Emma Knight: PFAS fate in the environment

This project will investigate per- and poly-fluorinated substances (PFASs) in environmental and/or laboratory derived samples to further understand their fate in the environment. PFASs have been found ubiquitously in the environment due to their use in aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) as well as in the manufacturing of waterproof and stain resistant carpet, paints, textiles, and non-stick cookware. They are considered persistent organic pollutants (POPs) because of their ability to bioaccumulate, lack of natural biodegradation and potential toxicity (e.g. to cause cancer) to humans and the environment. This is why it is important to understand how PFASs behave in the environment and how we can better improve analytical procedures for detection of these substances. 

Duration: 4-5 weeks
Expected hours per week: Between 20 - 36 hours
Preferred commencement date: 21 June 2021
Campus: Woolloongabba (PACE)
 

Professor Kevin Thomas: Measurement of microplastics in high fat samples

This research project will assess the challenges of analysing polyolefin (e.g. polyethylene) microplastic pollution in high fat samples, such as oily fish, dairy products and meat. Analysis will be performed by pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry. Natural fats are a potential cause of interference and the project will evaluate a number of approaches for eliminating or reducing these.

Please note: This project is open to applications from students with a background in environmental sciences or chemistry or 3rd – 4th year students only.

Duration: 5 weeks
Expected hours per week: Between 20 - 36 hours
Preferred commencement date: 21 June 2021
Campus: Woolloongabba (PACE)
 

Dr Fisher Wang: Passive air sampling of microplastics

There is a lack of knowledge on passive air sampling method for microplastics. This research project aims to understand the capability of standard polyurethane based passive air sampler for capturing microplastics in the indoor air. The approaches will include sampler calibration and method testing and validation.

Please note: This project is open to applications from students with a background in atmospheric chemistry/general chemistry.

Duration: 5 weeks
Expected hours per week: Between 20 - 36 hours
Preferred commencement date: 21 June 2021
Campus: Woolloongabba (PACE)
 

Dr Fisher Wang: Chemical exposure from bushfires

Exposure to bushfire smoke has been linked to numerous health effects. There is a lack of knowledge on how general population are affected regarding chemical exposure and how long the impact lasts. The research project aims to characterise human exposure associated with bushfires. The approaches will include urine analysis for exposure biomarkers and data analysis for human exposures.

Please note: This project is open to applications from students with a background in atmospheric chemistry/general chemistry.

Duration: 5 weeks
Expected hours per week: Between 20 - 36 hours
Preferred commencement date: 21 June 2021
Campus: Woolloongabba (PACE)
 

Dr Pradeep Shukla: Removal of hydrophobic pollutants from groundwater using foam fractionation technology

The research project entails the investigation of foam fractionation-based separation technique to treat contaminated groundwater containing AFFF.  AFFF is aqueous fire-fighting foam that have been historically used for fire-fighting exercise. Due to the recent discovery of harmful health effects of certain chemicals found in AFFF (for e.g. PFAS), the use of AFFF containing such chemical has been banned. However due to the long-term use of such foams over past several decades, the PFAS and associated chemicals have now seeped into the groundwater and soil, resulting in legacy issues.

The current project is to investigate the efficacy of foam-fractionation technology to treat the polluted groundwater by removing the PFAS chemicals from water. The foam-fractionation system is a column separation unit where the polluted water is fed into the unit and then air is bubbled through the liquid. The hydrophobic bind to the air bubbles and moves to the top of the column as a light foam which can be then extracted out.

The project work will include laboratory based experimental work to prepare artificial groundwater containing PFAS and then measuring pollutant removal rate. The work will be followed by preparing a mathematical model to describe the separation of the pollutant molecules though the water media into the air media.

Please note: This project is open to applications from candidates with a background in analytical chemistry, chemical engineering and mathematics.

Duration: 5 weeks
Expected hours per week: Between 20 - 36 hours
Preferred commencement date: 21 June 2021
Campus: Long Pocket

 

 

How to apply for the Winter Research Program