HDR opportunities at the Thompson Institute - 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.

Full time domestic and onshore international HDR students are eligible to apply for a Research Training Program Stipend of $28,597 per annum tax free (2021 rate), indexed annually.

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

Male student studying at desk
Healthy brain ageing
  • 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 Ben Isbel

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: Dr Larisa McLoughlin, Professor Daniel Hermens

Suicide prevention
  • Bereavement following suicide
  • Evaluation of ‘Coping Kids’, a parenting intervention to promote emotional and behavioural regulation in children and adolescents
  • Developmental interpersonal trauma – treatment and its relationship to eating disorders substance use problems, Borderline Personality Disorder, and domestic violence
  • Acute Suicide Prevention
  • Implementation of the ‘Care Collaborate Connect’ model in Emergency Departments, Policing, Perinatal care, General Practice, Nursing, and Community Mental Health
  • Neurobiological outcomes of psychotherapy

Research contact: Professor Helen Stallman

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 Ana Boucas


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

Data science
  • Automation of electroencephalogram (EEG) data pre-processing and analysis
  • Unsupervised machine learning and feature reduction methods for high dimensional data from small sample sizes
  • Measures of criticality and complexity as neuromarkers of mental health
  • EEG source space reconstruction methods and connectivity as neuromarkers of mental health
  • Phase amplitude coupling as a neuromarker of mental health
  • Precision medicine reporting system – combining neuroimaging, psychosocial and clinical data with Bayesian inference to inform risk prediction

Research contact: Dr Paul Schwenn

  • A number of research projects are available with a particular focus on longitudinal analytical methods, Bayesian approaches, and other novel statistical methods
  • Evaluation research - mental health early intervention programs

Research contact: Dr Denise Beaudequin