Research projects are available in a number of fields and topics and vary each year.

Summer Research Projects (2018-19)

An investigation of the relationship between body mass index and midfoot mobility

Contact:     Dr Natalie Collins / Dr Melinda Smith
Duration:   10 weeks

Description:    

A relationship between body mass index (BMI) and static foot posture exists, however it is unclear whether dynamic midfoot mobility and BMI are associated. The aim of this study is to investigate the relationship between BMI and the vertical and medial-lateral mobility of the midfoot. 

Training will be provided in the measurement of midfoot mobility including Dorsal Arch Height and Midfoot Width at 50% total foot length, in weight bearing and non-weight bearing. Once inter-rater reliability is established, the student rater will obtain measures of midfoot mobility and BMI from 100 asymptomatic young adults recruited from The University of Queensland. As part of this project it is anticipated that the student will gain experience in recruitment of participants, data collection and entry, and exposure to data analysis and interpretation.

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Evaluation of the My University Life, student peer mentoring program

Contact:    Dr Tanya Rose
Duration:   8 weeks

Description:    

My University Life is a student partnership infrastructure service to support students as they begin and transition through the phases of their health sciences programs. The 2016-2020 Student Strategy is a call to action to address the form, function and fundamentals of the student experience at The University of Queensland.  My University Life, is a flexible peer mentoring service. This mixed-methods research aims to evaluate the peer-mentoring program by exploring impacts, on student engagement, satisfaction, retention, and inter-professional collaborations across the professional programs within the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. This research will explore project outcomes from the perspectives of both mentees and mentors. The Summer Research Scholar will be provided with an opportunity to work with a project team comprising academic and clinical support staff across audiology, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and speech pathology.

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Enhancing language learning in ageing with exercise: An fMRI investigation.

Contact:    Professor David Copland
Duration:   6 weeks

Description:    

Ageing is associated with cognitive changes such as memory decline, which influences the ability to learn new words. Acute exercise (one single session of exercise) is thought to influence cognition through a temporary increase in biomarker levels or through a brain. Understanding how exercise affects language learning and the regions of the brain that support this may lead to development of new approaches to improving language re-learning in people with these conditions (e.g., stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease). generalized effect on arousal, however the neural correlates of exercise-induced new word learning have yet to be explored in healthy adults. The aim of this research project is to understand how exercising affects learning and to identify underlying brain activity by training people to learn new words in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner immediately after they have exercised. This interdisciplinary research project combines the fields of language neuroscience, ageing and exercise physiology. This project will consist of recruiting 80 healthy adults aged 60-85 meeting specific eligibility criteria. Participants will be asked to attend three visits and will undergo a cognitive and fitness assessment, blood draws, a stretching or exercise session (of either moderate or high intensity), in scanner word learning tasks, and recall and recognition tasks. This research will provide information about whether exercise can improve learning, especially word learning, and identify which parts of the brain participate in this process. Different diseases and conditions can have a negative impact on the way people use language to communicate, due to changes in the structure or function of their

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Predicting and promoting post-stroke aphasia recovery

Contact:    Professor David Copland
Duration:   8 weeks

Description:    

The aim of this NHMRC funded project is to determine whether brain activity and structure observed after stroke predict subsequent language symptom recovery and response to treatment. Participants with post-stroke aphasia will be tested on a clinically meaningful language battery and scanned at 1, 3 and 6 months post-onset, with half the participants receiving treatment at 1 month. Imaging will be used to identify language-related brain activity, white matter tract integrity, and lesion-symptom mapping. This research will determine the best clinical and imaging predictors of language improvement and treatment response in the critical subacute phase of brain recovery.

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Factors influencing the aetiology, diagnosis and identification of risk factors in cervical spine conditions

Contact:    Dr Julia Treleaven / Dr Lucy Thomas
Duration:   6 weeks

Description:

Headache, neck pain and dizziness are common features of cervical spine musculoskeletal conditions but they can also be early indicators of other non-musculoskeletal conditions such as vestibular pathology eg benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), vestibular migraine or more serious pathologies such as arterial dissection. The purpose of the project is to improve the differential diagnosis of headache, neck pain and dizziness. The specific aims are:

  1. To identify factors which may help predict cervical arterial dissection
  2. To identify factors which may help in the differential diagnosis of cervicogenic dizziness and headache. 

The project will involve the collection and analysis of specific variables from 3 existing data sources; clinical data from patients with cervical arterial dissection, data from patients with headache or neck pain and dizziness. It may also involve some anatomy laboratory work and some clinical testing. Some data entry and analysis may be required.

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How can an early clinical visit to an aged care setting prepare speech pathology students for future interactions with older clients?

Contact:    Dr Sarah Wallace
Duration:   6 weeks

Description:

This research will investigate how brief, early clinical visits to aged care settings can prepare and influence students’ self-perceived attitudes towards ageing and aged care, and their confidence in communicating with older persons.

Specifically, the project will aim to determine whether early exposure to the aged care environment, supported by formal reflective tasks can influence students’ attitudes towards ageing and confidence in communicating with older people. Findings from this project will be used to advance current clinical education models for speech pathology students in their early years of training, specifically, identifying mechanisms to effectively support students entering the professional environment for the first time, in order to enhance a ‘positive’ learning experience. Importantly, the findings may reveal new educational strategies which can help to nurture speech pathology graduates with greater competency in interacting with ageing populations.

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Identifying inter-professional education (IPE) opportunities across programs in the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences

Contact:    Dr Michelle Smith
Duration:   8 weeks

Description:

The summer scholarship students will work with staff from the Schools of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Pharmacy, Human Movement and Nutrition Studies, Dentistry, and Nursing Midwifery and Social Work to review courses and curriculum to identify opportunities for IPE. This will include identifying currently offered IPE experiences; identifying the presence, timing and location of content that would be relevant to multiple professions (such as communication, cultural awareness/competence, ethics and values, teamwork skills, dealing with conflict); and mapping clinical placements across programs to identify common placement times and IPE opportunities. Students may also have opportunity to assist in the development of interactive IPE initiatives.

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Physiotherapy research in musculoskeletal/sports injuries in adults and children

Contact:    Dr Michelle Smith
Duration:   8 weeks

Description:

The summer scholarship students will work with staff (academic and research assistants) and PhD students to undertake research in the area of musculoskeletal and sports physiotherapy. Students will contribute to a range of research tasks including data collection and analysis of patient-reported outcomes, neuromuscular, biomechanical, balance, physical performance and clinical data. Students may also contribute to reviewing literature to inform research projects. Research populations that students may interact with include: hip, knee and ankle osteoarthritis, ankle sprains, chronic ankle instability, posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, healthy control participants, and sports persons (adults and children) with no specific musculoskeletal injuries. Data may be collected in University, hospital and sporting sites.

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Healthy Ageing and Neurorehabilitation

Contact:     Professor Sandy Brauer / Dr Anna Hatton
Duration:   10 weeks

Description:

The scholar will join the UQ Centre for Neurorehabilitation, Ageing and Balance (NAB) Research, based within the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and have opportunities to contribute to several projects. The Centre for NAB Research is a core member of the newly formed (June 2018) QUEX ‘Retrofit living For ageing well through Understanding and Redesign of Built environments (ReFURB)’ consortium. This international consortium represents an exciting joint research initiative between The University of Queensland and University of Exeter (UK), which seeks to explore cutting-edge solutions to safe living, active ageing and well-being, and develop innovative approaches to building infrastructure and environmental design, which bring about health benefits. The scholar will be responsible for leading research scoping activities (e.g. literature/systematic reviews, evidence searches, identifying funding schemes) to support the Consortium’s short- and long-term objectives. The scholar will also assist with other ongoing projects led by academic staff within the Centre, including clinical trials investigating novel footwear devices to improve balance and gait in clinical groups (e.g. diabetic peripheral neuropathy, multiple sclerosis) and physical activity monitoring in people with neurological disease (e.g. Parkinson’s disease).

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Inter-cultural practice for health professionals

Contact:     Dr Emma Crawford
Duration:    6-8 weeks

Description:

Are you interested in cultural responsiveness in health settings?

This project involves the student in research that relates to culturally responsive practice. You will be involved in data management, analysis, and writing related to cultural responsiveness research projects with health professionals in hospital and community settings. The research is being carried out with speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists.

If you are interested in cultural responsiveness for health professionals and would like to be involved in research that has real-world applications – this is the project for you.

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Neuroprotective Developmental Care – a pre-post intervention study

Contact:     Dr Emma Crawford
Duration:    6-8 weeks

Description:

Neuroprotective Developmental Care (NDC) is a new approach to infant sleep and care. This study involves collection of pre-post outcome data for online and face to face service delivery by health professionals trained in NDC. Families with infants under 12 months old have been the participants. This data has been collected over a period of 12 months and includes measures of maternal responsiveness, mother-infant relationship quality (using the Emotional Availability Self-Report Sclae (EASR; 36 items), the Crying Patterns Questionnaire, Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire, Breastfeeding self-efficacy Questionnaire, Acceptance and Action Questionnaire II, Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, and MOS Sleep Scale, along with family demographics.

Student involvement in this project would include involvement in data analysis and write-up of the literature review/introduction, methods, findings, and discussion for a publication.

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Building a complex model of causes, consequences and treatments for low back pain – insights from individuals living with the condition

Contact:     Dr Jenny Setchell / Professor Paul Hodges
Duration:   10 weeks

Description:

Low back pain is a significant and ongoing problem – reducing its impact is a major research priority. With this project, we seek to create a complex model of what people with low back pain believe are the causes and consequences of their condition and treatments for their condition. We will engage with up to 100 adults currently residing in Australia who have, or have had, low back pain to investigate what they believe contributes to increasing or reducing their condition, and by how much. We will work individually with participants to complete a ‘mental model’ of these factors using a pre-existing software designed to help capture individual and group knowledge in a standardised format that can be used for analysis. The software is called a mental modeller (http://www.mentalmodeler.org). The software produces schematics which can be analysed together to produce sophisticated understandings of factors that change low back pain. Outcomes are expected to help work towards new management strategies.

The summer student will also be offered the opportunity to contribute to, and learn from, other related projects.

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*Projects are subject to change.