Applications for the 2019 UQ Summer Research Program are now open.

General information on the program, including how to apply, is available from the UQ Student Employability Centre’s program website

Explore the available summer research projects:

How do people prioritize competing deadlines? A meta-analysis

Contact:     Dr Timothy Ballard
Duration:   8 weeks

This research seeks to examine a question of widespread interest within organisational, cognitive, and social psychology: how people make prioritization decisions in the face of competing deadlines? For example, how does a student decide which assignment to work on when juggling multiple assignments with different due dates? This project will involve conducting a literature review of previous research on this topic and analysing data from previous experiments. The scholar’s duties will include searching academic databases for papers on this topic, recoding datasets from previous experiments to prepare them for analysis, and running statistical analyses.

Download further details (DOCX, 16.3 KB)

Health and wellbeing in gender diverse populations

Contact:     Associate Professor Fiona Barlow
Duration:   10 weeks

The student will work with a large gender clinic in Brisbane to conduct follow up phone calls with trans people who have accessed the service. The goal will be to establish the health and wellbeing of trans people following contact with the clinic.

Download further details (DOCX, 14.5 KB)

Parenting and intergenerational disadvantage: A population trial of the Triple P system of parenting and family support

Contact:     Dr Kylie Burke / Dr Denise Clague  
Duration:   8 weeks

The aim of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness of targeting a single capability such as parenting skills in a cost-effective way to prevent or reduce multiple risks associated with disadvantage. The specific aim of the project is to determine whether implementing the Triple P Positive Parenting Program System at a population level has the potential to reduce risk factors associated with the intergenerational transmission of deep and persistent disadvantage. The project is a quasi-experimental design involving 33 socially disadvantaged communities within Queensland matched to similar communities within New South Wales who have not been exposed to the Triple P Positive Parenting Program System.

Download further details (DOCX, 15.3 KB)

Supporting the mental health of young people with chronic medical conditions and their families

Contact:     Associate Professor Vanessa Cobham
Duration:   8 weeks

Two clinical psychology PhD projects come under the umbrella of this research. The first focuses on understanding the experience (from the perspective of young adults with Type 1 Diabetes and their parents/caregivers) of transitioning health care settings and the management of diabetes. The second focuses on understanding and addressing the mental health profile, particularly anxiety, of children with Cystic Fibrosis and their parents/caregivers. Research in this area is very important with 10 to 20 percent of Australian children and young people currently living with a chronic illness. Young people with chronic illness are four times more likely to develop mental health symptoms compared to their healthy peers. The overarching purpose of the current projects is to develop support programs to assist young people and families impacted by chronic illness.

Download further details (DOCX, 15.8 KB)

Neural substrates of Brain stimulation

Contact:     Professor Paul E Dux / Dr Hannah Filmer
Duration:   8 weeks

While combined behavioural training and brain stimulation can improve a range of cognitive processes, it not yet known how brain function changes as a result, and how such changes are related to brain structure. This project aims to provide definitive evidence on the efficacy of cognitive training, brain stimulation and their combination for enhancing performance, and will reveal the underlying neural processes involved using MRI, MRS and FMRI. Outcomes and benefits include identifying the functional neural mechanisms and structural correlates of these effects for individuals and groups, informing cognitive training and stimulation approaches in a range of current settings, and a possible means of reducing the effects of age-related cognitive decline.

Download further details (DOCX, 15.2 KB)

An investigation into the role of testosterone in understanding age effects in social cognition

Contact:     Dr Sarah Grainger / Professor Julie Henry
Duration:   8 weeks

Social cognition broadly refers to how we process social information, and is therefore a critically important predictor of wellbeing, social functioning and mental health. Testosterone (T) is sex hormone that has previously been shown to have a negative impact on social cognitive functioning in younger adults. Interestingly, both social cognitive abilities and T are known to decline in older age. This project will provide the first investigation into the relationship between T and social cognition in late adulthood. The applicant will be asked to obtain a salivary T sample from younger and older adults, as well as administer a well-validated social cognitive assessment. The applicant will therefore learn a range of interesting experimental techniques, as well as biosafety procedures. The applicant will also learn how to effectively recruit participants. The hypotheses are that T will be differentially related to social cognitive function in younger and older adults, and that this relationship will in turn be moderated by participant gender. The results will have important implications for our understanding of potential hormonal influences on social cognitive ageing.

Download further details (DOCX, 15.3 KB)

How does accent affect our people perception?

Contact:     Dr Kana Imuta
Duration:   8-10 weeks (negotiable)

In modern day multicultural societies, accent is one of the most meaningful cues to one’s background. We readily use accent to evaluate others and interact accordingly, but how this manifests in prejudice and discrimination is hardly recognised by society and largely unexplored by researchers.

As a Summer Scholar in my lab, you will contribute to a research programme that seeks to understand how and why accent comes to be a powerful cue in our everyday social interactions. Your responsibilities will likely include various aspects of research, such as stimuli development, recruitment of participants, data collection, and coding of data. You may also have the opportunity to learn how to conduct a meta-analytic review.

Download further details (DOCX, 15.3 KB)

Parent’s experiences of information provision during the acute period of their child’s burns treatment

Contact:     Professor Justin Kenardy  
Duration:   10 weeks

Burns in children can be distressing for both the child who has received the burn and their parents. Most children are under 2 years old, and are heavily reliant on their parent for ques on how to respond. This can be challenging for parents who are having to regulate their own emotions, and deal with the uncertainties surrounding treatment of their child’s burn. This project aims to use qualitative interview to examine the way we are providing parents with information surrounding attending their appointments at the Queensland Children’s Hospital, and the influences this has on their child’s treatment. 

Download further details (DOCX, 14.8 KB)

The epidemiology of substance use in adolescents

Contact:     Dr Janni Leung
Duration:   10 weeks

Substance use are top factors that causes disease burden in young people. This project involves conducting literature review on the epidemiology of substance use, including alcohol, smoking, cannabis, and other extra-medical drug use, across different countries and their psychological, social, and demographic correlates in adolescents. High achieving students will have the opportunity to contribute to a research report for publication and explore future topics that can be developed into a research project for a thesis.

Download further details (DOCX, 15.4 KB)

Increasing organ donation rates and conversations

Contact:     Professor Barbara Masser / Dr Mel Hyde
Duration:   8 weeks

Engaging, recruiting and retaining donors is vital for the provision of substances of human origin (e.g., blood/blood products, organs/tissue, bone marrow/stem cells) to save or improve quality of life. The research project falls within a broader program of research, ‘Helping the Medical Matchmakers: Sustaining and Understanding Living Donors’ program, funded by the University of Queensland in conjunction with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. The Summer Research scholars will explore current local and international practices to increase the rates of organ donation (e.g., systems, incentives) and interventions to encourage conversations about organ donation with family (i.e., telling family your wishes).

Download further details (DOCX, 15.3 KB)

Can visual attention tell us how children integrate expression cues?

Contact:     Dr Nicole Nelson
Duration:   10 weeks

This is an eye-tracking project looking at how children and adults look at and integrate emotional stimuli. Anticipated tasks will involve data entry, literature searches, creation of stimuli, and data collection with adults and children. Students will gain experience working with children, and with eye-tracking equipment. Applicants must have a blue card and experience working with children.

Download further details (DOCX, 14.6 KB)

Effects of perceived mental effort on electrical brain response

Contact:     Associate Professor Alan Pegna
Duration:   10 weeks

Based on previous research on perceived ability and effort mobilization, this project has as main goal to understand the role of ability in the context of effort mobilization. So far, Wright (Wright & Dill, 1993; Wright, Wadley, Pharr, & Butler, 1994) showed that the manipulation of perceived ability through feedback or samples selection impacted subjective task demand which in turn determined effort mobilization in agreement with Brehm and Self’s (1969) theory: effort mobilization should increase proportionally as a function of task demand, as long as success is possible and justified. However, these manipulations might induce controlled processes that have been previously reported to render effects on effort-mobilization difficult to predict. This is explained because participants become aware of the experimental variables which can change the automatic processes that are at stake. Admitting this, we plan to use Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation, a novel technique which has been proven to increase performance during mental concentration tasks, to manipulate implicitly the task ability of our participants. Using tDCS will permit to manipulate ability with restricted knowledge of the experimental manipulation and prevent controlled processes.

Download further details (DOCX, 15.4 KB)

The development of imitation in infancy

Contact:     Dr Jonathan Redshaw
Duration:   10 weeks

For 40 years, human infants were thought to be capable of imitating others’ actions from birth. Recent work from UQ, however, has challenged this assumption, with a comprehensive longitudinal study finding no evidence of imitation in a large sample of newborns. If humans do not imitate from birth, then a critical question is how we learn to imitate. One hypothesis is that infants are born with a general propensity to produce motor actions in response to social stimulation, with the specific capacity for imitation gradually shaped over the initial months and years of life. This project will involve testing this hypothesis by scoring and analysing video-recorded data from a series of measures administered to infants as part of the longitudinal UQ study.

Download further details (DOCX, 14.8 KB)

Verbal Fluency in Healthy and Pathological Ageing

Contact:     Associate Professor Gail Robinson
Duration:   10 weeks

The ability to generate verbal (and non-verbal) ideas, including conversational speech, are cognitive processes supported by the prefrontal region of the brain. These abilities decline with age and specific deficits can be characteristic of some neurodegenerative conditions. Neuropsychological tests that measure verbal fluency include word fluency tasks and spontaneous speech tasks (for background see Robinson et al. The differing roles of the frontal cortex in fluency tests. (2012). Brain; 136: 2202-2214; and Barker, M.S., Young, B. & Robinson, G.A. (2017). Cohesive and coherent connected speech deficits in mild stroke. Brain and Language, 168: 23-36). This project will involve analysis of verbal fluency tests administered to healthy middle aged and older adults, as well as those with a range of dementias including Alzheimer's disease. 

Download further details (DOCX, 15.1 KB)

Using citizen science to create supportive, safe and inclusive transport alternatives for older people

Contact:     Dr Theresa Scott
Duration:   10 weeks

Australia like most developed countries has an ageing population. In order to maintain health into older age, it is important for people to be active, maintain their connections to the neighbourhoods and have social interactions. However, these factors can be impacted by lifestyle changes such as stopping driving. The aims of the project are to investigate ways to keep older people active and engaged in their communities, to promote safe mobility, to explore attractive and safe alternatives to the car. This project will use the Our Voice Citizen Science Framework to ask new and existing public transport users to discover things that help or hinder them to use public transport, using a mobile application on a tablet that allows them to record geo-stamped images and audio. They will then come together to discuss the positive attributes of public transport and also to brainstorm solutions to the negative features they identified. These solutions will be presented to decision makers within relevant bodies, e.g. Brisbane City Council (for buses) or Queensland Rail (for trains). This project will result in older adults, who are often an overlooked group of the community, having a voice to improve public transport for their peers. This will be a quasi-experimental pre-post study.

Download further details (DOCX, 15.4 KB)

How does the pay that leaders receive impact follower motivation and organizational functioning?

Contact:     Dr Nik Steffens
Duration:   8 weeks

Incomes of senior leaders have risen significantly in recent decades. In the middle of last Century, US CEOs earned about 20 times the salary of a typical worker. Since the 70s, CEOs have had pay rises of about 1000 percent while workers have received a rise of only 11 percent. In Australia, CEOs of large public companies currently earn up to 106 times the salary of the average worker. What is overlooked in these developments and the debates around these issues is the impact that leader pay has on followers’ exertion of effort in pursuit of shared (organizational) goals. On one hand, CEOs and their advocates argue that high pay helps to recruit and motivate the best leaders in ways that enhance organizational performance. On the other hand, critics argue not only that exorbitant pay has little impact on leader motivation but also that it serves to undermine the motivations of other organizational members. In the present project, we are conducting research to gain a more comprehensive understanding of (a) how leader pay impacts followers and organizational performance as well as (b) the factors that affect the extent to which leader pay affects followers.

For more background reading on the topic, see article here.

Download further details (DOCX, 16.9 KB)

A Large Multi-Lab Study of Facial EMG as a Measure of Emotion

Contact:     Associate Professor Eric Vanman
Duration:   10 weeks

Facial Electromyography is a technique involving measuring facial muscle activity that is used in facial expressions. We are beginning a large, multi-lab study involving research groups around the world who will test a group of participants at their university using the same stimuli and methods. The goal is to generate a large data set that will allow us to understand better the reliability and validity of this measure of emotion. In this project you will learn how to record facial EMG and help develop the stimuli and methods to be used in this project. You may also become involved in coordinating the project with others. Finally, you will test your own sample of participants that will be comprise our contribution to this international project.

Download further details (DOCX, 16.4 KB)

Social Intelligence or Self-Deception

Contact:     Professor Bill von Hippel
Duration:   6-10 weeks

I am interested in conducting research on social intelligence, innovation, or self-deception. Students interested in these possibilities should take a look at our published work in these areas to get a sense of what we’re doing. We can then meet to discuss possible projects to extend this prior work.

Download further details (DOCX, 15.3 KB)

Stereotype threat in the workplace

Contact:     Dr Courtney von Hippel
Duration:   8 weeks

An extensive literature in social psychology has demonstrated that stereotype threat, or the concern that one is the target of demeaning stereotypes, can undermine motivation and lead to acute performance deficits. This summer project will focus on stereotype threat in a workplace context.

Download further details (DOCX, 15.3 KB)

Supervisor Competencies for Return to Work/Remain at Work (RTW/RAW) for Common Mental Health Disorders

Contact:     Dr Kirsten Way
Duration:   8 weeks

Mental illness costs Australian workplaces almost $11 billion (AUD) per year in absenteeism, presenteeism and workers’ compensation costs (beyondblue and PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2014) with around 7,200 Australian employees compensated for work-related mental illnesses every year (Safe Work Australia, 2018). Given the size of the problem, mental illness continues to be of significant area of focus for Australian businesses and governments alike (Safework NSW 2017, Safe Work Australia 2017). Despite this, workers, organisations, and line managers have struggled with return and remain at work processes (RTW and RAW) in the context of mental illness (see for example, Ladegaard, Skakon, Elrond & Netterstrom, 2016).

Working with a multidisciplinary team this research aims to address these challenges. Underpinned by theory related to leadership and empirical studies on line manager competencies, this project aims assess the reliability and validity of a measure of supervisor competencies for RTW/RAW, and/or test an online simulation-based training intervention to improve supervisor competencies for RTW/RAW after a common mental health disorder.

Download further details (DOCX, 15.5 KB)