19 May 2010

Nine UQ researchers will travel the world building research links and bringing that knowledge back to Queensland thanks to funding from the Queensland Government.

As part of the Queensland International Fellowships announced yesterday, UQ scientists will be able to work with world-leading experts in fields such as next generation computers, biofuels and medical technologies.

The Fellowships aim to strengthen the State's global knowledge alliances and gives researchers the opportunity to travel overseas for at least 12 weeks and undertake a high quality, technically feasible and strategically valuable project with a leading international knowledge partner.

Professor Max Lu, UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), said the Fellowships meant UQ’s international research links would become even stronger.

“I congratulate all of our Fellowship winners and look forward to seeing the fruits of their collaborations in the future,” Professor Lu said.

UQ’s Fellowships winners are:

- Professor Jennifer Martin, an Australian Laureate with UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), will travel to Imperial College London to work with leading membrane protein expert Professor So Iwata. Membrane proteins are critical to life as they respond to signals, recognise invaders and establish molecular defences. This area of frontier research will provide new pathways to understand, prevent and/or cure disease. Current UQ research on bacterial membrane proteins will in the future lead to the development of compounds with the potential to treat antibiotic-resistant infections.

- Dr Yong Wang, from the School of Mechanical & Mining Engineering, will travel to UCLA in America to build links with researchers studying high quality magnetic semiconductors for spintronic devices that will feature in the next generation of computing technology. With spintronics, data manipulation and long-term storage can be conducted in one computer chip, rather than separately in a CPU and a hard drive as currently practiced. Such a computer would be much smaller in size and use less energy and data manipulation could also be done quicker.

- Evan Stephens, a PhD researcher with the IMB, will travel to the University of Bielefeld in Germany to further research links regarding the use of algae as a biofuel. This research hopes to improve the economic viability of such biofuels.

- Associate Professor Ross Cunnington, from UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute, will travel to the Medical University of Vienna in Austria to gain expertise in the use of more powerful MRI scanners, with the long-term view of establishing the first 7 Tesla human MRI system in Australia at UQ. This project will greatly advance our understanding of the normal function of the higher motor areas of the human brain, which is important for understanding the deficits in brain function associated with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

- Professor Jin Zou, from the School of Mechanical & Mining Engineering, will build research alliances with colleagues at the University of Oxford and Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics within the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in the fields of spectroscopy and nanostructural manipulation of semiconductor nanostructures. Semiconductor nanostructures have been considered as building blocks for the nanoscaled devices that have applications in many high-tech fields, including energy saving technologies, clean energy, biosensing, medical diagnostics, spintronics, and security technologies.

- Professor Chen Chen, from the School of Biomedical Sciences, will travel to the Xi’an Jiaotong
University in China to further his work in finding a link between obesity and diabetes and to provide therapeutic and diagnostic targets for further development.

- Dr Ming Yan, from the School of Mechanical & Mining Engineering, will travel to the Harbin Institute of Technology in China to further research in the field of high-strength A1-based metallic glass which can be used in the automotive and other industries. Through a technique called nanocrystallisation, the mechanical properties of the material can be increased by 130 percent. Once the underlying mechanism that controls the nanocrystallisation can be understood, more advanced Al-based metallic glass will be designed.

- Dr Meng Hou, from the School of Mechanical & Mining Engineering, will travel to Sichuan
University in China to further his work on natural fibre biocomposites that are an alternative to fibreglass. This project is the first stage of a big ambitious project to develop a novel surface treatment and manufacturing technique of bicomposites, to be used as internal structural components for the automotive and other industries.

- Dr Trudi Flatscher-Bader, from UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute, will travel to Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry to study the latest techniques of examining the human genome. Her work aims to find the reason why older fathers are more likely to have children with debilitating neurocognitive disorders, including schizophrenia and autism. Understanding these mechanisms may translate to future public health recommendations about optimal age of parenting.

Media: Andrew Dunne at UQ Communications (3365 2802 or 0433 364 181).