Semi-conductors, biological mutations, plant growth, quantum mechanics and substructures in naturally-occurring substances are among topics to be studied in nine prestigious UQ fellowships awarded within the UQ Faculty of Science.

UQ Fellowships aim to foster development of promising early career researchers and retain mid-career and senior academic staff of exceptional calibre at the University.

The three-year fellowships are awarded for research, teaching and service activities.

UQ Fellowships awarded to Faculty academics are:

School of Biological Sciences

Dr Chang Seok Han is an evolutionary biologist who plans to test how oxidative stress is related to behavioural ageing, and how the relationship is influenced by the social environment. Dr Han is joining the School from Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany.

Professor Christine Beveridge researches the hormonal control of plant development, particularly shoot architecture. Over the next three years, she plans to increase understanding of why and how shoot growth, sugars and hormones affect shoot branching to assist with such issues as understanding the cause of unwanted growth responses to pruning and the mechanisms underlying different types of shoot architectures that affect yield.

Dr Katrina McGuigan is an evolutionary quantitative geneticist whose research aims to understand the evolution of genetic variation, and the relationship between processes driving this and the evolution of phenotypes (the observable characteristics of the organisms).  She will undertake research-teaching using vinegar flies and zebrafish as her animal models.

Dr Diana Fisher will conduct research and teaching in the field of conservation and life history evolution of mammals in Australia and Melanesia. Her research focuses on extinction and conservation biology of mammals, and evolutionary ecology- including sexual selection, the evolution of ageing, and life history in mammals. She plans to assess ways to protect endangered marsupials and bats from threats such as introduced predators and drought in Australia, and forest loss in the Solomon Islands, and to increase our understanding of the unusual reproductive tactics of some carnivorous marsupials. 

School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences

Dr Kasun Sankalpa Athukorala Arachchige will conduct research-teaching in new bimetallic catalysts for synthesising spiroketals.  These are widely-occurring substructures in many naturally-occurring substances.  They are promising drug development candidates particularly for the treatment of HIV, but remain challenging to synthesise. The project will develop new bimetallic catalysts.  The development of proposed materials will allow highly efficient preparation of pharmaceuticals, reducing the cost of spiroketal-containing drugs and environmental damage from making them.  Dr Arachchige joins UQ from the University of New South Wales.

Prof Alan Mark will concentrate on curriculum and course development for two core foundational courses of the Biophysics major, BIPH2000 AND bipH3001 The Biophyics major is intended to engage students at the interface between (bio)chemistry, biology and physics. As convenor, Professor Mark envisions the major as a suite of courses that equip students with the skills and knowledge that underpin our understanding and practice of modern biomolecular research.

School of Mathematics and Physics

Dr Magdalena Zych will conduct research-teaching in the field of complex quantum systems at the interplay with general relativity.  Her fellowship aims to provide a theoretical description and enable experimental exploration of a so-far untested physical regime where quantum theory and general relativity both play a role.  “I am particularly interested in new phenomena which arise when the notions such as time and causality require relativistic as well as quantum description” Dr Zych said. “We have some intriguing examples of quantum effects from time dilation, but a big picture is really missing.” Results are expected to contribute to the search for the unified theory of quantum gravity, considered one of the biggest challenges in modern physics. The research may also shed new light on one of the key questions in the foundations of quantum theory: how does the classical world emerge from the quantum?

Prof Ole Warnaar will conduct research on the topic of Selberg-type integrals. Such integrals play a fundamental role in our understanding of a wide variety of problems in mathematics and physics, ranging from the distribution of the primes to dualities in string theory. Ole Warnaar is one of the world’s leading experts on the Selberg integral, and settled the type A case of Mukhin–Varchenko, a conjecture concerning the existence of Selberg integrals for arbitrary simple Lie algebras, the only case of this conjecture resolved to date. Discretising the various Selberg integrals and constructing the underlying discrete probability distributions is an important open problem whose resolution will impact on a wide range of areas of mathematics and physics.

Dr Ebinazar Namdas will undertake a research-industry partnership in the area of next-generation hybrid semiconductors and light-emitting devices. Semiconductors are amongst the most important high-tech materials, being ubiquitous in modern electronics, including computers, memory chips and displays. While most semiconductors are made from inorganic compounds such as silicon or gallium arsenide, organic semiconductors based on carbon have attracted widespread interest for their novel properties. The first commercial product that arose out of organic semiconductors with widespread interest is the display technology used in the OLED TV and a large number of smart phones. His fellowship aims to develop a new breed of hybrid organic-inorganic semiconducting devices that have the potential to simplify the existing display technologies and significantly reduce production costs.

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