Information for Honours students in Science and Technology

Honours 2019 information seminar

The School of Science and Technology offers majors in Biochemistry, Chemistry, Computational Science, Genetics, Mathematics, Microbiology, Physiology, and Physics. The honours student will also gain cross-disciplinary exposure to a range of professionals and professions in their major area. Each candidate will receive support from the School to undertake and complete their project. Students will develop the ability to design, analyse and interpret science data, to develop solutions in the context of technical, management and/or scientific frameworks and demonstrate high-level written and oral communication skills.

The Honours year requires the completion of a research project and the submission of a thesis embodying a literature review and the results of the research project. Honours in Mathematics has a lower emphasis on the research project.  Completion of a Bachelor of Science with Honours will improve career prospects, and provide a pathway to higher degree studies.

Bachelor of Science with Honours Handbook 2019 >

BSc Hons project information for 2019

Enrolling in BSc honours requires that you have an agreed project and supervisor. You should start discussing project ideas with potential supervisors at least 2 months before the start of teaching. Contact details for individual academics and a sample of project ideas are listed below, in the expandable boxes for each subject area.

Please contact Dr Heather Nonhebel, course coordinator, for general information on BSc Honours.

Biochemistry, Genetics, Microbiology, Physiology

Biochemistry, Genetics, Microbiology, and Physiology are used to address a wide range of interesting and exciting problems across the biomedical and agricultural sciences. These majors have been grouped together as several projects cross discipline boundaries using the tools of biochemistry and molecular genetics to investigate problems in plant or animal physiology as well as microbial ecology. The specific major enrolled in will be negotiated with the project supervisor taking into consideration the undergraduate major(s) undertaken.

See information on current projects.

Dr Nick Andronicos

  1. Production of synthetic mast cell granules.
  2. Meta-analysis of gastrointestinal inflammation
  3. Microbiome-Host cell interactions
  4. Genetic diversity monitoring in gastrointestinal parasite Haemonchus contortus populations
  5. Spatial distribution of anthelmintic drugs resistance in H. contortus in Australia

Dr Robert Hart

  1. Leptin in the Digestive Tract
  2. GDF15 Pharmacokinetics

Professor Natkunam Ketheesan

  1. Control of Infections in Type 2 Diabetes
  2. Identification of disease specific markers in Rheumatic Heart Disease

Dr Richard Charlesworth

  1. Novel Diagnostics for Coeliac Disease
  2. Immunomodulatory Effects of the Gut Microbiome

A/Prof Pierre Moens

  1. Membrane dynamics of profilin a key regulator of cell metastasis
  2. Proteomic investigation of cancer cells

Dr Heather Nonhebel

  1. The effects of high night temperature stress on transcription factor expression, hormone production and grain-fill
  2. Investigating protein-protein interactions between transcription factors involved in grain-fill
  3. Investigating the role of cell wall invertase inhibitor OsINVINH3 in regulating sugar signalling during early grain development

Assoc. Prof. Lily Pereg

  1. Pathogen suppression by probiotic/biocontrol microbes with applications in Aquaculture, Agriculture and Medicine
  2. Plant-Microbial Interactions and Soil microbiology
  3. Ecosystem recovery following traumatic events

Dr Tom van der Touw

  1. Immunological function and stress biomarkers in obstructive sleep apnoea.
  2. Evaluation of daily activity and physical impairment by monitoring daily body energy expenditure.
  3. Abnormal respiratory muscle function in patients with respiratory disease.
  4. Influence of phospholipids on the function of antigen presenting cells.

Dr Gal Winter

Gal  has an active research program in Gut microbiology and is currently accepting expressions of interest from suitably qualified prospective undergraduate for projects on a range of questions related to the gut microbiome. Current projects include:

  1. Effects of academic stress on the human gut microbiome
  2. Microbes on Prozac – the antimicrobial effects of anti-depressants
  3. Effects of exercise on the human gut microbiome
  4. Environmental effects on the human gut microbiome. The soil-gut-brain axis.

Dr Linda Agnew

Linda has collaborative projects with a number of other staff.

Gudrun Dieberg

Gudrun is interested in exercise physiology and chronic disease (including heart failure and cognitive disorders), endocrinology (e.g. diabetes mellitus, polycystic ovary syndrome) and complementary therapies. Her main aim is to contribute to translational research (from bench to application), research which contributes to better treatment options for patients.

Dr Adam Hamlin

Adam has an active research program in Neurobiology, projects include the effects of Chronic Early Life stress on the gut microbiome in animal populations.

Dr Mary McMillan

Projects available in Mary’s lab include the identification of potential biological and genetic and markers of depression, and to identify genetic/epigenetic factors that may contribute to depression.


Chemistry is often called the ‘Central Science’ as it underpins all of biology, while employing every tool that physics can come up with. While we do not know exactly what problems will face humanity in the future, we can be sure that chemistry will play a major role in answering them, just as modern medicine and structural materials are largely the outcome of fundamental research in chemistry. Whether you are interested in a hands-on laboratory project or an in silico project, something with direct and immediate application to daily life or something that pushes back the frontiers of the most basic of basic science, there are suitable projects within chemistry. Wherever your life takes you, an Honours year in chemistry will provide you with valuable problem-solving skills, demonstrate your ability to push yourself to your intellectual limits, and give you experience in a range of practical skills sought after by employers.

See information on current projects.

Projects are available in the following topic areas:

Macromolecular and Materials Chemistry

UNE researchers are active in research in both synthetic and natural macromolecules, with a focus on systems of relevance to industry, medicine, and regional Australia. Prof. Trevor Brown, Assoc. Prof. Chris Fellows or Dr Brendan Wilkinson.

Natural Products Chemistry

Natural Product isolation at UNE is focussed on the discovery of novel compounds from Australian native flora and the transformation of biomass into pharmaceuticals and compounds of industrial significance. Dr Ben Greatrex.

Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry

Chemistry researchers at UNE are developing new ways to carry out reactions and synthesise challenging molecules. UNE has expertise and specialists in carbohydrate synthesis, organometallic synthesis and green asymmetric synthesis targeted at chiral pharmaceuticals.  Dr Ben Greatrex, Dr Michelle Taylor, or Dr Brendan Wilkinson.

Organometallic Chemistry

Chemistry researchers at UNE are developing new biological redox sensors based upon N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) macrocyclic metal complexes. Dr Michelle Taylor or Dr Peter Lye.

Molecular Modelling

Researchers at UNE are using molecular simulation and high-performance such methods to inform the design of several applications, such as polymers with greater efficiency in inhibiting industrial scale formation and an economically and environmentally viable coating to reduce evaporation from water storage bodies. Dr Erica Smith.

Environmental and Analytical Chemistry

Chemistry researchers at UNE are developing new analytical techniques to study both industrial processes and our changing environment. Areas of active research include the investigation of metal ions in wine and their role in the production of unpleasant characteristics through complex formation with organic acids and   the development of deployable devices to monitor the impact of climate change on the oceans and sensors to measure real-time calcification in coastal ecosystems.  For current research opportunities, contact Dr Peter Lye, or Dr Christina McGraw.

Chemistry Education

Research in this area focusses on online and distance learning, pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in chemistry, e-learning and regional and rural higher education. Dr Erica Smith or Mrs Katherine Harris.


Physicists strive to answer real-world problems as well as far-reaching questions such as “How big is the universe?”, “Is gravity a wave?” or “Why does time have a direction?

The UNE Physics group focusses their research in precision agriculture, SMART farms, medical imaging and electronics.

UNE has transformed 'Kirby-Newholme', a 2,900 ha commercial farm located 10 km north west of the campus, into a SMART Farm (Sustainable Manageable Accessible Rural Technologies Farm). The SMART Farm showcases the latest technologies aimed at improving productivity, environmental sustainability, safety, workflow and social/business support networks on Australian farms.

Physics provides such a broad training that, whatever career you have in mind, you will develop an ability to grasp complex ideas, a determination to find coherent answers, along with problem-solving, analytical, mathematical and IT skills. Studying physics honours is an excellent way of keeping your options open.

McClymont Distinguished Professor David Lamb

  1. Physics applied to ‘Precision Agriculture’ and SMART Farms
  2. Remote and in situ plant, soil and animal sensing devices
  3. On-farm telecommunications systems, internet-of-things

Dr Konstantin Pavlov

  1. Phase-contrast imaging and tomography
  2. Coherent diffractive imaging
  3. Statistical diffraction theory and high-resolution X-ray diffraction

Dr Stephen Bosi

  1. Solar energy and sustainable technology
  2. Medical physics image processing

Mr Ron Bradbury

  1. High-speed digital processing signals from an alkali vapour magnetometer
  2. Interactive electromagnetic field visualisation
  3. Environmental factors affecting evaporation from water storage

See information on current projects.


The honours program in mathematics differs from that in the experimental sciences. The usually consists of 36 credit points (6 units ) of supervised coursework, together with a 12 credit point thesis. 

Units of Study

These cover a selection of advanced coursework topics which build on, but do not overlap, the content of the standard undergraduate units in pure and applied mathematics. Units of study can be chosen from among (but are not limited to) the following list of topics:

  • Functional Analysis
  • Measure Theory
  • Partial Differential Equations
  • Complex Analysis
  • Algebra
  • Differential Geometry
  • Algebraic Topology

Prospective students may propose alternative topics of study (in cognate disciplines, such as applied mathematics, physics or computer science) covering content deemed at an equivalent level, and subject to availability of a qualified supervisor. Each unit of study is assessed individually. Written problem-based assignments are the typical mode of assessment, although alternative forms, such as seminar presentations, may in some cases be used as a component of the overall assessment for a unit.


Publishable research projects in pure mathematics at honours level are extremely rare. Although honours is intended as a pathway to higher degree research, students entering an honours program in mathematics usually require further advanced coursework to complete their preparation. The 12 credit point thesis therefore usually takes the form of an expository monograph, on an advanced topic of the student's choosing, after consultation with available staff. All full-time members of the discipline of mathematics are happy to supervise thesis topics which are aligned with their research interests. These interests are broadly related to the fields covered in the list of subjects above, and so the thesis may well serve as an extension of one of these. Alternatively, where a student has defined ideas about a project, choice of an appropriate supervisor can also be negotiated. 

It should be mentioned that applied mathematics in the field of animal biology features substantially among the research interests of staff in the discipline. Interested students are also welcome to pursue projects in this area.

Please contact Dr Adam Harris for further information on Honours in Mathematics

Computer Science

Virtual reality and immersive exploration of software histories (Dr. William Billingsley) Version control histories for collaborative projects often become very large – dozens of branches with thousands of nodes. These are simply too large to explore effectively on a flat 2d screen. This project seeks to take advantage of the human sense of space in immersive environments, and see whether exploring a git graph in virtual reality allows (particularly students) to better understand large commit histories. In a similar vein we would like to create and examine the utility of other immersive representations of software – which parts of large codebases are changing and how, and the connectivity between software and the many libraries they import. Email Dr. William Billingsley.

Cognitive apprenticeship tutor for collaborative software (Dr. William Billingsley) Most software development is collaborative, with developers committing code to git that is then run through various quality stages. However, while there are many systems for offering advice on code quality (eg, FindBugs) there is less assistance with the overall development effort. For example, detecting groups that have unmerged branches where there is parallel development on other branches hitting the same code locations (an impending case of “merge hell”). Or other factors about the health of a developer’s development practices. This project seeks to develop an automated advice tool that would hook into the ecosystem of a collaborative development project, and offer individuals and groups within that project automated advice on their development work. Email Dr. William Billingsley.

Optimising Mobile Ad-hoc Networks (Dr. David Paul) Imagine there's been an earthquake, or some other disaster, and all the networking infrastructure has been rendered inoperable. Or imagine you're with a group on a search-and-rescue mission in an area where you have no existing networking infrastructure. In these situations, it's possible to set up an ad-hoc wireless network to allow communication. But imagine that Alice wants to communicate with Carol, but they are out of each other's range. Bob is halfway between Alice and Carol, so Alice could send her message to Bob, then Bob forward it on to Carol. During the time it takes to send this message, Carol may move close enough to Alice that she can send her reply directly. Mobile Ad-hoc Networks are networks where all nodes may be moving constantly. There's a lot of ground here for potential research, from better mobility models (to model how nodes move in the real world), improved routing protocols (to limit the number of messages that need to be sent), to issues with security and energy efficiency (which can be vital considering these mobile devices typically have a limited battery life). This project will investigate some of these issues. Email Dr. David Paul.

Cryptanalysis with Deep Learning (Dr. David Paul) Code breaking has a long and interesting history. Cryptanalysis is the art of taking encrypted information (cyphertext) and converting it into a readable format (plaintext) without having access to the secret key typically required for decryption. Deep learning is a branch of machine learning that use multiple processing layers in an attempt to model high level abstractions of data. Deep learning has been shown to be an effective mechanism for tasks such as playing Go, generating human-like text, and even realistic handwriting. This project will investigate whether deep learning can be effective in cryptanalysis. Email Dr. David Paul.

Quick solutions for the Boolean satisfiability problem (SAT) (Dr. David Paul) The Boolean satisfiability problem (SAT) asks whether the variables of a given Boolean formula can be assigned values that cause the formula to evaluate to true. SAT was the first problem proven to be NP-complete, and thus there are no known solutions that perform well in all circumstances. However, as the power of computers has increased, more sophisticated algorithms have been created that allow certain important classes of SAT instances to be solved in a reasonable period of time. This project will cover the state-of-the-art algorithms and data structures used to solve SAT problems. Email Dr. David Paul.

Adaptive biometric systems (Professor Paul Kwan) Current biometric systems have a static processing architecture that places a limit on their performance. Next generation systems are expected to be adaptive by exploiting the integration of adaptive information processing models and biometric authentication algorithms. Email Professor Paul Kwan.

Digital cultural heritage (Professor Paul Kwan) Advances in content-based image retrieval techniques in indexing and retrieving digital archives beyond the keyword search available at present has opened up a brand new field of digital culture heritage. Email Professor Paul Kwan.

Integration of Machine Learning and Database Techniques for Efficient Retrieval of Complex Data Objects (Professor Paul Kwan) Technologies that enable the smart use of information in such fields as bioinformatics, computer-aided design, e-commerce, biometrics authentication, etc. are indispensable to the present information age. Often, information occur in databases where huge amount of complex data objects like text documents, images, videos, and even protein and DNA sequences have accumulated. Researching methodologies for their efficient retrieval by integrating proven machine learning and database techniques in an innovative manner is the primary goal of this project. Email Professor Paul Kwan.