PhD and Honours Research Topics
Contribute to the field of Health Science by undertaking an Honours year or PhD. To find out more about any of these projects, contact the listed Principal Supervisor.
Using new and emerging technologies to enhance social and economic participation for people with intellectual disabilities
With the emergence of smart phones, we’re using new technologies to enhance participation of people with intellectual disabilities. We have a unique opportunity to address social and economic participation through emergent technologies. In this project, you will contribute to significant research on how new technologies can either enhance or create barriers to participation, and what interventions can address this.
Measuring activity and participation in manual wheelchair users in Melbourne
Help improve community participation for wheelchair users in Australia. This multi-faceted project will:
- develop a standard mechanism for wheelchair activity measurement using sensor, accelerometers and other means;
- measure the barriers to wheelchair participation;
- run and evaluate a peer mentored wheelchair skills group and;
- make recommendations for change and further research.
Disruptive innovation in wheeled mobility and seating; identification of the need for disruption
Create a methodology for wheelchair innovation that places users at the centre of the design process using disruptive technologies.
Wheelchairs come in a variety of formats to meet the specific needs of their users (specialized seating adaptions, individualized controls, or specific to particular activities such as sports and outdoor terrain). This Honours/PhD project will explore the development and implementation of assistive devices to assess activity and movement patterns of wheelchair users (both sport and non-sport), try to understand wheelchair-related injuries, and develop protocols to reduce the risk of injuries.
Health service use of people across the weight spectrum
Weight bias, stigma, and discrimination are barriers to accessing health care for people of higher weights. Using data from the National Health Survey 2014-15, this study will investigate the self-assessed health status, number of long-term conditions, and health service usage by people across the weight spectrum.
Designing environments for mental health and recovery
A review and exploration of design features of the built environment that promote mental health and support recovery from mental illness.
Community engagement in urban green spaces
Review of community engagement through urban green spaces in inner city Melbourne and the relationships to health and well-being.
Food waste and health in a university setting
Assist with a critical review and analysis of food wastage in universities.
IT and Me: Technology use by people living with and managing chronic disease
This project will build on data from an on-line survey which explored use and perception of various digital technologies as part of managing ongoing illness in adults. The project will consider which technologies people use at different stages of their illness experiences, leading to more tailored and personalised treatment options.
The dark side of social media
This study will investigate the role and influence of social media in the onset and course of orthorexia.
Exploring the therapeutic affordances of mobile health apps in the management of chronic conditions
This study builds on research regarding social media and how it can be utilise din chronic disease management. The project explores the nuances of human-computer interaction and the way users perceive the different uses of mobile applications.
An investigation of digital health technologies used to manage injured workers return to work
Digital technologies (including wearables, monitoring devices and other mobile health applications) are increasingly prevalent in health and wellbeing management. This project seeks to investigate where and how digital technologies have been used in both the workplace and return-to-work space, and better understand their role in future health management.
Investigating Extracellular Communication Pathways in the Brain.
This project aims to identify how cells communicate using exosomes. We have developed a unique system to study how cells can communicate through exosomes using the powerful genetic approach of Cre recombination. This project has particular relevance to Parkinson’s disease research and the new field of protein misfolding and transmission in neurodegenerative diseases.
Targeting autism spectrum disorders using mechanism based therapeutics.
This project aims to identify therapeutic drugs that target autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We have a new animal model of ASD as well as cell based assays that will used to investigate new drugs targeting autism. Investigate pathway disruptions and test drugs that can target the primary mechanisms of autism. Findings from this research will identify therapeutic targets for the treatment of autism.
Your child and autism; the fake news and falsehoods surrounding parents with autistic children.
Help develop better information systems for newly diagnosed autistic children to cut through the wealth of misinformation surrounding both the cause of autism and potential treatments for parents. This project aims to identify and collate information around parent use of both web based information and word of mouth discussion related to autism in Australia.
Anxiety monitoring and management with wearable sensors
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. This project explores if wearable physiological sensors can be used to monitor and predict anxiety attacks and whether biofeedback can reduce anxiety responses.
Augmented-reality 3D hearing
3-D audio is the next-generation of audio technologies, with application in hearing aids, music production, surveillance, robotics, education, assistive technologies, movies and virtual reality gaming. This project will involve development of 3-D virtual audio systems that create a sense of the location of sounds in the environment.
How do we process and match human faces?
Recognising faces is a basic human function. For familiar faces, matches between two presented faces takes very little time, while matching unfamiliar faces can take longer. Some work has been carried out on the way that humans match faces. This project aims to understand the way that the human brain processes faces, particularly the physical presentation parameters that best assist matching: size, separation, colour, and quality of images.
Measurement of relationship between sleepiness and body position.
For most people, it’s easiest to fall asleep lying down on a comfortable bed. But the reasons for this are poorly understood; we have no thorough studies of tendency to fall asleep as related to body position. This project makes use of recent advances in sleepiness measures and technology (Johns scale) with body position.
Exercise and Sport Science
Cardiac Rehabilitation and Exercise
Cardiovascular disease is a major health problem and a leading cause of death in Australia. Exercise is a clinically beneficial and cost-effective intervention that delays (and in many cases prevents) the health burdens associated with chronic disease. This project investigates how we can enhance both adherence to prescribed exercise and health outcomes by using technology and different types of exercise.
Project level: PhD
Principal Supervisor: Associate Professor Amanda Benson - email@example.com
Movement Sensors, Physical Activity and Exercise
Physical activity and exercise levels are implicated in the development of obesity related disorders such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Using movement sensors, wearables and apps this project will develop our understanding of physical activity behaviour. The data will help target ubiquitous health-promoting physical activity and exercise interventions. It will also assess the validity, efficacy, feasibility and cost-effectiveness of using this technology to promote physical activity and exercise.
Project level: PhD
Principal Supervisor: Associate Professor Amanda Benson - firstname.lastname@example.org
Eccentric exercise: a potential novel method of treatment for patients with Type II diabetes mellitus
Exercise is effective for preventing and treating Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), but can be unpopular among patients. ‘Eccentric’ exercises are less physically demanding, and hence may be more appealing to patients. Recent research in healthy populations have also shown they are more effective than concentric exercises for improving insulin sensitivity, health and fitness.
This is multi-centre project will compare the effects of various eccentric exercise modalities on T2DM, to determine a more optimal exercise formula for patients, and requires collaboration with other institutes and opportunities for interstate travel.
Smart (Instrumented) Cricket ball
This project will build on previous work from the research team to further investigate an instrumented cricket ball to provide biofeedback to cricket bowlers. You will develop specialist skills in motion capture analysis, infra-red camera technology, EMG analysis, instrumentation and data analysis.
Biomechanics and Technology in walking and running
Examine the effect of interventions on gait and try to develop innovative devices to improve data capture and analysis. You’ll use advanced technologies such as 3-Dimensional analysis, force plates, wearable devices, and electromyography to better understand both impaired and unimpaired gait.
The honours and/or PhD project will involve creating innovative devices and procedures to improve walking and running and reduce risk of injuries. It will also look at improving the analysis and interpretation of movement performance in sport.
Pressure Sensors and Motion Analysis for Resistance Training, Health and Ergonomics
This area of research will build on previous work from the research team to investigate the use of pressure sensors for biofeedback in sport, health and ergonomics in diverse populations (from youth to high performance athletes). You will develop specialist skills in motion capture analysis, inertial measurement units, pressure sensor technology, resistance training, ergonomics and biofeedback.
Project level: PhD or Honours
Principal Supervisor: A/Professor Amanda Benson - email@example.com
Secondary Supervisor/s: Professor Franz (Tino) Fuss - firstname.lastname@example.org, Dr Oren Tirosh - email@example.com
Exploring associations between various perceptive scales during exercise.
The perception of exercise intensity has been quantified using various models of measurement. However, perception and subjective rating can differ depending on various factors. This project will explore the way we currently to define exertion, intensity and effort during different types of exercise.
Decision making in sport
Perceptual cognitive skill is a key differentiator between expert and novice performers in sport. Yet this is a difficult skill to capture, measure, and train. While there has been progress in this area, there is exciting work to be done to work with sport at all levels and with different roles (e.g., referees, coaches, athletes) to increase our understanding and ability to train skills. Technological advances also provide exciting platforms for continued development. Our connections with industry partners provides excellent potential for applied research in this area.
An expanding area of research examines the interplay between movement and cognition. For example, we know that movement can influence thought speed and decision making. Similarly, there are conflicting findings related to the impact of cognitive tasks like problem solving on physical performance; sometimes a preceding cognitive task leads to worse physical performance like a 3km time trial, but in other situations there is no negative impact. This is an area ripe for exploration to resolve the conflicting evidence and increase our understanding of human function as related to domains like military and emergency work and sport.
Movement speed, thought speed, and decision making
Work in the Skilled Performance Lab has shown that although speeded movements increase thought speed, they do not increase risk taking. This is in contrast to work in which processing fast visual stimuli increases risk taking. We are currently looking to continue exploring why movement might be different and how it relates to decision making.
Video-based training of sport decision making
Recent work in the Skilled Performance lab has shown that using video played at 1.5 speed is effective in training elite AFL players in sport decision making. We are looking more extensively at this effect and transfer to on-field performance. The mechanisms behind this finding have been suggested but are currently unclear, and are ripe for exploration.
Cognitive fatigue and physical performance
We have shown that 3km running times are significantly slower after a cognitively demanding task. We are now looking at the influence of the level of training of the individual, and the specific tasks that are used. This project will compared performance of different physical tasks (e.g., sprinting) after cognitive fatigue to understand specific effects and interactions more fully.
Energy Balance in Metabolic Health and Disease
Energy balance is important for the maintenance of body weight and prevention of a number of lifestyle diseases
Collaborate with Victoria University to study the manipulation of energy balance in the understanding, prevention and treatment of lifestyle-related diseases using molecular, cellular and whole-body level laboratory techniques in human models.
Nutritional Supplementation for Exercise Performance and Health
Supplements are marketed as an easy way to enhance appearance and athletic performance, increase energy levels, lose weight, and feel better.
Collaborate with Victoria University to study the impact of nutritional and dietary interventions (such as supplements including creatine monohydrate, beta alanine, ribose, and caffeine) on performance and health-related outcomes and mechanisms regulating muscle and metabolic function.
Intermittent Fasting and Human Metabolic Health
This project studies intermittent fasting regimes and their capacity to improve health and well-being, including:
- Impact on metabolic health, body composition and clinical illnesses;
- Effect on gastrointestinal microbiota;
- The interaction between exercise and fasting;
- Genetic predisposition;
- And ultimately whether regular intermittent fasting is a feasible and sustainable strategy for promoting metabolic health.
Promoting healthy food and nutrition to refugees
Refugees are particularly vulnerable to ill-health due to various complex factors. Food access, intake, knowledge, and more is one of the complex factors contributing to the vulnerable health of refugees. This project aims to develop, implement, and/or evaluate a tailored nutrition promotion program for refugees.
Community gardens – an avenue to promote health and good nutrition
Explore and plan community garden initiatives to develop a local food supply and access to fresh, nutritious, and low-cost food for communities who need support in increasing their intake of fresh foods, such as the refugee community.
What are Australians eating and drinking?
The aim of this project is to analyse data collected during the National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey to identify patterns of food and nutrient consumption that are related to health.
Using digital technology to support changes in eating behaviour
Dietary changes are the mainstay for the prevention and management of many chronic diseases. This project aims to plan and design an app to support dietary behaviour changes.