Engage with us

Engage with us

Our department highly values its broad engagement with the wider community, including schools, the government sector and industry. Click below on each of the titles to explore the activities we can offer.

Teachers: School partnerships program and resources

Would you like to have a scientist on call? Would you like your students to interact directly with leading researchers? Would you like to increase your technical knowledge?

Our department engages with local schools through our Schools Partnership Program, the Academics in Schools program and by the provision of BOSTES accredited professional development for biology teachers. If you wish to organise a school visit, join our program or wish to pose an idea for teacher professional development please contact us.

Finally, our department is a major contributor to the variety of events for school students, teachers and parents of prospective students held each year.

Teachers: Genetics depth studies

In our on-campus Depth Study session, we present the students a scenario [e.g. our conservation scenario is about shark nets being used to protect bathers on beaches] and ask the questions:

“Do shark nets

  1. protect us from the “target” sharks?
  2. discriminate between “target” and “non-target” species?
  3. capture species that are of conservation importance?”

With the aim of identifying species caught in shark nets, we then run the students through the process of how to identify a species using DNA extracted from tissue samples. Students will have hands-on experience performing DNA extraction, Gel Electrophoresis, and PCR amplification for sequencing.

After the session with us, we will send you sequenced data so that you can lead your class to build a phylogenetic tree and discuss the species of sharks caught by the net (we supply instructions). We have an activity booklet for students to follow, with questions to prompt thinking and space to answer questions during the session (9:20-3pm with a 15 min morning tea and 30 min lunch breaks).

This program is adaptable to other scenarios you may be exploring in your curriculum e.g. using DNA fingerprinting for CSI forensics, or identifying diseases carried by travellers.

We are able to offer the DNA Depth Studies program in the following weeks:

  • Tuesday 11 - Friday 14 June (Term 2 Week 7)
  • Tuesday 18 - Friday 21 June (Term 2 Week 8)
  • Tuesday 25 - Friday 28 June (Term 2 Week 9)
  • Tuesday 25 - Friday 28 June (Term 2 Week 10)
  • Thursday 14 - Friday 15 November (Term 4 Week 5)
  • Wednesday 20 OR Friday 22 November (Term 4 Week 6)
  • Tuesday 25 - Friday 28 November (Term 4 Week 7)
  • Tuesday 3 December - Friday 6 December (Term 4 Week 8)
  • Tuesday 10 - Friday 13 December (Term 4 Week 9

If you are interested please email us at fse.bio-schoolliaison@mq.edu.au with how many students you expect to have, and suggest two dates that best suit you. This program costs $55 per student and we require a minimum of two-weeks notice to arrange the activity and the required personnel.

You may consider attending the NESA accredited Genetic Technologies Professional Development that we run where you will gain more confidence in teaching students about genetics.

Teachers: Professional development

photo of senior secondary teachers doing lab work


This course uses up-to-date research as a vehicle for addressing syllabus points and professional development of teachers at the proficient career stage. The use of current issues as a focus for teaching content and laboratory techniques is inspired by socio-scientific issues-based instruction. In this course, an inquiry-based teaching style will be employed which models the real scientific method of investigation and which will improve participants' engagement.


Level: Proficient career stage | Stage(s): 6

Academic speakers will introduce scientific issues and discuss approaches and genetic technologies or biotechnologies that can be used to address them. Such issues include genome editing to change DNA sequences, agricultural biotechnology in food security, and monitoring and implementing of threatened species conservation. Participants will experience simplified versions of laboratory techniques used by researchers, including DNA extraction and separation by gel electrophoresis and gene sequence alignment using bioinformatics tools. Finally, participants will discuss the research introduced by speakers, considering how this can be incorporated into classroom teaching. Participants will develop a lesson outline, based on addressing one of the questions raised by the speakers.

Course details

Starting: 8 July 2019 Or 4 November 2019
Prerequisites: None
Delivery Mode: F2F (18 July 2019, 6 hrs) or (20 November 2019, 6 hrs) & Online (4 hrs)
Fee: AUD 500 (GST incl.) Please see Terms of Use & Enrolment
Group discounts apply. For further information contact us.

The course will run over a period of 5 weeks including a F2F workshop in week 3. Participants will engage in facilitated online activities throughout the course.

Please follow the link for more information and to enrol for the 8 July 2019 course.

Please follow the link for more information and to enrol for the 4 November 2019 course.

School students: Work experience

Photo of the work experience group April 2019

Our department offers work-experience placements for students in our partner schools. Students are competitively selected for this diverse program. We offer students a range of workplace activities within research laboratories, as well as work experience in a range of teaching and research facilities in the department (e.g. the Biological Discovery Centre, The Arboretum, The Plant Growth Facility, and working with Technical and Fieldwork Officers).

In 2020 we have two work experience placement weeks, which are competitively selected, on the following dates:

  • Monday 30th March - 3rd April (9 am - 4.00 pm): Successful applicants will be notified in Mid February 2020. Information about where to meet and schedules will be sent out a week in advance of the work experience week.
  • Monday 16th November - Friday 20th November (9 am - 4.00 pm): Successful applicants will be notified in Mid July 2020. Information about where to meet and schedules will be sent out a week in advance of the work experience week.

When Research Laboratory leaders are available, a one-off work experience placements can be arranged for excellent students who have a strong desire to work in a particular research laboratory in our department. Please contact our School Liaison for application details.

Applications for expression of interest in the 2019 Work Experience Placements have now closed. We will be opening applications for expression of interest in the 2020 Work Experience Placements in December 2019.

Citizen Science: Scoop a poop: Citizens tackle antibiotic resistance in the wild

Want to be a citizen scientist and take part in a scientific research project? Then you can help out with the Scoop a Poop project.

We are looking for schools and community groups to help us locate antibiotic resistance in the wild, using possum poop collected from your own backyard or area. We will visit your school or group and provide an information session about antibiotic resistance. We will also show you how to use a scientific sample collection kit (the Scoop a Poop kit) which we will then provide to your group. Once you collect and submit your possum sample you can then track the results of your sample’s tests and see how you have helped research on antibiotic resistance in the Australian environment.

Already participating in Scoop a Poop? Check out our FAQs page or look for your sample results here.

Volunteer with us

Do you want to get some experience working in a lab or doing fieldwork to help you decide on your future career direction or beef up your CV? Volunteering is a great way to get involved in research, make contacts and gain valuable experience, and it looks great on your CV! Our researchers are always looking for volunteers to assist them. If you are interested in volunteering, check out our research groups, then fill in our volunteers form below and our research groups will get in touch with you.

Volunteer application form

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