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: 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.

Unfortunately we must run the Genetics Depth Studies outside of our undergraduate teaching times in Session 1 and 2. So, if you are interested in coming to us for a Genetics Depth Study, please see our teaching session dates. Then email us with 2-3 dates that are outside our Session 1 and 2 teaching times (indicated by "S1 Week1-13" and "S2 Week 1-13") on Tuesdays to Saturdays, and the number of students you expect to bring. This program costs $55 per student (including GST) 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

Is it possible to tackle such complex scientific investigations as DNA extraction in the classroom?

Yes! This course helps teachers develop lesson plans in the exciting areas of biotechnology, with hands on experience using simplified versions of laboratory techniques used by researchers. There are three hours of online preparation work including lectures before the workshop (course opens two weeks before workshop), six hours of wet-lab work where you get to extract DNA, run DNA and PCR gels, after which academics will help participants develop their own lesson plans (e.g. on genome editing to change DNA sequences, agricultural biotechnology in food security, and monitoring and implementing of threatened species conservation). In conclusion there is one hour of post workshop work to peer review your lesson plans. Completing this course will contribute to 10 hours of NESA accreditation.

Dates: Negotiable.

Unfortunately we must run the Genetic Technologies Professional Development course outside of our undergraduate teaching times in Session 1 and 2. We also require a minimum of 12 teachers to run this course. So, if you have the numbers, and are interested in the course, please see our teaching session dates. Then email us with 2-3 potential dates (Tuesdays to Saturdays) that are outside our Session 1 and 2 teaching times (indicated by "S1 Week1-13" and "S2 Week 1-13"). Please note that we require a minimum of two-weeks’ notice to arrange the activity and the required personnel.

Fee: AUD $500 (GST incl.) per person.

Need more information? Please see our PD brochure.

School students: Work experience

Photo of the work experience group April 2019

Our department offers work-experience placements for high school students who are competitively selected for this program.

This work experience is for students who are interested in Biological Sciences, or have a combination interest in both Biological and Molecular Sciences. Unfortunately, we will not be able to match student’s interests exactly, because we cannot guarantee that researchers in the interested fields will have projects available at these times. However we will provide a varied program that will allow students to explore different aspects of the Biological Sciences, and there will be a limited number of activities in Molecular Sciences for interested students.

Work experience activities may be within Biological Sciences and Molecular Sciences,research laboratories, and our range of teaching and research facilities (e.g. the Biological Discovery Centre, The Arboretum, The Plant Growth Facility, APAF and working with Technical and Fieldwork Officers).

In 2020 we will offer two competitively-selected work-experience placement weeks:

  • 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 the Department of Biological Sciences. Please contact our School Liaison Officer (fse.bio-schoolliaison@mq.edu.au) 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 Volunteer Application Form and our research groups will get in touch with you.

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