School of plant biology research Project ideas for Prospective 4th



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SCHOOL OF PLANT BIOLOGY



Research Project ideas for Prospective 4th Year, Honours, Postgraduate Diploma, MSc and Higher Degree Preliminary Students in 2015

August 2014

TABLE OF CONTENTS

SCHOOL OF PLANT BIOLOGY INTRODUCTION 4

SELECTION OF TOPICS FOR LEVEL 4 AND LEVEL 5 PROJECT STUDENTS 6

FURTHER POSTGRADUATE STUDY - PhD OPPORTUNITIES 6

THE THREE RESEARCH AREAS OF THE SCHOOL 7

  1. PLANT PRODUCTION SYSTEMS 7

  2. MARINE SYSTEMS 7

  3. NATURAL TERRESTRIAL SYSTEMS 7

PROJECTS FOR 2015 9

OTHER ORGANISATIONS AFFILIATED WITH THE SCHOOL OF PLANT BIOLOGY 34

BOTANIC GARDENS & PARKS AUTHORITY 35

THE CENTRE FOR PLANT GENETICS AND BREEDING (PGB) 42

THE COMMONWEALTH SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH ORGANISATION (CSIRO) 46

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND FOOD WESTERN AUSTRALIA 48

DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND WILDLIFE 49

THE UWA INSTITUTE OF AGRICULTURE 56
THE SCHOOL OF PLANT BIOLOGY
LEVEL 4 AND LEVEL 5 PROJECTS AVAILABLE IN 2015

INTRODUCTION
A variety of Level 4 and 5 projects are available in The School of Plant Biology and research partner organisations to students who have completed three years of study in an appropriate field towards a Bachelor of Science degree either at this University or elsewhere and who have satisfied any other degree- specific requirements.
The Honours programme is normally for students proceeding immediately from the third year of their BSc degree course (e.g. with a major in Agricultural Science, Botany, Conservation Biology, Environmental Science, Marine Science or Natural Resource Management). It typically consists of a research thesis plus four coursework units completed in approximately 9 months of full-time study or over 17 or 21 months of part-time study. Entrance into the Honours programme also requires that a student has obtained at least 65% in four units making up a science major. The Graduate Diploma and Masters by Coursework programmes are designed for students who already hold a Pass Degree at the BSc level and subsequently wish to extend their qualifications/expertise. The Graduate Diploma course is substantially the same as the Honours course, while the Masters by Coursework provides students with greater discipline-specific knowledge and more extensive skills than the Honours.
The Level 4 Fourth-Year project, the Level 4 Honours project and the Level 5 Masters by Coursework project comprise the relevant four-part research project units. All units have the same requirements and timeline as the unit set Research Dissertation Parts 1-4 (SCIE4501 SCIE4504). This group of units contributes 24 of the 48 points you need to pass your final year. During the research project units, students will receive basic training in a variety of generic skill areas, all necessary for you to work effectively as a professional scientist, as well as undertaking, under supervision, a major independent research project. Completing the Research Dissertation units gives you a taste of what is involved in undertaking independent, supervised research that is real and relevant. For fourth-year and Honours students, the Research Dissertation mark will be taken into account when determining whether you will graduate with honours.
Assessment for the Research Dissertation is based on the ungraded Research Outline and Proposal Seminar, and on the graded Research Proposal (20%), Final Research Seminar (10%) and the Research Article (70%). A separate information booklet confirming these details and outlining the organisational details of the SCIE4501SCIE4504 units will be issued at the start of the SCIE4501 unit.
In the Research Dissertation units, you will be working with a particular team of supervisors, and with other members of the School, in an area of research that you find personally exciting. We know, in completing a pass degree, that you can absorb scientific information and reproduce it under examination conditions. In the Level 4 / 5 project units, you will demonstrate that you can gather, generate, distil and communicate scientific information to your peers. At the end of the year, our staff will assess your performance in comparison with others who have passed through the School, and in relation to what we can expect from someone working in the particular programme you have selected. Of course, the research problems addressed and the methods of approach will differ amongst students, as they will depend upon the area of expertise in which each student is being trained; for example, some programmes may be essentially descriptive, others experimental. Nevertheless, there are some general features and qualities to be sought in all research, and these will be outlined in the unit information booklet to be provided at the commencement of the course. This booklet will also provide details of the assessment procedures for the units.

FACILITIES AND RESEARCH SUPERVISION

The School of Plant Biology is particularly well equipped for a wide range of projects in plant research. Facilities and equipment include: HPLC units, gas chromatographs, an atomic absorption spectrophotometer (housed in the School of Earth and Environment), portable infra-red gas analysers, portable chlorophyll fluorescence equipment, thermocyclers, gel documentation equipment, a real-time PCR instrument and UV/VIS spectrophotometers. The West Australian Biogeochemistry Centre housed within the School also provides facilities for measurement of stable isotopes through high precision mass spectrometry. The School is well equipped for molecular biology, radio isotope work and plant pathology. Computing facilities include IBM compatible PCs, Apple Macintosh computers and connections to the Campus network and the Internet. The School has a close association with the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis through joint research programmes. The School maintains a reference herbarium of the flora of the southwest of the State. Field work is facilitated by a well-maintained fleet of vehicles, including 4WD’s and boats.

The School utilises numerous serviced glasshouses providing extensive bench space, and access to controlled growth cabinets and constant temperature rooms, including PC2 facilities. About one hectare of garden space is available on site and space is available at a field station at Shenton Park, about 6 km away. The School controls two relatively undisturbed areas of native vegetation within the metropolitan area (at Shenton Park and the Alison Baird Reserve, Kenwick), and is in close proximity to Kings Park and Bold Park, which each contain about 300 hectares of relatively undisturbed native vegetation and 17 hectares of developed botanical gardens.

Based within the School, The Centre for Plant Genetics and Breeding provides advanced education and research in plant breeding to enhance the world’s future supply of plant-based food, fodder, fibre and industrial raw materials in an era of changing climates. The School has an integral role in the UWA Institute of Agriculture. The Institute is the University’s gateway to education, training and research in agriculture and resource management. The Institute is based in the Faculty and integrates the Faculty’s activities with those of other groups in the University with interests in agriculture, land and water management, rural economy, policy and development, food and health.

While much of the south-western part of Western Australia has been cleared for agriculture, large habitat areas comprising native flora, often approaching pristine conditions, have been preserved through a system of National Parks and Reserves. The proximity of this unique natural resource to the modern facilities available in the School makes botanical research at this University particularly attractive. Joint research interests are encouraged between the School and institutions having practical needs for the information generated. These institutions include the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, CSIRO, Department of Parks and Wildlife, Department of Planning and Infrastructure, Environmental Protection Authority, Department of Water, WA Water Corporation, and a number of mining and forestry companies. Projects involving joint participation with other institutions and/or other Schools at this University can involve the participation of outside supervisors.



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