Study level


Master of Philosophy


Vacation research experience scheme


Science and Engineering Faculty

School of Biology and Environmental Science

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Associate Professor Mark Harrison
Principal Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Professor Ian O'Hara
Principal Research Scientist
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Professor Robert Speight
Professor (Microbial Biotechnology)
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Dr James Strong
Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Numerous residues from agriculture and the urban lifestyle comprise of carbon polymeric chains that are accessible to fungi. Fungi grow on and within these structures and can generate a bound matrix that has notably different properties.

This project aims to take a waste material and repurpose it using fungal mycelial mats to penetrate and bind the organic compounds. These can be used directly as packing material or internal building materials.

The project will also strive to generate aerial mycelia, which will be further processed to generate an material with leather-like properties.

Various fungal strains will be assessed for growth and colonisation of various agricultural residues (e.g. sugarcane trash, bagasse, paunch) and urban waste (cardboard, coffee waste, green waste).

Colonisation by selected strains and residues will be crudely optimised, and the resultant material assessed as sustainable solutions to replace materials for internal housing components (insulation or fillers) or packaging.

With appropriate spawn, aerial fungal mycelia can be produced. This material is rich in a precursors polymer that can be altered to generate fungal leather.

Research activities

The skills you'll develop as part of this research will include:

  • solid state fermentation and bioprocess design
  • materials science and testing product specifications or material properties
  • functionalisation of chitin and cross-linking chemistry to generate leather alternatives
  • various biological and chemical analytical skills.


The project aims to develop a deep understanding mycelia development, penetration of organic matrices and characterising of physical properties before and after functionalisation.

We will generate a range of materials that have functional use in the wastewater, housing and construction, and fashion industry.

High impact journals, as well as other forms of communication, will be targeted for both academic and industrial dissemination of research outcomes.

Skills and experience

To be considered for this proejct, you should have a:

  • biological background - preferably in fermentation
  • understanding of polymer science or organic chemistry
  • good aseptic technique
  • strong analytical strengths.


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact Dr James Strong for more information.