Science and Engineering

Research strengths

We are leading the way with research that will transform the world, from robotics to biomedical engineering. Our schools and disciplines are working on innovations that will contribute significantly to the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of people across the globe.

Our research quality and capacity is improved and strengthened by access to world-class infrastructure, such as our:

  • Science and Engineering Centre
  • Central Analytical Research Facility (CARF)
  • Medical Engineering Research Facility (MERF)
  • Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA)

Many of our researchers are delivering capability into QUT's Institute for Future Environments (IFE) and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI). These multidisciplinary research institutes focus on solving global challenges, and are developed in partnership with industry and government, both nationally and internationally.

We actively engage with extensive global research collaboration networks, and focus on developing innovative, high-impact ideas, which transform the way industry and government practise in the real world.

Biomedical engineering

Biomedical engineering research involves the innovative use of engineering, physics and technology, in collaboration with surgeons, to provide new medical techniques, materials, procedures and devices.

We have a strong program of research in the areas of:

  • biomechanics and biomechanical modelling
  • orthopaedics
  • biomaterials
  • tissue engineering
  • imaging techniques and radiation dosimetry.

Our strong links with hospitals ensure our research is translated into practical outcomes for patients. We undertake clinical practice in orthopaedics and trauma, and apply core engineering skills to challenges in medicine.

Our research is built on a strong foundation of knowledge, and incorporates expertise in:

  • cell biology
  • mathematical modelling
  • human anatomy and physiology
  • clinical medicine in orthopaedics and trauma
  • mechanical testing
  • biofabrication.

New knowledge is being developed and applied to the full range of orthopaedic diseases and injuries, such as knee and hip replacements. Our ground-breaking research into the biofabrication of human body parts is providing real-world solutions for a range of medical issues such as breast reconstruction after a mastectomy.

The Medical Engineering Research Facility (MERF) is the first facility to support the full cycle of research, validation, commercialisation and training activities necessary to ensure widespread adoption of new medical devices and techniques throughout Queensland, and around the world. MERF is designed to meet Australia's emerging needs in orthopaedic and artificial organ research, and provides a comprehensive suite of research and training facilities at the one location.

Lead contributors
Associate Professor Clayton Adam
Professor Ross Crawford
Professor Dietmar Hutmacher
Associate Professor Travis Klein
Professor Christian Langton
Associate Professor Mia Woodruff
Professor Yin Xiao

Business process management (BPM)

Our research marries business and IT perspectives with the ultimate goal of improving business operations and inter-organisational value chains.

BPM sets out to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of an organisation. It is a significant contributor to overall performance and competitiveness, and also a key enabler of organisational innovation and transformation. BPM principles, methods, techniques and tools have been widely applied in many organisations in different industries around the world.

We work in close collaboration with sponsors of industry-funded-chairs including:

  • Woolworths
  • Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC)

Our collaborative research focuses on:

  • (semi-)automated, pattern-based support for process improvement
  • design-led process innovation
  • process innovation based on positive deviants
  • the process of process innovation
  • foresight process innovation.

Globally, we are regarded as one of the leading academic institutions in terms of BPM research capabilities and impact. From 2008-2012 we ranked higher than any other Australian university for research productivity based on publications and international citation analysis in the top eight Information Systems journals worldwide.

Lead contributors
Professor Arthur ter Hofstede
Professor Jan Recker
Professor Michael Rosemann
Associate Professor Marcello La Rosa

Computational modelling and simulation science

Mathematical modelling and computer simulation provides a powerful mechanism for obtaining important information. Processes can be studied 'in silico' - in computer simulations - removing the need for expensive and often time-consuming experimentation. Insights and advancements can be made in economically unfeasible or time sensitive situations, and predictions and extrapolations can be made despite missing data. Big modelling and big data go hand in hand, each informing the other.

The insight gained from this type of research can assist with managerial and technical decision-making, by contributing to the design of new processes, the optimisation of existing operations, and decisions about whether to proceed with final production.

Our research focuses on:

  • computational biology
  • computational materials science
  • industrial mathematics.

Practical applications of our research include:

  • the use of computational models, imaging techniques, and sophisticated software to provide clinicians and health specialists with a deeper understanding of who is at risk from a certain disease and how to treat the disease more effectively
  • the use of mathematical and statistical methods to solve a broad class of industry-based problems in science, engineering and business.
Lead contributors
Professor Kevin Burrage
Professor Ian Turner
Professor Matthew Simpson
Professor Troy Farrell

Data science

The new and exciting research field of data science sees mathematics, machine learning and statistical methods interact with information technologies. It aims to improve the knowledge mined and inferred from the massive amounts of data generated by government and industry. From this, we can derive further insights into complex scientific problems, with the potential to impact policy, decision-making, and inform public life.

We now have an unparalleled opportunity to use models to:

  • provide clinicians and health specialists with a deeper understanding of who is at risk of developing a certain disease and how to treat it more effectively
  • understand the human and environmental impacts of climate change
  • capitalise on the explosion in online and linked data to improve social systems.

With our world class computing and visualisation infrastructure, our internationally recognised researchers and our key role in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers, we are in a unique position to tackle the fundamental challenge of 'turning data into knowledge'. We also have the opportunity to train the next generation of quantitative (data) scientists to thrive in tomorrow's information age.

Lead contributors
Professor Peter Bartlett
Professor Bronwyn Harch
Professor Kerrie Mengersen
Professor Tony Pettit
Professor Steven Stern

Materials science and engineering

Our research encompasses the synthesis, characterisation and application of materials in three broad areas:

  • nanomaterials
  • surface engineering
  • molecular materials.

Our nanomaterials research focuses on the fabrication of nanoparticles and low dimensional materials, such as:

  • quantum dot structures
  • nanowires
  • nanotubes
  • graphene materials.

This research has applications ranging from pollutant remediation to components and structures in next-generation computing devices and light-harvesting photovoltaics.

Surface engineering involves the creation and analysis of surfaces, focusing on the unique properties associated with a surface and how it interacts with the surrounding environment. Our research is driving innovation in this area, including the creation of new sensor devices, and the design of tailored surfaces which control the transmission of light.

We also have several groups working on the molecular synthesis of advanced molecular materials, offering real-world applications in biomedicine, sensor devices, and the treatment of environmental pollutants.

Our world-ranked research is conducted at our state-of-the-art Central Analytical Research Facility (CARF), which offers an outstanding capability in the characterisation of materials.

Lead contributors
Professor  John Bell
Professor Stephen Blanksby
Professor YuanTong Gu
Professor Ken Ostrikov

Plant biotechnology

Our researchers are tackling issues that affect the safety and security of all Australians. Through security-focused research we're working to reduce threats to food, health and water resources, and minimise the impacts of climate change, crime and terrorism.

The long-term sustainability of Australia's agricultural and energy resources are a national priority. Our research program employs genetic manipulation, crop-modelling and biofortification to improve the nutritional status, stress tolerance, and disease and pest resistance of a range of tropical crops, including:

  • bananas
  • pulses
  • potatoes and tomatoes
  • sugarcane.

Pest management and restricting exotic pest entry have become more important with the growth of global trade. We work to address this through the development of advanced techniques for disease diagnosis and control, which are critical to the security of food supply.

Our researchers are also developing diversified products from a single crop or harvest to improve the sustainability of specific industries. An example of this is the manufacture of high-value 'green' chemicals from the by-products of sugar production.

Lead contributors
Distinguished Professor James Dale
Professor Rob Harding
Professor Roger Hellens
Professor Sagadevan Mundree
Professor Peter Waterhouse

Robotics and computer vision

Robots are a transformative technology, with potential applications across a range of industries. Our researchers are world leaders in this field, and QUT headquarters the ARC Centre of Excellence for Robotic Vision.

We have received international recognition for our work in vision-based tracking of objects and vision-based navigation of mobile robots. This research has applications across many types of robotics, including:

  • robot arms
  • ground-based mobile robots
  • aerial robots
  • water and underwater robots.

Our work in robot vision – enabling robots to perceive, sense, understand and learn – will provide increased productivity in industries critical to Australia's economy.

Lead contributors
Professor Duncan Campbell
Professor Peter Corke
Professor Tristan Perez
Professor Jonathan Roberts
Professor Gordon Wyeth

Research priorities

Our research priorities are designed to meet constantly emerging challenges and opportunities.

Crop protection

In response to the threat posed by insect pests, weeds and abiotic stresses to rural industries, we have prioritised research into crop protection. Our research in this area is diverse and innovative, and ranges from entomology through to robotics.

Lead contributors
Professor Anthony Clarke (fruit fly biology and management)
Professor Peter Grace (soil nutrition and health)
Professor Rob Harding (transgenic control of plant viruses)
Associate Professor Caroline Hauxwell (microbiology and invertebrate pest management)

Integrated energy systems

The transition to a new energy system is one of the key challenges of the 21st century, and we are a leading Australian university in the field of energy research. Our team of researchers specialises in new technologies and energy systems, and exploring more efficient uses of energy sources.

Lead contributors
Professor Gerard Ledwich
Professor Mahinda Vilathgamuwa

STEM research in education

We are committed to encouraging and promoting research and student engagement in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. By drawing together a coordinated program of research, we are addressing the challenges of STEM educational practice in both compulsory schooling and higher education.

Lead contributors
Professor Wageeh Boles
Professor Christine Bruce
Professor Les Dawes

Smart transport systems

Our transport-related research is focused on improving the efficiency and safety of transport networks, infrastructure, and their users. Our researchers play a major role in Brisbane's Smart Transport Research Centre (STRC), and have unprecedented access to transit data from key transport organisations.

Lead contributors
Professor Tommy Chan
Professor Edward Chung
Professor Manicka Dhanaseka
Professor Simon Washington

Contacts

Science and Engineering research office