Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology

Functional Anatomy

Further Information

Contact a supervisor for detailed information on student research projects

Professor Stuart Bunt 
Professor Stuart Bunt

Professor Shane Maloney
Professor Shane Maloney

Assoc/Prof Nick Milne
Assoc/Prof Nick Milne

The School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology offers a diverse range of student research topics.

Morphometrics and Finite Element Analysis

Project outline

1. Morphometrics. Functional anatomy research involves understanding the meaning of shape variation in biology. The reason for the variation might be function, phylogeny/inheritance, environment, disease or just something that changes shape over time (like during growth or locomotion). The biological object is frequently a bone, but can be soft tissues (like faces, or feet!). Data can be collected from bone collections, or CT scans, photographs or living people. The questions that can be asked using these techniques have relevance to anatomy, biomechanics, development, evolution, forensics, medicine, physical anthropology, and palaeontology.  The data collected can be traditional linear measurements or 3D landmark data that is used in modern Geometric Morphometric analysis.  

2. Finite element analysis. Functional anatomy can also be explored using computer modelling of stress and strain in bones under different conditions.  These methods have been used to test hypotheses about how muscles may sometimes act to reduce bending stress (and thus reduce the risk of bone breakage).  This method can also be used to test hypotheses about why bones have particular shapes.  For example why is the human femur curved?  There must be some advantage to this curvature.

Examples of two projects that could be done in 2013 are:

  1. The skulls in the Anatomy and Human Biology teaching collection are thought to have all come from South Asia. Data has already been collected on cranial collections from other parts of the world. This honours project could digitise the School's crania collection and analyse their variation in relation to known samples.
  2. How does the 3rd trochanter work to relieve bending stress in the femur.  Armadillos and their fossil relatives have a 3rd trochanter.  The muscles that attach to the 3rd trochanter have been shown to relieve bending stress.  But would it work as well if the trochanter was bigger or smaller, or more proximal or distal?  This question could be explored using femoral models and finite elements analysis.


There are numerous other projects that could be negotiated.  The possibilities are as wide as your imagination.

Project is suitable for

Honours, Masters, PhD

Supervisor
Assoc/Prof.Nick Milne
Essential qualifications

For Honours: An appropriate undergraduate degree with a biological science emphasis, and a minimum weighted average of 65% in the level 3 subjects that comprise the relevant major from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

For Masters or PhD: An appropriate Honours degree with a biological science emphasis or equivalent research experience from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The Brain Bioengineering and Imaging

Project outline

I have been working for some time with Karol Miller’s group in Engineering. This group is interested in modelling the deformation and movement of the brain in injury and during surgery. To do this modelling they need to know various parameters about the brain, e.g. how compressible it is, how fast liquid can travel through brain tissue, how elastic it is etc. etc.  Surprisingly many of these basic brain structural parameters are not know with any certainty.

This research would involve constructing apparatus, sometimes with the help of engineers to test and measure these parameters in post mortem brain tissue, usually from sheep.  We are also interested in imaging the brain and comparing the results from MRI/CT/ultrasound etc. to theoretical modelling results.  The engineers are good at constructing models of brain deformation but know little anatomy so will need your help in comparing the results.
Project is suitable for

Honours, Masters, PhD

Supervisor
Prof Stuart Bunt
Essential qualifications

For Honours: An appropriate undergraduate degree with a biological science emphasis, and a minimum weighted average of 65% in the level 3 subjects that comprise the relevant major from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

For Masters or PhD: An appropriate Honours degree with a biological science emphasis or equivalent research experience from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Physical properties of nervous tissue

Project outline

Working with Karol Miller’s large research group in Mechanical engineering we are looking at various physical aspects of brain structure such as its elasticity, fluid permeability, and resistance to compression. These measurements are then used to model brain deformation in surgery and disease. Accurate modelling of brain movement during, for example, robotic guided surgery is necessary to ensure that electrodes or excisions are accurately placed in tumours or selected brain nuclei. Knowledge of the interface between the skull and brain define the edge effects of brain distortion in impact injuries. We are also interested in fluid flow through brain tissue as this can effect properties such as rigidity in the enclosed skull and responses to distortion of the brain ventricles by space filling lesions such as tumours and blood clots. The research will involve experimenting on sheep and human brain tissue, applying stresses and strains in finely calibrated apparatus to obtain the required parameters. For fluid flow we wish to investigate mass flow using gold nano particles followed by electron microscopy to study microflow in brain tissue.

Project is suitable for

Honours, Masters, PhD

Supervisor
Prof Stuart Bunt
Essential qualifications

For Honours: ANHB2217 preferred (other neuro units may suffice).

For Masters or PhD: A background in biology with some neuroanatomy/neuroscience

Physical MicroCT studies of vascularisation


(with Shane Maloney)
Project outline

a) Taking advantage of the new high resolution scanner in CMCA in QEII we have been investigating the structure of the sheep rete, a complex network of capillaries below the brain used to cool the sheep’s brain under water stress. We wish to see how the efficiency of this structure varies between sheep and between sheep strains to identify the best heat adapted sheep, suitable for the Australian climate.

b) Blood supply of the nasal cavities, this is one of the last areas of human anatomy yet to be understood. Nose bleeds are a common, and usually innocuous, occurrence. However, as nasal vessels are embedded in the nasal conchae they may be unable to contract after damage and exanguination has occurred following epistaxis. This area is notoriously difficult to dissect. This project would involve injection of iodine into the facial and maxillary arteries followed by use of the microCT to produce high resolution angiograms of the nasal vasculature.

Project is suitable for

Honours, Masters, PhD

Supervisor
Prof Stuart Bunt
Other Supervisors

Prof Shane Maloney

Essential qualifications

For Honours: Some second and/or third year units in human anatomy and physiology

For Masters or PhD: Anatomy and physiology background

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