UQ and the United States of America

Collaborating to change the world

UQ has strong ties with the USA, including strategic partnerships with Emory University and Washington University in St Louis, and academic links with Harvard and Stanford. And, with Boeing, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the US Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Dow Chemical Company backing key UQ projects, this partnership is creating change for an increasingly connected global community.

Fast facts


US students enrolled at UQ


USA-UQ co-publications


academic staff born in the USA


research project collaborations


alumni in the USA


agreements with 38 official partners

Fast facts show full-year 2020 data.



The USA is ranked 1st in the countries that co-publish with UQ. Researchers from the USA and UQ have partnered on 6616 co-publications in the past 5 years, with key areas including ecology, genetics & heredity, and multidisciplinary science. UQ's top co-publishing partners include Harvard University, Ochsner Health System, and the University of Washington, Seattle. 

Research collaborations

UQ has more research collaborations with the USA than with any other country. In the past 5 years, UQ has collaborated with 165 US institutions on 307 research projects, covering topics such as hypersonic flight, urban water systems, climate strategy and clean tech, and sleep apnoea. Key collaborators include the University of California, Harvard University, and the California Institute of Technology.

Research funding

US organisations, including the Dow Chemical Company and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have contributed A$88,424,466 million towards 387 research projects in the past 5 years. Projects investigate a range of topics including protecting coral reefs and ecosystems, treating prostate and breast cancers, preventing sewer corrosion, shoring up African agriculture, and eliminating malaria.

Collaboration in action

A sweet pill to swallow

Medicinal chemist A/Prof Mark Smythe’s work on life-changing drugs for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and rare blood disease was spun out of his work at UQ into Protagonist Therapeutics. The company is based at UQ St Lucia and in California. “The interesting part of this discovery for me,” Dr Smythe says, “is the realisation that Australian venoms comprise a class of molecules called constrained peptides, that combine the best properties of antibodies and small molecules which suggested they could hit the right drug-targets and be developed as oral pills.” In 2017, Protagonist announced a deal with Janssen Pharmaceuticals. This involved US$50 million upfront payments and US$940 million in milestone payments for the co-development of the PTG-200 pill for IBD.

No storm in a teacup; it's a cyclone on a silicon chip

Supported by the United States Army Research Office and the Australian Research Council (ARC), UQ and New Zealand researchers have combined quantum liquids and silicon-chip technology to study turbulence for the first time, opening the door to new navigation technologies and improved understanding of the turbulent dynamics of cyclones and other extreme weather. Turbulence is described as the oldest unsolved problem in physics. This new technique allows quantum turbulence to be studied on a silicon chip for the first time, and for technologies such as accelerometers to be built based on quantum liquids on a chip. These accelerometers could have a major impact on navigation, in principle, allowing ten billion times better sensitivity than current sensors.

Who wants an animal-free burger?

For the first time, UQ’s top academics in food oral processing and sensory evaluation and US animal-free ingredient development company, Motif FoodWorks, have partnered to improve texture in plant-based food. UQ Adjunct A/Professor Stefan Baier, and now Motif’s food science lead, heads this three-year venture to understand how people experience the texture of meat and how to replicate that experience using non-animal ingredients. UQ School of Chemical Engineering Professor Jason Stokes, said that the aim of the collaboration is to apply in vitro oral processing in the category of meat analogues – meaning if you focus on the physics of texture in a person’s mouth, rather than the subjective opinion, you get a more universal ‘read’ of what makes food enjoyable to eat.

UQ-Harvard partnership on self-regulation skills

A special issue published in the Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review features 11 articles authored by researchers from UQ’s Parenting and Family Support Centre and Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child. This special issue stems from researchers observing that self-regulation is a dominant concept in child development, parenting, family/school-based interventions, and issues in the implementation of evidence-based programs. Co-author and Director of UQ’s Parenting and Family Support Centre, Professor Matthew Sanders said the resource provides the latest research on self-regulation and how the concept can be applied to improve the wellbeing of children and families.

Recycled technology flies to space

From Australia’s new Spaceport in Far North Queensland, UQ designed ‘Spartan’ – Scramjet Powered Accelerator for Reusable Technology Advancement – takes off and launches a small satellite into orbit 450kms above the earth. It gets up to hypersonic speed – and here things change – instead of dropping its boosters into the sea (standard practice) they transform into light aircraft, return to its launch site and land – to use again. This is all possible thanks to Chair of Hypersonic Propulsion Professor Michael Smart’s (pictured) research and his international collaboration with Boeing, US Air Force Research Laboratory, and his part in the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation Program. In the future, hypersonic flight could revolutionise global air and space travel.

Helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds

UQ Critical Thinking Project (UQCTP) professional development network has extended across the Pacific. Thanks to a partnership with the Queensland’s IMPACT Centre and North American universities University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA), Pepperdine University, and Simon Fraser University, new nodes of the network have been established in Los Angeles and Vancouver. This international collaboration started in 2019, and has already reached 17 schools and teachers associations. UQCTP is a comprehensive curriculum and engagement program for the development and deployment of Critical Thinking Pedagogies.

Prize for discovery of novel visual mechanisms 

Queensland Brain Institute Professor Justin Marshall with US colleague of 30 years, Professor Tom Cronin from the University of Maryland, share the honour of being awarded the Rank Prize for Optoelectronics. Their research funded by the US military found mantis shrimps possess colour vision with four times the capacity of human red-green-blue based colour sensitivity and possess a form of vision unique among animals – circular polarisation. “We’ve received a prize for describing weirdness beyond our wildest dreams,” Professor Marshall said. Shrimp vision may lead to improving early cancer detection, and technologies in satellite cameras and underwater navigation.

USA students at UQ

Students from the USA make up the 4th largest international cohort at UQ. In the past 5 years, more than 2400 US students enrolled in UQ degrees, with Study AbroadMedicine and PhD studies being popular program choices.

In fact, more American coursework and research students choose UQ than any other Australian university; according to Australian Government data, 23.2% study at UQ (as at August 2017).

Video: Terry Vo, from the USA, graduated with a Masters in Governance and Public Policy from UQ in 2014. She was chosen as a Brisbane International Student Ambassador in 2013.


Student mobility

Student exchange

UQ has student exchange agreements with over 30 universities in the USA. The most popular institutions for exchange include the University of South Carolina,  the University of California system, the University of Wisconsin-Madison,  and Purdue University. It is the 2nd most popular country for outbound exchange, narrowly behind the United Kingdom.

Medicine links

The UQ-Ochsner Clinical School offers students a unique opportunity to work in Louisiana's Ochsner Health System. The UQ-Ochsner MD program is a 4-year degree, of which the first 2 years are spent at UQ and the final years are spent in New Orleans. The UQ-Ochsner Seed Fund for Collaborative Research has also been established to foster transdisciplinary research between investigators based in the Ochsner Clinical School and at UQ. In addition, medical students can undertake placements at the Duke University School of Medicine and the University of Hawaii John A Burns School of Medicine.

World Bank internship

The World Bank Group’s Integrity Vice President offers a scholarship in conjunction with UQ Global Engagement and the TC Beirne School of Law to enable a Bachelor of Laws student to undertake a two to three month fellowship with the World Bank’s Special Litigation Unit in Washington, D.C.

Stanford University visits

UQ annually hosts a cohort of Stanford University students from the Australian Coastal Studies program. Students attend lectures on rainforests and coral reef diversity by UQ researchers, and participate in field trips, including to UQ’s research station on the Great Barrier Reef.

Washington University in St Louis joint program

Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) is one of UQ's most highly engaged partners in the United States. UQ has a formal alliance with the law school at WUSTL, allowing American students to earn a Master of Laws from UQ, and Australian students to earn a Juris Doctor from Washington University.

American Australian Association fellowship

The UQ-American Australian Association fellowship provides 2 AUD 40,000 fellowships annually for American citizens to study and conduct research at UQ for a year, and for a UQ student or alumnus to study or conduct research in the USA.

Uni-Capitol Washington internship

The Uni-Capitol Washington Internship Programme allows students to work in the Congressional Office of a member of the US House of Representatives, or US Senate, each January and February. 12 Australian university students are accepted into the prestigious program each year. UQ has a solid record of success in the program, with 25 of students accepted since 2005.

Energy exchange with University of Texas-Austin

UQ has a long-standing undergraduate exchange program with the University of Texas-Austin (UT-Austin) that supports collaboration between researchers, teachers, and graduate students to explore energy technology, policy, and environmentally responsible business.


The USA is home to UQ’s largest alumni network outside Australia - UQ has 12,392 alumni living in the USA. Alumni with significant links to the USA include:

Founding CEO, ImmunExpress and Corporate Advisor - COVID-19 Serology, Burnet Institute (Bachelor of Veterinary Science (Hons) 1979, PhD 1987)
Senior Program Manager at Microsoft (Bachelor of Engineering – Software 2006, and PhD – Computer Science 2013)
Founder, Chairman, and CEO of a franchise restaurant empire including Applebee’s and Taco Bell (Master of Literary Studies 1987)
Chancellor, the University of California San Francisco (Bachelor of Medicine 1975, Honorary Doctorate of Medicine 2012)
Venture capitalist (Bachelor of Engineering 2002, Bachelor of Commerce 2004, PhD 2006)
Former CEO and Chairman of The Dow Chemical Company (Bachelor of Engineering 1975; Doctor of Science 2005)
President, Indiana University (Bachelor of Arts 1975, Honorary Doctorate 2007)
Chief Transformation Officer and Interim Chief Financial Officer at HP (Bachelor of Arts 1987, Bachelor of Economics 1988)
Internationally renowned cardiologist (Bachelor of Veterinary Science 1970, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery 1975, Doctor of Medicine 1995, Doctor of Science Honoris Causa 2013)
Writer (Bachelor of Arts 1966, Doctor of Letters Honoris Causa 2003)
Author, and legal analyst (Master of Literary Studies 1985)
Founder/Board Chair at Eularis (Bachelor of Speech Therapy 1987)
Director, Division of Healthcare Management and Occupational Safety and Health, United Nations (Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery 1989, Graduate Certificate in Applied Law 2000)
Scientific Director and Advisor to the Chair, Genetics, Yale School of Medicine (Bachelor of Science Hons 2006, PhD 2011)
Interim Chief Executive, TikTok, globally (Bachelor of Arts Hons 2000)
SVP and CFO of Renewables Division, ContourGlobal (Bachelor of Science 2005, Bachelor of Economics 2007)
Four time Emmy Award-winning production designer and art director (Bachelor of Design Studies 1997)
Anchor for CNN International (Bachelor of Arts 1988)