UNSW tops research funding again


UNSW was the only university to yield more than $100 million in federal funding in 2016.

UNSW secured $150 million of funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC) in 2016, more than any other Australian university by over $50 million.

Research across climate change, alien virus invasions, the incorrect use of child restraints and improved services for at-risk rural youth are among 109 UNSW projects awarded more than $47.8 million in the latest round of ARC funding.

UNSW also received 88 Discovery Project grants worth $32 million, more than any other Australian instituion.

“Gaining 14% of the country’s Discovery Projects comes on top of UNSW recently being awarded $91 million for three of the ARC’s nine flagship Centres of Excellence,” Professor Nicholas Fisk, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) at UNSW said.

“Together this means that UNSW has secured $150 million of the $863 million announced by the ARC in 2016, that’s 17.4% of total funding. We’re the only university to yield more than $100 million – a bumper year.

“These results are a real testament to the wealth, breadth and depth of talent here, as well as to UNSW’s underpinning of its research trajectory,” Professor Fisk said.

Among the largest Discovery Project grants announced today was $980,500 to Professor Chris Turney, from UNSW’s Climate Change Research Centre, for a project that aims to resolve the timing, rate of change, mechanisms and effects of past abrupt and extreme global climate change.

Another large grant ($892,000) went to Professor Ricardo Cavicchioli, from the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, to determine how hosts and viruses interact in Antarctica’s natural environment and during alien invasions.

Professor Anthony Shakeshaft, from UNSW’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, received $743,500 for a project that aims to improve outcomes for high-risk youth in remote communities in Australia and Canada.

Other successful UNSW researchers included:

  • Dr Andrea Taschetto – $652,000 to understand the complex interactions across the world’s tropical oceans and their associated climate effects, and to create accurate seasonal and annual climate forecasting that is crucial for managing Australia’s water resources
  • Dr Julie Brown – $423,500 to minimise incorrect use of child restraints, which triple the risk of injury to children in car crashes
  • Scientia Professor Katharina Gaus – $485,500 for a project to advance understanding of T cell biology, and contribute to DNA nanotechnology and super-resolution microscopy while providing fundamental insights into antigen recognition by T cells and ultimately derive clinically relevant practical applications
  • Associate Professor Kimberlie Dean – $372,500 to identify when and how young people first come in contact with the criminal justice system and what determines the early course of contact
  • Professor Julie Stubbs – $230,000 to understand the place of community sanctions in the Australian criminal justice system
  • Professor Klaus Regenauer-Lieb, from the School of Petroleum Engineering, who received backing for two projects –  $438,000 for an investigation to decipher the physics of faulting and earthquakes in damage zones around seismogenic faults; and $314,000 to understand the formation, geometry and fluid connectivity of unconventional high-temperature and high pressure shale gas reservoirs
  • Also receiving two grants was Associate Professor Benoit Julien, from the UNSW Business School – $139,900 to study the effect of regulating over-the-counter financial markets on economic performance; and $165,00 to examine decisions driving productivity, growth, and unemployment in macroeconomies with frictions.

Among the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award winners were:

  • Dr Brett Hallam – $390,000 to understand hydrogen passivation mechanisms in silicon solar cells
  • Dr Sophie Lewis – $372,000 to study the experiences of Australian women with advanced, incurable breast cancer
  • Dr Derrick Wing Kwan Ng – $365,000 to enable efficient wireless energy transfer and data communication for wireless powered communication networks.

Future fellowship winners included:

  • Dr Thom van Dooren – $820,000 to explore the cultural, political and ethical dimensions of biodiversity loss in three of the world’s ‘extinction capitals’
  • Dr Daniel Falster – $802,000 to explain the composition of vegetation in Australia and worldwide using ecological and evolutionary first principles
  • Dr Muireann Irish – $688,000 to map the interplay between the episodic and semantic systems of memory across such functions as new learning, remembering the past, imagining the future and creative cognition.

Linkage infrastructure grants went to:

  • Professor Richard Tilley – $1.1 million to enable a research program in functional materials using xenon-plasma focused ion beam instrumentation
  • Professor Evatt Hawkes – $900,000 to continue the access of Intersect’s computational researchers to the National Computational Infrastructure peak supercomputing facility
  • Scientia Professor Rose Amal – $358, 275 to establish thin film fabrication with catalytic/gas sorption characterisation needed for energy research.

For the full list of recipients go to the ARC website.

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