Monash tops Australia with three ARC Laureate Fellowships

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More than $9 million has been awarded to three Monash University researchers in the 2022 ARC Australian Laureate Fellowships.

The Fellowships, announced earlier this week, were awarded to Professor Joanne Etheridge from the Faculty of Engineering, Professor Nicolas Voelcker from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Professor Alex Fornito from the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health.

Professor Etheridge was awarded more than $3.2 million for her project “New ways to see” using electron microscopy. She was also the first Monash researcher to be awarded the Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship to promote and mentor women in STEM.

Her project aims to deliver new ways to see our world at the level of atoms using electron microscopy. This will help understanding of the natural world, as well as engineer it to develop materials with useful properties such as catalysts, and renewable economy materials like solar cells.

“I am thrilled to be awarded the Fellowship. I hope it will build upon the excellence in imaging physics, electron microscopy and materials science that exists at Monash,” said Professor Etheridge, who will move to the Faculty of Science with the Fellowship.

Professor Fornito of the Turner Institute was awarded $2.8 million to develop next-generation maps and models of the human brain, to better understand how the brain works and the biological basis of behaviour in both health and illness.

“Above all else, this Fellowship is a wonderful recognition of the hard work of the incredible students and research fellows who have been a part of my team over the years. It has been one of the deepest privileges of my life to work with, and learn from, such amazing people,” said Professor Fornito.

Professor Voelker was awarded $3.2 million for his project to develop nanostructured silicon-based wearable and implantable biosensors. The aim is to develop a new generation of biosensor technologies applied on and in the body. The outcomes are expected to support medical diagnostics, sports sciences, workplace testing as well as defence and space technologies.

Monash’s internal programmatic support for researchers has helped contribute to the Laureate projects: Professor Etheridge established an international collaboration with eight  leading international groups thanks to a Monash Networks of Excellence grant, and Professor Voelcker received seed funding to establish an International Biosensor Institute and collaboration with Pennsylvania State University through the Networks of Excellence program.

Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Margaret Gardner AC, said the number of Fellowships awarded to Monash academics this year reflected the strength of their research.

“Monash University is a research-intensive institute and these Fellowships recognise the world-leading projects being conducted by our outstanding researchers. Congratulations to all the recipients.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Rebekah Brown said: “The ARC Laureate is one of the most prestigious research awards and Monash has received three this year. Our researchers are doing incredible work contributing to research excellence and impact. Congratulations to Professor Joanne Etheridge, Professor Nico Voelcker and Professor Alex Fornito.”

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