UNSW Sydney academics from the faculties of Science, Medicine & Health, Arts, Design & Architecture, Law & Justice, Engineering and the UNSW Business School as well as UNSW Canberra have secured funding in the latest Discovery Project (DP) round from the Australian Research Council (ARC).
The ARC’s Discovery scheme aims to expand the knowledge base and research capacity in Australia and support research that will provide economic, commercial, environmental, social and/or cultural benefits for the nation.
In total, 65 UNSW projects have received more than $27 million, with UNSW Science and Engineering again being awarded the lion’s share. Science has secured 31 grants with funds totalling more than $14 million, while Engineering has 16 projects totalling more than $6 million.
UNSW Pro Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Sven Rogge, applauded the University’s academics on their research funding success.
“The DPs are highly competitive grants, and they drive much of Australia’s world-leading research addressing society’s most pressing challenges in Australia and beyond. It’s great to see UNSW researchers’ strong result again this year.”
Professor Nicholas Fisk, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research & Enterprise, was pleased, but also concerned about the process.
“It is wonderful to see the success of UNSW academics in this pivotal mainstream grant scheme. At the same time, it is concerning that nationally six DPs, including one from UNSW, were vetoed by the Minister for not being in the national interest. This was despite them being selected through the ARC’s rigorous independent peer review process. Regrettably, this is not the first time that grants have been withheld at ministerial discretion, undermining the integrity and transparency of our national grant system.”
Among the successful recipients is Professor Marc Wilkins at UNSW Science who has received $627,570 for ‘The effect of methylation and phosphorylation on ribosome function’. This project aims to discover how cells regulate ribosome function and selectivity, by modifying their ribosomal proteins. This affects protein synthesis, a process which is central to the growth of all living things.
Associate Professor Christine Chaffer at Garvan Institute of Medical Research and UNSW Medicine & Health has been awarded $611,000 for ‘Mapping networks governing cell state plasticity: how, where and when?’ Changing cell states lies at the core of almost every developmental and disease process in multicellular organisms. Building on its fundamental discovery that stem cells and non-stem cells readily interconvert, the team will now incorporate innovative cell systems and the development of our new multi-layered systems biology strategy to develop the first comprehensive understanding of the cell biology that underlies cell state changes.
Professor Mattheos (Mat) Santamouris at UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture has received $570,000 for ‘Fluorescent daytime radiative cooling for urban heat mitigation’. This project aims to develop a fluorescent daytime radiative cooling technology suitable for the mitigation of urban overheating in the built environment and for the reduction of future cooling energy demands in buildings.
Professor Jill Hunter at UNSW Law & Justice has been awarded $540,000 for ‘Judges’ work, place and psychological health – a national view’. This project aims to address the human, juridical and financial costs of judicial officers’ work-related psychological harm, which is implicated in early retirement, sick leave and suicide. This harm threatens appropriate courtroom conduct, procedural fairness and impartial adjudication.
Professor Xuemin Lin at UNSW Engineering has received $510,000 for ‘Towards high-order structure search on large-scale graphs’. High-order structure search over large-scale graphs has many applications including cybersecurity, crime detection, social media, marketing recommendation and public health. This project aims to lay the scientific foundations and develop novel computing techniques for efficiently conducting structure search.
Professor Qihe Tang at the UNSW Business School has been awarded $378,292 for ‘Quantitative analysis of systemic risk in insurance’. The significance of this project lies in narrowing the gap between the studies of systemic risk in banking and insurance. Expected outcomes include the construction of insurance/reinsurance networks to formalise systemic risk, the analysis of the role of network integration, and the development of pricing frameworks to entail a systemic risk premium.
Professor Matthew Garratt at UNSW Canberra School of Engineering & IT has received $411,224 for ‘Efficient strategies for visually guided flight: from insects to drones’. Flying in real environments, that are densely cluttered with obstacles, is a major challenge limiting the proliferation of aerial robotic technology, yet flying insects such as honeybees accomplish this task with ease. This project will seek to uncover the salient vision-based flight-control strategies implemented by insects to deal with clutter. These will be used to develop sensory and information processing frameworks for implementation in miniature robotic systems which will allow them to navigate autonomously in complex environments even when GPS positioning is denied.