UNSW Sydney and Manipal Academy select inaugural grant recipients

Mumbai: Leaders of the two institutions announced the first 10 projects to receive seed funding for collaborative research during an event in Manipal. A project to improve women’s safety in public spaces and another exploring sustainability in the apparel industry are among the first projects to receive grants under the newly established UNSW-Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) Collaborative Research Seed Funding Scheme.

UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs and Dr Vinod Bhat, Vice-Chancellor of MAHE, announced the 10 joint grant recipients during an event in Manipal on Saturday.

Professor Jacobs said: “I am excited by the potential of the MAHE-UNSW partnership. These new grants will help academics at both universities bring the collaboration to life. They will link brilliant minds to jointly address complex and important global research challenges.”

Echoing the sentiments of the President of UNSW, Dr H Vinod Bhat said “The two-way engagement between the two premier institutes would transform the lives of the students’ and academics, build capacity in higher education based on joint research, prepare them for a better future and promote strong India and Australia relations”.

The seed funding scheme is part of the landmark partnership for education the two institutions announced last year. The partnership seeks to deliver an uplift in articulation programs, pathways and grant revenue, while improving scope for knowledge exchange, visiting fellowships and staff career development for students and staff from both institutions.

UNSW and MAHE jointly committed $AUD5 million of joint funding to 2025 to deliver tangible outcomes and ensure the success of the partnership.

The first round of the Research Seed Funds offer 10 grants valued at $20,000 each. The scheme was launched in August 2019 and attracted 44 UNSW-MAHE joint applications from across seven UNSW Faculties.

The 10 successful projects are:

· Dr Brian Lee, UNSW Built Environment and Professor Sanghamitra Roy, Manipal Faculty of Architecture, exploring ways of improving women’s safety in public spaces.

· Dr Vipul Agarwal, UNSW Engineering and Dr Manasa Nune, Manipal Institute of Regenerative Medicine, to research three-dimensional multifunctional nanofibrous scaffolds for nerve regeneration.

· Postdoctoral Research Fellow Lisa Dillon, UNSW Science and Professor G. Arun Maiya, Manipal College of Health Professions, to investigate the epidemiology of fall risk and visual deficits among older people with peripheral neuropathy associated with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.

· Dr Mariano Ramirez, UNSW Built Environment and Dr Veena Rao, Manipal Department of Design, for research exploring new business models to achieve sustainability within the apparel industry.

· Dr Sridhar Ravi, UNSW Canberra and Dr Mohammed Zuber, Manipal Department of Aeronautical and Automobile Engineering, for bio-inspired solutions towards small scale flight.

· Dr Peter Wich, UNSW Engineering and Professor Raghu Radhakrishnan Manipal College of Dental Sciences, for the development of novel anti-fibrotic nanoformulations for the treatment of oral submucous fibrosis.

· Dr Pankaj Sharma, UNSW Science and Rajendra BV, Manipal Department of Physics, to develop lead-free wurtzite piezoelectrics for sustainable applications in energy harvesting and electronics.

· Dr Anshu Gupta, UNSW Science and Debbijoy Bhattacharya, Manipal Center for Natural Sciences, for the study of relativistic jets powered by supermassive blackholes using multi-band observation and modelling.

· Dr Naresh Kumar, UNSW Science and Dr Bharath Prasad AS, Manipal School of Life Sciences, to explore the role of antimicrobials in inactivating/neutralizing the virulence factors of Pseudomonas aeruginosa responsible for delayed wound healing process.

· Professor Megan Lord, UNSW Engineering and Professor Ritu Raval, Manipal Department of Biotechnology, for understanding chitin-based biopolymers for drug delivery applications.

The UNSW-MAHE Landmark Partnership was established in December 2018 during Vice-Chancellor Bhat’s first visit to UNSW. This followed a visit to MAHE by UNSW Pro-Vice Chancellor International and CEO of UNSW Global, Mr Laurie Pearcey and the Dean of UNSW Engineering Professor Mark Hoffman in July of the same year. During 2019, UNSW Faculty delegations visited MAHE on two occasions.