ANU wins $24 million in ARC funding

10 November 2017

ANU has won $24 million in Australian Research Council (ARC) funding for 58 research projects across the University.

In the latest ARC funding round announced by Education Minister the Hon Simon Birmingham, ANU won funding for 20 Discovery Early Career Research Awards (DECRAs), 38 Discovery Projects, and three Linkage Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) grants.

Acting ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Harding said the ARC funding highlighted the breadth and significance of research across the University.

"The ARC funding is great news for ANU and will help fund research that tackles some of the biggest challenges facing Australia and the world," Professor Harding said.

"It is great to see our researchers taking on the big challenges with projects that enhance the reputation of our University around the world.

"On behalf of the University, I congratulate each of our winners and wish then success with their projects."

Professor Harding said the results highlighted the talents of female early-career researchers, with 13 of the 20 DECRA awards at ANU going to female researchers.

A full list of successful projects is available on the ARC website.

Among the successful projects are two Discovery Projects to be led by Associate Professor Anton Wallner from the Research School of Physics and Engineering in the College of Science.

He receives combined funding of more than $920,000 to study the remnants of stardust found on the ocean floor ($520,865), and to study ultra-sensitive single atom-counting for astrophysics and nuclear technology ($407,719).

"I'm delighted to receive funding for two major projects, which will help us understand the Universe and develop nuclear applications in a range of interdisciplinary fields," he said.

Dr Dierdre Howard-Wagner from the College of Arts and Social Sciences, won around $300,000 in Discovery Project funding for a project on New Public Management Aboriginal Organisations and Indigenous Rights.

"I'm absolutely thrilled," Dr Howard-Wagner said. "This is really critical research. It will have a strong urban focus and builds on the future directions for ANU of urban Indigenous research as a major strength."

Professor Xin Meng from the College of Business and Economics won $409,000 for her project to study inequality of health, wealth and education in China.

"I'm pleased to receive ARC backing for my research into inequality of health, wealth, and education in China," she said. "It is my hope that this research project will help identify policies to address inequality and enhance stability in China."

Professor Thomas Preiss from the John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR) in the College of Health and Medicine, won $470,000 in funding to lead a project on genome-wide discovery or translation control mechanisms.

"Funding for this project will allow us to reveal currently unknown molecular details of protein synthesis," he said.

"This work has the potential to transform our understanding of how genes function in a process that is central to all of life. We will work closely with colleagues at the Czech Academy of Science and the National Institutes of Health in the US to achieve our objectives."

Professor Vickie Bennett from the Research School of Earth Sciences in the College of Science won Discovery Project funding worth $333,000 to lead her project on revealing the deep Earth in deep time.

"I am so excited," she said. "We will dig even deeper into some of Earth's great mysteries. We're working on how the continents were put together and what it means for early life and mineral deposits in Australia."

Dr Ceridwen Fraser from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society won $384,014 to lead a Discovery Project on the extent of Antarctica's biological isolation.

"This project will help us to understand whether plants can actually cross the Southern Ocean and reach Antarctica on their own, and if they can, what that means for Antarctica's future," she said.

Professor Kylie Catchpole from the ANU Research School of Engineering received $443,270 in Discovery Project funding to lead a project to develop stable and efficient perovskite solar cells.

"We are very excited to receive this funding," she said. "Perovskite solar cells are an extremely promising way of increasing the efficiency and reducing the cost of solar electricity."

Dr Fiona Beck from the ANU Research School of Engineering received $344,446 in DECRA funding to convert light to electricity. 

"I am really thrilled with this result," she said. "It will enable me to grow my research group and support PhD students in an exciting new field.

"This research could enable a whole range of new devices for imaging and sensing, and allow us to generate fuels from sunlight more efficiently."

Dr Heather Roberts from the ANU College of Law has been awarded $335,983 in DECRA funding to examine the swearing-in ceremonies of judges in Australia's supreme courts since Federation.

"This project will be the first of its kind anywhere in the world, and certainly a first for Australia - examining these ceremonial archives to explore the rich history and biography of Australian judges," she said.

"Findings will help to inform future discussions of judicial appointments, as well as education and training about our courts and the craft of judging."

Dr Shelley Bielefeld from the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) in the College of Asia and the Pacific receives $363,000 in DECRA funding to study regulation and governance for Indigenous welfare.

"The research will explore the intensive regulation of Indigenous peoples through welfare reform and investigate what type of approaches are necessary to ensure that their needs are met," Dr Bielefeld said.