2017  | 2016  |  2015  |  2014  |  2013

Here we provide current news and indepth stories and outcomes of ARC-funded research.

2017

March

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Continuously linking researchers and industry

The ARC has announced two rounds of grants funded under the Linkage Projects scheme, which is now running a continuous application and assessment process.

The first four successful Linkage Projects grants awarded through the new fast-track process were announced on Monday, 30 January 2017, followed by an additional 11 grants in a second announcement on 24 February 2017.

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New peer review resources

The Australian Research Council (ARC) is pleased to introduce our freshly updated and expanded Peer Review webpages. We have tried to provide a central location dedicated to the ARC assessor community. Please take some time to look around at the new resources and familiarise yourself with the webpages.  

The ARC’s Peer Review webpages provide a great resource for ARC assessors, including Assessor Handbooks with scheme specific information about assessing proposals and instructions on using our Research Management System (RMS) to submit assessments.

2012 Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellow, Professor Nalini Joshi, from The University of Sydney

Kathleen Fitzpatrick and Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowships

The prestigious Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme supports outstanding Australian and international researchers and research leaders to build Australia’s research capacity, undertake innovative research programs and mentor early career researchers.

In 2010, the ARC introduced the Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship—awarded to a highly-ranked female candidate from the humanities, arts and social science disciplines—and the Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship—awarded to a highly-ranked female candidate from the science and technology disciplines.

The new LIEF funded test facility under construction. Photo courtesy: Cholachat Rujikiatkamjorn
New Linkage Project to better understand ‘mud pumping’ in our rail networks

The Australian railway network is the world's seventh longest network, stretching more than 40,000km. It enables everything from commuter trains for workers through to heavy-haul trains for moving cargo, such as agricultural produce and mining materials.

Threatening this network, and costing rail companies millions in repairs every year, is the liquefaction of soil beneath the tracks when subjected to the repetitive force of a train—a process known in the industry as ‘mud pumping’. The vibration of a large heavy-haul train travelling above certain critical speeds can affect the ground just like an earthquake, softening the foundation soil, creating holes and contaminating the overlying ballast with the soft mud slurry—destroying the integrity of the track.

Image courtesy: ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics
The eye of the needle

Researchers at The University of Adelaide have developed a breakthrough tool for use in brain surgery—a needle with a tiny camera inside, that enables surgeons to ‘see’ blood vessels. Blood vessels once spotted can then be avoided, to prevent the risk of dangerous bleeding during surgery.

“Sitting in surgery, watching the neurosurgeons work, I realised that we could make brain surgery safer,” said Professor Robert McLaughlin, Chair of Biophotonics, at the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonicswhich is administered by The University of Adelaide. “It’s like a tiny flashlight the size of a human hair, that allows the surgeon to see inside the brain.

The IODP ship JOIDES Resolution which works in the Australian region. Photo courtesy Takuya Sagawa.

Unravelling the secrets of the ocean bed

The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP)is a multimillion dollar international geoscience research collaboration, with a mission to progress our understanding of the significant proportion of the earth’s crust that underlies the oceans.

With funding from 23 countries, the IODP operates two fully-equipped research ships, provided by the United States and Japan, that sail to all corners of the world’s oceans, exploring some of the most inaccessible geology of the planet by drilling kilometres deep into undersea sediments and rocks. The Europeans provide an alternative drilling platform once each year, to drill in conditions that do not suit the two regular vessels. With the core samples that are returned to the ship, researchers can unravel the mysteries of plate tectonic events, past and future climate change events, ocean microbiology, and much more.

2016

December

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Engagement and Impact Assessment Pilot

On 21 November 2016, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training, announced the Engagement and Impact Assessment Pilot. The Engagement and Impact Assessment is part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), a whole of government initiative that was announced in December 2015.

The Engagement and Impact Assessment will run as a companion exercise to Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA). ERA will continue to assess research quality, acknowledging and encouraging ‘blue sky’ research, while the Engagement and Impact Assessment will consider: research interactions with industry, Government, non-governmental organisations, communities and community organisations; and research contributions to the economy, society and environment.

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Major Grants Announcement

The ARC’s Major Grants Announcement by Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham on 1 November 2016 was a cause to celebrate for the recipients of over 989 new research projects worth $416.6 million across five schemes of the ARC’s National Competitive Grant Program.

This included the ARC’s largest scheme, Discovery Projects, where $234.7 million was awarded for 630 new projects across all research disciplines. In addition to this, two hundred early-career researchers  received a boost to their research activities, receiving Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA) worth a total of $71.7 million over three years. 

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Equitable assessment of interdisciplinary research

Last month, the ARC released a Statement of Support for Interdisciplinary Research, outlining processes the ARC has in place to ensure equitable assessment and evaluation of interdisciplinary research under the National Competitive Grants Program and Excellence in Research for Australia.

The statement also includes actions that the ARC will implement in 2016–17 to further support interdisciplinary research.The statement serves to recognise the increasing importance that interdisciplinary research approaches play in understanding and addressing complex, problem-based challenges. In articulating the ARC’s commitment, the statement provides a broad definition of interdisciplinary research as 'a distinct mode of research or a combination of researchers, knowledge and/or approaches from disparate disciplines'.

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Review of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007) (the Code) is currently under review. The Code Review is a joint endeavour between the ARC, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Universities Australia (UA).

The Code guides institutions and researchers in responsible research practices by setting the required standards, and provides advice on managing departures from these standards. The Code is intended primarily for use by any individual or institution conducting research in Australia.

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Gender equality in research

 On 25 October 2016, the ARC hosted the inaugural Gender Equality in Research Laureate Forum, bringing together some of Australia’s most pre-eminent researchers undertaking initiatives promoting gender equality in the research workforce.

The Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme includes two targeted fellowships for outstanding women researchers of international repute. The Kathleen Fitzpatrick (Humanities and Social Sciences) and Georgina Sweet (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Fellowships are designed not only to support excellent women researchers to further their research, but also to further the representation, placement and equity of women in research careers. The fellowships provide additional funding to undertake an ambassadorial and mentoring role to promote women in research in addition to their research project.

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3D printing making commercial inroads in the aerospace industry

Researchers at the ARC Research Hub for Transforming Australia’s Manufacturing Industry through High Value Additive Manufacturing have taken their cutting edge 3D printing technology into a commercial application, with the signing of an agreement to print turbojet components for Safran Power Units, a French-based global aerospace and defence company. 

November

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Laser guide star within reach

The creation of a new laser system for the first Australian laser guide star that will have important and far-ranging uses in astronomy, satellite tracking and mitigation of the threat of space debris will soon be possible, following the award of a $502,453 grant from the Australian Research Council (ARC).

Associate Professor Celine d'Orgeville, from The Australian National University (ANU), will lead the successful ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) project announced as part of the ARC Major Grants Announcement on 1 November 2016. The ARC is providing $28.6 million for 48 new LIEF projects.

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Powering electric vehicles in sight

Developing innovative technologies for high-performance lithium-ion batteries for portable electronic devices such as electric vehicles will be the focus of new ARC Future Fellowship recipient, Dr Wei Kong Pang.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) will be providing $77.0 million for 100 new research projects under the Future Fellowshipscheme, for funding commencing in 2016, announced on 1 November 2016 as part of the ARC Major Grants Announcement.

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Finding the genes for salt-tolerant crops

Discovering the genes needed for developing crops with enhanced salt tolerance will be the focus of research of one promising early-career researcher to commence in 2017.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) will be providing $71.7 million for 200 new research projects under the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) scheme, announced on 1 November 2016 as part of the ARC Major Grants Announcement.

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#thismymob: Digital land rights and reconnecting Indigenous communities

A national-scale Indigenous-led digital project will help to reconnect Indigenous communities, thanks to a $473,000 grant under the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Indigenous scheme.

The ARC will be providing $4.6 million for 11 new research projects under the Discovery Indigenous scheme, announced on 1 November 2016 as part of the ARC Major Grants Announcement.

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Navigating the urban environment with smartphones for people with a disability

Finding out how people with impairments use smartphones to navigate the urban environment to help improve access to services and address problems related to social participation will be the focus of research in an ARC Discovery Project to commence in 2017.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) will be providing $234.7 million for 630 new research projects under the Discovery Projectsscheme, announced on 1 November 2016 as part of the ARC Major Grants Announcement.

 

October

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2017 ARC Centres of Excellence 

On the 8 September 2016, the Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, announced the outcomes of the 2017 round of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centres of Excellence scheme. The announcement saw $283.5 million in funding (over seven years) awarded to nine outstanding ARC Centres of Excellence, following a competitive and rigorous assessment process.

The ARC Centres of Excellence scheme supports highly innovative and potentially transformational research that will lead to a significant advancement of Australia’s research capabilities and knowledge. The scheme provides Australian researchers with opportunities to work on large-scale problems over long periods of time.

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RMS post-award module streamlining ARC processes 

The ARC is pleased to advise that the Research Management System (RMS) post-award module for Research Offices is now live.

The RMS post-award module is the result of several years of hard work, streamlining business requirements and process improvements. It could not have been achieved without the support of Research Office staff who assisted along the way through feedback received at our outreach sessions and the Research Administrators’ Seminar, and especially through a dedicated working group who provided advice and assistance with developing key system requirements. 

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Institutional Insights: Volume 2 of the State of Australian University Research

In September 2016, the ARC released the second volume of the State of Australian University Research 2015–16 series—Institutional Insights.

With three rounds of Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) now complete, the ERA data covers all Australian university research outputs, staffing and activity from 2003 to 2013, and research income and research application data from 2006 to 2013.

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The lengthening life

One of the greatest social challenges of the 21st century is global ageing. Resulting from increased lifespans and declining fertility, ageing populations present enormous opportunities and challenges to society. In the United Nations’ World Population Ageing: 1950–2050 report, the reality of this demographic change is described as ‘unprecedented, without parallel in the history’ and ‘profound, having major consequences and implications for all facets of human life’. As societies all around the world come to terms with this change, it is essential that policy makers in Australia have access to independent research that addresses the social and economic challenges of population ageing and provides in depth and unique ageing demographics of our country and region. 

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Riding the gravitational wave

Perhaps the most exciting discovery in fundamental physics for decades was the detection of gravitational waves at the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (Advanced LIGO) in September 2015—followed by a second detection only a few months later. These discoveries have opened up new possibilities in exploring the universe through its most enigmatic objects: black holes, while at the same time testing our current understanding of the physical laws underpinning the universe.

August

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National Innovation and Science Agenda

Continuous Linkage Projects scheme
Under the continuous model, the assessment of proposals begins as soon as they are submitted in ARC’s Research Management System (RMS), allowing outcomes to be determined within a shorter timeframe. Rather than waiting for a scheduled yearly selection meeting, proposals will be assessed as they arrive and selection meetings will be organised as required so that high and low-ranked proposals can be fast-tracked and outcomes announced as early as possible after submission. Outcomes for all other proposals are expected to be announced approximately six months after submission.

Research Engagement and Impact Assessment
In March 2016, an Engagement and Impact Steering Committee supported by two working groups—the Engagement and Impact Technical Working Group and the Performance and Incentives Working Group—were established to assist with the development of the engagement and impact assessment.

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May ARC Grants announcement

On 6 May 2016, just a few days before the dissolution of Parliament prior to the 2016 federal election, the funding outcomes for four ARC funding schemes were announced by the Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, at Parliament House. In total, $163 million was awarded to researchers for 258 new research projects across 31 Australian universities.

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Ensuring a research career meets the needs of working parents

The ARC has measures in place to support flexible working arrangements for Fellowship/Award1 recipients (irrespective of gender) who have family and/or carer responsibilities. These include leave entitlements and the ability to convert the Fellowship/Award to or from part-time at any time to accommodate family or caring responsibilities.

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Hidden energy in the common sorghum plant

Biofuels are increasingly becoming an important supplement and replacement for diesel and petrol, which, as fuel for transport, produce 14 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions[1]. Two big advantages of biofuels are: they are a renewable resource that does not require mining fossil fuels; and they deliver a roughly neutral net carbon dioxide impact on the atmosphere, due to the recapture of carbon from the atmosphere that occurs as a natural part of the growth of the crop.

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Food for thought

Research funded by the ARC Discovery Projects scheme, and conducted at Macquarie University, has shown that Western-style diets, high in saturated fats and added sugar, can disrupt aspects of cognition in adults. This disrupted cognition impairs food intake control, causing overeating, contributing to the rise of obesity in Western countries.

 

2015

December

50 new Future Fellows commence important research projects for the nation

Fifty new Future Fellows will soon commence important research programs worth more than $38.6 million and covering a broad range of research disciplines.

Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, announced the new fellowships at a ceremony at Griffith University’s Queensland College of Art campus in Brisbane.

 
Boosting our might to view the Universe

There are many unanswered questions about the formation of our universe and the important role stars played in creating solid matter.

However, a new ARC grant will allow researchers in our west to boost their viewing might to make further important discoveries about our universe.

A $1 million ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) scheme grant was recently awarded to researchers at Curtin University of Technology.

 
 Evaluating how historical gold mining shaped our river systems

The Australian gold rush is a historic period in our nation’s development.

The gold rushes caused a huge influx of people from overseas and Australia's total population more than tripled from 430 000 in 1851 to 1.7 million in 1871. 

During desperate digs for wealth, from the mid-1850s onward, the impact of gold mining on Australia’s river system was not a top priority.

 
Identifying the factors that drive success for Indigenous students

Identifying the characteristics of schools that are helping Indigenous students to achieve their potential is the focus of a new Discovery Indigenous research project funded by the ARC.

Indigenous researcher Dr Anthony Dillon is passionate about improving the educational outcomes of indigenous students. He was recently awarded $572 000 in funding, which was announced as part of the 2016 ARC Major Grants outcomes (October 2015).

Developing a new materials platform for industry application

Developing new materials for industry application is the goal of many researchers across the globe.

Looking at the intricate make-up of materials and what external changes may alter their structure is vital in the development of new versatile materials that can be applied within industry.

A new research project to be undertaken by early-career researcher, Dr Kenji Sumida, aims to develop metal-organic framework (MOF) superstructures as a new materials platform.

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October

NCI supercomputer boosting our research capacity in more ways than one

The National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) hosted at The Australian National University (ANU) is the nation’s most highly integrated and highest performing supercomputing centre. It supports a vast amount of the computational data-intensive research undertaken in Australia.

With funding support from the Australian Research Council (ARC), National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme (NCRIS), and a variety of partner organisations, there may be no other single piece of infrastructure that serves such a wide variety of research at Australia’s universities, Government science agencies and in industry.

Organic electronics displaying diverse benefits for industry and nation

Organic electronics is a rapidly-widening niche within materials science that promises to deliver novel technologies such as flexible video displays, ‘e-paper’ that mimics real paper in look and feel, and flexible organic solar cells.

Dr Wallace Wong, who is an ARC Future Fellow at The University of Melbourne, is an expert in the characteristics of all kinds of organic electronic materials and has been finding ways to increase their efficiency and durability by precisely manipulating their material structure, and applying new synthesis techniques.

Real-time imaging of plasma tubes in the Earth's ionosphere

Engaging the public with science can sometimes be a tricky task, but recently a discovery by a smart undergraduate student, using a new type of radio telescope and some courageous interdisciplinary research, attracted massive interest worldwide.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) has seen an incredible success story unfold earlier this year as the press release for a new research paper made headlines around the world.

Bush fire
Understanding how dangerous fire conditions form

As we approach summer and thoughts turn to hot, dry conditions, we take a look in this edition of ARChway at important research at an ARC Centre of Excellence that is helping us to understand how dangerous fire conditions form.

The Variability Research Programme at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Systems Science has investigated the weather in Victoria responsible for some of the most destructive fires in Australia’s history.

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June

ERA small logo
ERA 2015 in full swing

As the middle of the year approaches, Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2015 is now in full swing. Following extensive preparations in 2014 with the release of the ERA 2015 submission documentation, the ERA team visits to universities Australia wide, and the completion of the electronic identification (EID) tagging, the first half of 2015 has seen the completion of a number of major milestones for ERA.

The membership of the ERA Research Evaluation Committees (RECs) have been announced with distinguished researchers appointed across the eight RECs organised along broad discipline lines. The REC members will assess the quality of research in Australia as part of the ERA 2015 evaluations. 

ITRP funded outcomes
$40 million for nine new research hubs and training centres

Research industry partnerships will be strengthened further following the announcement of $40 million for nine new ARC Research Hubs and Training Centres.

Minister for Education and Training, the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, announced the funding outcomes for the most recent Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Research Program (ITRP) round while visiting The University of Adelaide in May.

A total of $18.7 million will fund four new Industrial Transformation Research Hubs over the next five years, with research in areas such as sustainable agriculture, offshore oil and gas and the future fibre industry.  

Researcher Jackson Tan
PhD’s Nature paper opens doors to an international career

Researchers around the world aim to achieve a first author publication in Nature, but few succeed. So, it was no small feat when PhD student Jackson Tan at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science succeeded with his paper, Increases in tropical rainfall driven by changes in frequency of organized convection.

Jackson has since moved on to work with NASA but credits the incredible advantages of working in an ARC Centre of Excellence both with his PhD success and the doors it has opened for his future career.

Jackson took some time out of his day to talk about his Nature paper, the crucial role of the ARC Centre of Excellence in his career and where he goes to from here. 

ANU Equiptment at LIGO
Catching gravitational waves with Advanced LIGO

The hunt for gravitational waves—ripples in space-time—is the continuation of a search that began when a human first cupped a hand to their ear to hear a distant sound.

By tuning into the electromagnetic spectrum with telescopes we can now probe deep space, and glean information from gamma rays, light and radio waves that are from celestial objects in distant galaxies.  

 Professor Vladimir Jiranek and PhD candidate Lieke van der Hulst
From the grape to the glass—ARC Training Centre to bolster nation’s wine industry  

The wine industry is big business in Australia and our exports are strong. Australia is around the 6th highest wine exporting country in the world.

What we often don’t think about when sipping our favourite drop is the science behind the wine making process.

From crushing, to fermentation, to bottling and ageing—each process is guided by science.

A new Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Training Centre is now looking to further bolster our booming wine industry. 

 Treasurer, the Hon. Joe Hockey
ARC Centre of Excellence plays important role in interpreting the 2015 Intergenerational Report

The Intergenerational Report (IGR) is the Australian Government’s periodic assessment of where our changing demography is taking us in the long term. The most recent IGR was released in March 2015. 

In April, the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR) organised a public forum to promote community awareness and understanding of the 2015 Report, and the issues it raises.

Opened by Treasurer, the Hon. Joe Hockey MP, and with senior government officials and community leaders serving on panel sessions, the forum brought together multiple and informed perspectives on population ageing. CEPAR Director, Professor John Piggott, said the forum highlighted the importance of the Centre’s role.

 
 New and innovative research classroom to explore neuroscience of learning

A new and innovative research classroom officially opened at The University of Melbourne earlier this year will allow researchers to explore and gain a deeper understanding of the neuroscience of learning.

The Science of Learning Research Classroom was officially opened in March by Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon. Scott Ryan.

The classroom has been developed by researchers through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Science of Learning Research Centre (SLRC), administered by The University of Queensland and awarded $16 million in ARC funding (commencing in 2013).

This new high-tech classroom will enable researchers to examine exactly what happens in classrooms at a level of detail never before possible.

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April

soldier fred farrall
The changing narrative of Anzac Day

On the eve of the 100-year commemoration of Gallipoli it is timely to reflect on why this anniversary of Anzac Day is of such national significance.

Answers may emerge from the narrative engendered by Anzac Day, a narrative which has been drawn into focus around key milestones, such as the 50th anniversary in 1965 or the 75th in 1990.

Professor Alistair Thomson from the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies at Monash University, has studied this narrative; and has recorded the stories of ANZAC veterans in his research on Australia’s oral history.

“The public remembrance of Anzac Day has waxed and waned,” said Professor Thomson.

Propaganda poster

Research into past helps shape future military history

Dr Elizabeth Greenhalgh, is a research fellow at The University of New South Wales (Australian Defence Force Academy), and is an Australian historian who specialises in the First World War.

She has been awarded ARC Discovery Projects grants to undertake innovative research on the war, and her latest project uses archival material held in France and Germany to uncover the neglected story of the French battles in 1915.

As the nation’s interest in the First World War is heightened in the Centenary year of Gallipoli, Dr Greenhalgh also highlights the importance of understanding the strategic context of the conflict in the Dardanelles.

“It’s important to keep in context that the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp (ANZAC) was part of the British army and the British were in coalition with France."

Australian War memorial 
The role of museums in interpreting the Anzac story and shaping our national identity

What is the significance of the Anzac experience at Gallipoli—a story now a century old and one with no living participants—to what it means to be Australian in contemporary Australia? How is it relevant to Australians today, or to new Australians?

A current research project, supported by an ARC-funded Discovery Project grant (DP130101258), is exploring how the Anzac story—as interpreted at commemorative sites and museums in particular—helps to develop and define our sense of national identity and allows reflection on what it means to be Australian in our modern multicultural society.

The project is led by Associate Professor Jan Packer from The University of Queensland (UQ). Her team includes UQ colleague Professor Roy Ballantyne and Professor David Uzzell from The University of Surrey, United Kingdom.

Researchers infront of boat
Remembrance and Commemoration 100 years on

On 14 April 2015, a new memorial was dedicated in the grounds of Melbourne’s Domain.

It is styled a ‘Friendship Memorial’ and according to Professor Bruce Scates, author of the Cambridge History of the Shrine of Remembrance and an expert on memorials and commemoration, it signals a new way of remembering the loss of war.

“What is striking about the memorial is the way it gives voice to ordinary people, not just soldiers in the front line but also families who suffered the loss of loved ones far away,” Professor Scates said. 

Soldier in war
Exploring the impact of the sounds of war

When a lone bugler stands this Anzac Day to play the simplest of brass instruments large crowds will stand and pause to listen thoughtfully and remember.

In our contemporary world the sound of the Last Post is transporting and powerful—the sounds of the bugle and the silence that follow have different meanings for us all.

While these are two easily recognisable sounds, a new research project looking more deeply at the sounds of war is helping to show how the auditory sense has shaped experience and memory of war.

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January

Young scientists brainstorming at the science communication workshop
Young researchers learn to create messages that stick

What do you get when you put 30 talented young scientists in a room together with a handful of the country’s best science communicators?

Potato cannons, a lot of laughs, and a whole bunch of skills-sharing.

PhD students and early career researchers from three ARC Centres of Excellence and nine universities came together at the Ian Potter Technology Learning Centre in Canberra for a science communication workshop in December.

2014

December

ERA 2015 logo
Preparations intensify for ERA 2015

With the New Year fast approaching the work underway for Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2015 is intensifying.

The ERA team at the ARC has spent a large part of the last few months visiting nearly every university to assist with their preparations for the 2015 round. This has been an important exercise as it has allowed ERA team members to speak directly with those charged with managing the ERA process within Australian institutions, in turn providing a great deal of valuable feedback in both directions.

This year the team also worked through 2000 new journals for the ERA process and produced the submission documentation for the 2015 round. And of course the ARC announced that Elsevier's Scopus was selected to provide citation information for ERA 2015.

In early November the Chairs of the ERA Research Evaluation Committees (RECs) were announced.

Dr Matthew Hill holding a crystal
The remarkable properties of ultraporous crystal sponges

Natural gas is a cleaner and cheaper fuel than oil, and Australia has an expanding industry in utilising its significant gas reserves. This burgeoning industry promises to be the first to benefit from a research breakthrough in the design of ultraporous crystals that will lead to much more energy efficient gas storage and processing.

Natural gas ‘sweetening’ is one of the cleaning processes that removes unwanted gasses like hydrogen sulphide or carbon dioxide from the raw product—but this process consumes a large part of the energy used in processing the gas.

Currently, naturally porous minerals called zeolites are used to sweeten gas, however ARC Future Fellow, Dr Matthew Hill, is leading a CSIRO based research team that has developed a synthetic crystal that is more porous, more efficient in the sweetening process and durable. As well as holding the promise of revolutionising the efficiency of natural gas processing, these crystals have many other potential uses.

Professor Veena Sahajwalla
Science 50:50—Inspiring young women to pursue careers in science 

Professor Veena Sahajwalla is a passionate and dedicated researcher in what can often be classified as a male domain—that of science and technology.

In August this year Professor Sahajwalla was awarded an ARC Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship. This Fellowship will allow Professor Sahajwalla to undertake a dedicated research program looking at how to transform toxic electronic waste into value-added metal and alloys.

Inspiring Australian girls and young women to pursue degrees in science and technology is a role Professor Sahajwalla takes seriously. This is why she has teamed with colleagues at The University of New South Wales to launch the Science 50:50—Inspiring Young Women into Science program.

Major Grants Announcement speakers with ARC staff
ARC Major Grants Announcement

The ARC’s major grants ceremony was held on 5 November at a ceremony at Flinders at Victoria Square in Adelaide.

The Minister for Education, the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, announced the successful grant recipients (for funding commencing in 2015). The 2015 ARC major grants announcement included:

  • $250 million for 665 projects under the Discovery Projects scheme
  • $70.6 million for 200 projects under the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award scheme
  • $4.4 million for ten projects under the Discovery Indigenous scheme
  • $29 million for 66 projects under the Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities scheme.

The 941 projects funded cover a broad range of research areas, including: school curriculum—to improve our education system; 3D imaging and printing—to deliver better health and industry outcomes; improving plant diversity—to enhance crop yields; and preserving Indigenous heritage.

Associate Professor Benjamin Cazzolato
LIEF grant to establish world-class 3D dynamic testing facility

The creation of a unique and world-class facility that will allow researchers to study vibrations and their impact, is one step closer following the award of a $400 000 ARC grant.

Associate Professor Benjamin Cazzolato, from The University of Adelaide, is the lead Chief Investigator on a new Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities scheme grant, funded in the 2015 ARC major grants round.

The goal of the project is to establish a multi-directional dynamic testing facility.

Associate Professor Cazzolato, who spoke at the major grants announcement in Adelaide last month, said the ability to recreate dynamic motion in all available degrees-of-freedom opened up enormous fields of research not currently possible in Australia. 

Dr Margaret Shanafield
New tools to predict groundwater availability

Australia is the world’s driest continent and reliance on groundwater for survival and livelihood is critical now and in the future, however our current understanding of how groundwater is replenished is limited.

Dr Margaret Shanafield, a researcher at The Flinders University of South Australia and the National Centre for Groundwater Research Training (NCGRT), recently received an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) to generate a clearer understanding of groundwater recharge.

“Four years ago I moved to Australia to join some of the best groundwater researchers in the world at the NCGRT—my DECRA builds upon some of the research I have contributed to as part of the centre,” she said.

“My research focusses on understanding the complex web of surface and sub-surface processes that form the hydrologic cycle."

Students in the class room
Enhancing the Australian curriculum through STEM

Improving the nation’s skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is the focus of a new ARC Discovery Project funded in the most recent ARC major grants funding round (for 2015).

Professor Lyn English, from the Queensland University of Technology, is the lead Chief Investigator on the new $603 900 project. Professor English will collaborate with colleagues at the University of Tasmania to introduce a new approach to promoting learning across grades 3–6 through modelling with data.

“This new projects builds on the work I’ve been doing for the last few years in engineering education where students are linking maths and science to solve engineering based problems,” Professor English said.

Dr Payi Linda Ford
Extending the power of indigenous ceremony

Indigenous ceremonial performance is a key process for integrating indigenous knowledge from many different domains, and it is a socially powerful means of exchange, transmission and transformation of relationship to country and kin.

A new research project, funded through an ARC Discovery Indigenous grant, aims to examine and compare old ceremonies with contemporary ceremonial practices.

Charles Darwin University researcher, Dr Payi Linda Ford, who will lead the project, was awarded almost $100 000 in the most recent ARC major grants round to develop and implement suitable Indigenous frameworks for the preservation, interpretation and dissemination of recordings of ceremonial performances in the Wagait/Daly region, south west of Darwin in the Northern Territory.

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October 2014

professor mark kendall
ARC Future Fellow pioneers needle-free immunisation for the world

Professor Mark Kendall, an inaugural ARC Future Fellow at The University of Queensland, is a pioneer in needle-free immunisation technology that promises to eliminate the need for needles and syringes for vaccine delivery. 

Professor Kendall heads a team responsible for the development of the ‘Nanopatch’, a breakthrough technology that is a bit like a postage stamp that sticks on the skin and delivers a vaccine directly to the body’s immune system.

It is research that has been noticed nationally and internationally. Professor Kendall’s research group received the Eureka Prize for Research by an Interdisciplinary Team in 2011 and also won the 2011 Australian Innovation Challenge.

Dr Sandra Tanz
Securing our food through photosynthesis

One of the most significant challenges of the next 50 years is to feed the world’s burgeoning population. By 2050 the global population is expected to exceed 9  billion people and food production will need to increase by an estimated 70% in  order to meet demand.

Once fertile and productive regions are becoming increasingly dry and arid; and eventually they may become unsuitable for agriculture. Scientists across the globe are working  hard trying to find new ways to secure our food future.

Enhancing photosynthesis in plants is one possible way to boost yields in essential food crops and this is the focus of Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) recipient, Dr Sandra Tanz.

Shurlee Swain, Helen Morgan and Judith Smart
The Encyclopedia of Women & Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia

A new online encyclopedia celebrating the inspiring success  stories from women in every walk of life is now available to the general public  following a research project that brought together academics from a range of universities, museums and libraries.

The Encyclopedia of Women & Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia website was launched in May 2014 at the National Library of Australia. The project that led to the delivery of this new resource  was supported by funding through the ARC Linkage Projects scheme.

The online encyclopedia makes accessible 680 biographies of 20th  century women, with a focus on their roles in providing leadership to others.

the black sea - courtesy of kliti grice
Ancient molecules entombed in rock

In a story reminiscent of a tomb raider’s discovery of ancient mummified remains in the Egyptian desert, new research supported by the ARC has unveiled the preservation of intact biological molecules and their fossilised counterparts, which date back to an ancient mass extinction event brought on by the warming of the Earth’s oceans.

Researchers have unearthed these intact biomarkers from a 380-million-year-old fossil, as part of a new molecular and stable isotopic based approach which can reconstruct the Earth’s ancient environments in unprecedented detail.

“It was actually an unremarkable fossil and we couldn't identify it from its form alone,” said Professor Kliti Grice, Director of the Western Australia Isotope and Organic Chemistry Centre at Curtin University, and an ARC Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award recipient.

Professor Aileen Moreton-Robinson
Indigenous Researchers’ Network in focus during NAIDOC Week

Indigenous researcher, Professor Aileen Moreton-Robinson, has been a long-time strong advocate for the establishment of a dedicated collaborative Indigenous researchers’ network to provide vital support and build on existing research connections for Australian researchers and students who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

This concept came to fruition last year with the opening of the National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network (NIRAKN) at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), which is funded through the ARC Special Research Initiative for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Researchers’ Network.

For Professor Moreton-Robinson NIRAKN, builds upon her previous work as Director of the Indigenous Studies Research Network at QUT, strengthened by a strong sense of community purpose within the higher education sector.

plant cell walls conference - geoff fincher receiving award
ARC Centre Director scoops another international award

Plant biologists from across the globe recently converged on Australia for the 5th International Conference on Plant Cell Wall Biology (PCWB2014).

This was the first time Australia has held the event and it was hosted by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls.

An important component of the conference was the announcement of the 2014 BA Stone Award. The award recognises an individual or individuals who have made significant contributions to cell wall and carbohydrate research.

One of the two awards was presented to the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls, Professor Geoff Fincher, for his long list of outstanding career achievements.

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June

ERA 2015 logo
ERA 2015 Update

The ERA team at the ARC continues its preparations for ERA 2015 and a great deal of work is ongoing following the public consultation period on the Draft Journal and Conference Lists.

The public consultation period closed on 21 March and since that time the ERA team has been closely reviewing the submissions received.

ARC CEO, Professor Aidan Byrne, said he was extremely grateful for the number of submissions received.

Australian Government, Australian Research Council logo
ARC-NHMRC inter-agency activity

The ARC and NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) meet regularly to explore ways to improve the consistency of policies and processes. This includes aiming to reduce duplication of effort for researchers who may apply to both the ARC and NHMRC, and improving information sharing between our agencies for audit and other purposes.

Work currently underway also includes: planning for ERA 2015; discussion around each agency’s Open Access policies; and effective management of the interface between the two agencies in the medical and dental research space.

Professor Kathy Belov holding a Tasmanian Tiger
Future Fellowship sparks bright start to an inspiring future

When Professor Kathy Belov commenced an ARC Future Fellowship in 2009 she dared to dream where the research path would lead her, but never thought she would achieve the outcomes— scientifically and personally—that she did in just five years.

Professor Belov was an inaugural future fellow and that Future Fellowship has now gone full circle; five years of dedicated research, with $686 000 in ARC support to understand the genetic nature of Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD).

DFTD is a contagious cancer which is devastating Australia’s Tasmanian devil population. Professor Belov is determined to find a way forward in the conservation management of the iconic marsupial.

“I’m quite passionate about trying to understand this cancer and help the devil—and I think we’re making really good progress towards that,” she said.

Professor Martina Stenzel in the lab
Hunting cancer with nanotechnology

Martina Stenzel is a Professor of Chemistry at the Centre for Advanced Macromolecular Design at the University of New South Wales, and was a recipient of an ARC Future Fellowship in the inaugural 2009 round. Professor Stenzel has used her fellowship—which finished late last year—to investigate delivery methods for anti-cancer agents using nanotechnology.

“Winning the Future Fellowship gave me the time to think about my research more strategically,” said Professor Stenzel.

“I believe that chemistry should be there to help people, so I think about problems from this perspective, and about how my work in science can contribute to society a little more. This sometimes means going out into the research community and crossing the discipline boundaries.”

Professor Stenzel has been reaching out to the medical profession to bridge the gap between the sometimes esoteric field of nanotechnology and that of health.

Professor Nick Evans studying indigenous language
Bahasa jiwa bangsa—Language is the soul of a nation

Australia is a multicultural country; its community is diverse in heritage and culture. One of our challenges, though is that the nation is largely monolingual.

English is the sole language spoken in the home of 77% of Australians, according to the 2011 census. Yet Australia sits at the epicentre of linguistic diversity. One hundred Australian Aboriginal languages and dialects are still spoken. In our near neighbourhood over 700 unique languages are spoken in Indonesia and well over 800 in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Many of these languages are poorly studied and at risk of becoming 'dead languages'.

There is a dedicated research team that is working to help Australia overcome its monolingual status and embrace this rich indigenous language heritage before more of it disappears.

dog completing Kong test
Reading the dog: research aids guide dog assessments

The commitment and loyalty of a guide dog is second to none—these animals show unconditional love for their owner, like any other pet, but are also carefully trained to care for and enhance the mobility of their owner.

What many may not realise is the amount of time, effort and resources that are channelled into the training of a canine to become a guide dog…and not all dogs make the cut.

New research in this area could make the task of assessing appropriate dogs easier and cheaper.

Dr Kelly Fielding
Breaking human barriers to environmental problems

Attitudes towards the use of recycled water have been tested in recent years with many communities bound by extended water restrictions during times of drought—this has pushed the community to think fluidly about how it uses its water supplies.

In particular, there are many across the nation who still struggle with the concept of using recycled or desalinated water. One particular researcher has dedicated her time to learning why.

Dr Kelly Fielding is an ARC Future Fellow and a Senior Research Fellow in the Institute for Social Science Research at The University of Queensland.

Dr Fielding’s research during her Fellowship has been to understand the social and psychological factors that are related to environmental decision-making, with the goal of promoting greater sustainability.

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February

ERA 2015 logo
ERA 2015

Preparations for the third round of Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) are well and truly underway.

ERA aims to identify and promote excellence across the full spectrum of research activity in Australia’s higher education institutions. It evaluates the quality of the research undertaken in Australian universities against national and international benchmarks.

This is the third ERA, with previous rounds in 2010 and 2012.

The ERA 2015 Reference Periods were released today, including the Census Date, which is 31 March 2014. Submission data for ERA is collected for reference periods for four data types: Research Outputs; Research Income; Applied Measures; and Esteem Measures.

Professor Aidan Byrne infront of ARC logo
What is Success?

The Australian Research Council (ARC) plays an important role in the provision of Government support for research in Australia. As a grants agency we support the sector though our competitive peer reviewed funding schemes, and this year we will deliver over $800 million to the most dynamic researchers in Australia.

Our grants are competitively awarded to individuals, research teams and large scale centres through two broad arms: the Discovery Program, with a primary focus on pure research endeavour; and the Linkage Program, which creates links outside universities, with industry and other partners and stimulates research impact.

The profile of disciplines seeking funding from the ARC is illustrated in the figure. What is interesting from this data is the relative constancy of the discipline mix over the last decade, with only one area, Medical and Health sciences, increasingly coming to the ARC to ask for more. What is also evident is the relatively low spend on the humanities with only 8% of requests coming from this area.

 

 Dr Morton with Lynnette with a print of old anscentor portrait
Future Fellow committed to using pictorial past to shape our future

Trying to obtain images from previous generations can be difficult, but one researcher is doing all she can to use the past to change the future.

Professor Jane Lydon, an ARC Future Fellow and the new Wesfarmers Chair of Australian History at the University of Western Australia, wants to establish visual history as a key aspect of Australian and Indigenous historiography.

Professor Lydon is using her Fellowship to reverse the previous flow of a significant heritage resource of Indigenous Australians to European collections, and to make those precious documents available to the communities, relatives and descendants of the Aboriginal people in the photographs.

“To do this we need to return those images—which are often in museum collections held overseas in Europe, having been collected by European explorers from the mid-nineteenth century—to Australia and to the descendants of the people in the photographs,” Professor Lydon said.

fireballs in the sky app screenshot
Fireballs in the sky…there’s an app for that!

Astronomers at Curtin University are gathering valuable information about meteorites from amateur sky-spotters through a new (free) smart phone application.

The ‘Fireballs in the Sky’ app allows enthusiasts—if they spot what they believe to be a meteorite from their tell-tale fiery flashes—to report a sighting on their iphone or Android, document its location and help work out where it came from in the solar system. At the same time, the field observations and data about the meteorites is being added to an important shared online database.

2011 ARC Laureate Fellow, Professor Phil Bland, leads the project at Curtin University and said the Fireballs in the Sky app is a kind of “crowdsource smartphone astronomical facility” that allows the public to share in the discoveries of the Desert Fireball Network.

fishing line study at the ARC Centre for electromaterials science,  Dr Javad Foroughi
Fishing line flexes its muscles

It might be difficult to believe that something as ordinary and inexpensive as the humble fishing line can be used to produce “muscles” with super-human strength.

Materials experts at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) at the University of Wollongong have created powerful artificial muscles by twisting and coiling simple fishing line and applying heat for contraction and expansion. 

The new muscles are able to lift one hundred times more weight—and generate one hundred times higher mechanical power—than real human muscle.

Working for years with more sophisticated materials including carbon nanotubes, the research team from ACES, together with collaborators across six countries led by University of Texas at Dallas, have now made the remarkable discovery that even the most simplest of materials can outperform the others.

Geoff Nichols, looking from the slopes of Mt Meredith out across the Lambert Glacier
The other ‘Antarctic ice’

ARC funded research has revealed a new occurrence of one of Earth’s most precious rocks in the heart of its most pristine wilderness.

Diamonds are not only the quintessential precious stone of the jewellery industry, but are also of interest to geologists as one of the rare minerals that occur toward the very deep reaches of the earth’s interior, forming only at depths over about 140km.

The peculiar hardness of diamond is due to the intense pressures from overlying rock found at these depths which compress the diamond’s constituent carbon atoms into a tight cubic structure.

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2013

December

ERA Benefit realisation review cover
A great ERA for Australian Research

Professor Aidan Byrne, CEO Australian Research Council
It is important for taxpayers to know if their money is being invested wisely—all Australians want to know that they are getting a return for the investment made by its Government.

The general community hears a lot about research—research looking into deep space, cancer, coral reefs and climate change, dementia and the nation's groundwater supply, just to name a few—but how can the community be assured that the multi-billion dollar investment in research is justified?

The Australian Research Council (ARC) is responsible for Excellence in Research for Australia—more commonly known as ERA—Australia's national evaluation of research quality.
Given the size of this investment, it is important to ensure that university research is of the highest quality. It is equally important that researchers, industry and the Australian public are confident that ERA is robust, effective and value for money.

New Centres announced, Tanya Monro and Alexandre Francios—Biosenor development
New Centres of Excellence to push research boundaries

The Minister for Education, the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, last week approved $285 million over seven years for 12 ARC Centres of Excellence.

The funding was awarded under the ARC Centres of Excellence funding scheme (for funding commencing in 2014), with the Centres establishing their research programs through 2014.

The Centres will collaborate with 106 partner organisations from 44 different countries and will also receive more than $392.2 million cash and in-kind support from participating organisations.

ARC CEO, Professor Aidan Byrne, said the ARC Centres of Excellence scheme was an important funding scheme that provided long-term support to world-class researchers who work across disciplines and push research boundaries.

ITRP announced, Foundry Industry - Fiery steel
$26 million to bolster manufacturing and food industries

More than $26 million has been released for seven new training centres and three new research hubs under the Industrial Transformation Research Program (ITRP) administered by the Australian Research Council (ARC).

This is the second round of the ITRP and the priority areas for this round were of a dual focus: food and manufacturing.

An ARC Research Hub for Australian Steel Manufacturing is one of the three hubs to be funded in this round and will be based at the University of Wollongong (UoW). The Research Hub will develop breakthrough processes and product innovations to enable the Australian steel industry to improve its global competitiveness.

Microbial
ARC Future Fellow to investigate microbial silver resistance

Dr Erica Donner is at the cutting edge of her field in environmental biogeochemistry.

She completed most of her undergraduate training at the University of New South Wales and grew up in Australia, but admits she was blessed to work in the United Kingdom and experience international laboratories.

Now based at the University of South Australia, Dr Erica Donner's interests lie primarily in the field of biogeochemistry, with a major emphasis on soil and water/wastewater chemistry. Her research provides a fundamental basis for environmental risk assessment and risk management.

digital/social Word map
Protecting our children from harm associated with digital play

Our children live in a digital world. Items such as smartphones, tablets, lap tops and even smart televisions are now everyday household items, sometimes in multiples. It is a far cry from a home 50 years ago that may have been lucky enough to house one black and white television and a radio.

Our children are also actively using the internet, and on a regular basis. The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that for the cohort of children aged 5¬–8 years access to the internet increased from just under 40% in 2006 to 60% three years later in 2009. The same report found that for children (5–14 years) accessing the internet at home in April 2009 that the most common activities were educational activities—at 85%—and playing online games—at 69%.

It is these sorts of statistics and the simple fact that applications are now being developed for children as young as nine-months-old that has promoted a new research project looking into digital play, social networks and the well-being of young children.

Dr Donell Holloway, from Edith Cowan University, was recently awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA), to explore this subject.

Children playing soccer outdoors
New data collection to focus on improving physical activity of children

Dr Kylie Hesketh is passionate about ensuring our children are physically active and has spent a large part of her research career collecting data on the activities of children.

In a new research project to be conducted at Deakin University, which received funding through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Projects scheme, she hopes to understand more about the development of physical activity and sedentary behaviour.

The grant was awarded in November by the Minister for Education, the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, at the ARC's major grants announcement in Adelaide. A total of 703 Discovery Projects received funding at a total value of $257.6 million.

Dr Hesketh wants the lasting outcome of her research to be children having fun and being active.

Indigenous housing, Dawn Lalara, Angurugu, Groote Eylandt, NT
Improving our understanding of Indigenous housing needs

A new research project that will improve our understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing needs has been awarded funding under the latest round of theDiscovery Indigenous scheme, administered by the Australian Research Council (ARC).

On 8 November, the Minister for Education, the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, announced ten new research projects funded under the scheme at a total value of $4.8 million.

Announcing the funding, the Minister said that the Discovery Indigenous scheme was an important tool in allowing Indigenous researchers to excel in their chosen fields.

universe
New research to give us more knowledge about our universe

How fast is our universe expanding? How old is it? How many stars are being formed in distant galaxies? These are all questions that hope to be answered following Australian Government investment in new research infrastructure.

Australian universities recently received almost $32 million for 63 new research projects from the Australian Government for important infrastructure and equipment through the Australian Research Council (ARC)Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities(LIEF) scheme.

Minister for Education, Hon Christopher Pyne MP, announced the funding on 8 November at a ceremony in Adelaide and noted the importance of providing our researchers with the tools they need to undertake their research and make world-first discoveries.

A $350 000 grant to the Australian National University will support the construction of the TAIPAN—a high-performance spectrograph which, through the use of the UK Schmidt Telescope, will survey the southern sky and measure the rate at which gas is being converted into stars.

October

 

ARC-funded researcher awarded prestigious Thomas Burr Osborne Medal
ARC-funded researcher awarded prestigious Thomas Burr Osborne Medal

Professor Geoff Fincher has dedicated his life to gaining a greater understanding of plant cell walls and their biology.

It is this dedication and foresight that has been recognised on the world stage with Professor Fincher being recently awarded the prestigious Thomas Burr Osborne Medal.

Professor Fincher was also excited to find out at the ceremony, held in the USA, that he had been accepted as a Fellow of the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC) International.

He said the Medal and acceptance as a Fellow were great honours.

bio-bounce, alice trend
Jumping into science—literally—with Bio-Bounce!

Engaging our future generation of researchers is critical to the innovation of our nation, but how do we ensure that today’s children are interested in becoming tomorrow’s researchers and possibly a Nobel Laureate or Eureka Prize winner?

The ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology has invested in a creative new approach to entice our children to take an interest in research, science and the importance of plant biology.

In a world first the Centre has turned understanding complicated cell biology into child’s play by enlarging a plant cell one million times and turning it into a jumping castle called Bio-Bounce.

Director of the Centre, Professor Ian Small, said the concept to develop Bio-Bounce followed a struggle to communicate complex research to the public, most of which dealt with the microscopic scale inside cells.

Dr Tomer Venture holding a lobster in the lab
Unravelling the Mystery of the Lobster Gender Switch

The awarding of an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) is the latest episode in the remarkable career of researcher Dr Tomer Ventura.

Shortly after arriving in Australia with his wife, Dr Ventura was awarded the ARC DECRA. Twelve months later there is now a team of three with a significant project budget of $260 000 over three years devoted to the exploration of androgenic glands of crustaceans.

“My DECRA is an opportunity to extend the innovative biotechnology which has been commercialised in Israel, into lobster aquaculture in Tasmania,” said Dr Ventura.

Dr Ventura is developing a natural, biodegradable compound which silences the activity of certain genes related to the androgenic gland hormone. These compounds dissipate very quickly, and are species-specific. The isolation and subsequent manipulation of genes to create all-male populations has the potential to transform the aquaculture industry, as males grow faster and reach higher weights at harvest than females.

the WaveShaper in the CUDOS Tbit/s laboratory at the University of Sydney, Dr Michaël Roelens and Dr. Jochen Schröder
Optics research makes commercial waves

In the year 2013 we live in a highly technical world where the information highway is at our fingertips; smart phones, tablets and wireless connections.

As a consumer we want more, this is evidenced in the lengthy queues outside Apple stores each time a new product is released, but as a consumer do we ever sit back, take stock and think about how this technology was arrived at, and what research was undertaken to enable the technology?

Researchers are the unsung heroes for many of the products we, as a society, can now barely live without.

One such researcher is Dr Jochen Schröder whose field of research is in optics innovation. He is a great success story and an example of someone who is providing enabling technology through his innovation.

ARC Centre of Excellence for Functional Nanomaterials' Dr Cindy Gunawan, Dr Christopher Marquis, UNSW and the nanosilver-adaptive Bacillus bacteria.
Resilient Bacteria Adapt to Nanosilver

Nanosilver, one of the most developed products of nanotechnology, is a potent and versatile antimicrobial agent that can kill microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses, but new research has unearthed that some bacteria flourish under prolonged exposure.

Nanosilver is a nanoparticle form of silver and it is included in many products that we use on a daily basis, such as hand sanitisers and wound dressings.

Through carefully controlled microbial experiments, researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and City University of Hong Kong (CityU) have reported for the first time a phenomenon of induced adaptation of microorganisms to antimicrobial nanosilver.

“What we can clearly see is that antimicrobial action of nanosilver is not universal— some bacteria appear to adapt quite rapidly to its presence. This has implications for the widespread use of these products which should take into consideration the potential for longer-term adverse outcomes,” Dr Gunawan said.

July

 
Free Radicals - Exploring the Art of Science, paints
Exploring the science of art

The Mona Lisa, arguably one of the most famous paintings in history, sits behind a glass wall in the Louvre in Paris—somewhat of a let-down when you have travelled long distances to see her, but also understandable to ensure she is protected and viewed by many generations to come.

The effect of touch or light over long periods on a painting is fairly well known, but what about the impact of the science behind the painting? Most notably free radicals.

This has been the subject of some detailed research undertaken at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Free Radical Chemistry and Biotechnology.;

In 2012 six artists were taken from their easels and placed in a science laboratory at The University of Melbourne (one of the Centre’s six nodes) learning all about the world of free radicals and the chemical reactions occurring within each brush stroke.

The artist in residence programme—Insight Radical—has led to a greater understanding of how artists’ materials, such as paint, perform and how they can be tailored to better suit the needs of artists.

professor Peter Hall
ARC Laureate Fellow elected to prestigious National Academy of Sciences

Australian Research Council (ARC) Laureate Fellow, Professor Peter Hall, has been receiving respect and praise for his work in developing theoretical tools to determine the consequences of analysing data in Australia for many years. A recent phone call from a colleague in Washington DC revealed the international scale at which his work has now been acknowledged.

The prestigious US-based National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recently announced the election of 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 14 countries in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research; Professor Hall, who is based at the University of Melbourne, was named as one of those foreign associates.

“The news came as quite a shock. I received a phone call from Washington DC. An American colleague was on the line and I remember being surprised and saying,

"It's very nice to hear from you, what I can do to help?" Then he told me why he had called and I almost dropped the phone. I had not been expecting this at all,” said Professor Hall.

Professor Kathy Belov holding a baby Tasmanian devil
Additional round of Future Fellowships secured

An additional round of the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) prestigious Future Fellowships scheme was secured and announced in May, as part of the Federal Budget
2013-14.

ARC CEO, Professor Aidan Byrne, welcomed the budget announcement which included an additional $135.3 million for the ARC to continue the scheme and support 150 researchers.

“This is a great scheme that has worked extremely well and is strongly supported throughout the research sector.”

2013 laureates announced, all attendees at announcement
17 new Australian Laureate Fellowships awarded

Seventeen of Australia's most outstanding researchers have been awarded a total of $47 million in research funding following the announcement of the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) 2013 Australian Laureate Fellowships.

Researchers will use the fellowships to tackle topics ranging from improved child health, language learning, harvesting energy from seabed soils, to gaining a better understanding of bacteria.

The Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme, administered by the ARC, supports outstanding Australian and international researchers to build Australia's ability to make new discoveries, pursue innovative studies as well as mentoring early career researchers.

Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, announced the Fellows and awarded them ceremonial pins at an event at Monash University on Tuesday 9 July.

May

 
OneSteel, Professor Veena Sahajwall and Paul Vielhauer
Wheel success: researcher teams with industry to turn tyres into steel

When the humble car tyre has lost its tread and is no longer safe on the family car it is often thrown to landfill or stockpiled with no apparent means of re-use. In some cases we improvise; how often have you seen a child's swing or a planting barrel, or even a tyre swan, made from discarded tyres?

While such individual solutions reuse a few of the twenty million or so tyres that would have otherwise been consigned to dumps across Australia every single year, an innovative, new process developed by a University of New South Wales (UNSW) researcher has shown car tyres can be reused within industry to the benefit of the environment and a business's bottom line.

ACES staff in front of computer

Blazing a path for collaborative research

Less than 200 metres inland from Wollongong’s idyllic beaches sits the lead node of world-renowned Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES).

The lead node of the six-institution Centre of Excellence has been located at the University of Wollongong’s Innovation Campus for the past seven years. The combined efforts of all nodes have been successfully generating productive collaborations between international researchers and industry participants in the discovery, design and development of nanostructured electromaterials and their integration with other materials and biological components.

harvey millar in lab
Winthrop Professor Harvey Millar awarded the Charles Albert Shull Award

One of the world's most highly cited plant scientists in recent years, Winthrop Professor Harvey Millar has received the 2013 Charles Albert Shull Award, and is the first Australian to receive the prestigious American award, now in its 42nd year.  

“I had a dedicated chemistry teacher who was convinced that biochemistry was the new chemistry,"

PhD students, Alice Mahoney and James Colless using a dilution refrigerator
Quantum Devices

Quantum dots are nanoscale systems that can confine or trap single electrons. Temperatures close to absolute zero are required to study quantum behaviour.

Using a dilution refrigerator to conduct experiments on quantum dots, a team of physicists from the University of Sydney has discovered a new way of detecting changes in charges smaller than one electron.

March

 
Meganne Christian - hydrogen
Hydrogen: a versatile fuel

Imagine being able to convert your organic waste into hydrogen and then using it to power your car or household appliances, independently of the electricity grid—such a thought may soon be turned into reality thanks to ground breaking research funded by the ARC.

david harrich sitting in lab

Fighting Fire with Fire to beat HIV

In a research laboratory in Queensland, an ARC Future Fellow has reached a milestone in the ongoing battle to combat the human immunodeficiency virus, more commonly known as HIV.

Associate Professor David Harrich, from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (Molecular Virology Laboratory), has dedicated more than 30 years of his life to HIV research, and has successfully conducted experiments, finding a way to use HIV to beat HIV.

plasticsbag in the ocean
Tracking the garbage deserts of the ocean

Despite the fact that plastic has existed for just over a century, the threat and seriousness of plastic debris to the marine environment has long been ignored. 

A new paper titled Origin dynamics, and evolution of ocean garbage patches from observed surface drifters, released by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, reveals for the first time how ocean garbage patches (some equivalent to the size of NSW) are connected.

boat in the middle of the desert
The Ebb and Flow of Global Drought

While much of the extreme weather we are currently experiencing is transitory, drought is more of a gradual phenomenon, slowly taking hold of an area, tightening its grip with time. In severe cases, drought can last for many years and have a devastating effect on local communities and agriculture.

 

For more information please contact ARC Communications at communications[@]arc.gov.au.

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