Image: Senator The Hon. Simon Birmingham and Professor Aidan Bryne.
Image credit: Norman Plant.

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.

At the event, Minister Birmingham announced 16 new Australian Laureate Fellowships (ALF), worth a total of $44.1 million. The Minister commented on the prestigious nature of the Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme and the highest standing the fellows maintain in the Australian research community. He also acknowledged the three female researchers in the 2016 cohort, who—through the award of two Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowships and one Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship—will take on ambassadorial roles to promote women in research and to mentor early career researchers, particularly women, to encourage them to enter and establish careers in research in Australia.

Several of the ALF recipients were present at the event with their families. Two recipients spoke at the event—Professor Paul Tacon from Griffith University engaged the audience with his research into Australian rock art history, conservation and Indigenous well-being; and Professor Branka Vucetic from The University of Sydney, who was awarded the 2016 Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship, spoke about how she will develop theories and practical methods to design wireless communication systems for future generations of internet services.

Also announced on the day were 231 new research projects under the Linkage Projects scheme, worth $81.2 million. These projects leveraged $162.9 million in cash and in-kind contributions from Partner Organisations, representing $2.01 for every dollar funded by the ARC. 

The final announcements of the day were outcomes of the Industrial Transformation Research Programme—5 new research hubs worth $15.7 million and 6 new training centres worth $22 million. These new research nexuses will bring together business and industry, early career researchers, as well as world leading researchers in nodes all around the country to focus on a variety of priority research areas.

Professor Matthew Barnett, from Deakin University, spoke at the event about the new ARC Training Centre in Alloy Innovation for Mining Efficiency, which has received over $4 million to give Australian mining equipment manufacturers the cutting edge designs in highly customized long-life, wear-resistant components. Professor Dusan Losic, from The University of Adelaide, spoke about the new ARC Research Hub for Graphene Enabled Industry Transformation, which has received over $2 million to develop fit-for-purpose graphene products for advanced industry.