Overview

The Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme reflects the Commonwealth’s commitment to support excellence in research by attracting world-class researchers and research leaders to key positions in Australia. 

The objectives of the Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme are to: 

  • attract and retain outstanding researchers and research leaders of international reputation 
  • support ground-breaking, internationally competitive research
  • provide an excellent research training environment and exemplary mentorship to nurture early-career researchers
  • forge strong links among researchers, the international research community and/or industry
  • expand Australia’s knowledge base and research capability 
  • enhance the scale and focus of research in Australian Government’s Science and Research Priorities.

Selection Process

Applications for funding commencing in 2019 opened on 24 September 2018 and closed on 8 November 2018. Applications were submitted through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Management System (RMS). This report outlines outcomes from the selection process for that round.

Funding recommendations have been prepared for submission to ARC’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The outcomes are based on advice from the ARC Selection Advisory Committee (SAC) which: 

  • assessed applications and reviewed assessments made by independent assessors
  • reviewed candidates’ comments on assessors’ reports
  • ranked each application relative to the others on the basis of the application, the assessors’ reports and candidates’ responses to those assessments
  • assessed and recommended budgets 

and advice from the ARC Eligibility Committee which:

  • considered eligibility issues identified by ARC staff, the members of the ARC SAC or independent assessors
  • where required, sought advice from the ARC’s Medical Research Advisory Group
  • made recommendations to the CEO in respect of ineligible applications.

The ARC assessment process for 2019 was managed in RMS using 15 SAC members on one multi-discipline panel. A total of 544 independent assessors’ reports were submitted to the ARC for Australian Laureate Fellowships 2019.

This report reflects the outcomes approved by the Minister. Unless otherwise specified, figures presented in this report exclude withdrawn applications. 

Assessment Criteria

Assessment criteria and corresponding weightings for Australian Laureate Fellowships applications are: 

  • Investigator (40%)    
  • Program of Research Activity (30%)    
  • Mentoring/Capacity Building (30%)    

Summary of Outcomes

The ARC received a total of 150 applications for Australian Laureate Fellowships for funding commencing in 2019, one of which was withdrawn. This represents an increase from the 134 applications received in 2018. Of the unsuccessful applications in 2019, three were found not to meet eligibility requirements. 

Seventeen Australian Laureate Fellows were approved for funding commencing in 2019 (Table 1), which represents a success rate of 11.4%. The total indicative funding approved is $53.8 million over five financial years (Table 2).

Funding Levels and Duration

Australian Laureate Fellowships projects are funded for five years on a full-time basis, subject to sufficient scheme funding, the provisions of the Australian Research Council Act 2001 (the ARC Act), and continued satisfactory progress of the Australian Laureate Fellowships project.

In addition to the Australian Laureate Fellowship salary supplement and salary-related (on-cost) support, the ARC may provide Australian Laureate Fellows with:

  1. additional funding for up to two postdoctoral research associates for five years each and up to two postgraduate researchers for four years each; and
  2. project funding of up to $300,000 per annum (for up to five years).

Of the 17 approved Australian Laureate Fellows, the average amount of approved funding is $3,161,944 in total over five years. In addition to the total Australian Laureate Fellowship salary support of $13,861,290, a total of $20,705,864 is approved for postdoctoral research associates and postgraduate researchers and a further $19,185,898 for general project funding. 

While funding is awarded for Australian Laureate Fellowships applications for five years, the ARC Act applies limits in relation to the amount and years for which the Minister may approve funding. At the time of award, funding is approved only up to and including the 2021-2022 financial year. Subsequent years and associated funding limits are added by amendment to the Act, following which funding for the additional years may be made available. Accordingly, the term "indicative funding" is used throughout this report to denote the total level of funding which is proposed to be made available, once all years to which the funding applications relate have been legislated.

It is a requirement of the Grant Guidelines for the Discovery Program (2018) for the Administering Organisation to provide a salary of Level E professorial appointment (or equivalent) to the successful candidate, with the ARC providing the salary supplement of $163,074 (2018$) per annum including 30 per cent on-costs.

Table 1: Australian Laureate Fellows approved for funding commencing in 2019

Fellowship candidate     Administering Organisation
Prof Kaarin Anstey The University of New South Wales
Prof David Bellwood James Cook University
Prof Debra Bernhardt The University of Queensland
Prof Marcela Bilek The University of Sydney
Prof Liming Dai The University of New South Wales
Prof Sara Dolnicar The University of Queensland
Prof Andrew Dzurak The University of New South Wales
Prof Rupert Grafton The Australian National University
Prof John Grundy Monash University
Prof Jie Lu University of Technology Sydney
Prof Belinda Medlyn Western Sydney University
Prof Barry Pogson The Australian National University
Prof Lynette Russell Monash University
Prof Enrico Valdinoci The University of Western Australia
Prof Lianzhou Wang The University of Queensland
Prof Nina Wedell The University of Melbourne
Prof Yi-Min (Mike) Xie RMIT University

* Biographies for the 17 Australian Laureate Fellows will be available on the ARC Website.

Table 2. Indicative funds for approved Australian Laureate Fellowships applications for funding commencing in 2019

Budget item 2019-2020 2020-2021 2021-2022 2022-2023 2023-2024 TOTAL
Laureate Salary support including on-costs $2,772,258 $2,772,258 $2,772,258 $2,772,258 $2,772,258 $13,861,290
ARC Postdoctoral Researchers $3,404,216 $3,404,216 $3,404,216 $3,404,216 $3,404,216 $17,021,080
ARC Postgraduate Researchers $487,692 $921,196 $921,196 $921,196 $433,504 $3,684,784
Project Funding $4,255,397 $3,869,330 $3,879,330 $3,791,819 $3,390,022 $19,185,898
TOTAL $10,919,563 $10,967,000 $10,977,000 $10,889,489 $10,000,000 $53,753,052

 

Stage in Career and Gender

About three-quarters of Australian Laureate Fellowship candidates in this round had more than 20 years since their PhD was awarded and 14 of the 17 successful candidates came from this cohort. Three of the 17 successful candidates had more than 15 and up to 20 years since their PhD was awarded.

Table 3: Years since the award of PhD (at time of submission)

Years since award of PhD* No. of considered applications % of considered applications No. of approved
applications
% of approved
applications
0-15 years 10 6.7 0 0.0
More than 15 years and up to 20 years 28 18.8 3 17.6
More than 20 years 111 74.5 14 82.4
No PhD 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 149 100 17 100

*The earliest PhD award date was used where there was more than one PhD. Data was included where a PhD was not listed in the candidate’s profile but was listed elsewhere in the application.

Thirty-five of the Australian Laureate Fellowship candidates in this round were female, representing 23.5% of all candidates. Of the successful Australian Laureate Fellows, eight were female (47%). One candidate chose not to specify their gender.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship and Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship

Of the 35 female Australian Laureate Fellowship candidates, 33 applied for a Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship or a Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship. The recipients of the Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship (awarded to a candidate from the Humanities, Arts and Social Science disciplines) and Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship (awarded to candidates from the Science and Technology disciplines) are shown in Table 4. Recipients are provided with additional funding to undertake an ambassadorial role 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.

Table 4: Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship and Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship

Fellowship Type Approved candidate Administering Organisation
Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship Professor Lynette Russell Monash University 
Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship Professor Belinda Medlyn Western Sydney University

 

Administering Organisation

The Administering Organisations of the 17 applications approved for funding are: 

  • James Cook University (1)
  • Monash University (2)
  • RMIT University (1)
  • The Australian National University (2)
  • The University of Melbourne (1)
  • The University of New South Wales (3)
  • The University of Queensland (3)
  • The University of Sydney (1)
  • The University of Western Australia (1)
  • University of Technology Sydney (1)
  • Western Sydney University (1)

 

Science and Research Priorities

Of the 149 Australian Laureate Fellowship applications submitted, at least 106 (71.1%) of the applications fall within one of the Science and Research Priorities (Table 5). The applications submitted cover a broad suite of fields of research (Table 6).

Table 5: Numbers and success rates for Australian Laureate Fellowships applications for funding commencing in 2019, by Science and Research Priorities

Science and Research Priorities Applications considered Applications funded Success rate (%) Approved funds (over project life)
Advanced Manufacturing 30 4 13.3 $12,232,951
Cybersecurity 7 0 0 $0
Energy 9 2 22.2 $6,940,655
Environmental Change 20 4 20.0 $12,449,632
Food 10 1 10.0 $2,795,000
Health 17 2 11.8 $6,241,457
Resources 4 0 0 $0
Soil and Water 7 1 14.3 $3,336,000
Transport 2 0 0 $0
None Selected 43 3 7.0 $9,757,357
Total 149 17 11.4 $53,753,052

 

ABS fields of Research

Table 6: Field of Research division details of applications for the Scheme Round

FoR Code Classification Name Submitted Approved Approved Funding
01 Mathematical Sciences 9 1 $3,532,919
02 Physical Sciences 15 2 $6,327,689
03 Chemical Sciences 4 0 $0
04 Earth Sciences 5 0 $0
05 Environmental Sciences 10 2 $6,238,997
06 Biological Sciences 16 2 $5,805,635
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences 3 0 $0
08 Information and Computing Sciences 13 2 $6,289,457
09 Engineering 21 4 $12,845,917
10 Technology 3 0 $0
11 Medical and Health Sciences 5 0 $0
12 Built Environment and Design 1 0 $0
13 Education 2 0 $0
14 Economics 3 1 $3,336,000
15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services 1 1 $3,200,000
16 Studies in Human Society 7 0 $0
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences 10 1 $3,232,000
18 Law and Legal Studies 5 0 $0
19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing 4 0 $0
20 Language, Communication and Culture 5 0 $0
21 History and Archaeology 4 1 $2,944,438
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies 3 0 $0
Total   149 17 $53,753,052