$5 million for industry-linked research

Friday, 30 May 2003

The University of Adelaide has further strengthened its links with industry, winning more than $2.2 million in the latest round of funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC) and a further $2.8 million in industry support.

The money and in-kind support is for 14 industry-linked research projects at the University of Adelaide over the next five years.

ARC funding for these projects will assist Adelaide researchers to develop strategic alliances with industry. Each research project is co-funded by one or more companies or partner organisations. The combined funding and in-kind support brings the total to more than $5.1 million.

"Research with industry is one of the areas in which the University of Adelaide can make a huge impact, and this result is a fantastic one for us and our partners," says the Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McWha.

"While Adelaide already has a reputation as one of the strongest research universities in Australia - if not the strongest - this latest result shows that our research with industry is a growing and important area for us," he says.

The 14 successful projects at Adelaide are across the Sciences, Engineering and Humanities & Social Sciences. They include projects that have the potential to make a significant impact on industry and the community, such as:

$78,000 to investigate improvements to sunscreen, offering stronger protection against ultraviolet-A radiation (Chemistry, in partnership with H.A. Milton Holdings Pty Ltd Group)

$193,000 to assess the impact of climate change on the wheat industry and identify strategies to help overcome it (Environmental Studies and Agronomy & Farming Systems, in partnership with Primary Industries and Resources SA)

$80,700 to study the implication of electronic voting for South Australia (Politics, in partnership with the State Electoral Office of South Australia)

$350,000 for studies into native fish stocking of Australia's rivers (Environmental Biology, in partnership with Natural Resources & Environment Victoria and NSW Fisheries)

University of Adelaide ARC Linkage Projects 2003

Total funding from ARC: $2.26m
Total funding from industry: $1.15m in cash and $1.73m in kind (note: figures for individual projects below are for ARC funding only)

Number of projects awarded: 14

$69,000 - Genetic variation in the Cotesia flavipes complex of parasitic wasps: towards the effective biological control of stem-borer pests

Professor Andy Austin (Environmental Biology, University of Adelaide) and Dr Stephen Donnellan (SA Museum)

Partner Organisations:
Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations
South Australian Museum

This project will determine the genetic variation among world populations of the parasitic wasp Cotesia flavipes, as a prelude to the preemptive biological control of stemborer pests of sugarcane in Australia. These pests currently do not occur in Australia, but are found in crops across New Guinea and Indonesia, so that their incursion into Australia is highly likely in the future. The results of this project will clarify the taxonomic status of C. flavipes-like species in Australia and provide the means, using molecular markers, to select host strains of this wasp suitable for the control of specific stemborer species

$228,000 - Assessment of the diversity, distribution and uniqueness of subterranean animals from calcrete aquifers in central western Australia

Professor Andy Austin (Environmental Biology, University of Adelaide), Dr Steve Cooper (SA Museum), Dr Bill Humphreys (WA Museum)

Partner Organisations:
Newmont Australia
Placer Dome Asia Pacific
South Australian Museum
Western Australian Museum

Recently a rich and diverse subterranean invertebrate fauna (stygofauna) was unexpectedly discovered from numerous isolated calcrete aquifers associated with palaeodrainage channels in central Western Australia. Our recent taxonomic and molecular studies have suggested that stygofaunas within each aquifer may be highly endemic. We aim to test this hypothesis by investigating the diversity, distribution and uniqueness of stygofauna from three major calcrete regions. We further aim to document the environmental conditions and variability within the aquifers and to develop rigorous sampling protocols. Such data are essential for the development of appropriate strategies for sustainable management of subterranean water and their ecosystems.

$130,000 - Integrated, interactive and systematic Marine Protected Area design for sustainability of South Australian marine environments: A GIS- based, spatial optimisation approach

Dr Brett Bryan (Key Centre for Social Applications of Geographical Information Systems (GISCA), University of Adelaide)

Partner Organisation:
Department for Environment and Heritage

This project aims to enhance MPA design in SA by integrating systematic conservation planning (SCP), spatial optimisation and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). New, integrated Integer Programming (IP) models will be built based on established SCP principles and nationally agreed marine conservation criteria. The IP models will be tightly coupled with the GIS to create an interactive Spatial Decision Support Tool (SDSS) for systematic MPA design - the first of its kind. The SDSS will enable real- time, systematic MPA design and will provide flexible design options for a comprehensive, adequate, representative and efficient MPA system for SA.

$350,000 - Native fish stocking of rivers: discriminating between hatchery- reared and wild fish

Dr Bronwyn Gillanders (Environmental Biology, University of Adelaide), Dr Dave Crook (Department of Natural Resources & Environment), Dr Andrew Sanger (NSW Fisheries)

Partner Organisations:
Department of Natural Resources & Environment
NSW Fisheries

Stocking of fish is widely used in attempts to restore native fish populations. Little is known of the fate of stocked fish or the effects of stocking on resident populations. We will develop and evaluate protocols for chemical marking of otoliths of hatchery-reared fish so that their source can be determined. Experimental stocking of hatchery-reared fish will be undertaken and population structure and source of stocked versus wild fish determined in stocked and unstocked rivers. Natural chemical signatures will also help determine important recruitment areas. The outcomes will allow fisheries managers to make informed decisions regarding stocking strategies.

$270,000 - Development of an active noise control system for sleeper seats on large commercial aircraft

Professor Colin Hansen (Mechanical Engineering, University of Adelaide) and Dr Damien Leclercq (Mechanical Engineering, University of Adelaide)

Partner Organisation:
Qantas Airways Limited

Possible avenues will be investigated to actively reduce aircraft cabin noise experienced by passengers in sleeper seats, using localised active noise control (ANC). Previous work has focused on headsets and upright seat headrests that represent a different problem to the partially enclosed sleeper seats considered here. Efficiency and robustness problems that affect existing ANC systems will be addressed. A prototype system will be produced for a business class sleeper seat in a wide body aircraft. A second outcome is the establishment of a robust integrated system design procedure that can be used to quickly develop ANC systems for future designs.

$80,748 - Electronic Voting and Electoral Inclusion: Implications for South Australia

Dr Lisa Hill (Politics, University of Adelaide), Associate Professor Peter Mayer (Politics, University of Adelaide), Dr Greg McCarthy (Politics, University of Adelaide)

Partner Organisation:
State Electoral Office of South Australia

South Australia is unique in having a highly concentrated urban population, a large Aboriginal population living in remote regions, and non-compulsory voting enrolment. The voting inclusion of all South Australians therefore presents a number of challenges. The project explores the potential of electronic voting to improve voting access among residents of isolated and remote regions of South Australia. Levels and causes of non-voting will be established using qualitative and quantitative research methods. Results will be assessed against a comprehensive literature analysis of the use of eVoting world-wide. Finally, recommendations for future directions will be made.

$78,099 - Molecular UV-A Sunscreen Filters: A Systematic Chemical Study

Professor Stephen Lincoln (Chemistry, University of Adelaide)

Partner Organisation:
H.A. Milton Holdings Pty. Ltd. Group

Australia has the world's highest melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer rate, with the latter representing the highest healthcare cost of any cancer. Current sunscreen formulations provide limited protection against solar ultraviolet-A radiation. This project is designed to improve this situation through developing new sunscreen filters for improved protection against ultraviolet-A radiation.

$81,599 - Quantification of heat release, NOx emissions and soot from high temperature gaseous flames

Associate Professor Graham Nathan (Mechanical Engineering, University of Adelaide), Dr Peter Ashman (Chemical Engineering, University of Adelaide), and Mr Steven Hill (FCT-Combustion Pty Ltd)

Partner Organisation:
FCT-Combustion Pty Ltd

The ongoing importance of Australia's minerals processing sector depends on advanced combustion technology to minimise the emission of NOx and other greenhouse gases. The heat release and NOx emissions from the high temperature flames used in such processes is known to depend strongly on the presence of soot. However their optimisation and design is limited by a lack of fundamental data under relevant conditions. To address this need, new measurements and analysis will be performed to quantify the complex relationship between turbulent mixing, soot formation, heat release and NOx emissions under high temperature conditions of both fundamental and practical significance.

$225,000 - Domestication of blue-banded bees for greenhouse pollination

Professor Margaret Sedgley (Wine and Horticulture, University of Adelaide), Dr Michael Keller (Applied and Molecular Ecology), Dr Carolina Gross (University of New England) and Dr Mike Perkins (Flinders University)

Partner Organisations:
International Hydroponics
Perpetual Holding Pty Ltd
Freshway Farm
Virginia Horticulture Centre
Biological Services

The tomato industry is currently shifting towards production in greenhouses, which allows climate control and improved pest management. A lack of pollinators is an obstacle to this move. This project will establish protocols for large-scale use of native blue-banded bees as pollinators in greenhouses, especially for tomatoes. Pollination by native bees increases fruit weight by 15%, comparable to the effects of bumblebees used overseas. Significant economic, environmental and health benefits are expected from this project. The outcome will satisfy an industry need and remove an environmental threat by finding indigenous substitutes for alien bumblebees.

$69,099 - The contribution of beneficial arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi to sustainable tomato production in Australia

Professor Sally Smith (Soil and Land Systems, University of Adelaide), Professor Andrew Smith (Soil and Land Systems, University of Adelaide), Mr James McMaster (Outsourced Environmental)

Partner Organisation:
Outsourced Environmental

Formation of beneficial arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) by processing tomatoes has been used as an indicator of "healthy soil" in an environmental monitoring audit of the industry in southern Australia, but field occurrence of the AM fungi and their potential contribution to tomato nutrition and productivity are not well understood. We will determine the responsiveness of widely-grown tomato varieties to AM inoculation and relate colonisation in the field to farming practices. The results will determine the potential benefits of AM fungi to tomato crops, in the context of development of environmentally and economically sustainable practices both in Australia and overseas.

$69,099 - Measuring the triple bottom line: an investigation of social, environmental and economic outcomes in the South Australian electricity market

Mr John Spoehr (Centre for Labour Research, University of Adelaide) and Dr Ray Broomhill (Centre for Labour Research, University of Adelaide)

Partner Organisations:
South Australian Council of Social Service Inc.
Conservation Council of South Australia

The project will investigate the social, economic and environmental performance of the South Australian electricity market. It will track the impact of the implementation of full retail contestability in the SA electricity market. It will provide a suite of measurement tools for consumer groups to analyse market outcomes.

$69,099 - Dynamic Release Mechanisms for Phosphorus in Shallow Ponds and Lakes

Dr David Walker (Civil & Environmental Engineering)

Partner Organisations:
Torrens Catchment Water Management Board

Phosphorus release from submerged sediments is controlled by the physical and chemical environment. The mechanisms are well understood where thermal stratification is persistent but the behaviour during transient episodes has not been properly addressed. The aim is to study a dynamic chemical and hydraulic environment and develop a model of phosphorus release under these conditions. Algal blooms, which rely on high nutrient concentrations, pose a significant threat to waterways yet a process-based description of phosphorus release is not yet possible. The outcome will be a verified model of phosphorus release mechanisms suitable for a range of water bodies.

$193,035 - Responding to the threat of climate change: identifying effective strategies for the wheat industry of south-east Australia

Professor Martin Williams (Environmental StudiesUniversity of Adelaide), Dr William Bellotti (Agronomy & Farming Systems, University of Adelaide) and Ms Q Luo

Partner Organisation:
Primary Industries and Resources SA

This project will first evaluate the probable impacts of climatic change and variability on wheat production in southern Australia and will then assess the effectiveness of actual and potential adaptive management strategies designed to mitigate these impacts. The expected outcomes will include quantified impacts of future climate change and variability on wheat production in southern Australia, identification of regions at greater risk in the future and least likely to be viable in the longer run, and identification of effective adaptive management strategies designed to cope with these risks.

$170,087 - Development of sophisticated structural design guidelines for the new building product known as Rapidwall

Dr Y Wu and Associate Professor Deric Oehlers (Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Adelaide)

Partner Organisation:
Rapidbuilding Systems Pty Ltd

Rapidwall is an Australian made new composite building product made from formulated gypsum plaster and glass-fibre. This is a high-tech building product that has huge potential to be developed into a dominant building material in the future. It is economic, labor effective, eco-friendly, structural sound and fire, thermal resistant and has many advantages over the existing building materials, such as concrete, steel and masonry. The lack of a technical design guidelines has fundamentally obstructed it from expanding its market share both in Australia and overseas. This proposal aims at developing a structural design manual for the new product.

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