Uni of Adelaide awarded record 11 new Future Fellowships

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The University of Adelaide has been awarded a record number of Australian Research Council's (ARC) Future Fellowships announced today by Minister for Education, the Hon. Christopher Pyne, at the Waite campus.

University researchers won $8.4M for eleven projects, representing over 92% of the funding awarded in South Australia and over 7% of the national allocation.

These prestigious Fellowships support exceptional researchers spanning the Sciences, Engineering and the Social Sciences and working in areas of critical importance to Australia such as food security, the environment, space science and access to housing.

University of Adelaide Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Mike Brooks said:

"In an incredibly competitive environment, I am pleased to say this is the University's best result since the inception of the scheme in 2009. The University of Adelaide's success rate (48%) was the highest within the Group of Eight research intensive universities and well above the national success rate of 18%. In terms of total funding and awards we ranked 5th nationally. My congratulations go out to all of our applicants, both successful and unsuccessful, in what was a stellar field of candidates. This outcome serves to highlight yet again the highly-talented pool of exceptional researchers in the University and augers well for our future."

One of the eleven new Future Fellows is Dr Matthew Tucker of the School of Agriculture Food and Wine, who is conducting research into the microscopic characteristics of plant biology. He says "I am extremely humbled and honoured to have been awarded a Future Fellowship.

"I am focusing on plant ovule and seed development, a central component of the multi-billion dollar Australian grain industry. If we can determine how specialised cells in the seed become different from their neighbours, we have the potential to generate improved superior cereal varieties with improved agricultural and health benefits.

"This fellowship will give me the opportunity to continue my research at the University of Adelaide's Waite campus, which is a world-class concentration of scientific research, education and product conferring capability, with state-of-the-art infrastructure," he said.

University of Adelaide Future Fellows for 2014 are:

Future Fellow: Dr Emma Baker (Centre for Housing, Urban and Regional Planning)
Summary:
Australia is currently in a housing crisis, with many escalating problems, including poor affordability, chronic undersupply, homelessness, insecurity in the private rental market and a shrinking public housing sector. While some Australians are unaffected, increasing numbers of already vulnerable people experience multiple housing problems. This project aims to develop a new theoretical framework for focusing on Australians who experience multiple housing problems. It aims to identify who will be affected, how this will play out on individual health and wellbeing, and how governments can best respond. It will provide essential evidence and intervention tools for understanding and improving the lives of the most vulnerable.
ARC funding: $661,414 over four years

Future Fellow: Dr Simon Baxter (School of Molecular and Biomedical Science)
Summary:
Sustaining crop yield and maintaining food security is a significant worldwide concern. This project aims to strengthen insect pest control strategies and improve bio-insecticide use in agriculture through better understanding of the mode of action of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) insecticides. It aims to improve their efficacy and evaluate opportunities to develop bio-insecticides based on plant saponins. This will assist in determining the risk of insecticide resistant moths migrating to Australia, and within our borders. This project aims to provide opportunities to improve transgenic Bt-crops and Bt- sprays, provide commercial development of new bio-insecticides, and develop optimal control strategies for major Australian migratory pests.
ARC funding: $769,527 over four years

Future Fellow: Dr Stephen Bell (School of Chemistry and Physics)
Summary:
Enzyme catalysed oxidation reactions are key players in the production of naturally occurring biologically active molecules. These processes are tightly regulated by their electron transfer partners. This project aims to characterise new electron transfer ferredoxin proteins from a metabolically diverse bacterium. These ferredoxins, important in many bacteria, contain different non-cysteine amino acids in their iron-sulfur cluster binding motifs and are poorly defined. The outcomes will advance understandings of electron transfer, a fundamental process. This will allow strategies to combat human and plant pathogens and unlock the potential of these systems as biocatalysts for the green chemical synthesis of complex and valuable chemicals.
ARC funding: $772,104 over four years

Dr Damian Fordham (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences/Environment Institute)
Summary:
Current forecasts indicate that human-driven climate change will likely cause widespread biodiversity loss. However, climatic shifts during the Quaternary (2.6 million years ago to present), similar in magnitude to those projected for the 21st century, did not apparently cause extensive extinctions (with the exception of the megafauna). This project aims to use models linked to past responses imprinted in speciesĀ¶ genes to resolve whether the disparity between observed and predicted extinction rates comes from models over-predicting species loss due to climate change. It will use this genetic- demographic approach to improve predictions of biodiversity responses to global change by establishing the biological and environmental determinants of extinction.eve more sustainable development.
ARC funding: $770,684 over four years

Associate Professor Lian Pin Koh (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences/Environment Institute)
Summary:
Growing global demands for water, food and energy will continue to intensify land-use conflicts, contribute to carbon emissions, and exacerbate threats to biodiversity. Consumption needs to be balanced with environmental protection. This project aims to frame the issues of food security, rural development, carbon emissions and biodiversity loss from the perspective of ecological and economic theory. It will use cutting-edge analyses to assess the implications and trade-offs of alternative land-use and development scenarios that reflect key socioeconomic and environmental priorities in Indonesia. Based on these analyses, decision-support tools will be developed to help Indonesian policymakers reconcile these objectives to achieve more sustainable development.
ARC funding: $879,112 over four years

Future Fellow: Dr Giang Nguyen (School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering)
Summary:
Failure at large scale such as slopes, embankments, and underground mining is fatal in terms of human lives and property loss. This project aims to develop a new methodology to connect micro-mechanisms that trigger and govern failure with the behaviour at much larger scales. In particular it will allow building constitutive models directly from microscale mechanisms, while possessing the capability to span the spatial scales. It will also transform the understanding of material property scaling into a predictive tool for engineering analysis, helping to obtain more cost effective designs with greater confidence in safety.
ARC funding: $607,289 over four years

Future Fellow: A/Prof Michael Sheng (School of Computer Science)
Summary:
The future World Wide Web will connect billions of physical objects, which will offer exciting capabilities to change the world and improve the quality of human lives, just as what the Web has done in the past 20 years. Effectively and efficiently managing things is one inevitable challenge in this new era and is much more complicated than managing traditional Web documents. This project aims to focus on this key problem and develop novel techniques for linking resource-constrained things to the Web, searching them using a new search engine, as well as discovering latent relationships among things for advanced management tasks such as things recommendation and composition.
ARC funding: $757,452.00 over four years

Future Fellow: Dr Matthew Tucker (School of Agriculture, Food and Wine)
Summary:
Unlike animals, individual somatic cells in plants have the remarkable ability to regenerate into new plants, depending on the signals they perceive. This developmental plasticity is particularly important during normal plant growth, when mature cells adopt new identities within multicellular environments. Tissue complexity is critical for the utilisation of plants in society as food, fuel and fibre, but how and why plant cells adopt or change identity has been difficult to determine. This project aims to employ next-generation molecular methods to identify pathways driving differentiation of specific ovule and seed cell-types, which directly impact crop quality, yield and end-use.
ARC funding: $772,104 over four years

Future Fellow: Prof Dr Haihui Wang
Summary:
Industrial carbon dioxide (CO2) emission is considered the main contribution to global warming. This project aims to develop a new class of oxygen transporting membrane (OTM) for CO2 capture and utilisation. To achieve this objective, the formation process and the unique characteristic of the membrane, as well as the oxygen transportation mechanism through the membrane will be investigated, experimentally and theoretically. This will advance the membrane technology in economically viable and efficient, clean energy applications.
ARC funding: $892,552.00 over four years

Future Fellow: Associate Professor Megan Warin (School of Social Sciences)
Summary:
There is growing recognition of the need for new ways to tackle the obesity problem, and for forms of intervention that move beyond the limitations of individual behavioural changes. This project provides a paradigm for re-orientating how we have come to know obesity by investigating the cultural and institutional processes that shape everyday food and activity practices. Understanding and intervening in these dynamics of social practice are central to the challenges of reversing trends in the prevalence of obesity.
ARC funding: $789,729 over four years

Future Fellow: Dr Martin White (School of Chemistry and Physics)
Summary:
Following the recent discovery of the Higgs boson, the greatest outstanding mystery in physics, it is now time to identify the nature of the dark matter that fills much of our Universe. This project aims to invent new data mining techniques to test the viability of a wide class of theoretical dark matter models, using an extensive range of particle physics and astrophysics data. It will use these models to help design the next generation of dark matter searches in gamma ray and neutrino astronomy, using the Large Hadron Collider. This project aims to put Australia at the forefront of international particle astrophysics research and potential new discoveries will change the future direction of international particle research.
ARC funding: $757,549 over four years

 

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