ARC funds five University of Adelaide early career researchers

University building

Five University of Adelaide researchers have collectively been awarded more than $2 million from the Federal Government to advance their work in diverse areas including cognitive impairment, solar ammonia production, and cybersecurity.

“This new funding shows the diversity of the University of Adelaide’s research expertise and its alignment with our industry priorities,"Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Anton Middelberg

The University's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Anton Middelberg, said: “This new funding shows the diversity of the University of Adelaide’s research expertise and its alignment with our industry priorities.

“The University of Adelaide has clearly defined industry engagement priorities in health and biotech, defence, energy, mining and resources, and strategic commitments to tackling the grand challenges of improving health and wellbeing, energy sustainability, and security for the benefit of society. Today’s funding announcement is further evidence of how the University will achieve its aims,” he said.

The 2020 Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards have been given to:

Dr Mitchell Goldsworthy: Does neuroplasticity protect against late life cognitive impairment? - $423,604
This project aims to investigate neuroplasticity across the adult lifespan, using novel neurophysiological approaches to determine its role in protecting against age-related cognitive decline. This project expects to generate new knowledge in the area of human cognitive ageing, using an innovative and interdisciplinary approach. Expected outcomes of this project include a critical understanding of the basic neural mechanisms of healthy brain ageing. This will provide significant benefits, such as the neurophysiological knowledge required to develop novel biological markers to detect, as well as therapeutic agents to curb, cognitive decline in the ageing population.

Dr Jingrun Ran: Single-atom anchored photocatalysts for solar ammonia production. - $409,516
This project aims to develop single-atom anchored two-dimensional photocatalysts with outstanding activity, selectivity and stability for sunlight-driven photocatalytic nitrogen reduction to produce ammonia via combining advanced characterisations and theoretical calculations. The project will contribute to the fundamental knowledge on the nature and origin of the activity, selectivity and stability in photocatalytic ammonia production. High performance and cost-effective solar ammonia production is expected to be achieved in this project. The project will not only reduce Australia’s demand for non-renewable fossil fuels, but also alleviate environmental contamination, greenhouse effect and climate change.

Dr Catia Malvaso: Child maltreatment, youth and adult offending: Pathways and prevention. - $376,761.
This project aims to investigate when, how and for whom experiences of child abuse and neglect lead to youth and adult offending. It expects to generate evidence needed to inform preventive interventions that can alter pathways from maltreatment to offending by identifying when to intervene, which factors to target, and for whom. Expected outcomes include a deeper understanding of child protection, developmental and school factors that influence life course offending pathways, and the translation of these findings to inform prevention. This should increase the ability to effectively design and target prevention initiatives that aim to improve outcomes for individuals, families and communities who bear the costs of maltreatment and crime.

Dr Dongliang Chao: Advanced zinc-ion batteries with high voltage and high energy density. - $417,276.
Zinc-ion batteries are not only cheaper than current lithium-ion batteries (LIB), but are safer due to a neutral aqueous electrolyte. However, grid-scale development is plagued by limited output voltage and inadequate energy density compared with more mainstream LIB. This project aims to solve the discharge-voltage problem by fabricating an atomic-level engineered manganese (Mn)-based cathode and a new stable solid-state electrolyte, and improve the device energy density by zinc (Zn) anode interface nanotechnology. The success of this project will benefit Australia’s access to new markets and introduce a new low-cost and safe energy storage technology for the long-term viability of Australia’s abundant Zn and Mn resources.

Dr Yuval Yarom: Microarchitectural attacks and JavaScript: threats and defences. - $427,116. This project aims to improve cybersecurity by identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities in Internet-connected computers. Expected outcomes of this project include novel techniques for protecting web browsers and cloud servers to prevent them from inadvertent leaks of private or sensitive information. This should provide significant benefits, such as reduced risk of cyberattacks and improved privacy for web users.

Tagged in ARC, research, early career