Five Future Fellows awarded $4.5million

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Five University of Adelaide researchers have collectively been awarded more than $4.5 million from the Federal Government to advance their work.

The researchers’ projects – which were awarded the most funding in the state - will focus on enhancing crop salt tolerance, understanding working memory, environmental policy, gene regulation in wheat; and the interplay between tectonics, climate and resources.

“I congratulate our Future Fellows on securing funding from the Australian Research Council to continue their valuable work here in South Australia,” said the University of Adelaide’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Anton Middelberg.

“Research undertaken by our community of experts here at the University of Adelaide generates new knowledge and new uses for knowledge that improves our lives by informing solutions to global challenges.

“Our five Future Fellows will increase their efforts to understand and improve other players in climate change, collaborative pathways to better environmental policy, brain health, drought and finding ways to future proof our crops.”

The 2021 Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowships have been awarded to:

  • Dr Scott Boden, School of Agriculture, Food & Wine. Deciphering the genetic regulation of inflorescence development in wheat. Awarded $816,950.

Dr Boden’s project aims to identify genes and molecular processes that regulate inflorescence architecture in wheat, using state-of-the-art genetic resources to identify novel biological mechanisms that regulate the development of spikelets – reproductive branches that contain grain-producing florets. Project outcomes will include new insights into the biology that underpins grain production of wheat, with expected benefits enabling sustainable increases of yields by breeders and growers to help improve global food security.

  • Dr Jayakumar Bose, School of Agriculture, Food & Wine. Targeting chloroplasts to enhance crop salt tolerance. Awarded $802,000.

Yield losses in crop plants due to increasingly saline soils are linked to the effects of salt on chloroplasts; the part of the plant cell responsible for photosynthesis. By comparing chloroplast water and salt transport mechanisms of closely related salt-loving and salt-sensitive plants, Dr Bose’s project aims to discover how chloroplasts maintain function in saline conditions. Novel biophysics and molecular techniques will be used to characterise transporters in model plants, and proof-of-concept experiments aim to confer salt tolerance on sensitive plants to benefit Australia’s agri-industry and ensure food security in the future.

  • Dr Stijn Glorie, School of Physical Sciences. Breaking Gondwana: interplay between tectonics, climate and resources.  Awarded $894,060.

Dr Glorie’s project aims to reconstruct 250 million years of landscape evolution in response to rifting and break-up of the Gondwana supercontinent, using the innovative approach of combining regional thermochronology with global plate tectonic models. From these reconstructions, the time-integrated record of exhumation and erosion at the continental margins will be revealed at an unprecedented scale. As well as providing a deep time archive of the relationships between tectonic forcing, continental erosion and the global climate –  which may assist predictions and debate on future climate change – the outcomes will also provide economic benefits as they will inform on the exhumation and preservation of critical resources.

  • Associate Professor Melissa Nursey-Bray, School of Social Sciences. Pathways for Indigenous and Western knowledge into Environmental Policy. Awarded $1,038,892.

The aim of Associate Professor Nursey-Bray’s project is to identify the ways in which all knowledge, particularly Western and Indigenous knowledges, can work together to inform environmental policy, with a focus on climate change adaptation. Using participatory methodologies and supported by an Indigenous-led advisory group, the project will partner with Indigenous Ranger groups to interrogate three key knowledge management concepts: integration, co-production and co-existence. Based on communities of practice, in the Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre Basin, the Fellowship seeks to produce mechanisms of knowledge co-existence and maintenance that will contribute to stronger environmental policies and create spaces for Indigenous voices to be represented within them.

  • Dr Nigel Rogasch, School of Biomedicine. Understanding working memory: from cells to brain stimulation. Awarded $971,439.

Dr Rogasch’s project aims to understand the neural mechanisms of working memory - a fundamental cognitive function in humans - using a novel framework which combines non-invasive brain stimulation, neuroimaging, pharmacological and experimental manipulations, and biological modelling. Expected outcomes include a critical understanding of the cellular mechanisms underlying both neural activity and working memory ability in healthy individuals and a detailed knowledge of how to non-invasively interact with these mechanisms using brain stimulation. This will provide significant benefits such as the development of individually optimised brain stimulation protocols, enabling tailored approaches to reliably alter brain function and cognition.

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