Grants support transformative research

Derek Abbott

Derek Abbott

Two University of Adelaide researchers, Professor Derek Abbott and Professor Alan Collins, have been named Australian Research Council (ARC) 2024 Australian Laureate Fellows for their work in transforming terahertz biosensing and unearthing the secrets of our planet.

Professor Anton Middelberg, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Research) at the University of Adelaide congratulated Professor Abbott and Professor Collins on their success.

“This announcement highlights the outstanding work being done by our academics both in driving research at scale and mentoring the next generation of researchers,” he said.

“These projects are leading the way in their respective fields and further highlight the University’s place as one of Australia’s most research-intensive institutions.”

Professor Abbott of the School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering received $3,739,790 to create next-generation sensors for rapid detection.

His project, Advancing the Frontiers of Detection: Ultrasensitive Terahertz Sensing, aims to transform terahertz biosensing, creating next-generation sensors for use in security, forensics and space exploration.

“Terahertz radiation lies between microwaves and infrared - it can uniquely ‘fingerprint’ or identify substances,” he said.

“This ground-breaking program will investigate terahertz-matter interaction together with sensor design based on advanced materials, breaking current terahertz detection limits. This will enable rapid substance identification with precision at trace levels.”

Alan Collins

Alan Collins

Recently appointed Douglas Mawson Chair of Geology Professor Collins, of the School of Physics Chemistry and Earth Sciences, received $3,408,000 for his Plate Tectonics, Critical Metals and our Habitable Earth project.

“This Fellowship aims to use abundant geological information to build a digital twin of the Earth’s surface through its middle age (1800–500 million years ago) then apply this to investigate how deep earth processes including earthquakes, volcanos and plate tectonics endowed our planet with critical metals and built a habitable world,” he said.

“Outcomes include ground-breaking data-driven geology and deep-time full-earth modelling, which have not been attempted before, as well as de-risking mineral exploration.”

ARC Acting Chief Executive Officer Dr Richard Johnson said the scheme is an important part of the ARC’s Discovery Program, creating a supportive research environment for early-career researchers to work with cutting-edge senior researchers.

“The Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme offers researchers the opportunity to design ambitious research programs around a team of postdoctoral fellows and postgraduate students, which is vital for ensuring high-quality mentorship of Australia’s up-and-coming researchers,” Dr Johnson said.

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