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UOW researchers awarded $6.8M for Discovery Projects

UOW researchers awarded $6.8M for Discovery Projects

Projects will deliver economic, environmental, social and cultural benefits for Australia

University of Wollongong (UOW) researchers have been awarded $6.8 million in funding under the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Projects grants scheme.

The Discovery Projects scheme aims to expand the knowledge base and research capacity in Australia; and deliver economic, commercial, environmental, social and cultural benefits for Australia.

Federal Minister for Education the Hon. Dan Tehan announced the funding outcomes on Wednesday 4 December.

“Our Government is investing in high-quality research and the future of Australian research being carried out in our universities,” Mr Tehan said.

“The research done by our universities can lead to the development of new products and innovations that drive job growth, business opportunities and productivity gains.

"This investment will help develop solutions to problems in areas such as health, infrastructure, economics and the environment.”

The successful projects range from identifying how much physical activity and sleep children need each day to understanding how fire shapes Australia’s landscape, biodiversity and resources; and from developing electromagnetically interconnected suspension for electric vehicles to researching how the Great Barrier Reef has waxed and waned during past periods of climate and environmental change.

UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Jennifer Martin AC welcomed the announcement and congratulated the successful Discovery Projects grants recipients.

“I couldn’t be more delighted by the news that the ARC has awarded 18 Discovery Projects to UOW as lead organisation in the 2020 scheme; a 31 per cent success rate in a nationally competitive grant program is something we can all be proud of.” Professor Martin said.

“The University has long had a focus on research that delivers significant benefit to the Australian community. These projects highlight the many ways and many arenas in which University of Wollongong research continues to make contributions to the environment, the economy, industry, society and culture.”

ARC Discovery Projects: UOW LEAD recipients

Dr Dylan Cliff; $388,333 - Identifying optimal daily levels of movement behaviours in early childhood

This project aims to determine the optimal daily balance of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep required for the best developmental outcomes for young children. It will give parents and professionals improved confidence in supporting children’s physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep, and benefit children’s health and well-being.

Associate Professor Anthony Dosseto; $379,000 - Shaping a sunburnt country: fire, climate and the Australian landscape

Aims to quantify the recent history of fire intensity and severity in south-eastern Australia and investigate how fire regimes have evolved over the past 100 years. It will inform debates about the relationship between climatic variability and fire severity, and contribute to increase the preparedness of natural resource management to potential future climate and land-use scenarios.

Distinguished Professor Shi Xue Dou; $480,000 - Controlling and understanding interface chemistry for energy conversions

Aims to develop a promising electrocatalyst technology platform, based on novel 2D material architectures that have applications ranging from hydrogen generation via water splitting through to carbon dioxide reduction. The project will promote the development of renewable energy technologies.

Professor Haiping Du; $320,000 - Electromagnetically interconnected suspension for electrified vehicles

This project aims to develop an innovative, electromagnetically interconnected suspension system to enhance vehicle ride comfort, stability and handling dynamics, and thus safety of electrified vehicles. The project will assist the rapid development of transportation electrification and lead to tangible improvements in vehicle comfort and safety.

Senior Professor Christopher Gibson; $376,874 - Continuity and change in the Australian industrial landscape

Will investigate the past, present and future significance of Australian industrial landscapes, focusing on one of the nation's most significant industrial precincts, Port Kembla, NSW. Expected outcomes include timely archiving of industrial, worker and migrant histories, new knowledge that will contribute to resilient industrial port regions and economies, and an evidence base for future strategic thinking around industrial port infrastructure.

Distinguished Professor Zaiping Guo; $510,000 - Low cost aqueous rechargeable zinc batteries for grid-scale energy storage

This project will advance energy storage technology by developing high-energy aqueous rechargeable zinc batteries. These are the most promising choice for large-scale electrical energy storage, in particular for smart electric grids, owing to their low cost, high safety, and eco-friendly features.

Associate Professor Helen McGregor; $418,000 - Past climate and environmental impacts on Great Barrier Reef paleoecology

This project will reconstruct past climate, rainfall, water quality, coral bleaching and reef ecology feedbacks across Great Barrier Reef death events to establish which environmental stressors and paleoclimate variations are most critical for reef health. This will provide significant benefits to those who manage reefs globally.

Professor Pauline McGuirk; $320,556 - Innovating urban governance: practices for enhanced urban futures

Across the world, innovations in urban governance are emerging as cities seek to address complex urban challenges. This project asks: who do they involve; how do they work; how do they intersect with longstanding practices of governing the city? Outcomes include enhanced capacity to facilitate the future prosperity, wellbeing and democratic inclusiveness of Australian cities.

Professor Colin Murray-Wallace; $391,000 - Global climate change and coastal landscape evolution in southern Australia

By reconstructing past environmental changes that shaped modern Australian coastal landscapes, this project will yield new knowledge about the sensitivity of landscapes to current and ongoing environmental changes and derive explanatory models of landscape response to assist future coastal environmental management.

Professor Kashem Muttaqi; $480,469 - A next generation smart solid-state transformer for power grid applications

Will design, develop and implement a next generation, compact and light-weight, smart solid-state transformer that will provide a better and faster voltage transformation and regulation and support the power grids. It will help make energy networks more efficient, smart, reliable and flexible, having direct benefits to renewable energy growth.

Associate Professor Phil Orchard; $181,755 - Creating accountability: improving responses to forced displacement crimes

Will investigate how the United Nations and individual states can respond to forced displacement crimes at the domestic, regional, and international levels. It will directly inform the Australian and international policy-making response to such crimes with the goal of averting future forced migrant movements.

Associate Professor Julia Quilter; $239,322 - Intoxication evidence in rape trials: A double-edged sword?

Criminal law reforms in Australia have attempted to break the ‘rape myth’ nexus between intoxication and assumed consent. This project will subject the operation of relevant rules to systematic analysis. It should produce significant new knowledge about whether existing laws and courtroom practices are optimally adapted to achieving the important objective of justice for sexual violence victims.

Senior Professor Sharon Robinson; $505,000 - High-resolution health assessment of Antarctic plants as climate changes

Declines in terrestrial ecosystem health due to a drying climate have been observed in areas of East Antarctica. This project aims to determine if such changes are widespread. This research will advance ecosystem science and inform best practice in management of Antarctic biodiversity.

Professor Aidan Sims; $461,000 - There and back again: operator algebras, algebras and dynamical systems

The aim of this project is to develop mathematics that enables us to transfer information back and forth between dynamical systems and algebras, including operator algebras. Benefits include enhanced international collaboration, and increased Australian capacity in pure mathematics, particularly operator algebras.

Senior Professor Willy Susilo; $342,074 - Securing public cloud storage with protection against malicious senders

Aims to enable secure public cloud storage by developing new practical cryptographic solutions that provide protection against malicious senders, in contrast to the existing knowledge that can only cope with malicious receivers. The expected outcomes are innovative technologies that will lower infrastructure costs and provide cybersecurity for cloud storage.

Associate Professor Adam Trevitt; $420,000 - New laser and mass spectrometry methods for detecting protonation isomers

Mass spectrometry is a major tool for the detection of molecules for understanding disease, pollution control and chemical synthesis. This project aims to exploit recent advances in laser-based mass spectrometry by developing new instrumentation and protocols with these enhanced capabilities to improve antibiotic detection and complex biomolecule screening.

Senior Professor Simon Ville; $201,872 - A history of foreign multinational enterprises in Australia from Federation

We aim to deliver the first history of foreign multinational firms in 20th-century Australia. Through an understanding of multinationals – their magnitude, motives to settle here, corporate structures, and adaptation to local conditions – our findings will inform public debate and policy about the roles of foreign investment and foreign enterprises in the Australian economy.

Associate Professor Lei Wang; $445,000 - Learning kernel-based high-order visual representation for image retrieval

Image retrieval plays a key role in many practical applications. This project expects to generate new knowledge in the area of computer vision by developing a novel image retrieval framework. This should provide significant benefits, such as improving public information access services, facilitating environmental monitoring, and enhancing smart traffic management.