A vibrant orange banksia sits among a sea of green leaves, in an image from UOW's Wollongong Campus. Photo: Paul Jones

UOW early career researchers awarded $1.3 million in funding

UOW early career researchers awarded $1.3 million in funding

Dr Elyse Stanes, Dr Anna Farmery and Dr Yannan Li to advance their research over next three years

Improving human diets through aquatic foods. Examining barriers to building more circular economies. Preventing cybercrime and blockchain abuse.

Three University of Wollongong researchers have been announced as the recipients of the Australian Government’s Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) Scheme, with their projects acknowledged as significant to the future of the nation.

The Honorable Jason Clare, Federal Minister for Education, announced the successful projects earlier this month, with $85 million in Australia Research Council funding earmarked for 200 research projects, led by early career researchers. The three-year projects will commence in 2023.

Dr Elyse Stanes, from the School of Geography and Sustainable Communities, Dr Anna Farmery, from the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, and Dr Yannan Li, from the School of Computing and Information Technology, will benefit from close to $1.3 million in funding across their three projects.

The dedicated funding provided to early career researchers under the DECRA scheme affords them the opportunity to focus on advancing their research and careers, benefitting from training in high quality research environments and further developing their knowledge and research networks.

Professor David Currow, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Health and Sustainable Futures) and Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), congratulated the three UOW DECRA recipients on their success in the funding round.

“I am delighted to see Drs Stanes, Farmery and Li receive DECRA support to further their worthy and fascinating research. These three early career researchers are all working on vastly different areas, but they are all areas that are vital to the future of Australia,” Professor Currow said.

Dr Elyse Stanes, an Associate Research Fellow at UOW, will receive $449,335 over the next three years for her research into the circular economy and how to build capacity to manage materials that are unseen, toxic, or difficult to locate, separate or repurpose.

Each year, 90 billion tonnes of materials are used globally to sustain industry and contemporary lifestyles. Some 90% become waste. Dr Stanes’s project will trace two materials – plastic textiles and air-conditioning refrigerants – which are ubiquitous in everyday life but add to significant global environment problems. Examining where these materials go and where they end up, Dr Stanes’s research aims to create knowledge to better manage difficult waste streams and improve resource reuse.

Dr Anna Farmery, a Vice-Chancellor’s Post-Doctoral Researcher at UOW, will focus on improving food systems through fisheries and aquaculture. Aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the project will investigate how aquatic food  production can be managed to improve human health outcomes and prevent disease, while at the same time providing environmental and economic benefits to communities.

The research will also contribute to cross-cultural understandings that improve knowledge exchange between Indigenous Australians and fisheries and aquaculture management. Dr Farmery has received $425,312 for her three-year project.

Dr Yannan Li, a lecturer and PhD graduate from UOW, will focus on reducing cybercrime and developing technological solutions to regulate Australia’s blockchain system. Blockchain abuse causes a global financial loss of $76 billion per year.

Dr Li received $424,064 over the next three years for her project, which aims to provide a more secure and regulation-friendly blockchain with versatile regulation services that cover the whole lifecycle of a transaction. This research will endeavour to reduce the financial loss caused by blockchain abuse worldwide and promote Australia’s blockchain ecosystem.