Grants: UNSW Science awarded eight ARC fellowships

UNSW Scientia Building
Monday, 5 June, 2017
Deborah Smith

For his research on breakthrough mathematical methods that could solve difficult problems in the physical world, Professor Fedor Sukochev has been awarded a prestigious Australian Laureate Fellowship worth more than $2 million.

Professor Sukochev, of the School of Mathematics and Statistics, was among the 17 Australian Laureate Fellows announced today by Education Minister Simon Birmingham.

Senator Birmingham also announced that 13 UNSW researchers had been awarded ARC Future Fellowships, with seven of them coming from UNSW Science.

The seven Science projects funded range from developing new ways to analyse large and complex data sets to developing synthetic molecules capable of performing complex tasks such as controlled molecular motion.

The 13 UNSW Future Fellowships, worth a total of $11.2 million, are the highest number received by any University in NSW.

Overall UNSW won more than $20 million in the latest round of grants. Professor Jill Bennett of UNSW Art & Design was also awarded an Australian Laureate Fellowship worth $3,194,989 over five years to harness immersive visualisation technology and pioneer a new approach to the study of subjective experience.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Nicholas Fisk congratulated all UNSW grant recipients.

"These outstanding results are a testament to the extraordinary work being done at UNSW. Australian Laureate Fellowships are highly coveted in the Australian research sector and are quite rightly regarded as the pinnacle of achievement for researchers," Professor Fisk said. "None are more deserving than Jill Bennett and Fedor Sukochev."

UNSW significantly increased its number of ARC Future Fellowships compared to last year's round.

"Future Fellows are the research stars of tomorrow and these grants provide them with the funding, support and time they need for outcomes-focused research that will tackle the most pressing issues facing Australia, from climate change to children's literacy," Professor Fisk said.

Professor Sukochev (pictured), who is a world leader in the use of algebraic approaches to solve complex analytic problems, was awarded $2,107,500 to solve difficult problems that have stymied progress in the area of quantum or noncommutative calculus.

He will initiate collaborations with top mathematical researchers from around the world and bring together two separate mathematical areas into a powerful new set of tools. The project’s outcomes will impact research at the forefront of mathematical physics and other sciences and enhance Australia’s reputation and standing, he says.

The ARC’s Future Fellowship scheme provides funding over four years to highly qualified mid-career researchers working in areas of critical national importance as an incentive to keep them in Australia.

UNSW Science successful applicants are:

·         Associate Professor Scott Sisson of the School of Mathematics and Statistics was awarded $1,001, 192 to develop the statistical foundations of a new approach to analysing large and complex data.

·         Associate Professor Chuan Zhao of the school of Chemistry was awarded $960,000 to develop ionic liquid-based nanoporous composite catalysts for the efficient electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide into value-added chemicals and fuels.  

·         Dr Belinda Ferrari of the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences was awarded $924,105 to study how microbes living in the nutrient-starved desert soils of Antarctica harness energy to survive.

·         Dr Irina Voineagu of the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences was awarded $921,067 to identify regions of the human genome that are important for gene expression during development of the nervous system.     

·         Dr Jonathon Beves of the School of Chemistry was awarded $762,504 to use visible light to develop synthetic molecules capable of performing complex tasks such as controlled molecular motion.

·         Dr Suzanne Neville of the School of Chemistry was awarded $748,904 to develop a new class of functional materials with molecular switching features that could be used in cutting edge sensor devices, nanophotonic devices and for information storage.

·         Dr Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick of the Climate Change Research Centre was awarded $686,491 to provide more accurate information on the human influence behind heatwaves and their impacts.

Under the ARC’s Industrial Transformation Research Program, Professor Guan Yeoh of UNSW Engineering was awarded $4,272,072 to establish the ARC Training Centre in Fire Retardant Materials and Safety Technologies.

Professor Martina Stenzel and Associate Professor John Stride of the School of Chemistry are also Chief Investigators for the ARC Training Centre for Chemical Industries led by the University of Melbourne, which will bring $3.3 million to UNSW.

Read the full list of UNSW recipients at the ARC website.