Science

Grants: UNSW tops ARC Discovery Projects for second year

Friday, 10 November, 2017
UNSW media

UNSW Science is a major contributor to the University securing more than than $32.7 million in Australian Research Council funding - the largest share of the total of $333.5 million in federal research funding announced today by Education Minister Simon Birmingham.

That result echoes last year’s success when UNSW topped the total amount of funding among Australian universities announced by the ARC.

For the second year running, UNSW has received more Discovery Project grants than any other institution in the country, receiving 64 in this year’s announcement worth $24.1 million.

In addition, UNSW won 12 Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRAs) worth $4.3 million and seven Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LEIF) grants worth $4.3 million.

Professor Nicholas Fisk, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at UNSW, congratulated the University’s researchers on securing the most grants in this round.

He was particularly pleased with the University’s success in the Discovery Project grants.

“It is highly unusual to lead the Discovery Project grants nationally for two years running,” Professor Fisk said.

“These results are a testament to the strength of our researchers, the depth of our talent pool, the societal relevance of their subject areas, and the bubbling research culture and environment here at UNSW.”

Under the Discovery Projects (DP) scheme, the Government awarded a total of $225.6 million for 594 new research grants for 2018.

They included a grant of $591,274 to UNSW Science’s Professor Martin Van Kranendonk, Associate Professor Marco Fiorentini, Professor Kathleen Campbell and Professor David Deamer to test the proposal that a terrestrial hot spring field could have been the setting for the origin of life, with results used to help in the search for life on Mars.

Other UNSW Science researchers awarded DP grants include:

Professor Michael Archer, Professor Suzanne Hand and Dr Robin Beck: $347,126 to fill gaps in knowledge about the origins of the modern fauna of Australia.

Dr Bronwyn Graham: $328,442 to identify how motherhood, a time of significant hormonal flux, alters the mechanisms underlying fear regulation in female rats. The project should provide unique insights into fear reduction and protection against anxiety.

Dr Sarah Martell, Associate Professor Daniel Zucker and Professor Kim Venn: $380,844 to investigate how important the capture of satellite galaxies is for the growth of large galaxies like the Milky Way.

Professor Angela Moles: $217,096 to quantify the degree to which Australian plant species have responded to changes in climate over the last few decades, and to build understanding of the mechanisms that underpin responses to climate change.

Dr Brett Molesworth, Professor Ann Williamson and Associate Professor Teresa Senserrick: $392,913 to develop a new approach to driver training.

The DECRA winners included:

Dr Sophie Primig: $368,446 to develop a new steel processing technology and identify potential new manufacturing routes for future high-strength, low-alloy steels that are stronger, more ductile and safer.

LIEF grant recipients included:

Professor Christopher Tinney and team: $792,859 to better understand humanity’s place in the Universe, including questions such as whether we are alone or if our home in the Solar System is unique or common.

Associate Professor Clemens Ulrich and team: $832,648 to establish a comprehensive photomagnetic materials characterisation facility, enabling measurements of the smallest magnetisation signals possible.

Science had an outstanding success rates with 27 of 114 Discovery Project submissions awarded. This 23.7% success rate exceeds the overall rate for UNSW (22.2%) which was itself the leading Go8 university in success rate, and well above the national average of 17.8%.

Science brought home three-quarters of UNSW’s DECRA Fellowships (9 out of 12) with a success rate of 21.4% - again well above the national average rate of 16.7%.

In LIEF Science continued its strong track-record of about 50% success in this scheme, with several very large awards once more this year of near $800k in ARC funding

For the full list of recipients go to the ARC website.