Science

Grants: UNSW tops the state

Friday, 8 November, 2013

The UNSW Faculty of Science is a major contributor to UNSW securing more than $54 million in funding from the Australian Research Council’s latest round of grants - the highest in the state.

UNSW was the top grant winner in the ARC’s Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) scheme, which supports collaborative research initiatives between higher education institutes and industry.

The University secured 12 new LIEF grants beginning in 2014 and $5.3 million from the ARC, totalling $11.4 million with contributions from partner organisations. This is the highest total in Australia.

UNSW Science was awarded 53 per cent of the LIEF funding that UNSW received, with seven awards worth $2.77 million for 2014.

They include a $1 million grant for a time of flight secondary ion mass spectrometer facility for microbiology research and a $150,000 grant for an instrument to analyse isotopes in environmental samples for climate, water and ecological research.

The Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, announced the ARC Major Grants today.

UNSW secured funding for 68 new ARC Discovery Projects worth $23.1 million, the highest total in NSW and fourth in Australia.

The bulk of successful applications in the Discovery category are geared toward developing “frontier technologies for building and transforming Australian industries” – one of four areas of national priority.

UNSW Science researchers won 28 of these grants, worth $9.17 million. The success rate for the faculty was 21 per cent, compared with a national rate of 19.9 per cent and a UNSW rate of 18.8 per cent.

Scientia Professor Aibing Yu, of the School of Materials Science and Engineering, was awarded a $460,000 grant to develop advanced theories and mathematical models to describe the packing and flow of non-spherical particles.

A team led by Professor Peter Steinberg, of the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, was awarded a $458,000 grant to study the impact of disease-causing agents on the dominant seaweed in Australia, Ecklonia radiata.

UNSW’s young researchers have also shone. The University won 23 new Discovery Early Career Research Awards worth $8.7 million.

This is the second highest total in the country. Overall, the ARC will fund 200 new Early Career Research positions, which last for a term of three years.

UNSW Science won 11 DECRA awards worth $4.1 million for 2014.  Recipients include psychologists Dr Bronwyn Graham, Dr Amy Reichelt and Dr Don van Ravenzwaaij; mathematician Dr Zdravko Botev; physicist Dr Oleh Klochan; and Dr Irina Voineagu, of the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences.

In the ARC Future Fellowships category, UNSW secured 14 new Fellowships worth about $10.85m – the highest tally in NSW and equal fourth in the country.

The prestigious Future Fellowships last for four years and are designed to attract and retain talented mid-career researchers in Australia. This year, the ARC received 1234 proposals – up from 603 applications in 2012 – and awarded 201 fellowships.

UNSW Science recipients included Dr Suhelen Egan, Dr Frances Kuo, Dr Guoyin Li, Associate Professor Kevin Morris, Dr Shinichi Nakagawa, and Associate Professor Timothy Schmidt.

UNSW also secured funding for an ARC Discovery Indigenous project, a category that supports research projects led by Indigenous Australians. 

Dr Jason Sharples, a mathematician at UNSW Canberra, will receive $370 000 to better understand the physical processes that cause eruptive bushfires, which tend to spread in unconventional ways.

“We have all witnessed the terrible bushfires in New South Wales, if we research the causes we may discover ways to minimise the intensity and spread of these fires in the future,” Mr Pyne said.

Professor Les Field, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at UNSW, says this is an “excellent result” for the University.

“The ARC grants are some of the country’s most competitive,” says Professor Field. “Our success reflects the quality of our excellent researchers, and the diverse projects underpinning Australia’s future.” 

“We have performed very well and I want to congratulate our successful applicants.” 

Media contact: Myles Gough, 02 9385 1933, myles.gough@unsw.edu.au

UNSW Science: Deborah Smith, 9385 7307, 0478 492 060, deborah.smith@unsw.edu.au