The UNSW Faculty of Science has won more than $23 million in the Australian Research Council's latest round of grants, helping UNSW achieve the highest funding level ($47.8m) for any university in the country.
The funding, commencing January 2010, covers 50 projects across 40 Discovery Projects ($17.5m) and 10 Linkage Grants ($5.5m), including UNSW's largest single grant of $1.24m for a project developing biotechnology for clean coal. Dr Mike Manefield will lead a team from the Faculty of Science and Biogas Energy that will use native microorganisms to accelerate underground conversion of coal to methane. Methane is a cleaner burning fuel than coal, using much less water for processing while generating the same quantity of electricity with lower CO2 emissions.
Professor Aibing Yu and colleagues from the School of Material Sciences and Engineering won UNSW's largest level of combined grants ($2.31m) for two Linkage and two Discovery projects examining new materials and resource engineering.
Other major ARC-funded projects won by the Faculty of Science include a new safety management system for heavy vehicle transport, expanding the application of silicon technology for cancer detection, cell engineering and bio-sensing, and the development of intervention programs to reduce mental health problems in Aceh.
Nationally, UNSW was the top performer in Linkage grants, winning $11.36 million for 28 cutting-edge projects involving collaboration with industry partners. They will contribute an additional $19.22 million in cash and in-kind contributions - a record amount.
UNSW researchers will share in $36.38 million for 94 Discovery projects. This is the third largest number of such grants for fundamental research Australia-wide and the fourth largest funding allocation.
A team from the Australian Defence Force Academy, led by Professor Ian Petersen, was awarded UNSW's largest Discovery Grant of just over a million dollars to look at new quantum and robust control theory with applications to quantum optics.
Other major projects funded include the development of advances materials for use in functional applications such as ionic batteries, catalysts and gas sensors, economic analysis of how consumers make complex superannuation decisions, and investigation of the effects of parents providing alcohol to children.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Les Field said the University's grant success was a "fantastic" achievement. "UNSW has received the highest overall level of funding for any university in the country, which recognises the groundbreaking work of many talented researchers."
The Federal Government will provide more than $394 million for 1145 research projects through the latest ARC funding round. The successful grants were announced this week by the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr.
Science media contact: Dan Gaffney, 0411 156 015
UNSW Media contact: Denise Knight, UNSW Media Office, 02-9385 8920