2016: a year in research innovation

Tuesday, 20 December 2016


University of Newcastle researchers have been on an upward trajectory in 2016 and as the year comes to a close we’d like to highlight just some of our successes.

Collaborations between researchers and industry are under the national spotlight – and UON shone brightly. The National Innovation and Science Agenda encourages Australia’s best and brightest minds to work together finding solutions for global problems and UON has taken up the challenge with gusto.

UON is the top ranked university in the Innovations Connections Ranking, with 23 unique collaborations between industry and research forged in 2016. We’re proud of the depth and breadth of collaboration with our industry partners ensuring that our research really makes an impact– stay tuned to hear more in 2017.

Triple treat for Young Tall Poppies

The value of scientists not only undertaking valuable research, but successfully communicating their work to a wider audience is celebrated through the Young Tall Poppies Awards.

Three early career researchers at UON received accolades and were awarded the title of NSW Young Tall Poppy. Our winners were: Dr Susan Hua, clinical pharmacologist at UON who works in nanotechnology, Dr Adam Collison, immunologist who is working on identifying biomarkers for asthma and food allergies and Dr Tracy Burrows – who was awarded NSW Young Tall Poppy of the Year for her research on the science of food addiction.

Accelerating research into innovation

Three teams of UON researchers made the cut in the CSIRO ON Prime pre-accelerator program to help put their research into practice. RadVet, led by Dr Yolanda Surjan, BiomarkX led by Dr Kirstie Pringle and Rapid Imaging led by Dr Jamie Flynn won three of 39 competitive spots in the competition.

The teams completed ON Prime, gaining valuable connections and insight along the way. Dr Yolanda Surjan’s team accelerated through to round 3 with a chance to take out the top prize in 2017.

Our brightest young minds

Our HDR students continue to make an impact through their contributions to the nation’s knowledge. Research at UON has a focus on defining and solving problems and our research candidates contribute to valued and critical knowledge in their varied fields. In 2016 we’ve seen 225 HDR completions proudly submit their thesis.

Higher Degree Research students also dazzled on the national stage with our research being represented at the Three Minute Thesis by Chloe Goldsmith, Fame Lab with Sally Hall and Samantha Young, and Dr Emma Beckett attending the HOPE Meeting with Nobel Laureates.

Research outreach

Our researchers continue to make an impact through publications – with a diverse array of writing in The Conversation over 2016. Professor Clare Collins, Dr Amy Maguire and Dr Georgina Ramsay also had articles highlighted in the annual yearbook which featured 50 standout articles from Australia’s top thinkers.

UON researchers have hosted conferences that have brought the world’s leading thinkers to us – sharing our research with communities and collaborators. Papers, posters and presentations from UON researchers and HDR candidates brought our research to the attention of international audiences across the globe – with numerous prizes for our talented teams along the way.

Our researchers are early adopters of events too - Dr Kim van Netten won the inaugural Falling Walls Lab competition and represented Australia and UON in Berlin.

Major funding for innovative research

In a challenging funding environment, UON saw a growth in number of external grants awarded by 27 per cent. Impressively, the growth in dollar value of external grants awarded was 36 per cent.

UON attracted over $25 million in NHMRC and ARC major grants funding in 2016 including six ARC DECRAs and five NHMRC Early Career Fellowships for exciting research projects that benefit the nation, our economy and our global impact. Read more about our talented team and the research they’re doing below.

  • Professor Billie Bonevski, Dr Gillian Gould, Associate Professor Alan Clough, Professor Joerg Mattes, Kristin Carson, Professor Christopher Doran, Associate Professor Peter O’Mara, Dr Christopher Oldmeadow, Professor Roger Smith and Katherine Boydell were awarded $2,259,016 to undertake work focussing on culturally competent evidence- based smoking cessation programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wanting to quit smoking whilst pregnant
  • Professor Darryl Knight was part of a consortium awarded $2.5 million in NHMRC funding to support a Centre for Research Excellence on pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Associate Professor Mark Baker was awarded a $631,370 five-year NHMRC Research Fellowship to explore biomarkers for male infertility.
  • Associate Professor Luke Wolfenden received a $474,512 Practitioner Fellowship to generate new knowledge to address impediments to the translation of chronic disease prevention research.
  • Professor Clare Collins, Professor Helen Truby, Professor John Attia, Dr Melinda Hutchesson, Dr Tracy Burrows, Professor Robin Callister, Dr Leanne Hides, Professor Billie Bonevski, and Professor Christopher Doran were successful in receiving $592,756 to look at the efficacy and cost effectiveness of varying levels of technology-delivered personalised feedback on dietary patterns in motivating young people to improve diet.
  • Associate Professor Sarah Wright being successful in gaining a $930,000 to investigate ways to enhance adaptive capacity to environmental change. Professor Kevin Galvin was successful in receiving $211,876 to research 3D flotation of fine particles.
  • Professor John Aitken, Dr Zamira Gibb, Associate Professor Mark Baker, Dr Christopher Grupen, Dr Dickson Varner, Dr Lee Morris, Dr Jennifer Clulow, Mr Ross Harricks, Dr Parviz Gharagozloo, Dr Derek Ford, Mr Andrew Kelly received $560,000 to undertake research looking at enhancing fertility for the Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries
  • Professor George Kuczera and Mr Golam Kibria received $327,598 to research optimal scheduling of urban bulk urban water systems under uncertainty
  • Dr Anna Giacomini, Professor Stephen Fityus, Professor Scott Sloan, Associate Professor Riccardo Roncella, and Mr Shaun Booth received $274,972 to develop a new framework for a cost-effective geohazard assessment
  • Professor Behdad Moghtaderi, Dr Kalpit Shah, Dr Jianglong Yu and Clive Stephens received $311,983 to research a novel mineral looping tar removal process for biomass gasification
  • Dr Jianglong Yu, Professor Behdad Moghtaderi, and Professor Qingbo Meng were funded $230,000 to research innovation integrated combustion flue gas dry cleaning technology
  • Professor Rob Melchers, Professor Chongmin Song, Damian McGuckin, Dr Stuart Cannon, and Professor Martin Renilson were successful in obtaining $550,000 to research the deterioration of structural integrity of ageing ships and marine platforms in collaboration with Pacific Engineering Systems International and DST Group.
  • Dr Chantal Donovan received a $318,768 NHMRC Early Career Fellowship for her project Targeting IL-33 in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic asthma and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)
  • Dr Jessie Sutherland received a $318,768 NHMRC Early Career Fellowship for work looking at the role of primordial follicle activation in premature ovarian failure
  • Dr Andrew Gardner received a $318,768 NHMRC Early Career Fellowship for his project investigating the potential association between sports concussion and neurodegenerative disease in collision sports athletes
  • Mr Hopin Lee received a $408,768 NHMRC Early Career Fellowship (Overseas) for work aimed at using process evaluations of treatment mechanisms to inform the implementation of evidence-based healthcare
  • Dr Emma Beckett received a $318,768 NHMRC Early Career Fellowship to investigate interactions between diet, microbiome, genetics and epigentics in determining risk for adenomatous polyps
  • Dr Guy Hawkins received a $365,000 DECRA to look at cognitive models of mental architectures in consumer preference
  • Dr Mariano Heyden received $379,000 in DECRA funds to conduct a global analysis of the effectiveness of corporate board diversity quotas
  • Dr Amir Salehipour received a $360,000 DECRA to research exact and hybrid algorithms for the Aircraft Landing Problem
  • Dr Kalpit Shah received $375,000 in DECRA funds to investigate a novel chemical looping process for carbon fibre production from plastics
  • Dr Malcolm Starkey received a $372,000 DECRA to understand how innate lymphoid cells regulate mammalian lung development
  • Dr Sze Lin Yoong received $330,000 in DECRA funding to research theory-based implementation of nutrition guidelines into childcare settings.
  • Professor Paul Dastoor received $379,500 for his project looking at phono based condensed matter imaging
  • Associate Professor Frini Karayanidis, Professor Dr Birte Forstmann, Professor Mark Steyvers, Dr Sharna Jamadar, Dr Guy Hawkins, Professor Dr Rhoshel Lenroot, and  Emeritus Professor Patricia Michie received $492,500 to look at modelling trajectories of cognitive control in adolescents and young adults
  • Professor Robert Melchers, Dr Igor Chaves, and Associate Professor Bobby Kannan Mathan were successful in gaining $423,000 for a project looking at microbiological and abiotic marine corrosion of steel in particulate matter
  • Professor Graeme Murch, Professor Irina Belova,  Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler,  Dr Elena Levchenko, Professor Yongho Sohn, and Professor Zi-Kui Liu, received $309,000 to investigate mass transport in high entropy alloys
  • Associate Professor Rosalind Smith, Dr Sarah Ross, and Professor Michelle O'Callaghan received $116,000 to look at the writing of early modern women between 1540 to 1660
  • Professor Erica Wanless, Associate Professor Grant Webber, Dr Peter Ireland, Associate Professor Syuji Fujii received $235,000 for a project investigating electrostatic formation of liquid marbles
  • Associate Professor Christopher Wensrich, Professor Erich Kisi,  Associate Professor Michael Meylan,  Dr Anton Tremsin, Dr Vladimir Luzin, and Professor Oliver Kirstein received $381,000 to research at Bragg-Edge Neutron Transmission Strain Tomography
  • Dr Yuen Yong was successful in receiving $296,000 to look at novel microcantilevers for multifrequency atomic force microscopy.
  • Dr Mariko Carey, Associate Professor Frans Henskens, Professor Brian Kelly, Associate Professor Danielle Mazza, Professor Graham Meadows (Monash), Professor Leon Piterman (Monash), Laureate Professor Rob Sanson-Fisher, Dr Amy Waller, and Professor Nicholas Zwar (UNSW) received $803,554 to conduct a project aiming to improve outcomes for people with depression in community settings
  • Professor Paul Foster and colleagues, Dr Hock Tay, were successful in receiving $738,768 to investigate the pro-inflammatory role of IL-36/IL-36R in pathogen-induced exacerbations of asthma and COPD
  • Professor Paul Foster and Dr Max Plank, received $870,476 to undertake a project aimed to understand the role of Th22 cells in regulating respiratory immune responses in health and disease
  • Professor Bonevski, Professor Amanda Baker, Professor Robin Callister, Professor Clare Collins, Professor Parker Magin, Dr Christopher Oldmeadow, Associate Professor Michael Pollack, Dr Neil Spratt, and Dr Alyna Turner, were successful in receiving $590,958 to investigate ways to improve stroke survivor health behaviours
  • Professor Paul Foster, Dr Nathan Bartlett, and Dr Ming Yang, were successful receiving $815,476 to research shared innate immune mechanisms that underpin-steroid resistant pathogen-induced asthma exacerbations
  • Professor Phil Hansbro, Professor Matthew Cooper (UQ), Professor Peter Gibson, and Dr Luke O’Neill, received $961,929 to investigate therapeutic interventions for severe steroid-resistant asthma
  • Professor David Lubans, Dr Narelle Eather, Dr Charles Hillman (Illinois), Associate Professor Chris Lonsdale (ACU), Professor Philip Morgan, Professor Michael Nilsson, Professor Ron Plotnikoff, and Dr Jordan Smith, $636,912 to investigate ways to increase vigorous physical activity among older adolescents
  • Dr Flora Tzelepis, Professor Kypri Kypros, Associate Professor Marita Lynagh, Kathy Chapman (Cancer Council), Elizabeth Campbell (HNE LHD), Professor Philip Morgan, Associate Professor Christine Paul, and Professor John Wiggers, $634,076 to investigate support mechanisms for TAFE students with multiple health risk behaviours
  • Associate Professor Christopher Dayas, Professor Gavan McNally, Associate Professor Brett Graham, Dr Jaideep Bains, received $499,666 to conduct a project relating to hypothalamic control of motivated behaviour
  • Professor Roger Smith, Professor Istvan Toth (UQ), Professor Jonathan Morris (Kolling Institute of Medical Research), Dr Sonika Tyagi, and Professor Tamas Zakar received $808,447 to conduct research aiming to better understand the myometrial transition at term and preterm labour to guide tocolysis
  • Dr Simon Keely, Dr Susan Hua, Professor Mark Morrison (UQ), Dr Pariac O Cuiv (UQ), and Associate Professor Martin Veysey, $833,648 for work looking at epithelial metabolism as a mediator of host-microbiome interactions in inflammatory bowel disease
  • Professor Paulette van Vliet, Professor Leeanne Carey (Melbourne), Professor Kwakkel Gert (Amsterdam), Dr Patrick McElduff, and Dr Allie Turton, $832,597 for a project aiming to improve arm function after stroke using task specific training
  • Professor Peter Greer, Dr Jeremy Booth, Dr Dale Lovelock, Dr Andrew Kneebone, Associate Professor Jarad Martin, Dr Boyd McCurdy, and Professor Rick Middleton, $593,742 for work aiming to improve patient safety in radiation therapy
  • Associate Professor Wolfenden and colleagues, Professor Kylie Ball (Deakin), Associate Professor Karen Campbell, Professor Chris Rissel (Sydney), Professor John Wiggers, and Dr Rebecca Wyse received $725,373 in the NHMRC Project grants round to conduct a randomised controlled trial of an online intervention to improve healthy food purchases from primary school canteens.

And these are just the highlights of what’s been a very busy and successful year of research at the University of Newcastle. We’d like to congratulate all our researchers for their work over 2016 and we can’t wait to see what they come up with in 2017.