More than $6.7 million to drive the future of research

Friday, 10 November 2017


The University of Newcastle (UON) has been successful in securing more than $6.7 million in Australian Research Council (ARC) funding for 2018.

Announced today, UON researchers were awarded $6.3 million to fund 16 Discovery Projects and $365,000 for a prestigious Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, which will drive investigation into solutions to some of the most significant global challenges.

Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Professor Kevin Hall, said this outcome in such a competitive funding round was recognition of the world-leading research being conducted at UON.

"Today's ARC announcement demonstrates the exceptional quality and breadth of research being undertaken at our institution, and is a well-deserved acknowledgement of the excellence of our researchers.

“The scope of the successful projects is a testament to the diverse and innovative work being undertaken at UON, and I would like to congratulate all the successful recipients. I look forward to their critical work shaping a better future for our globe,” Professor Hall said.

Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA):

  • $365,058 for Dr Zamira Gibb to improve methods of detecting and managing infertility in both stallions and mares, which will result in novel reproductive technologies and diagnostic tests. Project outcomes will enhance the performance and profitability of Australia’s equine industry.

The 2018 ARC Discovery Project outcomes include:

  • $236,310 for Professor Julie Byles to look into healthy ageing among Australian women. Through data analysis and qualitative interviews, the project will compare empirical models of successful ageing, which could project potential health trajectories as women enter their later years.
  • $488,418 for Professor Geoffrey Evans to develop a new way of improving mineral flotation recovery of coarse particles. The project will determine the addition of foreign particles that can maximise rate of capture of selected particles whilst minimising their tendency to detach, which could reduce grinding energy requirements and improve efficiencies in mining and mineral processing.
  • $445,320 for Laureate Professor Kevin Galvin to solve an intractable problem in froth flotation. Bubbles will be replaced by a hydrophobic media to minimise the resistance that limits particle recovery. The outcomes will enable new high-performance separation technologies that will have application in mineral processing and waste water treatment.
  • $567,574 for Laureate Professor Jenny Gore to investigate the path from professional development to changes in teaching practices and student achievement. By using evidence to inform teacher development policy and practice, the project will provide significant insights into how professional development can enhance student outcomes.
  • $353,664 for Professor Christopher Grof to clone membrane proteins that regulate sucrose transport throughout the plant body, which are responsible for plant productivity. Identifying and understanding sucrose transport throughout the plant body will open up new biotechnological opportunities to improve crop yield.
  • $327,019 for Dr Guy Hawkins to develop new knowledge around how efficiently people allocate time when making decisions. Helping to understand the optimality of human decision making will have application across a broad range of contexts, including ageing and models of applied decision making.
  • $163,460 for Professor Allyson Holbrook to investigate the final stage of the doctoral examination process in Australia and determine its impact on thesis quality and candidate development. Project outcomes will be used to inform future examination models and provide new insights into the role of feedback during the examination process.
  • $433,122 for Associate Professor Sarah Johnson to develop communication strategies for the internet of things. The project aims to expand wireless connectivity to enable multiple access communication strategies for cellular networks, which have applications across human health, smart energy systems and carbon emissions reduction.
  • $333,267 for Associate Professor Anthony Kiem to investigate how floods have varied over the past 2000 years and what effect they could have on Australia in the future. The project will generate new knowledge on how climate variability influences floods, providing a critical evaluation of the accuracy of existing flood estimates and the reliability of infrastructure and policy based on these estimates.
  • $365,812 for Dr George Kouretzis to develop computational methods that predict failure rates in pipeline networks affected by ground movements, which is one of the main triggers of bursts and leakages in buried pipe infrastructure. The project results will contribute to a framework for large-scale stress analysis of segmented and continuous pipes that will help predict ground movements.
  • $802,912 for Professor Adam McCluskey to investigate new approaches to stop uncontrolled cell division and proliferation, which are the hallmarks of cancer. The outcomes could inform long-term breakthroughs in cancer treatment, significant enhancements in life quality and a reduction in cancer deaths.
  • $184,426 for Professor Daniel Nyberg to deliver new insights into the potential for a low emissions future for Australia. The project will provide policy-makers and industry leaders with the means to develop innovative policies and support best practice to assist Australia’s low carbon transition towards energy competitiveness.
  • $412,121 for Professor Yong-Ling Ruan to improve plant reproductive success under heat stress. Current reproductive processes are highly susceptible to heat loss, often leading to pollination failure and irreversible yield loss. The project will explore the role sugar metabolism and signalling may play in pollen growth and fruit set under stress to provide new ideas and solutions for improving crop yield.
  • $400,901 for Professor Daichao Sheng to develop a risk assessment tool for slope failures or landslides. The findings will help reduce the societal and economic costs caused by landslides, achieved through better engineering guidelines and government regulations for landslide risk management.
  • $473,315 for Professor Mark Stewart to understand the effects of wall-ties on the structural behaviour of masonry wall systems. By comparing the structural reliability of new to existing construction, the project will help authorities identify when the demolition of structures is or is not required and encourage more efficient use of structural masonry.
  • $357,999 for Associate Professor Steven Weller to redevelop the current modelling framework used to determine the social cost of carbon dioxide, delivering improved estimates for a price on carbon emissions used by governments, businesses and financial bodies. The project outcomes will provide industry decision-makers with a robust tool to pursue sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.