UON secures $11m ARC funding

Wednesday, 5 November 2014


The University of Newcastle (UON) was today awarded almost $11 million in competitive research funding by the Australian Research Council (ARC) in its 2015 Major Grants announcement.

ARC funding

The University of Newcastle (UON) was today awarded almost $11 million in competitive research funding by the Australian Research Council (ARC) in its 2015 Major Grants announcement. The outcome, which places the University 9th in Australia will deliver funding to support 27 research projects across UON.

Under the ARC's Discovery Projects scheme, UON received $9.4 million for 24 projects, up from $8.8 million for 19 projects in 2014. Professor Daichao Sheng, from the School of Engineering, secured the University's largest grant, receiving almost $800,000 to undertake a study on the mechanics of hard soils and soft rocks and their influence on the stability and serviceability of buildings.

In the same scheme, Professor Simon Dennis, Head of UON's School of Psychology, was awarded $750,000 for a project that aims to develop a model of episodic memory, the category of memory that allows people to recall specific experiences, events and times. Professor Dennis' project will apply the model to both adult and child development data, enhancing understanding of when episodic memory develops in children and young adults.

Renowned Indigenous historian Professor John Maynard from UON's Wollotuka Institute attracted $600,000 in funding to examine the history of the NSW Aborigines Protection/Welfare Board during the period 1883-1969. The project will support greater understanding of the impact of the Board, the legacy of which remains highly relevant today.

Conjoint Professor Lyndall Ryan from the School of Humanities and Social Science, received $500,000 to generate new insights into how intimacy and violence impacted on the development of colonial settler cultures, and the legacy of these cultures on contemporary western democracies.

In the Discovery Indigenous scheme, Dr Brett Turner received $570,000 for a project exploring the potential impact of climate change and sea-level rise on Australia's coastline and its infrastructure. UON was one of only eight universities nationwide to be awarded funding under the Discovery Indigenous scheme in 2015.

Under the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) scheme, two UON early career researchers were awarded prestigious DECRA Fellowships. Dr Amy Waller, a Research Fellow in the School of Medicine and Public Health, received $360,000 to investigate decision making in older people approaching the end of life. Dr Colin Reid, a Research Associate in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, was awarded $284,000 to study group theory.

Professor Kevin Hall, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) said the award of $11 million was an excellent result given the strong competition for prestigious ARC funding, and recognition of the world-class research and innovation conducted at UON.

"Today's announcement by the ARC is testament to the exceptional quality and breadth of research at the University of Newcastle, and the excellence of our researchers," Professor Hall said.

"This funding will allow UON researchers to continue investigating some of the critical challenges facing our world, and seeking the solutions which will make a difference," Professor Hall said.

Other UON recipients of Discovery Project funding announced today include:

  • ARC Laureate Professor Scott Sloan from the School of Engineering, $453,900 to develop new computational models and software to simulate 'fracking', which will provide information about the risks inherent in this method of natural gas extraction.
  • Professor Phil Hansbro from the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, $443,900 to explore the regulation of immune cells
  • Dr Mark Harvey, Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science, $202,135 to examine the Australian language Kaytetye

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