The University of Newcastle, Australia

War dead research and geometric flows the focus from $800,000 funding

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Two early career researchers have received around $800,000 to enable them to conduct research into areas of national importance at the University of Newcastle.

Picture of Dr Kate Ariotti
Pictured: Dr Kate Ariotti

Dr Kate Ariotti and Dr Mat Langford have each been awarded Federal Government funding through the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) scheme, which aims to advance the career of promising researchers by providing funds over a three-year period.

Researching the Australian history of war corpses, history lecturer Dr Ariotti has been awarded $379,405. Dr Ariotti’s research aims to provide the first-ever account of changing policies, practices and attitudes that shaped how the physical remains of Australian war dead were dealt with between the First World War and wars in the Middle East between 1915 and 2015.

Dr Ariotti hoped new knowledge of war corpses would advance national understanding of the realities of war and provide valuable information and informed perspectives about death in war to history educations, cultural institutions, military units and the public.

“This funding will allow me to focus purely on my research for the next couple of years,” said Dr Ariotti.

“It will mean I can visit archives overseas, attend conferences and develop global networks. It will enable me to say something significant about how Australians view their war history and hopefully get us thinking about the realities of participating in war,” Dr Ariotti said.

Dr Langford has been awarded $418,419 to develop a greater understanding of the structure of singularities in geometric flows.

Geometric flows are mathematical equations that exploit properties of heat to deform geometric objects such as interfaces based on attributes like curvature. They can provide useful models in materials science, image processing, quantum field theories, and even the behaviour of bushfire fronts.

Currently an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Dr Langford will relocate to the University in winter 2020. He said the University’s reputation for excellence, coupled with his strong affiliation for the city, was the reason he chose to apply for funding to research at Newcastle.

“I completed my undergraduate studies at Newcastle and I’ve always felt a close connection to the city,” Dr Langford said.

“My work is also closely linked to that of James McCoy, an Associate Professor at the University’s School of Mathematical and Physical Science. James is someone I’ve collaborated with in the past and he was co-supervisor for my PhD, which I completed at the Australian National University in 2015.

“I’m looking forward to returning next year to work more closely with excellent researchers like James and provide important breakthroughs through my research.

“This funding will give me the freedom to experiment and pursue ambitious research projects for a long period of time. Without such freedom, only the easy problems will be solved.”

The DECRA scheme provides funding for early career researchers who hold teaching and research roles and research-only positions. It supports research in areas of critical national importance by enabling outstanding Australian and international early career researchers to conduct their research in Australia.

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