Our ARC Funding Success Continues

9th November 2013

Top Row: Dr Brendan Choat, Dr Scott Johnson, Dr Ben Moore
Middle Row: Dr Jeff Powell, Prof Mark Tjoelker, Dr Oula Ghannoum
Bottom Row: Dr John Drake, Prof David Tissue, Prof Peter Reich

Our researchers have again achieved significant success in the 2013 round of Australian Research Council (ARC) research grants.

Dr Brendan Choat has been awarded a prestigious Future Fellowship to further our knowledge of how trees and plants respond to drought physiologically, an important issue in understanding future climatic responses to increasingly variable and water-limited environments.

Dr Scott Johnson and Dr Ben Moore have been awarded ARC Discovery grants to further investigations into dynamics of root-feeding beetles on Australian pasture productivity. There are complex interactions between grasses and root-feeding herbivores and this research advances our understanding of means by which pastures can defend themselves against what are often significant populations of soil-dwelling beetle larvae. From this research, we will be able to better predict how different grass types respond when larvae feed on their roots under different environmental conditions.

Dr Jeff Powell has received an ARC Discovery grant to conduct further investigations into beneficial root traits that enhance resource acquisition and productivity. These plant-fungi partnerships (mycorrhizae) can substantially enhance plant vigour and productivity but results are often difficult to replicate due to widespread 'context-dependence'. This research will identify plant and fungal traits that predict how mycorrhizal plants benefit under a variety of contexts, which will improve varietal selection and productivity gains in marginal environments.

Prof Mark Tjoelker, Dr Oula Ghannoum, Dr John Drake, Prof David Tissue and Prof Peter Reich have been awarded ARC Discovery grants to continue pioneering work in the effects of a rapidly warming climate on Australian forest eucalypts. It is currently predicted that our climate in 2070 will be the equivalent of shifting Sydney’s climate 900km north to Brisbane, meaning more heat, increasing variability and more extreme high temperature events.

With Australian covered by over 160 million square kilometres of forest, researchers are urgently working on understanding the effects of this climatic temperature shift and its effects on tree and forest productivity, carbon cycling and our environments’ future in an increasingly unpredictable world.

These results reflect the dedication of our people in addressing the critical problems facing the Australian environment and their ability to collaborate widely with science and industry...

In addition, Dr Ben Moore is part of ARC-funded Discovery partnerships with the Australian National University, and A/Prof Brajesh Singh and Prof Ian Anderson are working in partnership with the University of New South Wales through ARC Linkage, Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) grants, positioning the Hawkesbury Institute as a major partner and contributor to essential research collaborations in the future.

The ARC grants represent an important indicator of success and these significant achievements follow on from the Institute’s success in the Excellence in Research Australia (ERA.2.0) rounds last year.

Director of the Hawkesbury Institute, Prof Ian Anderson, commended researchers on the success of this year’s round of ARC grants.

"Our researchers have achieved tremendous results in the short time since the Hawkesbury Institute has been established.

"These results reflect the dedication of our people in addressing the critical problems facing the Australian environment and their ability to collaborate widely with science and industry. Importantly, it confirms our original vision to create a unique centre that brings the best science minds to work together on big issues using large-scale, unique research facilities."

For more information, please contact Prof Ian Anderson on i.anderson@uws.edu.au.