Australian Research Council (ARC) Funding Outcomes


ARC funding awarded for 2019

Discovery Projects

Professor Ian Anderson and Dr Jonathan Plett
Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

Factors controlling ectomycorrhizal contributions to plant nitrogen nutrition

Professor Ian Anderson (Western); Dr Jonathan Plett (Western); Dr Francis Martin (French National Institute for Agricultural Research)

This project aims to define the mechanistic link between nitrogen metabolism in symbiotic ectomycorrhizal fungi and its effect on the quantity of nitrogen shared with a plant host. Using a genetically diverse population of a key Australian fungal species, the project expects to uncover genetic features related to nitrogen metabolism that correlate to improved support of plant nutrition. Expected outcomes include better understanding of plant-microbe interactions, groundwork for tools to better model the role of fungi in soil nutrient cycling and guidelines for plant:fungal pairings in reforestation practices. Overall, these should provide significant benefit to the global effort in understanding the role of soil microbes in plant nutrition.

Total funding: $431,000

Dr Uffe Nielsen, Dr Thomas Jeffries and Dr Yolima Carrillo
Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

Causes and consequences of biogeochemical mismatches during drought

Dr Uffe Nielsen (Western); Dr Thomas Jeffries (Western); Associate Professor Feike Dijkstra (University of Sydney); Dr Osvaldo Sala (Arizona State University); Dr Yolima Carrillo (Western)

This project aims to provide improved understanding of biogeochemical cycling. Drought is one of the main threats to Earth’s ecosystems, but our ability to predict the consequences of drought remain limited. There is strong evidence that drought impacts critical carbon and nutrient cycles, with substantial impacts on ecosystem functioning. This project will provide insights into carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous cycles essential to generalise patterns of biogeochemical cycling under current and future conditions. The project will assist scientists, policymakers and landholders make better-informed management decisions to reduce the risks of drought impacts on ecosystem functioning.

Total funding: $421,500

Professor Brajesh Singh and Professor Peter Reich
Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

Colonisation by alien microbiota: identifying key ecological processes

Professor Brajesh Singh (Western); Professor Peter Reich (Western); Dr Manuel Delgado Baquerizo (University of Colorado Boulder)

This project aims to determine key ecological and molecular mechanisms that regulate microbial colonisation of new environments and their functional consequences. Microbial communities are important yet unseen contributors to the functioning of ecosystems, driving key ecological and economically important processes such as carbon and nutrient cycling. The project will provide a unifying framework for characterising colonisation success of alien species across different scales, habitats, ecosystem types and environmental disturbance such as climate change.

Total funding: $500,000

Dr Mark Antoniou and Distinguished Professor Anne Cutler
The MARCS Institute

Language typology and cognitive effects of language learning

Dr Mark Antoniou (Western); Distinguished Professor Anne Cutler (Western); Professor Patrick Wong (Chinese University of Hong Kong)

This project aims to map, in older adults and preschool-age children, the extent and nature of cognitive benefit from training in a foreign language. Learning a language is recognised to be beneficial in various ways, but this project investigates whether it matters which language one learns. The project will compare the resulting cognitive changes to language learners across different languages to test whether the benefit is uniquely effective. It will also gauge whether these changes occur when learning is easier in childhood compared to when it is harder later in life. The project findings will inform the development of linguistic, social, and educational programs to optimise cognitive function both for childhood development and healthy ageing, especially in Australia where second language acquisition is lower compared to other countries.

Total funding: $421,000

Dr Jennifer MacRitchie, Professor Roger Dean and Professor Kate Stevens
The MARCS Institute

Maintaining active minds and bodies through adult music education

Dr Jennifer MacRitchie (Western); Professor Roger Dean (Western); Professor Kate Stevens (Western); Emeritus Professor Susan Hallam (University College London)

This project aims to investigate how instructional design can enhance learning and wellbeing for older adults who are studying a musical instrument for the first time. Music is a highly valued cultural activity in this age group, yet teaching strategies are seldom modified from that for young learners. This project expects to generate fundamental knowledge of improvisation as a learning stimulus, and of the possible barriers of musical notation and the physical demands of an instrument. Intended outcomes include uptake of results by music professionals, aged-care and older-adult education service providers, leading to significant benefits in the social, cultural, and physical health and wellbeing for this growing population.

Total funding: $408,000

Dr Khoa Le and Professor Vivian Tam
School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics

Novel multiple-constraint model for green buildings and life-cycle analyses

Dr Khoa Le (Western); Professor Vivian Tam (Western); Dr Jun Wang (Curtin University)

This project aims to develop a multiple-constraint automation model to perform life-cycle analyses for projects in the Australian construction industry. The model will optimise construction methods for green-building implementation and offer a realistic approach to Green-star status achievement. The Life-cycle model analyses for cost, greenhouse-gas emissions and energy consumption allowing the construction methods to be optimised for minimum environmental impact. Utilisation of the model should significantly shape an organisations’ strategic planning, while a recognised high Green-star status from Green Building Council of Australia will improve their reputation and bring benefits to the construction industry.

Total funding: $390,000

Associate Professor Susanne Gannon and Professor Kerry Robinson
School of Education and School of Social Sciences and Psychology

Gender Matters: Changing gender equity policies and practices in Australian secondary schooling

Associate Professor Susanne Gannon (Western); Professor Kerry Robinson (Western)

This project aims to examine the contemporary policy and practice gap of gender equity in schools. Despite widespread concerns about gender-related issues in schools and society, system-wide policies on gender equity have almost disappeared. The project will investigate young people's experiences of gender-related issues through the accounts of recent school leavers and current secondary school students, through creative arts-based methods, and the perspectives of teachers and school executive in five diverse secondary schools. Expected outcomes include a critical review of past policy approaches to gender equity and a fresh evaluation of gender equity policy directions for schools.

Total funding: $262,000

Dr Jennifer Mensch
School of Humanities and Communication Arts

Philosophical influences on anthropology

Dr Jennifer Mensch

This project aims to undertake a comprehensive account of Kant’s impact on the early history of anthropology, offering a new framework for understanding philosophy’s role as a cultural force in society. The project will investigate the importance of Kant’s twin narratives of progressive human development and racial difference for understanding the course taken by anthropology when determining government policies regarding race relations. The benefit of this reconstruction will be the identification of contemporary examples of Kant’s continued legacy, especially in the context of legacies of racial bias, and to the nature of claimed racial and ethnic identities.

Total funding: $150,821

Dr Alison Moore
School of Humanities and Communication Arts

Sexual ageing in the history of medicine, 1774-2018

Dr Alison Moore

This project aims to provide an account of the different historical periods in changing medical concepts of menopause, andropause and the 'critical age' since the end of the eighteenth century. Understanding how questions of ageing and sexuality have changed across history will help to nuance our current understandings, relevant to an increasing number of people in ageing populations. This project will provide an integrative history of the nexus of modern concepts about sexual aging. It will combine rigorous consultation of overlooked historical sources with consultation of current scientific evidence. Outcomes of the project will be aimed at historical readers, but also at clinicians and the general public.

Total funding: $148,000

Dr Anna Cristina Pertierra
School of Humanities and Communication Arts

New consumer cultures in the Global South

Dr Anna Cristina Pertierra (Western); Associate Professor Czarina Saloma-Akpedonu (Ateneo De Manila University); Dr Rosana Pinheiro Machado (Federal University of Santa Maria)

This project aims to understand how globalised economic growth is transforming lives among low-income urban communities of the Global South. In emerging economies, the former poor have become mass consumers. This economic shift has consequences not only for material wellbeing, but also for social status, identity formation and belonging. This project will document the emergence of new consumer practices using four urban case studies in Mexico, the Philippines, China and Brazil. The project will offer new data on the changed global experience of urban life, with the potential to reshape social theories of poverty and improve development policies across the Trans-Pacific region. It will provide benefits for understandings of business, culture and transformation of urban environments worldwide.

Total funding: $235,000

Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA)

Dr Pejman Sharafi
Centre for Infrastructure Engineering

Interactions between volumetric units in modular buildings

Dr Pejman Sharafi

This project aims to develop an in-depth understanding of the interactions between volumetric units in modular buildings to develop integration strategies for the interconnection of modules. The uptake of modular construction has been hindered by the technical complexities of the design process for manufacture and assembly, in particular the flexible connection of services. By addressing significant gaps in the guidance on the design of modular interconnections and their integration strategies, this project expects to enhance the industry’s capacity to adopt safe, economical and standardised designs of modular systems. This project should significantly reduce the risk in decision making in modular construction, and transformation to advanced building manufacturing technologies in Australia and beyond.

Total funding: $420,437

Discovery Projects administered by other institutions

Associate Professor Robert Mailhammer
School of Humanities and Communication Arts

1 potato, 2 wotatoes, 3 otatoes: Lexical access in Australian languages

Associate Professor Robert Mailhammer (Western); Associate Professor Mark Harvey (University of Newcastle); Dr Brett Baker (University of Melbourne); Dr Rikke Bundgaard-Nielsen (Western)

This project seeks to investigate how listeners use cues from the way speech sounds (phones) are produced to break the speech stream into individual, recognisable words. The project expects to generate new knowledge by examining speech perception and production in Australian languages which show unusual patterns in the production of speech sounds, including patterns of complete phone substitution. Outcomes will include advances in theories of speech processing, thereby informing the development of speech processing systems, which play a significant role in many fields. The project will also preserve Indigenous language heritage and contribute to Indigenous cultural maintenance, a significant factor in advancing Indigenous well-being.

Administering institution: University of Newcastle

Total funding: $484,000

Dr Antonio Lauto
School of Science and Health

Bioelectronics: addressing the biointerface challenge

Dr Antonio Lauto (Western); Dr Damia Mawad (University of New South Wales); Professor David Officer (University of Wollongong); Profesor George Malliaras (University of Cambridge)

This project aims to develop bioelectronic materials with long operational stability in physiological conditions and enhanced electronic performance that will effectively interface with electroresponsive tissue. These new materials will be integrated into bioadhesives from which simple bioelectronics devices will be fabricated and assessed for their capability to modulate biosignals and to interact with tissue. Disruption in biosignals causes numerous medical conditions such as epilepsy and heart failure and the development of flexible and biocompatible medical electronics devices that interface with tissue is essential for regaining and modulating these signals.

Administering institution: University of New South Wales

Total funding: $393,215

Dr Kate Umbers
School of Science and Health

Don't eat me! Tracking warning signals across a variable landscape

Dr Kate Umbers (Western); Professor Marie Herberstein and Associate Professor Nathan Hart (Macquarie University)

Warning colours protect toxic prey from predators who learn to associate the colours with an unpleasant taste. Theoretically, warning colours should not vary, but in nature we find appreciable and unexplained variation. This presents a fundamental and unresolved biological problem - why do warning colours vary? This project will address this significant biological question by investigating how local environmental factors and predator communities affect warning colour expression across the Australian landscape. The project will utilise Australia's excellent environmental and biodiversity informatics infrastructure to inform the public and decision makers about the adaptability of animals to environmental change such as predator loss.

Administering institution: Macquarie University

Total funding: $300,000

Associate Professor Ahmed Moustafa
School of Social Sciences and Psychology

Investigating human associative learning using a genetic approach

Associate Professor Ahmed Moustafa (Western); Dr Irina Baetu (University of Adelaide); Dr Lyndsey Collins-Praino (University of Adelaide); Dr Sarah Cohen-Woods (Flinders University); Professor Nicholas Burns (University of Adelaide)

Decision-making is a fundamental cognitive ability, allowing us to choose the best course of action. This Project will investigate how healthy ageing impacts decision making and its associated neural circuits using computation modelling and neurogenetic methods. Specifically, we will investigate the relationship between genes and decision-making performance across the adult lifespan. Expected outcomes include a deeper understanding of how decision-making evolves in healthy ageing, and providing a tool based on genetic scores and computational modelling to predict an individual's trajectory of cognitive function. This could help identify individuals who are at risk for cognitive decline, which could then inform better interventions.

Administering institution: University of Adelaide

Total funding: $443,000

Associate Professor Cristina Rocha
School of Social Sciences and Psychology

The African diaspora and pentecostalism in Australia: mobility, media and belonging

Associate Professor Cristina Rocha (Western); Associate Professor Richard Vokes (University of Western Australia)

This project investigates the new African Diaspora in Australia and its embrace of Pentecostalism, particularly after arrival. The African community in Australia has often been associated with poor settlement outcomes, and has also been on the receiving end of a racialised moral panic regarding so-called ‘African gangs.’ This project aims: to understand the range of challenges African-Australian communities faces; to determine why so many of their members join Pentecostal churches; to investigate how Pentecostal churches support these communities' translocal and transnational mobility and sense of belonging, and; to contribute to policy efforts to improve outcomes for African new arrivals in Australia.

Administering institution: University of Western Australia

Total funding: $279,000

Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) projects administered by other institutions

Professor Denis Burnham and Associate Professor Chwee Beng Lee
The MARCS Institute and School of Education

Spoken English: Little Kids, Big Data, Wide Application

Prof Denis Burnham (Western); A/Prof Chwee Beng Lee (Western); Dr Beena Ahmed (UNSW); Prof Kirrie Ballard (USyd); A/Prof Julien Epps (UNSW); A/Prof Felicity Cox (Macquarie); Dr Vidhyasaharan Sethu (UNSW); Prof Katherine Demuth (Macquarie); A/Prof Joanne Arciuli (USyd); Dr Barbara Kelly (Melbourne); Dr Chloé Diskin (Melbourne); Dr Titia Benders (Macquarie); Prof Eliathamby Ambikairajah (UNSW); Dr Elise Baker (USyd)

A corpus of Australian children’s typically developing and disordered speech. This project aims to create a large sized, publicly accessible corpus of annotated Australian children’s speech, something currently lacking both in Australia and internationally. This corpus will provide the basic infrastructure vital for innovative research on children’s speech and the training of our speech scientists and engineers. It will be used to address real-life and significant research questions pertaining to the development of children’s speech and the role technology can play to develop it. Benefits would include applications such as remote speech therapy, interactive reading tutors, pronunciation coaching and educational games.

Administering institution: University of New South Wales

Total funding: $600,000

Professor Kerry London
School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics

An Australian rental housing conditions data infrastructure

Prof Kerry London (Western); A/Prof Emma Baker (Adelaide); Prof Andrew Beer (University of South Australia); Prof Michelle Baddeley (University of South Australia); A/Prof Rebecca Bentley (Melbourne); A/Prof Wendy Stone (Swinburne); A/Prof Steven Rowley (Curtin); Dr Lyrian Daniel (Adelaide); Dr Christian Nygaard (Swinburne); Prof Kathleen Hulse (Swinburne); Dr Anthony Lockwood (University of South Australia)

The project will provide researchers and policy stakeholders with the essential data infrastructure on Australia’s rental housing conditions that they urgently require Rental is Australia’s emerging tenure. Each year the proportion of Australians who rent increases, many of us will rent for life, and for the first time in generations there are now more renters than home owners Researchers and policy-makers know very little about conditions in the growing rental market because there is currently no systematic or reliable data infrastructure on Australia’s rental housing sector. This data infrastructure will provide the knowledge base for national and international research and allow better urban, economic and social policy development.

Administering institution: University of Adelaide

Total funding: $372,210

ARC funding awarded for 2018

Linkage Projects

Professor Jane Ussher – School of Medicine; Translational Health Research Institute

Out with Cancer: LGBTI experiences of cancer survivorship and care

Professor Jane Ussher (Western); Professor Janette Perz (Western); Professor Martha Hickey; Professor Suzanne Chambers; Professor Gary Dowsett; Professor Kerry Robinson (Western); Professor Katherine Boydell; Professor Ian Davis; Dr Chloe Parton (Western); Dr Antoinette Anazodo; Dr Fiona McDonald

This project aims to understand the experiences and concerns of cancer survivors and carers within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities. This vulnerable population reports higher rates of cancer related distress and dissatisfaction with care than the general population. Their unique experiences and needs have been overlooked by cancer researchers, policy makers, and service providers. The goal is to examine the perspectives of cancer survivors, their carers, and professional stakeholders, to inform targeted patient and carer resources, and recommendations for culturally competent cancer care and policy. The outcome will be critical new information to improve the health and wellbeing of sexual and gender minorities.

Partner organisations: The Cancer Council NSW; Prostate Cancer Foundation; National LGBTI Health Alliance; AIDS Councils of NSW; Breast Cancer Network Australia; Sydney Children’s Hospital Network; CANTEEN

Total funding: $639,960

Discovery Projects

Associate Professor Christopher Andrews – Writing and Society Research Centre

Potential literatures: the Oulipo and literary invention

Christopher Andrews (Western); Christelle Reggiani (Université Paris-Sorbonne); Christophe Reig (University of Perpignan); Hermes Salceda Rodriguez (University of Vigo)

This project aims to explain the emergence of a new force in world literature: the Oulipo group, based in France, whose members invent compositional rules. The project is designed to contribute to the broader search for points of fruitful contact between abstract reasoning and artistic practice. Expected outcomes include a new theoretical account of the Oulipo's writing practice, an explanation of how that practice relates to similar currents in contemporary writing around the world, and improved access to the group's recent work via translation. Among the anticipated benefits are a deeper understanding of literary form and its historical development, and a mapping of the areas in which the Oulipo's approach to writing is yet to be tried.

Total funding: $114,913

Associate Professor Tania Ferfolja – Centre for Educational Research

Gender and sexuality diversity in schools: parental experiences

Tania Ferfolja (Western); Jacqueline Ullman (Western); Tara Goldstein (University of Toronto)

This project aims to analyse parents' perspectives regarding the inclusion of gender and sexuality (G&S) diversity in school curriculum across Australia and to understand how parents of G&S diverse children navigate their child's experiences in schools. It is anticipated this combined data will inform the development of a performance ethnography as a training resource for pre/in-service teachers. Teachers are reluctant to broach G&S diversity for fear of parental backlash despite the on-going marginalisation of these students. The intended outcomes of the research include policy and curriculum development and training resources as well as increased support for parents of G&S diverse children.

Total funding: $340,076

Dr Rachel Hendery – Digital Humanities Research Group

Waves of words: mapping and modelling Australia's Pacific ties

Rachel Hendery (Western); Patrick McConvell (Australian National University); Laurent Dousset (School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences); Simeon Simoff (Western)

This project aims to determine the extent and nature of ancient contact relationships between first peoples of Australia and the Pacific. The research design includes two complementary sets of methods: (i) targeted comparative linguistic and anthropological research into shared linguistic features and cultural practices, and (ii) data-driven digital modelling of linguistic, anthropological and archaeological evidence. As a result, we also expect to discover what kinds of social configurations underlie different linguistic outcomes in language contact situations and to improve our understanding of the relationship between language change and socio-cultural change, which will have significant impact on linguistic and anthropological theory.

Total funding: $228,509

Professor John Hunt – Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

Sexual conflict and the evolution of nuptial gifts

John Hunt (Western); Alexie Papanicolaou (Western)

Nuptial food gifts comprise materials (other than sperm) that are offered by males to females to consume at mating, and are an integral feature of the mating systems of a wide variety of arthropods. For decades, the common view was that nuptial gifts evolved to provide a direct (nutritional) benefit to females, but recent work has shown that they may actually be "harmful" to the female. This project will examine whether sexual conflict drives the evolution of manipulative nuptial gifts and females' responses to them. We will test this in the decorated cricket, a species where males produce a nuptial food gift (the spermatophylax) that contains a cocktail of chemicals known to influence female reproduction when eaten.

Total funding: $432,608

Professor Belinda Medlyn – Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

Brown is the new green: grassland responses to drought and heat

Belinda Medlyn (Western); Sally Power (Western); Elise Pendall (Western); David Tissue (Western); Alan Knapp (Colorado State University); Melinda Smith (Colorado State University)

Grassland ecosystems are important reservoirs of global biodiversity and carbon storage. Grasslands are highly sensitive to drought and heat stress, but we recently showed that current grassland models cannot predict these responses because they do not adequately represent the key processes of physiological drought tolerance, leaf browning, and species traits. We will capitalise on new experimental infrastructure to collect targeted data sets in order to develop and test model representations of these key processes. This project will greatly increase capacity to predict the impact of drought and heat stress on grasslands, at scales ranging from field to globe.

Total funding: $485,949

Professor Andre Renzaho – Humanitarian and Development Research Initiative

Settlement service literacy among migrants in two states: Victoria and NSW

Andre Renzaho (Western); Michael Polonsky (Deakin University); Julie Green (Murdoch Childrens Research Institute)

This project aims to assess the level of and need for settlement service literacy (SSL) among newly-arrived migrants. As a culturally diverse country, Australia makes settlement service programs available but migrants do not always take full advantage of these services. The project will explore and transform understandings of the relationship between migrants' SSL and cultural integration. It will produce a theory-driven model for inclusion in SSL programs to better address migrants' needs and thus contribute to conceptual advances in theory, research and practice in relation to resettlement in Australia.

Total funding: $448,472

Professor Deborah Stevenson – Institute for Culture and Society

UNESCO and the making of global cultural policy

Deborah Stevenson (Western); Justin O'Connor (Monash University); Christiaan De Beukelaer (University of Melbourne); Yudhishthir Raj Isar (American University of Paris); Constance DeVereaux (Colorado State University); Jun Wang (City University of Hong Kong); Avril Joffe (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa)

Focusing on UNESCO's wide-ranging cultural policy influence in the global South, this interdisciplinary research project examines its operation at different levels of action in a range of national and local contexts, assessing its effectiveness in combatting emerging global social, economic and development problems. The results will generate original critical insights into global cultural governance that aim significantly to influence and improve the making of global cultural policy by reconceptualising the cultural agenda, operation and research framework of UNESCO. The major benefit will be a more sophisticated, inclusive, and evidence-based cultural policy that supports sustainable and equitable development in the global South.

Funding amount: $435,599

Professor André van Schaik – The MARCS Institute

Auditory perception in neural electronics

André van Schaik (Western); Tara Hamilton (Western); Shihab Shamma (University of Maryland)

This project aims to develop a practical alternative to conventional electronic design. Faster and more powerful devices have resulted from placing ever more transistors on a computer chip, but this is reaching its physical limits. Now, new ways of designing smart electronic devices are needed. This project will develop one by taking inspiration from signal processing in biological brains, and applying it to the processing of audio signals. Expected outcomes are a device that recognises sounds, including in noisy environments, without needing remote computers to do the processing. Our techniques can be applied to other senses, such as vision, advancing machine perception and enabling smarter devices.

Total funding: $402,984

Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA)

Dr Kate Umbers – Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

Startle displays: a new route to resolving the aposematism paradox

Dr Kate Umbers

This project proposes a rigorous empirical evaluation of startle displays as the 'missing link' in antipredator defences. The evolutionary origin of warning colouration is considered paradoxical in that conspicuous mutant prey should be attacked and killed as they evolve, denying predators any chance to learn to avoid them. Startle displays, however, are antipredator defences that exploit predator reflexes through a sudden transition from camouflage to warning colouration. As such, they represent an untested pathway to warning colouration that sidesteps predator learning. This work merges theory on antipredator defences, deepens knowledge of their fitness costs and benefits, and provides a new resolution to a classic evolutionary paradox.

Funding amount: $365,058

ARC funding awarded for 2017

Congratulations to the following Western Sydney University researchers who have been awarded ARC funding for 2017:

Future Fellowships

Dr Scott Johnson – Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

Time to prime: using silicon to activate grass resistance under higher CO2

Dr Scott Johnson

Grasses contain more silicon (Si) than nearly any other plant; it has multiple beneficial functions, including increasing resistance to disease and herbivory. Increasing atmospheric CO2 reduces Si uptake in some grasses and frequently compromises plant defensive responses/signalling to herbivore attack. Up to 25% of grass productivity is lost to root herbivory so a higher CO2 world may leave grasses vulnerable. Intriguingly, defence signalling and Si uptake can positively feedback on each other so resistance could be reactivated with Si addition. This project aims to deliver cutting-edge insight into how CO2 affects defence trade-offs in Australian grasses and establish if Si supplementation with an industrial by-product restores resistance.

Total funding: $903,743

Linkage Projects

Professor Zhong Tao – Centre for Infrastructure Engineering

Development of next generation fire-resistant composite columns

Professor Zhong Tao (Western); Professor Brian Uy (USyd); Dr Zhu Pan (Western); Mr Maroun Rahme (Nu-Rock Technology); Mr Daniel Rahme (Nu-Rock Technology)

This project aims to develop a new generation of concrete-filled steel tubular (CFST) columns free from reinforcement by using fly ash-based fire-resistant concrete. In Australia, existing CFST columns use a large amount of internal reinforcement to maintain the structural integrity under fire attack. Through the generation of CFST columns with superior fire resistance rating and associated design rules to enable innovative and safe applications of these columns in the construction of resilient and sustainable infrastructure, the project will enable expansion of the domestic and worldwide market for Australian producers of geo-polymer concrete and fly ash aggregates.

Partner organisation: Nu-Rock Technology

Total funding: $253,069

Associate Professor Chun Guang Li – NICM Health Research Institute

Mechanism of synergy of ingredients in natural products & functional foods

Associate Professor Chun Guang Li (Western); Professor Gerald Muench (Western), Professor Vijay Jayasena (Western), Dr Hans Wohlmuth (Integria Healthcare); Adj/Professor David Leach (Integria Healthcare)

Synergism is the interaction of two substances to produce an effect larger than the sum of the separate effects. This project aims to determine the basic biological mechanisms or molecular targets by which the synergy is occurring and to identify the bioactive compounds involved. Understanding how synergism works should help us to identify other synergistic compounds, allowing optimisation of products for better efficacy and quality, and leading to new products that have a significant market advantage over currently available products. This project will help to develop improved natural products that could push this industry advantage further.

Partner organisation: Integria Healthcare

Total funding: $276,000

Discovery Projects

Dr Scott Johnson – Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

Down to earth defence: unlocking silicon defences for plant protection

Dr Scott Johnson (Western); Professor Sue Hartley; Professor David Tissue (Western)

This project aims to study how silicon uptake in grasses affects plant susceptibility aboveground. Grasses contain more silicon than nearly any other plant, which they acquire entirely from the soil. Silicon increases plant resistance to herbivores, disease and drought, but up to 25 per cent of grass productivity is lost to root herbivores, a situation compounded by water stress. Silicon uptake is poorly understood, but root herbivory and changing rainfall patterns can either impair uptake or induce the plant to take up more silicon. The goal of this project is to optimise silicon-based resistance in grasses and exploit this for plant protection from invasive pests and drought.

Total funding: $338,000

Professor Elise Pendall – Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

Temperature sensitivity of soil respiration and its components

Professor Elise Pendall (Western); Professor Stefan Arndt; Professor Mark Tjoelker (Western); Dr Eva van Gorsel; Professor Eric Davidson; Dr Vanessa Haverd

This project aims to demonstrate how temperate evergreen forests could buffer against climate change. Soil respiration returns around half the carbon taken up by forests to the atmosphere. This project will characterise and quantify how microbes and roots in soils depend on temperature and substrate supply, and so predict how rising temperatures and drought will affect forests as natural carbon sequestration sinks. This project will resolve the roles of environmental drivers of soil respiration across forests; integrate mechanistic understanding of differing plant and microbial responses to temperature within a common modelling framework; and evaluate the implications of this knowledge in predictions of climatic impacts on terrestrial carbon cycling.

Total funding: $405,500

Professor Brajesh Singh – Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

Do microbial and plant diversity interact to regulate multifunctionality?

Professor Brajesh Singh (Western); Professor Peter Reich (Western)

This project aims to quantify the relative contribution of plant and microbial communities and their interactions on the rate, stability and resilience of ecosystem functions. Plant and soil microbial communities contribute to the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems, driving key processes such as carbon and nutrient cycling. This project will adapt established theories which indicate that greater plant diversity improves ecosystem functions, stability and recovery. The expected outcome is a unifying framework for determining variation in functions across different ecosystem types and environmental disturbance such as rapid climate change. The insight gained into vulnerable ecosystems will help stakeholders (government, conservation, land management) to prioritise the focus on conservation and reduce risks to ecosystem services.

Total funding: $396,000

Dr Justin Welbergen – Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

Movement ecology of flying-foxes

Dr Justin Welbergen (Western); Dr Christopher Turbill (Western); Dr David Westcott

This project aims to understand flying-fox movement ecology from individual navigation through to population redistribution. Understanding movement across spatiotemporal scales is a goal of movement research. Grey-headed flying-foxes are mobile, and advances in tracking technology make them ideal for studying movement across scales. The project will determine how flying foxes navigate, and integrate this with drivers of their movement to understand their movement ecology by using methods that integrate experimental manipulation with telemetry, Doppler radar and analytical techniques. This is expected to develop much-needed management strategies that incorporate an understanding of movement.

Total funding: $389,500

Professor Tony Bennett – Institute for Culture and Society

Assembling and Governing Habits

Professor Tony Bennett (Western); Professor Gay Hawkins (Western); Professor Greg Noble (Western); Professor Nikolas Rose

This project aims to examine how modern Western disciplines conceived of habits, and how these conceptions informed the techniques of mundane governance which managed habits. As cities face increasing pressures, the challenges of governing everyday habits prompt urgent questions about how habits are understood and managed. This project will study the governance of 'city habits' from the late 19th century to the present. The project will apply and deepen its description of habit through case studies focused on contemporary Sydney. Its findings are expected to benefit city planners and policy makers by informing the organisation and regulation of habits.

Total funding: $360,500

Dr Denis Byrne – Institute for Culture and Society

The China-Australia Heritage Corridor

Dr Denis Byrne (Western); Professor Ien Ang (Western)

This project aims to show how buildings and places created by Chinese migrants in Australia and home places in China testify, beyond the narrative of arrival and settlement, to Australian connections with China and the Chinese diaspora. Using the 'heritage corridor' concept, it aims to develop a transnational approach to migration heritage and will provide tools and concepts for broadly documenting, analysing and interpreting Australia's migration heritage. The project aims to help a more cosmopolitan 21st century Australia capitalise on its legacy of regional linkages through Chinese migration.

Total funding: $298,500

Professor Donald McNeill – Institute for Culture and Society

Volumetric urbanism

Professor Donald McNeill (Western); Professor Dr Simon Marvin

This project aims to explain how global built environment and development firms 'push the envelope' of urban space. In cities worldwide, governments are faced with the problem and possibilities of 'volume': stacking and moving people within booming central business districts, especially around mass public transport nodes. This project will examine the prototypes, calculative devices and mediating technologies that are used to redefine cities and maximise development values. It will analyse the justifications for high volume urban development projects, and assess how transnational business and design models shape city redevelopment. This project expects to provide insights into interpreting complex urban megaprojects in Australia and internationally.

Total funding: $403,500

Dr Manuel Varlet – The MARCS Institute

Effects of audio-visual rhythmic stimulation on motor functioning

Dr Manuel Varlet (Western); Professor Peter Keller (Western); Dr Sylvie Nozaradan (Western); Professor Laurel Trainor; Professor Richard Schmidt

This project aims to determine how the human capacity for entrainment contributes to the development and modification of motor functions through passive perception. Human movements are spontaneously attracted to auditory and visual environmental rhythms. The intended outcome is knowledge about short and long-term effects of entrainment on spontaneous cerebral, muscular and behavioural motor activity, and how auditory rhythms combined with visual depictions of human movement modulate these effects. This research should advance the understanding of perception and action links, ultimately opening pathways for training patients with reduced movement capacities and developing health technologies.

Total funding: $341,500

Professor Anthony Uhlmann – Writing and Society Research Centre, School of Humanities & Communication Arts

Other Worlds: Forms of World Literature

Professor Anthony Uhlmann (Western); Ms Alexis Wright (Western); Dr Ben Etherington (Western); Professor John Coetzee; Professor Nicholas Jose (Western); Professor Gail Jones (Western)

This project aims to explore a new vision of 'world literature'. Creative writing is a way of thinking, and theoretical possibilities arise from the exchange between literary criticism and literary practice. This project will bring the formal and thematic interests of four eminent Australian writers – Alexis Wright, Nicholas Jose, Gail Jones and J.M. Coetzee – into dialogue with each other and a team of critical respondents. Critical and creative dialogues between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia, Argentina, China, and England provide an opportunity to think about how contemporary Australian writing might meaningfully be considered in the terms of world literature.

Total funding: $572,000

Dr Tamara Watson – School of Social Sciences and Psychology

Flower Power: Natural Form, Aesthetics and the Human Brain

Dr Tamara Watson (Western); Associate Professor Branka Spehar; Dr Damien Mannion

This project aims to study how the brain represents the emotion of aesthetic experience. The project will establish the characteristics of flowers and floral design that govern their appeal using large scale web based data collection, and identify the neural representation of floral beauty using integrative data analysis. Outcomes of the project are expected to help flower growers and designers with product planning, supporting industry sustainability. The project will also establish how the brain generates positive experience in response to our visual environment, promoting well-being by enabling informed visual design decisions.

Total funding: $335,500

Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards

Dr Andrew Milne – The MARCS Institute

Uncovering universal mechanisms for the communication of musical emotion

Dr Andrew Milne

This project aims to understand the universal perceptual and cognitive mechanisms underlying musical communication. Music is a language of the emotions with a remarkable capacity to communicate across personal and cultural boundaries. This project will develop and refine a computational toolbox of perceptual models in light of behavioural experiments using musical and non-musical sonic stimuli. These models will also be used to develop software to compose perceptually grounded music. The intended outcomes are increased knowledge of perception, composition and computational modelling of music, which will stimulate investigations into music's societal benefits and therapeutic applications.

Total funding: $369,000

Future Fellowships

Associate Professor Paola Escudero – The MARCS Institute

Enhancing language learning via auditory training and interaction

Associate Professor Paola Escudero

This project aims to improve adult language learning. Most adults struggle to pronounce foreign speech, because their native processing skills cannot process foreign sounds. During infancy, native sound perception is tuned through listening to variants of speech sounds while interacting with care-givers. This project aims to show that adults can reprogram their processing skills if placed in the rich environment available to infants. Rigorous testing will show whether auditory training improves processing of foreign speech sounds in adults and children and leads to successful understanding and pronunciation of foreign words. This project could benefit many Australian monolingual families who have not fully engaged with neighbouring cultures due to a language barrier.

Total funding: $895,000

Discovery Projects administered by other institutions

Professor Zhong Tao; Dr Won Hee Kang – Centre for Infrastructure Engineering

Coupled service and ultimate behaviour of high strength composite columns

Professor Brian Uy; Dr Ehab Hamed; Professor Zhong Tao (Western); Dr Won Hee Kang (Western)

This project aims to improve the coupled service and strength load behaviour of high strength composite columns used in building and bridge infrastructure. Taller and longer buildings and bridges need efficient and safe material. Australian Standards for concrete and steel now allow higher strength materials of 100 and 690 MPa. This project will consider coupled service and strength load issues incorporating time-dependent effects and ductility, and extend the range of concrete and steel strengths to 150 and 960 MPa for world-class heavy infrastructure. This project is expected to improve the safety and economy of tall buildings, bridges and large infrastructure.

Administering institution: The University of New South Wales

Total funding: $435,500

Dr Brendan Choat – Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

Finding the failure-threshold of leaves in drought

Associate Professor Timothy Brodribb; Dr Brendan Choat (Western); Dr Herve Cochard; Dr Philippe Marmottant; Dr Sylvain Delzon

This project aims to reveal how specific water-stress thresholds damage the leaves of Australian crop and forest species during drought. Water stress affects agricultural productivity and plant survival in drought-prone regions such as Australia. Using optical and X-ray techniques, this project seeks to visualise and quantify the dynamic processes of damage and repair in leaves under stress. Anticipated outputs include a practical basis to predict drought-induced canopy death; identification of threats to ecologically sensitive plants; and selection and screening tools to improve the drought resilience of agriculturally important crop species.

Administering institution: University of Tasmania

Total funding: $375,500

Dr Shanthi Robertson – Institute for Culture and Society

Understanding the effects of transnational mobility on youth transitions

Professor Anita Harris; Associate Professor Loretta Baldassar; Dr Shanthi Robertson (Western)

This project aims to examine transnational mobility amongst young people and to understand its effects on their economic opportunities, social and familial ties, capacity for citizenship and transitions to adulthood. Young people increasingly migrate abroad for work and education, and Australia is a significant hub for sending and receiving. Migration and education policies encourage this mobility, which is expected to provide youth with enhanced competitive skills. Outcomes of this project include a significant dataset and online research database on how youth from various cultural backgrounds manage mobility and develop economic, social and civic benefits for themselves and the broader community.

Administering institution: Deakin University

Total funding: $613,000

Professor Anthony Uhlmann – School of Humanities and Communication Arts

Spinoza and literature for life: a practical theory of art

Professor Moira Gatens; Professor Anthony Uhlmann (Western)

This project aims to construct a Spinozistic theory of art that shows how the enjoyment of art promotes the art of living well. Many artists have celebrated the inspirational force of Spinoza's philosophy on their works, but philosophers have denied or neglected the relevance of his philosophy to art. By working across literary and philosophical resources, this project will show how Romantic, Victorian, and Modernist writers drew on his thought. This project expects to contribute to Spinoza studies, philosophy and literature and ethics, and show how and why artistic enjoyment is essential for human health and wellbeing.

Administering institution: The University of Sydney

Total funding: $280,000

Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) projects administered by other institutions

Professor Bijan Samali – Centre for Infrastructure Engineering
Professor Ian Anderson – Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

Maintaining Intersect member access to the NCI peak supercomputing facility

Professor Evatt Hawkes; Professor Marc Wilkins; Professor Michael Ferry; Professor Geraint Lewis; Eminent Professor Leo Radom; Professor Dietmar Muller; Associate Professor Michael Ford; Professor Eric Kennedy; Associate Professor Murray Cairns; Professor Bijan Samali (Western); Professor Ian Anderson (Western); Dr Sang Hong Lee; Dr Peter Unmack; Professor Graham King; Professor Brian Smith

This project aims to continue the access of Intersect's computational researchers to the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) peak supercomputing facility. The peak supercomputing facility at NCI is critical collaborative infrastructure on a globally competitive scale. Transformative advances in science and technology increasingly rely on high performance computing capabilities across a wide range of research disciplines. Ongoing access to this facility will allow researchers to tackle major problems in national priority areas including energy, health, and environmental change.

Administering institution: The University of New South Wales

Total funding: $900,000

Professor Zhong Tao – Centre for Infrastructure Engineering
Assoc Prof Richard Yang – School of Computing, Engineering & Mathematics

3D printing facility using concrete for construction automation research

Professor Jay Sanjayan; Professor Stephen Foster; Professor Brian Uy; Professor Priyan Mendis; Professor Yi-Min (Mike) Xie; Associate Professor Wenhui Duan; Dr Asghar Habibnegad Korayem; Dr Vinh Dao; Professor Zhong Tao (Western); Dr Maurice Guerrieri; Professor Syed Masood; Professor Emad Gad; Professor John Wilson; Professor Sujeeva Setunge; Associate Professor Richard Yang (Western)

This project aims to develop concrete types of construction materials and structural forms. Three-dimensional concrete printing is a process for construction automation, and adapting recent advances in Additive Manufacturing technologies makes rapid progress possible. However, unsuitable concrete and structural designs and a lack of underpinning material and structural research hamper development. The project will test material properties, fabrication technologies and structural design concepts; and build and test freeform concrete structures. Achieving construction automation is expected to reduce injury rates by eliminating dangerous jobs, create high-end technology-based jobs, and make concrete construction cheaper by eliminating formwork.

Administering institution: Swinburne University of Technology

Total funding: $458,000

Professor Miroslav Filipovic – School of Computing, Engineering & Mathematics

The Cherenkov Telescope Array - Production phase

Associate Professor Gavin Rowell; Dr Nigel Maxted; Professor Michael Burton; Professor Hiroyasu Tajima; Associate Professor Peter Veitch; Associate Professor Csaba Balazs; Professor Miroslav Filipovic (Western); Professor Geoffrey Bicknell; Dr Martin White; Professor Anne Green; Dr David Berge; Professor Bruce Dawson; Professor Timothy Greenshaw; Dr Roland Crocker; Professor Jim Hinton

This project aims to ensure Australia's contribution to the five-year production phase of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), a very high energy gamma-ray astronomy instrument that is expected to transform both high energy astrophysics and astro-particle physics. Gamma-ray astronomy probes extreme processes in the Universe such as exploding stars, black holes, and mysterious dark matter. The project will maintain Australian access to all data and key science programmes of the CTA. Australian astronomers will be able to directly influence the major astrophysics goals of CTA, and link in with Australia's flagship astronomical infrastructure. This is expected to benefit astrophysics, big data processing, electronics, atmospheric physics and optics.

Administering institution: The University of Adelaide

Total funding: $1,390,000

ARC funding awarded for 2016

The following researchers have been awarded ARC funding for 2016:

Linkage Projects

Associate Professor Juan Salazar – Institute for Culture and Society

Antarctic Cities and the Global Commons: Rethinking the Gateways

Associate Professor Juan Salazar (Western), Professor Paul James (Western), Associate Professor Elizabeth Leane, Dr Liam Magee (Western), Mr Tim Short, Dr Daniela Liggett, Mr Elías Barticevic, Professor Dr Claudia Estrada Goic

This project aims to investigate how the Antarctic gateway cities of Hobart, Christchurch and Punta Arenas might reimagine and intensify their relations to the continent and each other. As pressures on Antarctica increase, five 'gateway cities' – Hobart, Cape Town, Christchurch, Punta Arenas and Ushuaia – will become critical to its future. This research is expected to create a robust custodial network of partner organisations that helps these cities care for Antarctica.

Partner organisations: Hobart City Council; Department of State Growth; University of Canterbury, Christchurch; Christchurch City Council; Chilean Antarctic Institute; University of Magallanes

Total funding: $389,335

Associate Professor Sathaa Sathasivan – Institute for Infrastructure Engineering; School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics

Smart Management of Disinfectant in Chloraminated Water-Supply Systems

Associate Professor Sathaa Sathasivan (Western), Professor Brajesh Singh (Western), Associate Professor Stuart Khan, Professor Jens Coorssen (Western), Professor Linda Blackall, Professor Bruce Rittmann, Dr Maneesha Ginige, Dr Peter Cox

This project aims to develop an adaptive, real-time control system for managing disinfectant residuals in chloraminated water supply systems. While chloramine delivers microbiologically safe drinking water in warmer climates and in long distribution systems, it is largely unpredictable, costs water utilities millions of dollars annually, and has uncertain benefits. This project's control system will be guided by quantitative models formulated from multi-pronged, fundamental experiments. The project will quantify microbial chloramine decay and determine mechanisms to increase predictability. The project will develop and demonstrate a real-time control technology which delivered microbiologically safe, cost-efficient drinking water to people in warmer climates, despite warming climate and increasing population.

Partner organisations: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO); Sydney Water Corporation; Central Seq Distributor-Retailer Authority; South East Queensland Water; Logan City Council; Unitywater

Total funding: $710,000

Discovery Projects

Professor Ian Anderson – Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

Characterising controls of carbon flow from trees into mycorrhizal fungi

Professor Ian Anderson (Western), Dr Jonathan Plett (Western), Dr Francis Martin (INRA - French National Institute for Agricultural Research)

This project aims to improve our understanding of below-ground carbon sequestration. A significant portion of plant photosynthate is shuttled to root-associated mutualistic ectomycorrhizal fungi in forest ecosystems. Therefore, fungal partners of forest trees are valuable carbon sinks. One problem impeding below-ground carbon accounting in forest soils is a lack of understanding concerning the genetic control of how photosynthetically fixed sugars are passed to root-associated microbes. This project aims to identify and characterise the sugar transporters that shuttle carbon in ectomycorrhizal plant-fungal interactions and investigate how these are affected by elevated carbon dioxide. It may also identify isolates of mutualistic fungi that could be paired with eucalypt hosts to maximise carbon sequestration and forest productivity.

Total funding: $371,100

Professor Simon Burrows – Digital Humanities Research Group

Mapping print, charting enlightenment

Professor Simon Burrows (Western), Professor Paul Arthur (Western), Dr Jason Ensor (Western), Professor Angus Martin (University of Sydney), Professor Dan Edelstein (Stanford University)

This project aims to reconstruct popular reading trends to revise understanding of European enlightenment and the transformational impact of print. Through an innovative, industry-wide digital survey of unprecedented scope and sophistication, tracking millions of copies of thousands of titles and all sectors of the book trade – legal, pirate and contraband – it asks: What books were widely read? Where were they produced and consumed? What was the relative scale and nature of key parts of the trade – notably religious and illegal publishing? How cosmopolitan was popular reading? The project also aims to reflect on its digital methods and develop transferable technologies for studying print's impact across time and space.

Total funding: $459,606

Professor David Ellsworth – Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

Will trees get enough nitrogen to sustain productivity in elevated CO2?

Professor David Ellsworth (Western), Dr Oula Ghannoum (Western), Dr Sonke Zaehle (Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry), Dr Yolima Carrillo (Western Sydney)

The project proposes to explore how tissue nitrogen declines in future elevated carbon dioxide (eCO2) by studying the availability of soil nitrogen to plants and use of nitrogen by Eucalyptus woodland trees. Plant canopy nitrogen concentrations decline in nearly every large-scale eCO2 study done on native soils. The project plans to explore how changes in ecosystem nitrogen balance occur, by investigating if leaf nitrogen declines under eCO2 due to the balance of plant activity versus changes in soil nitrogen availability. The outcomes are central to knowing the extent to which extra nitrogen 'feeds' the eCO2 fertilisation response and sustains long-term increases in productivity. Expected outcomes may support the development of management options to sustain future forest productivity.

Total funding: $355,800

Professor Katherine Gibson – Institute for Culture and Society

Reconfiguring the enterprise: Shifting manufacturing culture in Australia

Professor Katherine Gibson (Western), Dr Stephen Healy (Western), Associate Professor Jenny Cameron (University of Newcastle)

The project aims to explore the future for manufacturing in Australia in the context of sustainability. Concerned with the wider societal and planetary impacts of conducting business-as-usual, some innovative Australian manufacturers are reorienting their business towards social and environmental sustainability. The complexities involved in pursuing genuine sustainability call for shifts in the culture of manufacturing. This project plans to use qualitative research to explore the inner workings of 12 firms that are integrating different forms of sustainability into their core operations. It plans to develop business metrics and critical incident cases to unravel the negotiations involved in addressing social and environmental sustainability. In so doing, it expects to contribute to debates about the nature of enterprise in the 21st century.

Total funding: $344,885

Associate Professor Roozbeh Hazrat – Centre for Research in Mathematics

Graded K-theory as invariants for path algebras

Dr Roozbeh Hazrat (Western), Dr Pere Ara (Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona), Professor Gene Abrams (University of Colorado)

This pure mathematics project focuses on Leavitt path algebras, which are structures that naturally arise from movements on directed graphs. These algebras appear in diverse areas (eg analysis, noncommutative geometry, representation theory and group theory). The aim of this project is to understand the behaviour of Leavitt path algebras and to classify them completely by means of graded K-theory. The project is an algebraic counterpart to graph C*-algebras (analytic structures that originated in Australian universities); both subjects have become areas of intensive research globally. The expected outcomes are to classify Leavitt path algebras, and to find a bridge (via graded K-theory) to graph C*-algebras and symbolic dynamics.

Total funding: $377,600

Professor Kenny Kwok – Institute for Infrastructure Engineering

Bushfire-enhanced wind and its effects on buildings

Professor Kenny Kwok (Western), Dr Yaping He (Western)

This project seeks to advance our understanding of bushfire-wind interaction to improve current design standards for buildings against bushfire-enhanced winds. Bushfire-enhanced winds have caused considerable property damage and loss of lives. The project aims to identify the mechanisms governing bushfire-wind interaction and determine the wind load effects on buildings due to bushfire-enhanced wind. It aims to do so by using advanced computation techniques and unique fire-wind tunnel test facility. This knowledge is designed to guide the development of improved building construction standards for bushfire-prone regions to facilitate the design and construction of a new generation of bushfire-resistant buildings that safeguard lives and properties against the increasing threat of bushfire due to climate change.

Total funding: $330,000

Professor Belinda Medlyn – Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

To grow or to store: Do plants hedge their bets?

Professor Belinda Medlyn (Western), Dr Remko Duursma (Western), Professor Roderick Dewar (Australian National University), Professor Mathew Williams (University of Edinburgh)

This project aims to resolve a long-standing question about the function of perennial plants: how much of the carbon taken up by photosynthesis is used immediately for growth, and how much is kept in reserve as insurance against future stress? This question is important to our understanding of how plants respond to stresses such as severe drought, and yet lack of data and theoretical modelling currently hampers our ability to answer it. By applying novel data analysis and modelling tools to recent experimental results, the project plans to test hypotheses for how plants allocate carbon between growth and storage in response to stress. Insights from the project may underpin better management of Australia's vulnerable ecosystems.

Total funding: $428,100

Professor Brett Neilson – Institute for Culture and Society

Data centres and the governance of labour and territory

Professor Brett Neilson (Western), Professor Ned Rossiter (Western), Dr Tanya Notley (Western), Professor Laikwan Pang (Chinese University of Hong Kong), Professor Stefano Harney (Singapore Management University), Associate Professor Sandro Mezzadra (University of Bologna), Professor Anna Reading (King's College London), Dr Florian Sprenger (Leuphana University of Lüneburg)

Focusing on data centres in Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney, the project aims to advance understandings of how these facilities are transforming ways of living and working in the Asia Pacific. Without data centres the world stops; these infrastructures are the core components of a rapidly expanding but rarely discussed digital storage and management industry that has become critical to global economy and society. The intended outcome of the project is a broadening of debates and research practices relevant to policymaking on the digital economy. The expected benefit is increased public knowledge about the social and cultural effects of data-driven economic change and, in particular, the growing importance of private data infrastructures.

Total funding: $433,790

Professor Phillip O'Neill – School of Social Sciences and Psychology

Australia's role in global financial and production networks

Professor Phillip O'Neill (Western), Dr Eric Knight (University of Sydney), Professor Dariusz Wojcik (University of Oxford)

The project intends to address a major deficit of knowledge about the ways financial centres develop and compete among a network of international centres. Australia's long-term economic future is closely tied to providing financial services throughout Asia. Yet very little attention has been given to analysing the structures and networks that enable internationalisation, in particular the performance of Sydney and Melbourne as competitive financial centres within a network of financial centres in East and South-East Asia. Using specialist industry databases and intensive case study methods, this project plans to examine the processes underpinning the growth of this network, map scenarios for the next two decades, and advise on policy implications arising from the 2013-14 Financial System Inquiry.

Total funding: $236,172

Professor Margaret Somerville – Centre for Educational Research

Naming the world: early years literacy and sustainability learning

Professor Margaret Somerville (Western), Associate Professor Annette Woods (Queensland University of Technology), Dr Iris Duhn (Monash University), Pauliina Rautio (University of Oulu)

The project seeks to produce knowledge about new forms of literacy emerging in sustainability education. For children born in the 21st century, the enmeshing of natural and human forces in the survival of the planet requires conceptual and practical innovation. Early childhood education can be a fundamental driver in this process. This project aims to integrate literacy and sustainability to produce powerful new learning for young children. It plans to theorise new forms of literacy emerging in sustainability education, articulate innovative pedagogies, and inform national and international policy and practice to address 21st century learning imperatives.

Total funding: $278,038

Professor Yang Xiang – School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics

Modelling surface stresses in crystalline plates

Professor Yang Xiang (Western), Dr Chee Lim (City University of Hong Kong)

This project intends to improve our understanding of the influence of surface stress on bending in anisotropic crystalline plates. Micro/nanoelectro-mechanical systems as transducers, switches, logic gates, actuators and sensors are widely used in fields of biotechnology, medicine, automotive, civionics, avionics and defence. A key issue that affects the accuracy and reliability of these systems is how to correctly predict the size-dependent surface stress of the structural components in the systems. The project aims to quantify the relations between the change in surface stress and the bending of structures with micro/nanoscale thickness and arbitrary crystallographic symmetry. Expected project outcomes may lead to significant advancement in overcoming the current shortcomings in designing micro/nanoelectro-mechanical devices.

Total funding: $180,000

Associate Professor Xinqun Zhu – Institute for Infrastructure Engineering

Development of a novel mobile sensory system for bridge health monitoring

Associate Professor Xinqun Zhu (Western), Professor Bijan Samali (Western), Professor Siu-seong Law (Beijing Jiaotong Universtiy)

The aim of this project is to provide accurate, rapid and cost-effective 'health checks' for bridges. Transportation infrastructures are subject to continuous degradation due to the environment, ageing and excess loading. This project plans to develop a vehicle equipped with sensors as a mobile sensing platform to catch the dynamic interaction between the vehicle and the bridge. The interaction information would be used to assess the health of the bridge infrastructure through substructuring techniques. The expected output of this project would enable managers to monitor the structural conditions and provide an economical infrastructure asset management scheme to protect the structure and human lives.

Total funding: $225,000

Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards

Dr Kristine Crous – Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

How will Australian rainforest species cope with climate warming?

Dr Kristine Crous

This project plans to investigate how, and how much, rainforest tree species will adjust to warmer temperatures. Understanding the temperature dependence of physiological processes of Australian rainforest trees and how they are related to climate variation is critical. This should enable prediction of how species will adjust to warmer temperatures, what their thermal tolerances are and how future species distribution ranges may change.

Total funding: $379,500

Dr Sylvie Nozaradan – The MARCS Institute

How musical rhythms entrain the human brain

Dr Sylvie Nozaradan

This project is designed to investigate the brain mechanisms that allow humans to feel the beat in musical rhythms. Although such activity facilitates pro-social and therapeutic effects, the underlying brain mechanisms remain unknown. The project intends to examine the interface between musical rhythms, behaviour and brain activity to increase knowledge on a fundamental process of brain function: the dynamic coupling between perception and body movement. The project aims to provide insight into how psychological, environmental and neural mechanisms affect entrainment to rhythmic events and inform practices for education and clinical rehabilitation.

Total funding: $373,536

Dr Jessica Whyte – School of Humanities and Communication Arts

The invention of collateral damage and the changing moral economy of war

Dr Jessica Whyte

This project aims to provide a novel philosophical account of the invention of the concept of collateral damage in war. It seeks to understand the historical and institutional processes that have produced a moral distinction between deliberate harm inflicted on non-combatants, and the non-intentional harm that is seen as an inevitable side effect of modern warfare. Drawing on archival material and military manuals, and combining insights from the history of human rights and contemporary European political philosophy, the project aims to produce a sophisticated philosophical framework for understanding the social and political implications of conceiving civilian deaths as collateral damage to contribute to public debate about the human costs of war.

Total funding: $346,434