Faculty of Science researchers have performed strongly to help UNSW secure the highest level of funding in the country in the latest round of the federal government’s Australian Research Council (ARC)’s Linkage Projects scheme.

UNSW will receive $10.3 million in ARC funding for 32 projects, the most grants of any Australian university. With money from industry partners, UNSW’s total funding rises to $32.4 million.

Under the Linkage scheme, industry partners must make a significant cash and/or in-kind contribution to their projects. The collaboration is essential to transforming industries, building communities and strengthening the Australian economy.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Les Field said that this was a great result for UNSW.

“UNSW has always been one of the strongest universities in the country in terms of industry engagement and coming in at number one in the country in the Linkage grants is a testament to the impact of the work we are doing,” he said.

“The successful grants at UNSW form new partnerships with nearly 50 industries or organisations and show that UNSW’s research focus is clearly aligned with Australia’s research priorities.”

UNSW Science projects funded:

Professor David Keith‘s team has been awarded $556,000 to develop a fine-scale vegetation classification and map for almost a million square kilometres, which will provide the data needed to make crucial biodiversity conservation decisions.

Professor Richard Kingsford’s team has been awarded $444,000 to assess the status of the iconic platypus, identified as ‘near-threatened’ in 2014. The project will link the vulnerability of platypus populations to conservation actions that will reduce the platypus’ extinction risk.

Scientia Professor Justin Gooding’s team has been awarded $410,000 to develop a biosensor for detecting short sequences of RNA in blood. Changes in the levels of these microRNA can serve as a biomarker for many diseases including cancer.

Professor Charles Sorrell’s team has been awarded 340,000 to enable the inexpensive manufacture of widely used materials called refractories that retain their strength at high temperatures. The technology used will reduce energy costs and lead to improved thermal and mechanical properties of the materials.

Professor Naresh Kumar’s team has been awarded $333.500 to develop new antimicrobial coatings for materials used to manufacture biomedical devices. Infection associated with use of biomedical implants, catheters and orthopaedic prostheses is a major barrier to the use of these devices.

Associate Professor Moninya Roughan’s team has been awarded $310,000 for a project to explore the causes of the worldwide decline in the highly lucrative spiny lobster fishery. It has been attributed to ocean warming but the exact mechanism is not known.

Scientia Professor Brett Neilan’s team has been awarded $275,000 to advance fundamental knowledge of microbial metabolism and provide natural anti-microbial molecules to the Australian food industry. A quarter of the world’s food supply is lost because of microbiological spoilage..

Professor Iain Suthers’ team has been awarded $257.000 to improve fisheries management of economically important baitfish by increasing our understanding of the ecosystem demand of predatory fish. As part of the project acoustic transmitters will be implanted in predatory fish.

Professor Andy Baker’s team has been awarded $138,000 to determine how non-conventional lithium and silicon isotopes can be used to understand groundwater processes. This will lead to the development of new methods to manage our vital groundwater resource.

A full list of UNSW’s grant winners can be found on the ARC website.