UNSW Sydney has topped the nation with $45m in funding for the most university research projects through the latest round of Australian Research Council (ARC) funding. The University’s 114 projects span climate change and coastal ecosystems, genome editing, cyber-attacks and low-cost technology.

Of the total $45m, UNSW Engineering received more than $13m in funding across 22 Discovery Projects, 8 Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA), one Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) project and one Linkage Project (LP).

UNSW secured the largest share of the total $380m announced by Minister for Education Dan Tehan yesterday. The University was awarded 9.6% of the total funding, ending the year in third position overall nationally.

For the third year running, UNSW received more Discovery Project grants than any other institution in the country, receiving 88 in this year’s announcement worth $34.9m.

The UNSW research grant schemes covered under this latest round of successful grants include:

  • Discovery Projects (DP) funding of $34.9m for 88 projects
  • Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) funding of $7.3m for 19 projects
  • Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) funding of $1.3m for three projects
  • Linkage Projects (LP) funding of $1.2m for three projects
  • Discovery Indigenous (IN) funding of $399,600 for one project

UNSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research Professor Nicholas Fisk congratulated the University’s researchers on securing the most grants and funding in this round.

“Our researchers have again been recognised as being at the very top of their game and for their exceptional contribution to tackling some of society’s biggest challenges to achieve relevant outcomes for Australia and the world.

“It is highly unusual to top Discovery Projects year-on-year, and this clearly reflects both the depth of talent at UNSW as well as the positive influence of our 2025 Strategy. UNSW’s relatively high 28% success rate in DP funding from a large number of applications also attests to the diligent and tireless support from our grants team.”

Among the largest ARC Discovery Project Grants announced were:

$660,000 to Professors Gernot Heiser and Gerwin Klein, and Dr Toby Murray from the School of Computer Science & Engineering to prevent sophisticated attacks on public clouds and mobile devices.

Their project aims to develop techniques to solve the issue in information security of unauthorised information flow resulting from competition for shared hardware resources. The project will combine operating systems design, formal hardware models, and information-flow reasoning to create a system that prevents leakage of information, such as encryption keys. This should prevent sophisticated attacks on public clouds, mobile devices and military-grade cross-domain devices.

$582,500 to Professor Matthew England and Doctors Andrew Hogg, Adele Morrison, Paul Spence and Stephen Griffies from the Faculty of Science’s Climate Change Research Centre to understand how oceanic heat is circulated towards Antarctica

This project aims to use ocean/sea-ice models to examine rapid warming of Antarctic continental shelf waters. There is a big risk of rapid ocean warming at the Antarctic, yet this region remains poorly understood. This work will better constrain future rates of ice melt by providing knowledge of the ocean processes, dynamics, and feedbacks relating to warm water intrusion.

$579,239 to Dr Sarah Walker, Associate Professors Anne Bartlett and Jennifer Alix-Garcia, and Professor Volker Radeloff from UNSW Business School to create low-cost technologies in Uganda to solve conservation challenges

This project aims to improve the cost-effectiveness of payments for ecosystem services programs in settings where deforestation risk is high. A field experiment in Uganda will determine methods for monitoring compliance and setting payment levels. The findings will support efforts to create low cost technologies to solve conservation challenges and help with the efficient allocation of scarce resources for environmental protection in Australia and internationally.

Among the largest DECRA grants announced were:

$418,956 to Dr Jingwei Hou from the School of Chemical Sciences & Engineering to mitigate energy and environmental problems by fusing the fields of membrane separation, biocatalysis and electrochemistry. This project is expected to transform the current biocatalytic process for wastewater treatment and gas separation.

$417,068 to Dr Nicholas Murray at the Centre for Ecosystem Science to quantify and diagnose the causes of declines in the world’s coastal wetland ecosystems to improve the ability to monitor and manage coastal ecosystems in Australia and globally.

$409,574 to Dr Romain Rouet at St Vincent's Hospital Clinical School to study the generation of targeted and cell-specific endonucleases. CRISPR-Cas endonucleases have revolutionised the field of genome engineering due to programming simplicity. This project will provide insights into cellular function, with broad applications in basic research and biotechnology.

More information and a the full list of recipients can be found on the ARC website.

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