The new round of Australian Research Council funding provides over $30m for 72 University projects across fields as diverse as neuroscience and insurance risk management.

Research across nanoelectronics, city planning, neuroscience, and insurance risk management have successfully secured funding in the latest round of Australian Research Council (ARC) grants awarded.

In total, 72 UNSW projects received $30.8 million in the ARC Discovery Project scheme announced on Wednesday by Minister for Education Dan Tehan.

Professor Nicholas Fisk, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research), congratulated the University’s researchers on their funding success.

“These grants will help address some of society’s most pressing challenges,” he said.

Since 2015, UNSW has been among the top two universities for funding awarded each year under the Discovery Project Scheme, indicating the breadth of our research excellence across the humanities, business, the built environment, science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM). This year’s success is further evidence of our researchers commitment to innovative and collaborative research to deliver real-world solutions for Australia and Australians.”

UNSW Science and UNSW Engineering received the most funding, yielding $21 million collectively.

Scientia Professor Bernard Balleine, Head of the Decision Neuroscience Laboratory in UNSW’s School of Psychology, is lead researcher on a project awarded $1.28 million to investigate the brain circuits and memory processes that control voluntary actions. The project aims to contribute to the effective treatment of ageing-related deficits in decision-making.

Some of the other large ARC Discovery Project Grants announced were:

$381,875 to Dr Sophie Lewis from UNSW Arts & Social Sciences. Taking a sociological approach, this project aims to generate new knowledge about the experience and meaning of loneliness for people and communities, and the social factors implicated in its rise in contemporary Australia.

$322,601 to Associate Professor Simon Pinnegar from UNSW Built Environment. This project aims to investigate the emerging phenomenon of residential collective sales – where neighbours come together to sell their properties in super lots – and the implications for urban residents and governments at local, metropolitan and national levels.

$334,000 to Associate Professor Jae Kyung Woo from the UNSW Business School. This project aims to develop analytical tools to help insurers assess risk. This work will support efforts to stabilise the industry’s financial landscape and regulatory systems where large and dependent risks are concerned.

$550,000 to Scientia Professor Andrew Dzurak from UNSW Engineering. This project aims to develop self-referenced nanoelectronic charge-pump devices that can generate a highly accurate, error-detectable output current utilising Australian-developed silicon-based single-electron transistor technology.

$361,000 to Professor Kathryn Bowrey from UNSW Law. This project aims to map the use, creation and dissemination of the products of research with an eye towards harmonisation and coherence to advance public goals, in particular, to improve access to research for impact and engagement.  

$860,000 to Professor Boris Martinac from UNSW Medicine. The aim of this project is to determine evolutionary conserved physical principles of mechanotransduction in living cells through structure and function studies of PIEZO mechanoreceptor channels playing a crucial role in senses such as touch and pain in animals and humans. Mutations in these channels can cause genetic disorders.

$600,000 to Professor Paul Munroe from UNSW Science. The aim of this project is to combine bioinspired microstructural design with an emerging alloying concept to produce a breakthrough in the development of engineering coatings. It is expected to be highly durable in extreme conditions and will help transform manufacturing, mining and desalination industries.

Find out about all of UNSW’s successful ARC Discovery Projects.