UNSW researchers have been awarded $1.89 million across five projects in the latest round of the government’s Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grants.

The teams – led by researchers from UNSW Arts, Design and Architecture, Engineering, and Science faculties – were awarded funds for projects which included a tool to improve bikeways in Australian cities, a non-toxic herbicide and pesticide for plants and fruit, and research into how migrants integrated into post-war Australia.

ARC Chief Executive Officer, Professor Sue Thomas, welcomed the announcement of the successful outcomes under this round of the Linkage Projects scheme that aims to promote national and international research partnerships to find real-world solutions to a wide array of issues. 

“ARC’s Linkage Projects grant opportunity supports projects that initiate or develop long term research alliances that will apply advanced knowledge to problems as a basis for securing commercial and other benefits of research,” Prof. Thomas said.

UNSW Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) Scientia Professor Sven Rogge congratulated the University’s researchers on their success.

“We are proud of our academics’ ability to partner with business, industry and community organisations to deliver future-thinking solutions to big picture problems,” Prof. Rogge said.

Associate Professor Paul Gribben from UNSW Science will receive $643,998 to investigate the role of sediment microbes in improving the health of threatened seagrass species across Australia and Singapore. Around Australia, an estimated five million hectares of seagrass beds in coastal and estuarine waters provide critical environmental and socio-economic services such as wave and storm buffering and enhancing water quality. It is expected the project will improve seagrass restoration outcomes utilising sediment microbes that can be integrated into management and policy.

Dr Shujuan Huang and her team from UNSW Engineering will receive $455,110 to build high performing photovoltaic (PV) cells which can harvest indoor lighting to power smart devices which are used to monitor and control wireless networks inside buildings. Billions of wireless networked sensors are to be installed inside buildings in the near future, leading to an Internet of Things (IoT) designed to monitor and control our manufacturing, agricultural and energy systems. A supply of reliable and low-cost autonomous power is urgently needed to enable this smart network. The project’s outcomes will also contribute to other optoelectronic devices including LEDs, tandem solar cells and semi-transparent solar cells for building integrated PV.

Associate Professor Patrick Spicer from UNSW Engineering will receive $320,214 to investigate methods of attaching beneficial chemicals to plant leaves, stalks and fruit. The materials have an unusually good ability to stick to crop plants and deliver herbicide or pesticide active ingredients more efficiently than standard additives, without toxicity. The project will explain the effective, adhesion and delivery performance, incorporate the new additives into commercial formulations for its industrial partner, and work to deliver the materials at relevant manufacturing scales.

Professor Chris Pettit from the City Futures Research Centre at UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture will receive $267,703 to develop a digital scenario planning tool to support government in planning for future bikeways. The tool will help transport planners design future cycling infrastructure in cities and will be trialled in Sydney and Wollongong with project partners. It is expected the tool will improve the ‘bikeability’ of our cities. The project will also develop new knowledge in how to optimise investment in cycling by increasing the cycling modal share, reducing emissions and congestion, while also improving safety and health outcomes for cyclists.

Associate Professor Nicholas Doumanis from UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture will receive $208,979 for a project investigating how migrants integrated into post-war Australia. Taking a cluster of Sydney’s post-war Greek neighbourhoods as its case studies, the project will document how Greek migrants settled in Australia. It will build a collection of oral histories and primary materials, archived in the State Library of NSW, that will reveal how Sydney’s Greeks contributed to the city’s social and cultural remaking, and how they, in turn, were remade socially and culturally.

The ARC Linkage Project scheme brings together higher education and industry to conduct research into pressing issues affecting Australians.

Read more about round 2 of ARC Linkage Projects 2020.

UNSW Media