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UNSW research across marine pollution, coastal hazards, ocean weather, antibiotic use, and Aboriginal health and wellbeing are among nine Linkage Projects awarded nearly $4 million in the latest round of Australian Research Council (ARC) funding.

UNSW secured the largest share of the total $9.2 million announced by Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham. It was awarded 43% of the overall total funding, the highest in the Group of Eight (Go8).

To date, UNSW’s combined success rate for the 2017 Linkage Projects round is 32% for 11 Linkage Projects, totalling $4.7 million and placing the University first in the Go8 and the nation. These linkage grants, designed to foster collaboration between universities and industry, involved in-kind and financial support for UNSW research from almost 30 external organisations.

Professor Nicholas Fisk, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) at UNSW, congratulated the University’s researchers on securing the most grants in this round.

“This funding will really help overcome some of society’s biggest challenges to achieve real-world outcomes for Australia," he said.

"These projects demonstrate the strength of our researchers, the societal and end-user relevance of their research, and the burgeoning discovery culture and environment here at UNSW. The key to the continuous application process is to be in it to win it, and this approach is now paying off for UNSW.

"Although there has been a lag with the introduction of the continuous process, we are now encouraged to see some impressive runs on the board.”


Dr Mark Anthony Browne and Professor Emma Johnston have been awarded $786,000 to to tackle marine pollution caused by clothing fibres.

Among the largest ARC Linkage Project grants announced was $786,000 to Dr Mark Browne from UNSW's School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences and the Dean of Science Professor Emma Johnston. Their project aims to tackle the most abundant type of marine pollution – clothing fibres – which has increased over 450% in 60 years. It will determine how these fibres, along with clothing brands and washing machine filters, reduce fibre emissions and their ecological impact.

Another large grant ($505,000) went to Professor Ian Turner from the School of Civil & Environmental Engineering, to develop a new coastal hazard early-warning system to benefit vulnerable communities and infrastructure along Australia’s coasts. This will alert communities, emergency managers and coastal engineers to impending storm wave damage and coastal erosion.

Associate Professor Moninya Roughan, from the School of Mathematics & Statistics, was awarded $440,000 to develop a state-of-the-art ocean weather information system for marine industries. The project will design an end-to-end solution that integrates ocean observations, operational forecasting and data delivery, providing a quicker pathway from research to economic benefit.

A project aimed at developing what governs antibiotic use in the health sector and how this can be made more effective was also granted $318,473. Professor Alexander Broom, from the School of Social Sciences, will develop strategies to improve antibiotic use and reduce resistance.

Dr Joanne Bryant, from the Centre for Social Research in Health, received $211,408 to support the sexual wellbeing of Aboriginal young people. The project will examine how Aboriginal people draw on social, cultural and personal resources to build their sexual wellbeing.

Other successful UNSW researchers include:

Professor Dennis Del Favero: $542,916 to investigate the emergence of novel forms of interactive aesthetics in contemporary performance design. This will allow Australia to capitalise on new digital opportunities to advance its performing and creative arts industries.

Professor Justin Gooding: $416,287 to develop a simple method for creating complex, multiple-cell-type three-dimensional (3D) cell cultures for in-vitro cell-based assays. Using 3D printing of multiple cell types, biological scientists will have more realistic in-vitro cell assays to those found in-vivo.

Dr Gemma Carey: $405,000 to develop methodologies to identify thin markets in the public service sector. Thin markets, where there are a low number of buyers or low number of sellers, are a major risk for governments using a personalised approach to service delivery.

Professor Sri Parameswaran: $300,000 to develop simpler image recognition systems to improve motor vehicle safety. This project will develop algorithmic and circuit techniques, provide training for research students, and build capability in approximate computing. It is also expected to lead to commercial products, licences and revenue, which will enable new job creation.

See the full list of recipients here.