Researchers from UNSW Sydney have secured more than $7.25 million in Australian Research Council (ARC) funding for projects that will help Australia better respond to natural disasters and participate in pioneering research partnerships that will create jobs and new business opportunities.

Minister for Education Dan Tehan today announced $81.8 million in ARC Discovery Early Career Research Awards (DECRA) to support 200 research projects to improve Australia’s response to natural disasters. A total of 15 UNSW academics from a range of disciplines have received funding for research tackling issues of drought, cyclones and bushfires.

In addition, two UNSW researchers received ARC Linkage Project grants for pioneering research partnerships to connect universities with industry.

“The University’s success in the latest ARC funding schemes demonstrate the comprehensive nature of UNSW’s research excellence spanning the humanities, business, and built environment, as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines,” Professor Ana Deletic, UNSW Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research said. “The range of projects awarded funding for 2020 underscores the University’s capability and commitment to delivering future-thinking and collaborative research to overcome some of society’s biggest challenges and achieve real-world outcomes for the benefit of all Australians.”

Successful UNSW DECRA researchers include: 

  • Dr Zoë Thomas, from UNSW Science, will investigate the synchrony of global atmospheric shifts in the last 11,650 years of the Earth’s history (the Holocene). This project will develop the first reconstructions of westerly airflow from targeted Southern Ocean islands during key periods of change, representing a range of climate states during this period.
  • Dr Wei Liu, from UNSW Engineering, will explore how to manage the network impacts of transport sharing services such as ridesharing and parking sharing to encourage people to use them. This should provide benefits for human mobility and city sustainability. 
  • Dr Yang Shen, from UNSW Business, will focus on demystifying retirement planning by using techniques from actuarial science and financial mathematics to generate new knowledge in the area of personal longevity risk management. This will provide benefits to retirement education for retirees facing the risk of outliving retirement savings.
  • Dr Joshua Zeunert, from UNSW Built Environment, whose project focuses on testing for sustainable Australian agriculture landscape scenarios to 2050 to contribute to more environmental agricultural practices, industries, communities and landscapes.

Information about all of the successful UNSW DECRA projects can be found on the ARC website.

The successful UNSW Linkage Projects include:

  • Professor Serkan Saydam, from UNSW Engineering, who is leading a team exploring how to make mining operations in Australia safer. The benefits of this research will be improved understanding of the environment causing catastrophic failure of bolts and avoidance of potential hazards and economic loss in mining projects. This will lead to improved safety and increased productivity in mining operations.
  • Dr Robert Nordon, from UNSW Engineering, whose research team aims to develop the next generation of cell sorters to scale production of viable sperm and other cell types. The outcomes of this research enable large-scale production of viable sperm for human and animal-assisted conception, benefiting infertile couples and the livestock breeding industry.