ARC funding boost for early career research

(L-R) Federal Higher Education Minister, Christopher Pyne; Discovery Project award recipient, Professor Hans Griesser; Early Career Researcher award recipient, Dr Chia-Chi Chien;  Outgoing Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Innovation, Professor Richard Head; and UniSA Vice Chancellor, Professor David Lloyd. INSIDE UNISA
(L-R) Federal Higher Education Minister, Christopher Pyne; Discovery Project award recipient, Professor Hans Griesser;
Early Career Researcher award recipient, Dr Chia-Chi Chien; Outgoing Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Innovation,
Professor Richard Head; and UniSA Vice Chancellor, Professor David Lloyd.

Improving the allocation of water resources, preventing fungal infections, and educating students for global citizenship are the aims of just some of the UniSA research projects to have received a funding boost from the Australian Research Council (ARC).

The latest round of ARC grants, which were announced by the Minister for Education, the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, in Adelaide, will see nine UniSA researchers gain funding support, including three early career researchers (ECR), five Discovery project researchers, and a linkage infrastructure grant recipient, Professor Namita Choudhury.

Minister Pyne said that offering funding opportunities for young researchers would build their careers while adding to Australia’s innovation base.

“If Australia is to keep up with the rest of the world, we must invest in our young researchers, to provide them with the resources to become internationally competitive,” Minister Pyne said.

UniSA ECR recipient, Dr Chia-Chi Chien, said the $375,000 grant, would open the door on her area of research.

“I am very pleased to be granted such a prestigious award. This funding will enable me to develop complex models of solid tumors in the laboratory,” Dr Chien said.

“Most of the current cancer research is conducted using a plastic Petri dish, which does not mimic the complex environment experienced by tumor cells inside the body. On the other hand, animal studies are widely used but these raise ethical concerns and also do not enable real-time observation of live tumors.

“My project will bridge this gap and work towards providing a novel way to observe not only the growth of solid tumours but also their response to treatments.

“Ultimately, I hope that my research will help biologists to better understand the growth and development of cancer as well as providing new ways to screen for more efficient treatments.”

UniSA Vice Chancellor, Professor David Lloyd said it was encouraging that three of the University’s early career researchers would be given support to advance their projects.

“Our success and growth as a University is aligned to the strength and support afforded to our early career researchers,” Prof Lloyd said.

“It is a highly competitive research environment and to succeed in securing this level of funding is testament to the skill and dedication of our researchers and the quality of their research.

“The investment into these nine projects is recognition of the world-class quality of UniSA research and the ability that research has to add positive value to our society.”

Discovery Early Career Researcher Award recipients:

Dr Chia-Chi Chien: Awarded: $375,000 to develop advanced in vitro tumour models aimed at examining the delivery and transport of diagnostic and therapeutic nanomedicine agents in tumour tissues.

Dr Adam Loch: Awarded: $374,000 for research designed to help identify barriers to water reallocation efforts and to suggest priority areas for policy innovation to meet supply and demand challenges.

Dr Andrew Peterson: Awarded: $336,027 for a project that will see qualitative research methods being used to determine teachers' work and students' experiences, to provide the first detailed account of educating students for global citizenship in Australian schools. The findings are expected to contribute to educational policy and practice, both in Australia and internationally.

Discovery Projects Grant funding recipients are:

Professor Alexander Grant: Awarded: $435,500: Project title: Coding for Distributed Storage: Fundamental Limits and Code Designs

Professor Hans Griesser: Awarded: $355,500: Project title: Combating fungal biofilm growth on surfaces

Associate Professor Susan Luckman: Awarded: $315,100: Project title: Promoting the making self in the creative micro-economy

Associate Professor Krasimir Vasilev: Awarded: $329,900: Project title: Surface Engineered Biomaterials to Control Inflammation

Professor Nicholas Voelcker: Awarded $363,000: Project title: Closing the data gap: High throughput screening of nanoparticle toxicity

A Linkage Infrastructure grant totalling $290,000 is being awarded to Professor Namita Choudhury, of the Ian Wark Research Institute, whose proposal is to establish a South Australian facility that will allow researchers to visualise and analyse structure at nanoscale resolutions. The new SA collaborative facility would be designed to meet the demands of a large number of innovative projects conducted by multidisciplinary groups of researchers.

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