$5.5m for Deakin Research in 2024 ARC Discovery Project grant round


Deakin University researchers will share in more than $5.5 million in funding for 13 exciting new research projects as part of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Projects scheme 2024 funding round.

Our world-class researchers working across all four of Deakin’s Faculties, as well as Deakin’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) will lead studies into issues such as outlaw motorcycle gangs, alcohol and drug addiction and next generation battery technology.

Discovery Projects, a flagship scheme for fundamental research and the largest scheme under the ARC National Competitive Grants Program, provide funding of between $30,000 and $500,000 each year for up to five consecutive years.

The funding can be used to support research assistants and technicians, access to research and infrastructure facilities, technical workshop services, essential field research, equipment and consumables, and the publication and dissemination of findings.

Research funded through the ARC delivers excellent outcomes for the nation, with every $1 of research that the ARC funds generating $3.32 in economic output back into the Australian community.

Deakin researchers are also named as a collaborating party on another seven successful Discovery Projects led by other universities.

The successful Deakin-led Discovery Projects are:

Professor David Bright and Professor Chad Whelan

The Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI)


Analysing and disrupting outlaw motorcycle gangs in Australia

Crimes committed by Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMCGs) cause significant social and economic harm for Australian and international communities. However, little is currently known about co-offending by members of OMCGs. This project will shed light on co-offending within and between OMCG clubs, document changes over time, and develop more effective policies and practices to disrupt OMCG crime.

Results of the project will be communicated to criminal justice personnel, especially those working in law enforcement and criminal intelligence agencies tasked with disrupting crime committed by OMCGs and other organised criminal groups. The project will lead to enhanced capability for law enforcement and criminal intelligence agencies to prevent and disrupt OMCG crime.

Professor Patrick Stokes

The Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI)


Digital Death and Immortality

A legacy of today’s digitally driven world is the increasing number of ‘digital remains’ a person leaves behind after they die, such as audio and image files, social media accounts and emails. How to deal with these digital remains has become an increasingly significant with the rise of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and costly problem for individuals, families, organisations, tech companies, and governments.

This project will help to understand what sort of ethical significance digital remains have, and determine how they should be preserved, reused or disposed of. The work will provide a range of social benefits to Australians by informing effective and ethical government and industry policymaking to regulate the reuse and disposal of digital artefacts.

Associate Professor Linda Hobbs

Centre for Research for Educational Impact (REDI)


Shifting the Culture of Out-of-field Professional Education for Teachers

Australian schools are currently facing a teacher shortage. Subsequently, secondary teachers are increasingly required to teach outside their area of specialisation. This project aims to support the diversification of teacher expertise through professional education and re-specialisation to build a more robust, resilient and consistently high-quality education system.

The project will integrate perspectives from across the education system to develop a framework for professional education for ‘out-of-field’ teachers in science, mathematics, English and the humanities. The framework will guide policy settings, education structures and school practices needed to support teachers through continuing subject-focused professional education.

Dr David Farrugia

Centre for Research for Educational Impact (REDI)


Young people are increasingly engaging in small-scale entrepreneurial activities alongside formal employment, or ‘side hustles’. Amid increasing employment uncertainty and low wages, entrepreneurship is also being embraced as a policy solution by government. However, the consequences of side hustles are poorly understood. There is a risk that these policies may be ineffective or worsen the economic marginalisation of young people.

This project aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of the impact of side hustles on the lives of young workers. Working with government, industry and the non-government organisation sector, the team will examine the characteristics of side-hustlers, the nature of their entrepreneurial activities, the strategies they use to combine employment and entrepreneurship, and their experiences overall.

Dr Romain Gauriot

Faculty of Business and Law


Discrimination in Policing: Evidences from Natural Experiments

Allowing discretion in the application of the law allows the spirit of the law to be respected while also allowing flexibility in its application. However, this discretion can lead to discrimination based on race, wealth, and gender. It is, therefore, essential to understand how this discretion is applied and whether it leads to discrimination.

This research program focuses on the issue of speeding fines, which provides unique real-world data to explore these questions rigorously. By understanding how discretion is applied in this context and whether it leads to discrimination, we can gain valuable insights into the prevalence and impact of discrimination in Australia. While the findings will help us understand discrimination outside this specific setting, studying how speeding fines are issued is important by itself.

With speeding offences being so prevalent, it is essential to better understand whether all Australians are treated equally when driving over the speed limit. By deepening our understanding of discrimination in Australia, this research program will inform policymaking and could lead to more equitable treatment for all Australians.

Associate Professor Dan Liu

Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM)


Two-dimensional nanomaterials for wearable zinc ion battery

There is an urgent need for new materials and technologies to relieve the pressure from the ongoing depletion of fossil fuels and ever-growing energy demands. This project aims to design and develop wearable ‘solid-state zinc batteries’ – which is a type of battery that uses zinc and nano-sized materials to store and release energy with high efficiency.

Unlike traditional batteries that use liquid electrolytes, wearable solid-state batteries use solid nano-sized materials to conduct electricity, which makes them safer and more efficient. They are commonly used in wearable devices – like health monitoring, movement tracking, and smart clothing – and are strong, long-lasting and environmentally friendly. This work will generate new ideas in material manufacturing and the creation of low cost and safe batteries.

Associate Professor Jianxin Li

Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment


Beyond Query: Exploratory Subgraph Discovery and Search System

The problem of user-to-user computing relationships that occur over different continuous time intervals has not yet been explored. This important area of study has the potential to motivate users to work together more effectively

and optimise collaboration methods. The project will investigate three time-continuous subgraph query models and develop real-time query services to support dynamic attributed network data analytics. This project will create a set of effective query models, efficient algorithms, maintenance techniques and strategies, and a prototype evaluation system. This project will contribute significantly to the foundation of big data analytics, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. It will also have practical benefits such as supporting end-users

in making smarter decisions when collaborating, combating the spread of fake news, and optimising item recommendations based on long-term and short-term interactions between users.

Alfred Deakin Professor Craig Olsson

Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED)


Drivers of ageing and adaptive ageing in middle-aged and older adults.

This project will help answer crucial questions about how our early years influence our health and wellbeing in middle and later life, and what we can do to live a healthy and prosperous life later down the track. Established in 1983 and now spanning three generations of study participants, the Australian Temperament Project is one of Australia’s longest running studies of social and emotional development. The next phase of this work is a unique opportunity to collect data on ways in which we adapt to and cope with social and emotional challenges in middle and later life.

This project will provide insight into important and largely unanswered questions about the way social factors in the first half of life shape our later selves. This study will directly inform government and health policy for promoting healthy ageing, with a focus on what can be done to build the social and relationship skills from the very beginning of life.

Professor Peter Miller

Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED)


Informing intervention responses to violent offenders through data linkage

Two in five Australian adults have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 15. Violence negatively affects mental, emotional, physical and social wellbeing, and the economic impact of violence in Australia is estimated at AU$24 billion per year.

This research will use linked data across multiple domains to identify key indicators and outcomes of violent offending. Findings will address critical knowledge gaps, provide new insights into complex offender needs and identify high-risk conditions. Using an extensive network of policymakers and

practitioners, the findings will inform targeted prevention, intervention and reintegration programs to break cycles of violence and improve community safety and wellbeing.

Dr Fangfang Chen

Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM)


Design of novel polymer electrolytes for solid state sodium batteries

If Australia is to develop a future ‘green economy’ we will need high-performance energy-storage devices to effectively use renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions. As the energy storage needs of industry and households grow, the enormous energy-storage challenge will be difficult to solve with current lithium-ion battery technology alone.

This research will provide alternative energy storage technology based on sodium batteries, which will be more economical and sustainable in the long term. The project will bring together world-renowned experts in the fields of polymer synthesis, characterisation and modelling to develop new polymer materials.

Professor Ying (Ian) Chen

Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM)


Unlocking exceptional properties through pressure-induced phase transitions

The challenge of dissipating heat is a major hindrance in the development of miniaturised electronics. To overcome this issue, there is demand for advanced materials that possess exceptional electronic and thermal properties to reduce heat generation and improve thermal management through passive cooling. This technology is also crucial for reducing energy consumption, which is a pressing global concern.

This project aims to develop new hybrid materials with enhanced electronic and thermal properties to address the challenge of dissipating heat with an efficient new cooling system based on the new developed materials. The project will provide considerable social and environmental benefits for Australian society and industry, including intellectual property, commercialisation opportunities and employment, and reduction of energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

Professor Jenny Pringle

Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM)


Zwitterion-based electrolytes for advanced energy technologies

Lithium-ion batteries are the most widely used in Australia. However, the electrolytes inside them are flammable and unsafe, and are incompatible with new electrodes being developed to make batteries more powerful. Using sodium instead of lithium in batteries could provide an incredible alternative, as sodium is cheap and abundant, but this transition requires new electrolytes.

This project aims to develop a new class of electrolyte that is safer, non-flammable and designed to function in high-energy batteries made with sodium or lithium. The project will build our understanding of how to improve movement of charge through electrolyte materials to enhance battery performance. Findings will be shared with emerging battery industries and those developing new energy storage technologies.

Dr Renae Fomiatti and Dr Kiran Pienaar

The Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI)


Understanding the role of trauma in alcohol and other drug-related problems

Problems related to alcohol and other drugs (AOD) such as addiction, relapse, mental illness and overdose have considerable social and economic impact on Australian communities. However, the influence of past trauma in AOD issues is poorly understood.

This project will be a world-first comprehensive qualitative study of trauma and AOD problems, conducted by a team of leading AOD scholars. The project will comprise policy and professional resource analysis, in-depth interviews with consumers and health professionals, and field observations of trauma informed care training. The findings will be used to develop recommendations for innovative social policy and mapping and implementation tools to improve AOD responses and trauma-informed AOD care.

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