More than $221 million ARC Discovery Projects announced for 2023

The Australian Research Council (ARC) Chief Executive Officer, Ms Judi Zielke PSM, today announced funding of more than $221 million for 478 new projects through the ARC Discovery Projects scheme.

Ms Zielke said that the Discovery Projects scheme supports individual researchers or research teams to innovate and build the ‘new’ knowledge essential for a knowledge-based economy.

“Funding these cutting-edge research projects will expand the knowledge base and research capacity in Australia.” Ms Zielke said.

“Projects will deliver significant outcomes in fields such as advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, environmental change, health, and water.”

“The ARC funds world-class excellence across a wide range of scientific fields. This includes projects to better understand the history of the Torres Strait through sport, improving techniques for primary school learning, and fundamental ‘blue-sky’ research that will expand the horizon of our knowledge of the universe.”

Discovery Projects, a flagship scheme for fundamental research and the largest scheme under the ARC National Competitive Grants Program, provides funding of between $30,000 and $500,000 each year for up to 5 consecutive years. Among other things, funding can be used to support research associates or 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.

Among the successful Discovery Projects to commence in 2023 are:

University of Southern Queensland ($399,000): Carbon fibre thermoplastics as next-generation carbon fibre composites. Carbon Fibre Composites (CFCs) are extremely strong and lightweight materials used in manufacturing, particularly in the aerospace industry. This project, using malleable polymer resin, will develop new CFCs enabling rapid production, reduced manufacturing costs, and the potential for materials to be reprocessed and recycled. This will help Australia’s advanced manufacturing capability as new applications are identified in broader industries like automotive, wind energy, marine, oil and gas, and hydrogen storage.

University of Technology Sydney ($482,000): Deep Learning Attacks and Active Defences. This project will develop sophisticated cybersecurity techniques to provide active protection measures against attacks on artificial intelligence (AI) systems that process data, including making the detection of threats quicker, more reliable, and more affordable. The security and privacy tools developed are expected to be adopted by a wide variety of organisations using AI software, especially in critical sectors such as banking/securities, trade/customs, telecommunications, government decision-making and power grid control, plus transport and autonomous vehicles.

University of Newcastle ($660,000): Towards 2050 – managing recovery of Australia’s coral reefs. This project will provide information on how historical temperatures and bleaching severity impact reef recovery. With increasing ocean temperatures this information will support coral reef managers in Australia and internationally to make decisions to mitigate long term impacts of coral bleaching.

University of Western Australia ($565,000): Brain-skull interface – discovering the missing piece of head biomechanics. Every year in Australia over 22,000 people suffer a traumatic brain injury and over 12,000 neurosurgical operations are performed. This research will help create software that will design safety devices to prevent traumatic brain injury as well as surgical simulations to improve surgery accuracy and safety by integrating our knowledge of brain biomechanics with advanced computer modelling techniques.

University of Tasmania ($475,000): Eruption dynamics and tsunami potential from submarine volcanoes. Using recently acquired ship-based geophysics and seafloor samples, this project will uncover the dynamics of large scale catastrophic volcanic eruptions. Partnerships with international experts will unlock the expertise needed to model eruption and tsunami dynamics and increase our knowledge of the volcanic hazards in our region to inform tsunami risk and mitigation policies.

University of Adelaide ($530,000): Integrated nonmetal-metal single-atom catalysis for selective synthesis. New cutting-edge technology will be integrated at low cost into waste recycling and wastewater treatment plants. New green catalysts will be developed that can remove persistent organic pollutants in water without producing large amounts of toxic and hazardous wastes.

University of Queensland ($391,000): Torres Strait Islander History – Sport, Culture, and Identity. This project will examine the history of the Torres Strait through its local, national, and international sporting past and provide a body of literature and resources for national communities, schools, and scholars to better understand the uniqueness of Torres Strait Islander history, cultures, and identities.

University of Canberra ($344,000): Spatial intervention: An enduring model to build mathematics achievement. This project will develop innovative teaching and learning techniques to engage primary-school children with mathematics. Developing students’ critical spatial reasoning skills will support successful outcomes in school-level mathematics for all students, including those from marginalised groups and regional in areas.

Swinburne University of Technology ($375,000): Unveiling the dead and dusty Universe with the James Webb Space Telescope. Researchers from Swinburne will join researchers from leading institutes in the USA, Europe, and Israel to discover the first mature galaxies formed after the Big Bang by revealing galaxies previously obscured by dust.

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