Seize day: early-career researchers on pathway to success

Three University of Tasmania researchers are among 196 recipients of the 2022 Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA).

The University has been awarded a total of $1,324,711 in the current DECRA round, a scheme that enhances the scale and focus of research in Australian Government priority areas, while supporting excellent basic and applied research by early career researchers.

“The DECRA scheme provides our promising early career researchers the opportunities and resources to advance their research and build diverse career pathways,” ARC Chief Executive Officer, Professor Sue Thomas said.

IMAS researcher Dr Taryn Noble will be assessing the vulnerability of East Antarctica to future warming. The project will address major gaps in our understanding of how the Antarctic Ice Sheet will respond to climate change, through critical insights into its sensitivity to past climate warming.

“I’ll be applying geochemical approaches to track meltwater input due to ice-sheet loss during past warming, and the impact of glacial meltwater on biological productivity and Southern Ocean circulation,” Dr Noble said.

“Knowing how the ice sheet and ocean respond to climate warming will lead to more reliable long-term projections of future sea-level rise and climate – and it will facilitate evidence-based policy decisions for managing the impact of sea-level rise.”

School of Information and Communication Technology researcher Dr Zehong (Jimmy) Cao will be working on a closed-loop human–agent learning framework to enhance decision making.

“This project will create new technologies to promote controllability and efficient and safe exploration of an environment for decision actions – drastically boosting learning effectiveness and interpretability in decision making,” Dr Cao said.

“This will benefit national cybersecurity by improving our understanding of vulnerabilities and threats involving decision actions, and by ensuring that human feedback and evaluations can help prevent catastrophic events in explorations of dynamic and complex environments.”

CALE researcher Dr Susan Bartie will develop a socio-legal history of Australia’s environmental lawyers, with the aim of creating new resources to benefit the environment and the community.

“I believe my project will unearth new ways of understanding the law in action, creating new knowledge for reforming environmental governance and environmental protection,” Dr Bartie said.

“Lawyers are crucial facilitators and legitimators of social causes, but are often studied in ways that suggest that their importance to the nation is either marginal or purely instrumental. My study of the ideas and endeavours of environmental lawyers, over a 50-year period, is designed to challenge these common portrayals.”

All funded DECRA projects for this round are available on the ARC website.

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