Flinders receives $2.35m for research with industry

Professor Robert Saint

Flinders has received funding for six projects in the latest round of Australian Research Council Linkage funding, securing a total of $2.35 million in grants.

The projects include investigations focused on water resources for remote communities, the development of high-value seaweed products, the addition of zinc to wheat, and the capacity of Australia’s aged care workforce.

With 50 per cent of the University’s applications being successful (the national success rate was 35 per cent), Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robert Saint said it was an excellent outcome for Flinders.

“This is also an impressive result in terms of the spread of the research, and through the University’s engagement with industry these projects promise to deliver a range of significant benefits to the community,” Professor Saint said.

The projects, with the Flinders staff involved, are listed below.

Associate Professor Damien Keating will lead a multi-institutional team which received $370,000 for a project that aims to gain a deeper understanding of nutrient sensing pathways present in enteroendocrine cells within the human intestine. These cells control digestive function, blood glucose levels and food intake and are thus critical to digestion. The industry partner is Pfizer Inc.

Professor Kostas Mavromaras will lead a multidisciplinary team comprising Professor Julie Ratcliffe, Dr Stephane Mahuteau, Associate Professor Ann Harrington, Associate Professor Lily Xiao and Dr Linda Isherwood in a $195,000 project that aims to provide new evidence on how to attract, retain and up-skill workers in a rapidly expanding demand environment, as the aged care sector strives to achieve a sustainable and skilled workforce fit for the future needs of older Australians. The partners are Eldercare Inc, the Trustee for the James Brown Memorial Trust and the Churches of Christ Life Care Inc.

Dr Vincent Post, Professor Okke Batelaan and Professor Adrian Werner are part of a team thatsecured $420,000 funding for a project that aims to develop a methodology for community-led adaptive water management on resource-constrained islands.. The project outcomes will contribute to solving water supply problems in remote communities in Australia, and overseas. The partners are Power and Water Corporation, the University of Auckland, and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

Professor Craig Simmons and Professor Peter Cook will lead research granted $332,767 that aims to improve the estimation of the age of groundwater using a range of environmental tracers. Solving this problem will allow much more accurate estimates of groundwater velocity and aquifer recharge rates, and will contribute to the sustainable management of the groundwater resource. The partners are CSIRO and Rio Tinto Pty Ltd.

Associate Professor James Stangoulis will lead a project team that received $497,000 to seek pathways leading to the accumulation of zinc – an important element for human nutrition – in wheat. The project aims to provide biochemical and molecular markers for breeding programs that will facilitate the selection of superior breeding lines for improved human nutrition and seed health.  The partner is the International Centre for Tropical Research.

Professor Wei Zhang and Professor Colin Raston received $543,000 for a project that aims to improve seaweed processing to deliver multiple high-value products which have food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical uses. The project integrates an advanced biorefinery process with a vortex fluidic device. It is anticipated that the innovation will lead to the establishment of a new sustainable seaweed processing industry in Australia. The partner organisation is Australian Kelp Products.

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