New ARC grants bolster diverse Flinders research

Finding solutions for better gut health, student learning capacities and water resources management, through to improving health services in remote Indigenous communities will be the focus of Flinders University research supported by almost $8 million from the Australian Research Council.

It comprises 15 Discovery Grants, two Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities grants, one Linkage Project grant, and one Discovery Early Career Researcher Award to Dr Tully Barnett, who has received $387,863 to investigate the reach of reading and literature in the post-print age, and to improve protection and development of digital text technologies.

Flinders University Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robert Saint said the new round of funding serves as a powerful endorsement of Flinders’ valuable contributions in research across myriad disciplines. Successful grant applications span the fields of biological sciences, education, medical and health sciences, psychology and cognitive sciences, history and archaeology, and studies in human society.

“The impressive result is testament to the meaningful and life changing research being pursued by our talented and dedicated researchers here at Flinders,” said Professor Saint.

“From unlocking the secrets of evolution of freshwater fishes to delving deep into our digestive system, our research continues to change lives and change the world. While the continued increase in the funding won by Flinders – up more than 70 per cent on last year – is notable, even more notable is the impact our discoveries are having.

“Already we are seeing immense interest in the potential of the Vortex Fluidic Device to produce a wide range of beneficial materials, from biofuels and novel polymers to cancer drugs and anaesthetics. Our successful LIEF grant will help establish a major research facility for this important low cost, low waste manufacturing technology.

“Another impressive piece of research will harness archaeology to help inform the design of the International Space Station to enhance its liveability.”

“In addition to the 19 grants worth almost $8m in which Flinders researchers are lead, we also have investigators in another 10 grants administered by other institutions, speaking strongly to our spirit of collaboration” Professor Saint says.

Further details of Flinders’ led ARC Discovery grants in 2019 are:

  • Professor John Wakerman with Professor John Humphreys, Professor Terry Dunbar, Professor Lisa Bourke, Mr Edward Mulholland, Professor Steven Guthridge, Dr Yuejen Zhao, Professor Michael Jones and Associate Professor John Boffa will study the impact of fly-in/fly-out staff in remote Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, regarding patient and staff attitudes, workload and the effectiveness of services, to stabilise the remote health workforce, save money and improve health outcomes. $796,931.
  • Professor Damien Keating with Professor Nick Spencer and Associate Professor Seungil Ro will study how serotonin, the gastrointestinal signalling molecule, regulates gut peristalsis, and how serotonin communicates with the nervous system in our gastrointestinal tract. $529,290.
  • Professor Stella Vosniadou with Emeritus Professor Michael Lawson, Professor Lorraine Graham, Dr Charlotte Dignath-van Ewijk and Professor Michelene Chi will study how to improve the quality of teaching and learning in STEM subjects. $485,000.
  • Associate Professor Rachel Popelka-Filcoff, Professor Claire Lenehan, Professor Claire Smith, Associate Professor Amy Roberts, Professor Robert Edwards and Assistant Professor Shanan Tobe will identify the origins and movements of Australian archaeological ochre, to answer questions about Aboriginal people’s trade, cultural interactions, territoriality and colonisation. $478,500.
  • Professor Paul Ward with Professor Megan Warin, Professor Carlene Wilson, Professor Ian Olver, Dr Emma Miller, Professor Paul Bissell, Dr Samantha Meyer and Dr Sara Macdonald will identify alcohol consumption patterns by Australian women aged 45-64 in different socio-economic status groups, as a model for effective alcohol reduction messages and to reduce alcohol-related harms such as breast cancer. $461,327.
  • Professor Nick Spencer, Professor Marcello Costa, Professor Simon Brookes and Associate Professor Philip Dinning will to investigate neuron activity that defines behaviour in the gut of mammals. $453,000.
  • Professor Gavin Prideaux with Professor Michael Lee, Associate Professor Matthew Phillips, Dr Natalie Warburton, Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, Associate Professor Craig McGowan will aim to pinpoint the nature and timing of kangaroo evolution, to understand how this was shaped by environmental change. $445,000.
  • Associate Professor Gerard Redmond, Professor Fiona Brooks, Professor Colin MacDougall, Dr Jennifer Skattebol, Associate Professor Parimala Raghavendra and Dr Gill Main will investigate social exclusion among young people aged 8 to 17, and what risks this presents. $437,088.
  • Professor Neil Brewer and Professor Robyn Young will study how autistic adults may fall foul of the law due to their diminished ability to recognise unfolding criminal activity, or poor relationships with justice system personnel. $412,543.
  • Professor Sonia Kleindorfer with Dr Diane Colombelli-Negrel and Professor Mark Hauber will measure how embryos learn through sound, and determine how hearing prenatal voices can affect postnatal behaviour. $385,000.
  • Professor Melanie Oppenheimer with Professor Susanne Schech, Dr Romain Fathi, Dr Rosemary Wall and Professor Russell Wylie will conduct a historical investigation of The League of Red Cross Societies, to help inform future humanitarian policy and practice. $330,912.
  • Professor Luciano Beheregaray and Professor Louis Bernatchez will compare wild, captive and reintroduced river fish populations to identify evolutionary potential in different habitats – a project to help water resources management in the Murray-Darling Basin. $318,000.
  • Dr Alice Gorman and Associate Professor Justin Walsh will investigate human engagement within the International Space Station, to show how humans adapt to space technology and can be applied to improve the efficiency of long duration space missions. $244,400.
  • Professor Michael Wenzel, Associate Professor Tyler Okimoto, Dr Lydia Woodyatt and Professor Everett Worthington Jr will study interpersonal relationships to improve reconciliation that will benefit family wellbeing and employee productivity. $240,000.
  • Dr Oren Griffiths, Dr Anna Thorwart, Dr Thomas Beesley and Dr David Luque aim to develop a theory of fundamental learning by investigating how unpredictability affects the way people represent and use information. $180,000.

Further success was achieved by two groups of Flinders researchers receiving ARC funds for Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities.

  • Professor Colin Raston AO, Professor Michael Monteiro, Professor Pall Thordarson, Associate Professor Keith Stubbs, Dr Justin Chalker, Professor Briony Forbes, Associate Professor Sarah Harmer-Bassell, Professor Dr Wei Zhang, Professor Dr Alan Rowan, Professor Charles Bond, Professor Hui Tong Chua, Dr Tristan Clemons, Dr Nicole Smith, Dr Jonathon Beves and Dr Thanh Vinh Nguyen received $380,000 to establish a new research centre that will further develop thin film microfluidics.
  • Professor Gunther Andersson, Professor Gregory Metha, Professor Paul Dastoor, Professor Colin Raston AO, Professor Shizhang Qiao, Professor Mats Andersson and Dr Warwick Belcher received $320,625 to develop a vacuum infrared spectroscopy facility that will help researchers identify and measure the chemical signatures of a broad range of surfaces.

A Linkage Project Grant of $573,620 was awarded to Associate Professor Melanie Swalwell, Dr Helen Stuckey, Dr Denise de Vries, Professor Angela Ndalianis and Mr Sebastian Chan for preserving Australian videogame history that catalogues sweeping change in digital cultural heritage.

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