End-of-year funding success

To cap off a solid year for Flinders University research, ten Flinders projects have been awarded Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project funding in one of the last grant rounds for 2021.

The projects from the colleges of Medicine and Public Health, Science and Engineering, and Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences will share in just under $5.5 million from the federal government, an almost three-fold increase from the same grant round the previous year.

The successful projects are:

  • Professor John Long – College of Science and Engineering – The Devonian Gogo Fauna: Diversity, Palaeoecology and Global Significance – $507,060
  • Professor Mats Andersson – College of Science and Engineering – Develop materials for stable and efficient printed polymer solar cells – $480,000
  • Professor Rob Edwards – College of Science and Engineering – Quantitative Metagenomics – $567,057
  • Professor Patrick Hesp – College of Science and Engineering – Evolution. Morphodynamics and History of the Younghusband Peninsula – $378,000
  • Dr Andrea Harrington – College of Medicine and Public Health – Mapping sites of visceral convergence connecting the colon and bladder $456,249
  • Professor Nick Spencer – College of Medicine and Public Health – How Spinal Afferent Neurons Control Appetite and Thirst – $438,619
  • Dr Arne Ittner – College of Medicine and Public Health – Molecular control of memory traces – $720,000
  • Dr Yee Lian Chew – College of Medicine and Public Health – How do protein quality control mechanisms maintain neuronal ageing? – $554,000
  • Professor Janni Petersen – College of Medicine and Public Health – How do cells survive nutrient stress? Insight into mechanisms – $480,564
  • Dr Michael Smith – College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences – Warratyi: Cultural Innovation in the Indigenous Settlement of Australia – $910,000

In addition, Flinders University researchers will also feature across nine other successful non-Flinders applications, including a $529,846 grant for a project led by Professor Krasimir Vasilev, a new appointee in Flinders’ College of Medicine and Public Health.

In total, 587 new projects from across Australia were funded, sharing in $258.6 million over the next five years.

‘The aim of the Discovery Projects scheme is to support excellent basic and applied research and research training; promote national and international research collaboration; and enhance the scale and focus of research in Australian Government priority areas,” says Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Research Council, Professor Sue Thomas.

This December grant round completes a strong year for Flinders University research. Alongside funding injections from a number of bodies including the ARC, the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Medical Research Futures Fund, the year also saw the establishment of the Marine Bioproducts Cooperative Research Centre and the Aged Care Centre for Growth and Translational Research, as well as the announcement of Flinders’ new landmark $255 million Health and Medical Research Building.

Update December 24 2021:

This grant round has also attracted significant attention, with a number of projects initially recommended by the ARC expert panel but ultimately vetoed by Federal Education Minister Stuart Robert. This included one involving College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences researcher Dr Erin Sebo, joint CI on a grant with the University of Sydney, titled “Finding Friendship in early English Literature”.

It’s prompted calls for greater independence of funding decisions, a petition and questions on social media, including from Flinders’ Vice Chancellor Colin Stirling.

In a letter to MPs, Dr Sebo writes, “Notably, the projects rejected each had a political aspect (climate change activism, China) and my own project (led by a colleague at the University of Sydney, Prof. Dan Anlezark) included a strand of research on (mis)appropriation of medieval culture by white supremacists and extremists such as the Christchurch terrorist. It may not be obvious to the non-specialist that research into medieval studies of this nature can help us to understand, explain and hopefully prevent such atrocities. This is precisely why the College of Experts opinion matters and why single-handed veto by politicians should cease. In simple terms, this is government over-reach and cancel culture at its worst.”

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