Griffith University research projects have received funding in the Australian Research Council’s latest grants allocation, announced by the Federal Minister for Education, The Honourable Mr Christopher Pyne MP.

Griffith received a total of $4,124,804 for ten projects as part of the ARC’s Discovery Projects scheme and one under its Discovery Early Career Researcher program. Funding begins in 2015.

The Griffith recipients and their project categories are —

Discovery Projects

Ecological Applications: New tracer methods for revealing the hidden connections between ecosystems (Professor Brian Fry, Professor Jonathan Olley, Professor Michele Burford)

Developing novel methods involving trace elements and isotopes and opening up new ways to explore the large-scale connections between terrestrial ecosystems and downstream estuaries. It is planned to use these new methods to test for unexpected positive benefits of floods for estuarine fisheries. Expected outcomes include a new “toolkit” for tracing the hidden connections between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Total: $500,700.

Inorganic Chemistry: Metalloglycomics: A New Approach to Glycan Targeting (Professor Susan Berners-Price, Professor Nicholas Farrell, Professor Mark von Itzstein)

Exploring a new approach to drug design based on high affinity binding to carbohydrates by polynuclear platinum compounds. The aim is to provide mechanistic understanding underpinning the future development of dual-action platinum anti-cancer drugs with both DNA binding and anti-angiogenic activity. Total: $473,400.

Civil Engineering: Progressive collapse resistance of concrete flat plate structures (Associate Professor Hong Guan, Dr Benoit Gilbert, Professor Yew-Chaye Loo, Professor Xinzheng Lu)

Investigating the progressive collapse mechanisms and resistance capacity of concrete flat plate structures. The outcomes are expected to broaden and deepen the existing theoretical framework and knowledge base, prevent injury and loss of life in new and existing buildings, and ultimately contribute to the establishment of a set of collapse-resistant design guidelines for further development of relevant Australian and international standards. Total: $434,300.

Biochemistry and Cell Biology: Acquisition of the mitochondrial genome restores mitochondrial function (Professor Jiri Neuzil)

To show that cancer cells with heavily damaged mitochondrial DNA can acquire the mitochondrial genome from the host and that this results in the recovery of their mitochondrial function. The project aims to open a new avenue of research and could result in a shift in our understanding of some features of cellular communication and how cells can overcome unfavourable situations. Total $392,600.

Ecological Applications: Promoting resilience of ecosystems through connectivity (Professor Rod Connolly, Dr Thomas Schlacher)

Connectivity of ecosystem components is a critically important element of ecosystem function and should, theoretically, be central to system resilience. By manipulating connectivity in laboratory experiments using a well understood model marine system, the project aims to determine how connectivity affects resilience and could provide a crucial step towards integrating connectivity into management and conservation of natural resources. Total: $334,700.

Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing:Dynamics of Causal Knowledge (Professor Abdul Sattar, Associate Professor Abhaya Nayak, Professor James Delgrande)

In complex dynamic environments that include highly sensitive and safety-critical situations such as medical emergencies, disaster management and air-traffic control systems, knowledge of ‘what causes what’ plays a pivotal role in making correct decisions. This project aims to systematically develop a logic-based framework to adequately capture and reason about evolving causal knowledge. The research is expected to form the basis for smart decision-making and be evaluated on practical applications. Total: $331,400.

Psychology:Determining the role of disease avoidance in stimgatisation (Dr Megan Oaten, Professor Richard Stevenson, Professor Suzanne Chambers, Associate Professor Robert Kurzban)

To test a disease avoidance model of stigmatisation. Stigmatisation is characterised by chronic avoidance of a person or persons by others. Infectious disease may produce an apparently similar form of isolation — disease avoidance. This project aims to provide the first empirically based model of stigmatisation as an evolved disposition that causes the exclusion of people who look like they may carry an infectious disease, even if theydo not. Total $325,500.

Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing: Searching for Maximal Satisfaction (Associate Professor Kaile Su, Professor Abdul Sattar, Associate Professor John Thornton, Dr Duc Phan)

A wide range of practical problems such as scheduling, timetabling, planning and economic forecasting are not only computationally intractable in general, but often involve conflicting constraints that make them unsolvable. These problems can be represented as MaxSAT, the optimisation version of the satisfiability problem (SAT). This project aims to develop novel and efficient algorithms to address the problem of maximal satisfaction. Total: $325,500.

Ecological Applications: Ancient Ecology: Changes in penguin diet over approximately 30,000 years in Antarctica (Professor David Lambert, Professor Eske Willersley, Dr Craig Millar, Professor Carlo Baroni, Dr Simon Jarman)

The first direct study of ancient ecology using a combination of second-generation DNA sequencing and targeted gene recovery. The project intends to track changes in the diet of Adelie penguins from serially preserved ancient fecal (guano) remains dating back approximately 30,000 years. Total: $322,704.

Nanotechnology: Photoelectrocatalysis-based Techniques for Bactericidal Applications (Professor Huijun Zhao, Dr Haimin Zhang, Professor Taicheng An, Professor Wanhong Ma)

Effective control of the quality of water supply is paramount for public health. This project aims to develop a novel photo-electrocatalysis-based bactericidal technology capable of instant inactivation and rapid decomposition of waterborne pathogens in recycled water. The success of the project is expected to provide the Australian water industry with enabling technology to safeguard recycled water usage. Total: $294,000.

Discovery Early Career Researcher

Chemical Engineering: Nanowire photoelectrodes for carbon dioxide conversion (Dr Ziyang Huo)

Returning carbon dioxide (CO2) to a useful state is a significant and challenging problem requiring appropriate devices and energy output. This project aims to prepare abundant, non-toxic and sufficiently active photoelectrodes with one-dimensional nanostructure, and then develop appropriate and robust photo-electrochemical devices to convert CO2 into liquid fuels. This project aims to help reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations and explore a new energy source. Total $390,000.

Meanwhile, the following Griffith University staff members have also obtained ARC success as part of teams led by other institutions —

Discovery Projects

Dr Amanda KaladelfosandDr Nina Westera(through The University of Newcastle)$237,326

Dr Jason Byrne(through RMIT University)$172,500

Associate Professor Rod Gardner(through The University of Queensland)$204,500

Dr Amanda Webster(through Australian Catholic University)$310,900

ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities

Associate Professor Shanqing Zhang(through The University of Queensland)$190,000