Griffith researchers draw more than $4.6 million in funding in Discovery Grants

Associate Professor Daniel Kolarich from the Institute for Glycomics is among the nine Griffith Discovery Project awardees.

Griffith University researchers will lead nine new Discovery Projects across a broad field of knowledge after being awarded $4.676 million from the Australian Research Council.

The ARC’s Discovery Projects scheme supports individual researchers or research teams to innovate and build the ‘new’ knowledge essential for a knowledge-based economy.

The nine Griffith-led Discovery Projects were among the 421 research projects announced under the scheme, which awarded more than $220.2 million of funding for research around Australia.

Professor Andrew Bennett; Professor Andrew Brown; Dr John Ferguson; Associate Professor Catherine Strong; Dr Benjamin Green: Awarded $284,851

The project aims to examine effective methods of aligning local infrastructure and online resources to support digital music creators and their communities in regional Australia. It will promote digital creative industries and augment existing investments in regional art institutions and digital fabrication infrastructure. The project collaborates with regional digital artists to share their skills and expertise, with the goal of improving coordination of resources and infrastructure for the growth of regional digital creatives and engagement with their communities. Knowledge outcomes will assist governments in optimising the delivery of creative services and resources in regional Australia.

Dr Van Dau; Professor Bernd Rehm: Awarded $570,066

Inhalation offers high and rapid drug absorption into the bloodstream. This project aims to establish key technologies for a revolutionary system in inhaled nanomedicine delivery. The study will investigate the underlying physics of nanoparticles to create a world-first electrostatic nebuliser, enabling the more effective drug delivery. This technique is expected to overcome the current limitations by providing better control over the size and charge of delivered drugs. The outcomes of this project will benefit pharmaceutical companies in developing products with more efficient nasal delivery of advanced drugs, vaccines, and nanocariers, make it easier for doctors to prescribe, and benefit patients with more accurate dosages.

Professor Susan Forde; Dr Heather Anderson; Professor Halim Rane; Dr Poppy de Souza: Awarded $386,187

This project investigates the role of Australia’s ethnic media in the humanitarian and refugee settlement experience, conceptualising media engagement as a key lens through which to foster a sense of belonging. The project expects to provide the first-ever national study of ethnic media, mapping the ‘migrant mediasphere’ with a focus on new humanitarian and refugee communities. Expected outcomes include conceptual advances about media engagement and public connection for new and emerging migrant communities, and media’s place in the assemblage of humanitarian settlement services. Significant benefits emerge for humanitarian and refugee arrivals, for media trying to service these communities and for policymakers in urban and regional areas.

Professor David Hamilton; Professor Michele Burford; Professor Mark Gessner; Associate Professor Man Xiao: Awarded $676,935

This project aims to advance model predictions to generate novel insights into the triggers of freshwater harmful cyanobacteria blooms. Current models are poorly adapted for this purpose because they fail to account for antecedent environmental forcing. The project is expected to create new knowledge of cyanobacteria dynamics from simulating the adaptive responses of individual cyanobacteria cells, colonies or filaments to temperature, light and nutrient history. Three field studies will be used to validate a new individual based model. The outcomes of this project will be valuable for managing freshwater ecosystems that are increasingly subject to blooms in a warming climate, and for testing suitable mitigation and control strategies.

Associate Professor Daniel Kolarich; Dr Larissa Dirr; Dr Alpesh Kumar Malde; Dr Rebecca Griffiths: Awarded $812,177

This project aims to understand how the sugar code of key-signalling proteins influences the development of red blood cells. This project expects to generate new fundamental knowledge in the area of stem cell signalling by innovative integration of biological and computational molecular characterisation techniques. The expected outcomes of this project include the development of novel workflows to study key regulators of cell development and the generation of new knowledge in stem cell signalling that will find applications in transforming stem cell therapies and associated research for future applications such as the laboratory manufacturing of red blood cells to close the availability gap for transfusion purposes.

Dr Quoc Viet Hung Nguyen; Associate Professor Hongzhi Yin: Awarded $376,482

AI-powered recommender systems provide recommendations for daily lives, but they need to be legally interpretable and explainable. This project aims to transform existing black-box recommender models into transparent and trustworthy decision-support systems. The resulting tools will offer granular, explorable rationales for the recommendations in real time, creating greater public confidence while advancing the field. The expected outcomes include graph embedding methods for capturing real-world relationships in all their messiness and complexity. The anticipated contributions include impartial and accountable recommender models that are resistant to adversarial attacks and that slow the spread of misinformation.

Dr Paul Oliver; Professor Michael Lee; Dr Alienor Chauvenet; Professor Matthew Phillips: Awarded $552,289

This project aims to understand the extent to which the animals in Australia have shared histories with animals from the islands of Melanesia, and especially New Guinea. Key outcomes will be identification of hotspots of unique and high evolutionary diversity across both regions, and understanding of whether New Guinea has been an overall refuge or source for rainforest animals as Australia became more arid over the last 20 million years. Expected benefits include addressing fundamental gaps in our knowledge of the history of both the Australian continent and its resident biota such as when landbridges first formed with New Guinea, and the identification of priority areas for conservation investment in both Australian and Melanesia.

Professor Shirui Pan; Dr Quoc Viet Hung Nguyen: Awarded $476,668

This project aims to develop new technologies to detect anomalous patterns from dynamic networked data. Anomalies in networked data are commonly seen but are often hidden within the complex interconnections of large-scale, heterogeneous, and dynamic data, rendering existing detection methods ineffective. This project expects to design novel temporal graph mining techniques to compress large-scale networks, unify heterogeneous information, and enable label-efficient anomaly detection. The performance will be assessed in social and business networks, with significant benefits to governments and businesses in many critical applications, including cyberbullying detection, malicious account detection, and cyber-attack detection.

Associate Professor Yu Lin Zhong; Professor Stefanie Feih; Dr Tak Kim; Associate Professor Jiong Lu: Awarded $540,500

This project aims to design and develop functional nanomaterials and nanocomposites for high-performance wearable energy storage devices. A functional materials approach, together with precise control of device architecture through multi-materials additive manufacturing will be used to achieve maximum device performance. The expected outcomes include (i) fundamental understanding the structural-property relationships of materials and devices and (ii) the establishment of the fundamental principles on the microfabrication of flexible energy storage devices. The project secures Australia’s leading position in materials chemistry and advanced manufacturing, bringing economic benefit through the commercialisation of wearable devices.

Griffith researchers are also part of a number of other university-led Discovery grants including:

Dr Dominique de Andrade (AEL) – Deakin University: Awarded $436,351

Informing intervention responses to violent offenders through data linkage. The project aims to capitalise on new data access capacity to improve knowledge on violent offender pathways and criminogenic needs, such as acquired brain injury, to reduce offending and re-offending. Violence is a major social and health issue nationally and internationally. While there has been substantial investment in treatment/prevention campaigns, rates of violence remain high. Using diverse linked administrative data, we will identify key risk factors and times in trajectories, as well as effective treatment/justice responses. Expected benefits include evidence-based recommendations and engagement with policymakers targeting recidivism, offender screening, treatment, and coordinated violence prevention policy and practice.

Professor Susie Garvis (AEL) – University of Sydney: Awarded $664,259

Attracting, preparing, and sustaining quality teachers in early education. This project aims to address the chronic shortage of early childhood teachers in Australia, which is compromising quality and return on investment in early education. The project expects to generate new understandings about this specialist teacher workforce through an innovative, ecological, longitudinal design that will track early childhood teachers’ career trajectories and develop a world-first tool to assess early childhood teacher quality. Findings are expected to inform policy— including the Australian Government-endorsed 10-year national Workforce Strategy and the Australian Government’s Early Years Strategy— to support the future sustained supply of a quality early childhood teacher workforce and improve outcomes for young children.

Professor Jing Sun (Health) – University of Sydney: Awarded $709,714.00

Cellular Ageing: Is the Plasma Membrane the Control Hub? This project aims to determine whether the plasma membrane lipid composition is a major driver of cellular ageing. It expects to generate new knowledge in the molecular mechanism of cellular ageing, utilising our team’s deep expertise in lipid biology, bioinformatics, biophysics, extracellular vesicle biology and cellular ageing. Expected outcomes include the identification of novel cellular ageing markers and anti-ageing targets while also cementing long-standing partnerships and fostering new interdisciplinary collaborations. This cellular ageing study will provide novel insights into the basic principles of cellular behaviour, e.g. growth, differentiation, communication and death, reinforcing Australia’s leadership in biological science.

Dr Alexis Kallio (AEL) – University of Sydney: Awarded $411,200.00

Policing Australian Popular Music. This project will be the first comprehensive study of the relationship between policing and popular music in Australia. An interdisciplinary approach brings together criminology, music, history, social work, cultural, and music education research to investigate the processes by which certain forms of popular music and affiliated communities have been criminalised, and the ways musicians and musical communities have voiced resistance to police and state power. Through innovative interview and arts-practice based methodologies, the project will generate new knowledge on the historic and contemporary relations between state governance and creative cultural expression to inform policy and practice in policing as well as cultural investments.

The Australian Research Council also announced funding outcomes in the latest round under the ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) scheme. Griffith was successful with Dr Justine Kemp, (Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution), awarded $193,125 for her project.