ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH) will launch an innovative, interdisciplinary research program to track the natural and human history of Australia. We will link researchers from science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) disciplines – including Earth and climate sciences, ecology and genetics – with scholars from humanities, arts and social sciences (HASS) disciplines such as archaeology and Indigenous and museum studies. CABAH will bring the extraordinary environmental and human history of Australia to the public through a comprehensive program of education, outreach and science communication events for schools, museums, science festivals and a range of digital media.

CABAH will open in mid-2017, funded by a $33.75 million grant from the ARC, $1 million from the NSW Government, and $11 million from participating universities, museums and other organisations. These will support around 40 new research positions and more than 50 new research students over the 7-year life of the Centre, led by Distinguished Professor Richard ‘Bert’ Roberts (University of Wollongong).

CABAH objectives:

  1. Transform our understanding of Australia’s ancient Indigenous heritage and environmental past;
  2. Revolutionise the nation’s capabilities to investigate the processes that shaped this continent and the story of its people by creating a new and genuinely transdisciplinary research environment;
  3. Help future-proof Australia’s unique biodiversity and cultural heritage using our improved understanding of that legacy; and
  4. Tackle the research and innovation challenges facing Australia by equipping a new generation of researchers with the range of skills needed to traverse the interface between STEM and HASS disciplines.

The team: CABAH comprises 18 Chief Investigators, 9 Partner Investigators and other Australian and international leaders in research, science communication, education and engagement. The team is spread across 7 Australian universities (University of Wollongong, James Cook University, University of New South Wales, The University of Adelaide, Monash University, The Australian National University and University of Tasmania) and a range of partner organisations in Australia and overseas (Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, France, Germany, Denmark, the UK and the USA).

Research program: CABAH has six research themes: Humans, Climate, Landscapes, Wildlife, Time and Models. We will work across these themes to address key questions concerning the human and environmental history of Australia, Papua New Guinea and eastern Indonesia from 130,000 years ago – when Australia was devoid of humans and the climate was similar to today’s – to the time of initial European contact. To capture regional differences, 22 field campaigns will be conducted across five study regions. The results of the field and laboratory activities will feed into models to better manage and protect our immensely important natural and cultural resource base into the future.

Research Training and Ethics program: CABAH will build Australia’s future research capacity through an innovative, multi-layered research training and ethics program. Our aim is to produce future generations of researchers skilled in ethically appropriate methods, tools and technologies within STEM and at the interface with HASS disciplines, and to develop career pathways towards leadership positions. We will hold short courses, masterclasses, tailored workshops and symposia. Fellowships and grants will support research exchanges among the Australian institutions and our international partners. The program also includes initiatives to raise the representation of Indigenous Australians and women researchers in mid-career and senior ranks.

Education and Engagment program: We will showcase the research of CABAH and the benefits of these activities and outcomes for end-users and stakeholders, including the broader Australian and global community. To promote the importance of STEM skills and education, the program crosses general and Indigenous education. It will also incorporate strategies to foster a positive alignment of Indigenous knowledge systems and the sciences. The program will be delivered in partnership with the Australian, Queensland and South Australian Museums and the State Library of NSW, influential international institutions, science education and communication specialists, and through contributions to major events such as the World Science Festival and National Science Week.

Further information: Please contact us by completing the online form at the CABAH website