Monash Biologists and Physicists awarded ARC Future Fellowships

School of Physics

Two biologists and two physicists have collectively been awarded four Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowships worth approximately $4 million.

The Minister for Education Dan Tehan today announced the 100 Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellows who will share $87.8 million to conduct important research projects.

Monash will receive just over $11 million in funding for 13 ARC Future Fellowship research projects with approximately $4 million going to Faculty of Science researchers.

The new Future Fellows are awarded to outstanding mid-career researchers, who will now receive funding support for the next four years to undertake their innovative research in Australia.

The Future Fellowships scheme encourages research in areas of national priority, with preference given to researchers who can demonstrate a capacity to build collaboration across industry, with other research institutions and with other disciplines.

“Congratulations to our 2019 ARC Future Fellows,” said Monash Science Dean, Professor Jordan Nash.

“This is an excellent result for the Faculty of Science which will enable our researchers to tackle a range of globally important issues from exploring genetic abnormalities to better understanding how the universe works.”

The Monash Science 2019 Australian Future Fellows are:

Dr Sridevi Sureshkumar

Project: Changes in the copy number of DNA repeats are associated with phenotypic variations in several species. Expansions of DNA repeats underlie several human genetic diseases, including Friedreich’s ataxia. The molecular mechanisms that mediate these genetic abnormalities are currently unclear. This project aims to identify the novel genetic pathways and mechanisms mediating these genetic disorders. Using a plant model in an innovative way this project will discover novel genes, uncover fundamental molecular mechanisms and reveal the genetic networks that govern gene silencing caused by triplet repeat expansions. This project, in addition to revealing fundamental biological mechanisms, will also have implications for human disease.
Awarded $766,770 over four years.

Professor Bob Wong

Project: This project aims to track – with fish species and across different modes, scales, and levels of complexity from controlled laboratory experimentation to studies in the wild – how drugs in the environment affect wildlife behaviour and survival, and therefore also the ecological communities they inhabit. Contamination of aquatic habitats by pharmaceuticals poses a serious threat to wildlife and to human health. Expected outcomes include new mechanistic understandings and predictive capability for real world application. Findings should add significantly to our knowledge of how wildlife respond to environmental change, and enhance the evidence base for management and security of Australia’s biodiversity and freshwater resources.
Awarded $1,002,217 over four years.

Dr Scott Findlay

Project: This project aims to tackle a great challenge of atomic-scale characterisation: quantitative structure determination. Powerful new electron microscopes offer a window into the atomic world, but complex electron multiple scattering has limited reliable structure determination to ultrathin materials. This project expects to overcome this barrier. Anticipated outcomes include methods that use the latest detector technology to determine structure and interatomic bonding in much thicker nanostructures than hitherto possible. This should benefit academic and industrial researchers by giving them new tools to understand and design high-performance materials for applications ranging from catalysis to energy storage to next-generation electronics.
Awarded: $889,323 over four years.

Professor Ilya Mandel

Project: This project aims to take advantage of the growing data set of gravitational-wave observations, which ushered in a new field of gravitational-wave astronomy, to answer fundamental questions in astrophysics. This project will combine state-of-the art theoretical modelling with innovative machine learning techniques in order to explore how the Universe makes merging black holes and neutron stars, and what they tell us about the lives and deaths of the most elusive but incredibly important massive stars. This will strengthen Australia's role in the emerging field of gravitational-wave astronomy and provide broad benefits through transferrable machine learning techniques, collaboration building, and big data training.
Awarded $935,735 over four years.

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