Monash science researchers awarded just over $1.5 million in funding as part of ARC DECRA scheme

Monash science researchers have received just over $1.5 million in Australian Research Council (ARC) funding for four projects under the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) scheme.

The successful projects range from bees and climate change to understanding the origin of the elements.

On Friday the ARC announced $85 million would be provided for 200 research projects as part of the DECRA program.

Monash University was awarded $8,952,863 for 21 projects of which $1,587,046 will go to the Faculty of Science to fund four projects.

The ARC DECRA scheme provides focused research support for early career researchers in both teaching and research, and research-only positions.

“On behalf of the Faculty, I congratulate all of our talented early-career researchers whose excellence and commitment to their research are evident in these awards,” said Monash Science Dean, Professor Jordan Nash.

The Monash Science research projects that will commence in 2023 by the DECRA awardees include:

School of Biological Sciences

Dr Sean Bay
Awarded: $418,893

Cave microbial metabolism as a missing biogeochemical sink
The aim of this project is to unveil the microbial biodiversity, novel metabolic capabilities and chemosynthetic primary production of subsurface ecosystems, such as those found in caves. Leveraging a powerful blend of geospatial, molecular and biogeochemical approaches this project expects to identify the microbial basis of subsurface biogeochemical processes driving the earth’s major elementary cycles. Expected outcomes include a predictive framework to assess and upscale the impact of these microbial communities on the environment. Benefits include predicting and responding to climate risks, such as the desertification of agricultural soils, by uncovering how microorganisms respond to nutrient and carbon depletion.

Dr Scarlett Howard
Awarded: $423,206

Investigating the responses of Australian native bees to climatic warming
This project aims to investigate changes to native bee cognition, morphology, and pollination capability in response to climatic warming. Using emerging experimental methods for behavioural testing and state-of-the-art 3D modelling of museum specimens, the project expects to identify which species are likely to experience change under future climate scenarios. This project expects to determine if increased temperatures cause pollination deficits through impaired bee cognition and changed morphology. The knowledge gained in this project will allow us to identify vulnerable species and develop strategies across agriculture, government, and community sectors to support pollination and inform conservation priorities.

School of Physics and Astronomy

Dr Ludovic Scyboz
Awarded: $367,518

Bridging the accuracy gap: High-precision parton showers for colliders
This project aims at improving the accuracy of parton showers, which are an essential ingredient used in the simulation of high-energy particle collisions. Parton showers generate the large set of particles produced in a collision, in an approximation of the radiation pattern of Quantum Chromodynamics. The low precision of this approximation translates into large uncertainties in critical measurements performed at particle colliders. This project will study novel ways of enhancing the precision of parton showers, and determine accurate estimates of associated uncertainties across all processes under investigation at the Large Hadron Collider. It will be of exceptional importance for the latter's high-precision, high-luminosity program.

Dr Taissa Danilovich
Awarded:
$377,429

Understanding the birth of new elements by observing dying stars
Almost everything around us is made up of elements that were created inside stars. This project aims to understand the origin of the elements by studying newly created material ejected by Sun-like stars during one of the final stages of their lives. This project expects to generate new knowledge in the field of stellar evolution by using state-of-the-art telescopes to measure the elements and isotopes produced by these stars and comparing them with theoretical model predictions. Expected outcomes include a better understanding of element creation, the chemical enrichment of galaxies, and the first mass estimates for intermediate-mass stars. This should provide significant benefits by addressing a key outstanding question in astronomy.

For further information about the DECRA awards, visit: https://www.arc.gov.au/funding-research/funding-schemes/discovery-program/discovery-early-career-researcher-award-decra

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