17 ARC Discovery Projects greenlit for Griffith researchers in 2023

Professor Qin Li and her team was awarded more than $433,000 for a project researching methanol

Griffith University researchers will lead 17 new Discovery Projects across a broad field of knowledge after being awarded over $7.735 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

A number of Griffith University academics were also successful in being part of other research teams in the Australian Research Council’s 471 funding outcomes. (See below for details)

Australian Research Council Discovery Projects (DP23) led by Griffith University researchers

Associate Professor Dawn Adams; Associate Professor Glenn Melvin; Dr Jessica Paynter; Dr Kathryn Simpson; Dr Jacquiline den Houting; Professor Kylie Gray: Awarded $331,885

Autistic children miss one day a week of school, three times more than their peers. This significantly impacts their learning, wellbeing and later, their vocational outcomes. This project aims to identify the factors that put autistic children at increased risk of missing school and map the supports and interventions used to reduce school non-attendance. Expected outcomes include an autism-specific model of the how and why school non-attendance is elevated for autistic students. It is anticipated that this model make the important step of enabling teachers and professionals to identify which autistic children are most at risk of absenteeism and select the best strategies to support a positive and beneficial return to school.

Professor Dawn Adams

Dr Hongjie An; Dr Michael Simmonds; Dr Antony McNamee: Awarded $407,907

This project aims to investigate the onset and control of cavitation, a challenging problem for over half a century. Cavitation is a process of bubble growth and subsequent collapse, and causes noise and damage to adjacent surfaces, e.g. the failure of ship propellers and valves. This project expects to unravel the mystery of cavitation nuclei, and to develop cavitation-free designs to mitigate the cavitation caused damage to propellers and valves, and noise. The anticipated outcomes will significantly advance existing fundamental knowledge at the forefront of fluid physics and provide Australia with a significant advantage in the marine, pump and valve industries, and significantly benefit the Australian industry and economy.

Professor Scott Baum; Professor William Mitchell: Awarded $347,120

Professor Scott Baum

This project is designed to analyse how employment outcomes in Australian regions respond to economic shocks such as that caused by COVID-19. Set within the emerging literature dealing with employment resilience, the project uses unique data (Payroll Jobs index) to measure employment resilience and understand the factors that impact diverse regional outcomes. Understanding these patterns is significant as a region’s economic performance has the potential to impact the well being of individuals and their families, as well as the sustainability of local economies and communities. The project will result in a nuanced understanding of regional employment performance that will inform policy in both government and non-government sectors.

Professor Alexander Brown; Dr Max Grömping; Dr Jacob Deem; Associate Professor Andrea Carson; Professor Rodney Smith: Awarded $1,205,000

Professor AJ Brown

Declining public trust is well recognised as a problem of democratic government, including in Australia. However solutions are more elusive, confounded by the reality that mistrust and distrust play not just negative, but positive roles in our existing political and constitutional traditions. This project aims to be the first to comprehensively map the positive values of mistrust in citizen political attitudes and experience, building on previous Constitutional Values Surveys (2008-21) to test new measures of the content of trust including a first-ever longitudinal study of changing trust over time. The results will inform concrete solutions to three key policy reform dilemmas, providing better answers for sustaining public trust overall.

Associate Professor Huiyun Feng; Professor Kai He; Associate Professor Gloria Ge: Awarded $171,550

This project aims to unpack China’s foreign policy decisions and policy making through exploring the agency of Chinese scholars. By conceptualising a new theoretical model of Chinese scholars’ perceptions, signals and debates, this project expects to generate new knowledge on the goals and strategies of China’s foreign policy in the economic, trade, political, and security dimensions through elite interviews, textual analysis, and focus group research. The outcomes will include analyses for use by Australian policy, academic and business communities. During times of difficult communications, attaining a realistic understanding of China’s current and future policy orientations can enable more constructive and effective China policy.

Professor Hong Guan; Associate Professor Benoit Gilbert; Associate Professor Minghao Li; Professor Dr Frank Lam: $332,633

This project aims to develop innovative and robust structural connections in tall mass timber buildings by characterising their mechanical behaviour under dynamic loads induced by extreme events like earthquakes or progressive collapse. This project expects to generate new knowledge in the safe, economic, and efficient design of mass timber buildings. Expected outcomes of this project include enhanced robustness design guidelines for the engineering community. This should lead to significant benefits, such as contributing to uptake of viable low-cost timber housing solutions in response to population growth and contributing to net zero emissions in Australia by 2050, and transition to safer and resilient infrastructure in urban development.

Professor Qin Li; Dr Dechao Chen: $433,249

Methanol is a promising liquid hydrogen carrier for long distance H2 transportation and exportation, because it is rich in hydrogen content, cheap, recyclable between methanol-formaldehyde and easier to manufacture from renewable resources including biomass waste. The critical bottleneck in adopting methanol as the carrier is the demanding dehydrogenation process. The project aims to create a new class of photocatalyst based on biomass-derived carbon nanodots grown on transition metal (di)chalcogenide nanosheets that can effectively enable a light-controlled methanol H2 release of desired quantity. The key outcomes will be a new class of photocatalysts and flexible, on-demand hydrogen delivery technology for liquid hydrogen carriers.

Professor Igor Litvinyuk; Professor Robert Sang; Professor Andre Luiten; Professor Anatoli Kheifets; Professor Klaus Bartschat; Associate Professor XiaoMin Tong: Awarded $532,842

This project aims to understand and to control light-induced processes in atoms by using finely shaped and tailored laser pulses, focusing on efficient production of excited metastable atoms. This is critical for efficient Atom Trap Trace Analysis, the most advanced technique for dating ground water and geological samples. Expected outcomes of this project include new and enhanced knowledge of physics of light-matter interactions, developing an efficient, clean source of excited metastable atoms, and integrating that source into the Australian National Facility for dating geological samples. This should provide significant benefits, such as significant improvement of operational efficiency and productivity of that facility.

Associate Professor Porun Liu: Awarded $350,627

This project aims to develop robust, efficient porous hybrid hydrogen electrodes for electrochemical hydrogen production in anion exchange membrane water electrolyser. anion exchange membrane water electrolyser powered by renewable energy has emerged as a key avenue towards clean hydrogen with zero carbon footprint. However, the electrochemical turnover on the hydrogen electrode has been significantly hindered by the sluggish reaction kinetics in alkaline solution. The project is expected to generate cost-effective hydrogen electrodes for hydrogen electrolyzers, advanced knowledge in the electrode material engineering, electrochemical reaction mechanistic insights, and eventually promoted development of disruptive electrolysis technology.

Associate Professor Julien Louys; Professor Patrick Moss; Dr Gilbert Price; Dr Mathieu Duval; Dr Sebastian Breitenbach; Dr Ola Kwiecien: Awarded $582,031

This project aims to investigate the earliest records of tropical forests occupied by modern humans. This project expects to reconstruct ancient tropical ecosystems through time and in unprecedented detail by applying interdisciplinary methods including analyses of fossil mammals, carbonates, and pollen records. Expected outcomes of this project include novel ecological techniques of reconstructing the tropical forests that people first inhabited, and advancing our understanding of modern human behaviour, environmental adaptation, and past exploitation of key ecosystems. This should provide significant benefits such as better understanding of the long-term interaction between tropical forests, their faunas, and people.

Professor Kristina Murphy; Professor Adrian Cherney; Dr Keiran Hardy: Awarded $454,196

This project aims to address the emerging threat of conspiracy-fuelled extremism in Australia. The project expects to produce new knowledge by identifying the unique factors driving this new form of extremism and the social harm it causes. Through three studies, the project will test a new theoretical model of conspiracy-fuelled extremism, will explore the threats and social harms this form of extremism creates, and will develop evidence-based insights into how it can be mitigated. The research should produce benefits for Australia by providing policymakers with a risk-assessment tool to identify individuals most ‘at-risk’ of violent extremism, and by providing knowledge about the services families may require to de-radicalise loved ones.

Dr Adele Pavlidis; Professor Simone Fullagar; Dr Millicent Kennelly; Professor Simon Darcy; Dr Kirsty Forsdike; Professor Holly Thorpe; Professor David McGillivray: Awarded $337,648

Professor Simone Fullagar

The project aims to investigate intersectional inequities in sport participation for girls, women and non-binary people in Queensland by working with them to envision legacies for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Using a co-creation approach this project expects to identify how and what benefits can be achieved through legacy planning that engages with end-users who have historically been marginalised in sport. In doing so, the expected outcomes of the project include the development of evidence-based resources to improve engagement in sport and to build capacity and sustain meaningful change for communities and organisations.

Professor Martine Powell; Dr Helen Paterson; Dr Sonja Brubacher; Dr Deborah Connolly; Professor Ronald Fisher; Dr Heather Price: Awarded $315,242

Professor Martine Powell

This project aims to develop the first-ever set of explanatory principles for how people successfully retain and retrieve individual episode memories from repeated experiences (e.g., one occurrence of a routine social encounter or job-related activity). By deepening our understanding of how memory works, this new knowledge is expected to lay the foundation for interview guidance and ongoing research aimed at enhancing the proficiency of investigations into matters that rely on detailed and accurate accounts of specific episodes. This includes workplace or traffic accident investigations, infectious disease contact tracing, as well as prosecution of repeated sexual offences.

Professor Kate Seib; Professor Michael Jennings: Awarded $680,663

This project aims to characterise bacterial epigenetic regulation by determining the mechanism of action and impact of bacterial DNA methylation. This project expects to generate new knowledge about fundamental aspects of bacterial gene regulation, using a novel combination of cutting edge DNA and RNA sequencing, proteomic and bioinformatic approaches. The expected outcomes of this project will provide new tools to facilitate the integration of epigenomic analysis into genomic studies, exponentially increasing the volume and value of data gathered. This would provide significant future benefits to all academic, biotechnology, agricultural, veterinary and pharmaceutical applications that involve bacterial genomic analysis.

Dr Danielle Stanisic; Professor Michael Good; Professor Alicja Tabor: Awarded $602,170

In Australia, Babesia parasites cause most of the severe and often fatal cases of cattle-tick fever, a globally significant tick-borne disease. It can be prevented by a live-attenuated parasite vaccine which has critical limitations of a 4-day shelf-life and risk of severe disease if administered to adult cattle. This project aims to evaluate in cattle a novel whole parasite Babesia bovis vaccine that cannot cause disease and can be preserved as an off-the-shelf product without losing efficacy. The expected outcome is a significantly improved vaccine for a major infectious disease that affects primary food production. As the disease imposes a major economic burden, it will have great benefit for the Australian livestock industry.

Professor Michael Good.

Professor Keith Townsend; Professor Adrian Wilkinson; Associate Professor Martin Edwards: Awarded $232,458

This project aims to generate new knowledge of the concept of employee voice as a part of organisational realignment throughout and following the CoVid-19 pandemic. The project aims to build a better theoretical modelling of efficient, effective “employee voice pathways” for the first time, including a understanding how voice changes over time. When confronted with a major external calamity, employee voice can play a critical role in any organisation’s success, as well as the employee wellbeing. Expected outcomes include rigorous empirical evidence and theoretical developments to inform new policy and support organisations’ capacity to survive and thrive, as well a support employee wellbeing.

Professor Hong Zhang; Professor Rodney Stewart; Professor Michael Blumenstein; Professor Damien Giurco; Professor Junwei Lu: Awarded $418,740

This project aims to develop a hybrid machine learning method for autonomously disaggregating high- and low-resolution water flow data received from smart meters into discrete end-use events, and a customised recommender system for efficient resource demand management. Project novelty and significance relates to this coupling and autonomous disaggregation of datasets from advanced sensors, enabling more efficient utility services delivery and lower customer utility bills. Project benefits include enabling utilities to better manage and plan resources in the information age, while empowering customers with real-time water end-use data and behaviour changing consumption recommendations.

A number of other Griffith academics were part of successful ARC Discovery Project outcomes led by other institutions:

Professor Michele Burford

Dr Van Dau

Professor Gerry Docherty

Professor Tara McGee

Dr Yorick Smaal

Dr Stacy Tzoumakis

Associate Professor Stuart Woodcock

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