ARC Success for La Trobe University Researchers 2018

The ARC funding was announced on the 10th November 2017 by The Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham.

Funding is being provided by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council’s DECRA, LIEF and Discovery Project schemes.

La Trobe Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Keith Nugent welcomed the ARC grants and said the money will be used to fund potentially life-changing research.

“From exploring the hidden harm of alcohol consumption in Australian homes to understanding the consequences of donor linking, La Trobe research funded by the ARC has the potential to make a difference to the lives of people here in Australia and across the globe,” Professor Nugent said.

“It’s particularly satisfying to see two early career researchers receive funding for their important human health studies and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of their projects.

“I also welcome our ARC LIEF grant which not only will help deepen our understanding of the properties of new materials and devices, but which will also strengthen our collaboration with partnering institutions and provide unique opportunities for research students.”

La Trobe administered grants

Discovery Projects

Donor linking is the process by which donor-conceived people, donors, and recipient parents access each other's identifying information. Australia is a world leader in statutory linking, but reform has not been matched by equivalent levels of research on the consequences of the practice. This project aims to generate new knowledge about the impact of donor linking on individual and familial identities and relationships, and the consequences of the growing prevalence of non-statutory linking, such as direct-to-consumer genetic testing and online technologies, for formal regulatory frameworks. This knowledge will constitute an evidence-based platform from which donor-linking law, policy and services can develop domestically and overseas.

Associate Professor James Leibold, 'Urbanising Western China: Nation-building on the Sino-Tibetan frontier' (DP180101651) $273,944

This project aims to explore urbanisation as a key part of the Chinese Communist Party's policies in Tibet and the novel opportunities it affords for Tibetan identity, language, and culture. An international, multidisciplinary team will combine analysis of key government texts, interviews with government officials and ethnic minority elites, as well as observations of daily life amongst urban Tibetans. The project will produce new understandings of the challenges of governing diversity in China, and will benefit Australia by exploring a fundamental aspect of the changing social fabric of our region’s dominant power.

Dr BegoƱa Heras, 'How auto-transporter proteins mediate bacterial interactions' (DP180102987) $477,446

This project aims to investigate the structure-function relationships that underpin key auto-transporter roles in bacterial cell adhesion, aggregation and biofilm formation. Auto-transporter proteins are extremely common in bacteria where they play a central role in controlling bacterial interactions with other bacteria, with human cells, and with surfaces. This project will define the molecular mechanisms underlying these processes. This will have significant benefits, such as providing the basis for the development of approaches to block auto-transporter functions that contribute to the establishment of persistent and difficult to treat bacterial infections.

DECRA

Dr Sarah Callinan, 'Hidden harm: Everyday alcohol consumption in Australian homes' (DE180100016) $371,234

This project aims to investigate how family and other factors in the home environment affect alcohol consumption and associated social harms. This is important because nearly two-thirds of Australian alcohol consumption occurs in the drinker’s own home but studies of drinking contexts have mostly focused on drinking on licensed premises. The project will use four diverse datasets to analyse individual and interactional patterns of drinking in the home. Potential intervention points and policy measures to reduce harms from drinking will be developed from the project’s analysis. This project has the potential to reduce social and violence-related harms from alcohol consumption.

Dr Mirko Uljarevic, 'Emotional and socio-communicative domains in development' (DE1801000632) $336,603

This project aims to test whether Research Domain Criteria are effective in predicting developmental outcomes, for example educational attainment, social participation, and mental health, across both general and clinical populations. Using a large prospective community sample of children, adolescents and adults, and large cross-sectional sample of individuals with autism, this research will provide the first exploration of how these candidate dimensions, both directly and indirectly, accurately predict long-term outcomes across both normative and atypical development. The findings will contribute to new understanding of typical and atypical development and have immediate potential to impact clinical and educational decision-making and practice.

Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) Grants

Prof Christopher Pakes, Dr Dongchen Qi, 'High through-put facility for measurement of quantum materials and devices' (LE180100190) $205,000

This projects aims to accelerate the development of quantum technologies by expanding our capacity to rapidly evaluate the low temperature electrical and optical properties of novel materials and devices. The project expects to generate new knowledge in quantum coherent phases of diamond, high mobility two-dimensional spintronics, hybrid semiconductor-superconductor devices, novel phases of silicon and germanium, and single photon sources based on silicon-carbide. Expected outcomes of the project include the establishment of high performing, efficient, new facilities for low temperature quantum measurement, the strengthening of collaborative links between participating researchers and the expansion of opportunities for research students.

Externally administered grants

Christine Wong; Brooke Wilmsen; Sarah Rogers; Wanlong Lin; JIE LI; Yuefang DUAN (DP180100519) $375,774

La Trobe CI: Brooke Wilmsen

Remaking rural China. This project aims to analyse the  nature and impacts of the restructuring of China’s  agriculture and rural society. New data collected in three provinces will enable in-depth analysis of China’s political and administrative system, the nature of agrarian change in rural China, and the pace of agricultural restructuring. The project design will strengthen international, domestic and disciplinary collaboration on research into food security and urbanisation. The analysis and expected outcomes have the potential to inform Australia’s agricultural trade relationship with China.

Bradley Launikonis; Graham Lamb; Gregory Monteith; Allan Tupling (DP180100937) $530,496

La Trobe CI: Graham Lamb

Calcium cycling and heat generation in skeletal muscle fibres. This project aims to uncover the mechanisms that enable mammalian skeletal muscle to play a major role in generating the heat required to maintain a constant body temperature. The ability to modulate body heat played a defining role in the evolution of species, their behaviour and global distribution.  How heat production occurs in resting muscle is of fundamental importance and will be defined for the first time, providing new avenues to manipulate metabolic rate and counter obesity.

Geoffrey McLachlan; Sharon Lee; Hien Nguyen (DP180101192) $342,194

La Trobe CI: Hien Nguyen

Classification methods for providing personalised and class decisions. This project provides a novel approach to the clustering of multivariate samples on entities in a class that automatically matches the sample clusters across the entities, allowing for inter-sample variation between the samples in a class. The project aims to develop a widely applicable, mixture-model-based framework for the simultaneous clustering of multivariate samples with inter-sample variation in a class and for the matching of the clusters across the entities in the class. The project will use a statistical approach to automatically match the clusters, since the overall mixture model provides a template for the class. It will provide a basis for discriminating between different classes in addition to the identification of atypical data points within a sample and of anomalous samples within a class. Key applications include biological image analysis and the analysis of data in flow cytometry which is one of the fundamental research tools for the life scientist.

Anna Roujeinikova; Raymond Norton; Brian Smith (DP180101807) $429,536

La Trobe CI: Brian Smith

Laws of attraction and repulsion: a novel family of bacterial chemo-sensors. This project aims to reveal the structural basis for the abilities of a newly characterised, widespread family of chemotaxis receptors to sense and distinguish between attractants and repellents. Many bacteria are motile. Controlling the movement of bacterial populations requires understanding of their chemosensory mechanisms. It is anticipated that this work will generate significant new knowledge in the field of signalling biology that will drive the discovery of novel chemo-effectors and the redesign of receptor specificity. Innovative use of this knowledge could be the development of new classes of repellents that are not toxic. These could be used as a means to prevent infections caused by bacterial build-up on implanted medical devices.

Ilan Wiesel (Vizel); Brendan Gleeson; Christine Bigby; Carolyn Whitzman (DP180102191) $425,998

La Trobe CI: Christine Bigby

The disability inclusive city. This project aims to examine adjustments in urban policy and delivery of mainstream urban services in response to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Focusing on participation of people with disability in mainstream housing, health and community services, the project will develop a better understanding of the factors determining both access to, and the quality of, services they receive. Analysis of variation across four urban regions will reveal the wider urban dynamics shaping these outcomes. The knowledge gained in this study will inform both urban and disability policy strategies and will advance theories of the disability inclusive city.

Hua Wang; Yanchun Zhang; Jinli Cao (DP180103563) $377,725

La Trobe CI: Jinili Cao

Increasing data quality with group associations in outsourcing environments. Outsourcing of data storage is increasingly common, but poses major problems for data utility and confidentiality. This project aims to discover how tuples (data structures) in fragments can be grouped to increase the utility of queries executed over fragments. The project will create a framework that satisfies information protection goals while achieving utility for queries. The developed algorithms and techniques will formally specify and develop a model to validate loose association rules while minimising data leakage risks. The outcomes will benefit Australians through enabling sharing and linking increasingly large datasets securely and cheaply.

Leann Tilley; Staffan Persson; Melissa Little; Paul McMillan; Alexander Combes; Trevor Lithgow; Thomas Naderer; Michael Ryan; Helena Richardson; Peter Lock; Antoine van Oijen; Sarah Russell; Marcus Heisler; Till Boecking; Kirstin Elgass (LE180100001)

La Trobe CI: Helena Richardson and Peter Lock

Pushing the limits of fluorescence microscopy with adaptive optics. This project aims to establish an adaptive optics, super-resolution optical microscopy facility to image cellular events with the highest possible spatial resolution, in a whole cell or tissue context. Sophisticated computer-controlled deformable mirrors will be used to correct the way light is distorted as it passes through specimens, thereby overcoming aberrations found in thick and complex samples. This adaptive optics system will enable researchers to study complex behaviour of biological specimens, at the optical resolution limit in plant and animal tissues, leading to basic biology and biotechnology outcomes in biofuels, biomaterials and biomedicines.

Philip Chung; Andrew Mowbray; Bruce Kercher; Lisa Ford; Shaunnagh Dorsett; Stefan Petrow; Mark Finnane; Kit Barker; Mark Lunney; Matthew Groves; Ann Genovese; Arlie Loughnan; Anita Stuhmcke; Natalie Skead; Karen Fairweather (LE1801000048) $499,899

La Trobe CI: Matthew Groves

Foundations of the common law library. This project aims to build a comprehensive, historical, legal resource for the whole common law world, 1215-1914. The free access ‘Foundations of Common Law Library’ will include reported cases from superior courts, and selected others, in all common law jurisdictions. Databases of other key materials such as treatises, legislation, and treaties, will also be added wherever possible. Databases of case law extracted from newspaper reports, prior to formal law reporting will be included. Citations for all documents added will expand greatly an automated international historical citator to the whole of the common law world, linking past and present.

Katharina Gaus; John Lock; Majid Ebrahimi Warkiani; Peter Gunning; Renee Whan; James Whisstock; Helena Richardson; Frederic Meunier; David James; Nicholas King; Dale Godfrey; Paul Gleeson; Paul Rigby; Woei Ming Lee; Kelly Rogers (LE180100157) $600,000

La Trobe CI: Helena Richardson

Confocal and single molecule microscopes for systems microscopy. This project aims to establish Australia’s first system microscopy facility with dedicated live-cell confocal and single-molecule fluorescence microscopes. In systems microscopy, the imaging workflow is automated so that large and unbiased data sets of the spatiotemporal organisation of molecules and cells can be generated. Combined with statistical and bioinformatics analyses, image-derived data provides system-wide information that is not easily obtainable with other approaches. The project will enable Australian researchers to image and analyse the full complexity of biological systems, potentially transforming cell biology, drug development and understanding the molecular basis of disease. It will also demonstrate how the capacity of microscopy facilities can be enhanced and bias in imaging data reduced by automating data acquisition and mining of image-based data.