2019 CSRC Seed-funding Research Grant Scheme

Successful Applicants

Dr Yangbin Chen: Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of ASSC

Blessed by the Goddess of the Sea (Mazu 妈祖): An Unspoken History of Chinese Australians’ Folk Religion

Mazu 妈祖, the Goddess of the Sea, has been worshipping by fishermen communities in coastal China since North Song Dynasty in 987. She is the earliest folk icon in ancient Chinese history. Originated from Putian Prefecture in Fujian Province, the culture of Mazu worship extended to the entire coastal regions of mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia and even to North America, Australia and Europe, wherever Chinese immigrants flowed. In Australia, Mazu Temples can be found in Sydney and Melbourne. Over the time with the massive influx of Chinese immigrants, Mazu Temple is not only serving as a venue for the worship of Mazu belief, a place to bind the broader Chinese communities in Australia but also being an iconic symbol of remembering Vietnamese boat people’s tumultuous life experience in a foreign land.

Dr Mei-Tai (Debbie) Chu, Associate Professor, Business School, College of ASSC

How Mobile Payment Innovation Shapes Cashless Life in Greater China

Technology innovation often creates new landscape or disrupts existing pattern of society. With the rapid advancement of e-commerce in China, the technology innovation of mobile payment has shown explosive growth as m-commerce. The emerging mobile payment mechanism is shaping cashless life in both depth and breadth. This study aims to explore why China adopts mobile payment much broader and faster than western countries. This research also unpacks the impact of the mobile payment on customers’ behaviors to clarify whether technology innovation offsets the advantages of traditional payment system. This study adopts case study and interviews in greater China including Mainland China and Taiwan to analyse the major mobile payment systems and their impacts such as opportunity and challenge. This study is influential to reveal the key success factors of Chinese mobile payment development to rethink or confirm the existing theories and practices of conventional innovation.

Dr Hossam Aboel Naga, Associate Professor, School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, College of SHE

Effects of Waste Exothermic Reactions on the Landfill Lining Integrity

Modern Landfill liner systems are expected to control contamination migration into the ground. Recent data indicated that the biological decomposition of waste can cause heat generation and increase the basal liner temperature up to 70oC. Such high temperature could dry out the clay component of landfill liners, and induces shrinkage and cracking, thereby rendering them ineffective as a hydraulic barrier. Currently, little is understood about the temperature effects on landfill liners. Such knowledge is urgently required to control/evaluate its drastic effect. This project will address the fundamental aspects of this process using a combination of highly sophisticated laboratory testing and constitutive modelling.

Dr Travis Beddoe, Senior Lecturer, School of Life Sciences, College of SHE

Identifying the targets of the natural immune response of buffalo to the liver fluke parasite for effective vaccine development

Fasciolosis (liver fluke disease) is a globally widespread parasitic disease with significant impacts on agricultural animal production in both China and Australia. Reports of drug resistance worldwide are increasing and an alternative, sustainable control method is needed, such as a vaccine. Our research focus is on developing a novel anti-parasitic vaccine with global applications. We aim to identify the parasite proteins targeted by buffalo antibody in the early stages of infection with the tropical parasite and compare with the proteins targeted by the Indonesian Thin Tailed sheep, a host resistant to infection with this tropical parasite. This project will foster new collaborations between researchers with expertise on the tropical parasite (China) and the Australian parasite (La Trobe University), leading to further understanding of the host-parasite relationship in the early stages of infection and provide joint funding opportunities between La Trobe University, Guangxi University in China and commercial partner, Virbac (Australia).

Dr Jian Jin, Postdoctoral Research Officer, School of Life Sciences, SHE

Impact of elevated CO2 on carbon and phosphorus transformation in Australian and Chinese farming soils-A collaborated study

The proposed project aims to elucidate the link of elevated CO2-enhaced photosynthetic carbon (C) flow with soil microbial community function on the transformation of soil organic C and phosphorus (P) in Australian and Chinese farming soils. This project will provide opportunities to broaden the international collaboration with Chinese Academy of Sciences on the impact of climate change on nutrient cycling in soils at a global scale. Combining Chinese expertise of microbiologists and Australia expertise of soil scientists at La Trobe will further enhance the La Trobe’s research reputation and capability in understanding the contribution of soil microbes to the soil C/P transformations in response to elevated CO2 environments. This will benefit the future management of P fertilization and strengthen our ability to predict the elevated CO2 impacts on soil productivity.

Dr Kim Johnson, Senior Research Fellow, School of Life Sciences, SHE

Optimizing stem traits in crop and forest species

Plant biomass is the major food source for the 7.4 billion people and 11.4 billion livestock on our planet. With an increasing population, finite and diminishing resources, understanding how plant growth is regulated is of major importance to our future sustainability. In plants, stems make an important link between roots, that take up water and nutrients, and the shoots and reproductive organs that provide biomass and seeds. The strength of the stems to support upright growth of the plant and their efficiency in transporting water and nutrients therefore has a significant impact on crop yield and the many uses of stems in plant-based products such as textiles and construction. Key to regulation of stem properties are plant cell walls that provide strength and control growth. This project will combine expertise from research groups in Australia and China to investigate key regulators of cell walls in stems.