La Trobe Researchers celebrate DECRA funding success

The Australian Research Council has awarded four La Trobe researchers a combined $1.6 million in funding through the 2023 Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) scheme.

Professor Susan Dodds, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Industry Engagement) commented that these awards acknowledged the high calibre of La Trobe University researchers and their projects.

“It’s a pleasure to see the work of La Trobe researchers being recognised and I’m excited to follow the progress of these important projects,” commented Professor Dodds.

”I’d also like to welcome Dr Paul-Antoine Libourel from the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) to the La Trobe community and look forward to seeing his work develop. Winning one of these highly competitive fellowships is a great achievement for each researcher and allows them to focus their efforts on research that achieves both excellence and positive impact.”

La Trobe researchers will lead projects quantifying alcohol exposure in digital media through artificial intelligence, investigating how sleep is affected by fear and stress, exploring internalised sexual prejudice, and examining the inclusion experience of siblings when a family is in crisis.

Congratulations to the 2023 awardees:

Dr Benjamin Riordan - DECRA funding: $454,417

‘The prevalence and impact of digital alcohol exposure’

This project aims to use artificial intelligence to quantify the amount of alcohol people are exposed to in digital media (e.g., social media, streaming videos) in their daily lives and the effect alcohol exposure has on alcohol use. Expected outcomes for this project include a quantification of the amount of alcohol exposure in digital media and the impact it has on drinking and a development of a protocol to test exposure. Significant benefits are expected for policy makers aiming to reduce exposure and the public wanting to avoid exposure to limit the harm of alcohol.

Dr Paul-Antoine Libourel - DECRA funding: $426,598

‘Do predators shape the sleep of their prey?’  This project aims to investigate how sleep is affected by fear/stress by studying invasive and native rat species, historically exposed to different predation pressures. It expects to generate new knowledge in biological and health sciences, also helping controlling pests. This unprecedented approach to studying sleep will provide key insights on the environmental and genetic determinants of sleep, allowing us to better understand sleep, its expression and flexibility, and response to stress. More than providing fundamental answers on the evolution of sleep, this project will provide significant benefits such as new perspectives on invasive species management, and may also reveal new targets for treatments to stress related sleep disorders.

Dr Joel Anderson - DECRA funding: $416,995

‘New knowledge on internalised prejudice for same-sex attracted Australians’

This project aims to conduct the first nation-wide investigation of internalised sexual prejudice – a key factor driving the health and well-being disparities experienced by same-sex attracted Australians. The project expects to generate new knowledge around the internalisation of past experiences of sexual prejudice. Expected outcomes include advanced measurement techniques of conscious and non-conscious prejudice, significant advances in understandings of the causes and consequences of internalised sexual prejudice, and an enhanced capacity for international collaborations. This should provide significant benefits for same-sex attracted Australians, and for the health, government, and community support sectors working with them.

Dr Ashleigh Butler - DECRA funding: $375,000

‘Supporting the inclusion of siblings when a family is in crisis’

This project aims to explore the inclusion experience of siblings during a significant family crisis – a child’s critical illness. Exclusion from a family crisis can have lasting impacts, however sibling experiences of inclusion when a child is critically ill remain unstudied. Through observation and interviews with children and their families, this project expects to generate new knowledge about sibling inclusion in this family crisis. Expected outcomes include guidelines to enhance sibling inclusion and a resource to support family togetherness. This project should provide significant social benefits, such as changes to local and national sibling and family policies, and improved family wellbeing for all Australian families in crisis.

Congratulations to all the researchers involved, and their colleagues who have supported them; as well as the Research Grants Team who provide advice and support throughout the grant development process.


The DECRA scheme is a part of the Australian Research Council Discovery Program and provides more focused support for researchers and creates more opportunities for early-career researchers. You can read the DECRA 2023 Selection Report for further information.