$3.2 million research awards


x-rayIncluded in this is more than a million dollars for state-of-the-art scientific instrumentation, forging closer links with industry and institutional partners.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Tim Brown, said the new equipment will boost Australia’s capacity to develop advanced materials and nano-fabrication for the manufacturing, healthcare, pharmaceutical, energy and mining sectors.

It will also help cell biologists probe at the level of single atoms the interactions between disease-causing microbes and their host organisms, knowledge vital to combating existing and emerging pathogens.

Professor Brown said the funding comes at an exciting time for University research and industry collaborations. The new $288 million AgriBio centre is nearing completion on the Melbourne campus and this, together with the $94 million La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science (LIMS), will change the face of science teaching and research at La Trobe.

He said $600,000 in infrastructure funding goes to a team headed by physicist Associate Professor Paul Pigram and Professor Andrew Peele – who is currently on secondment as Director of Science at the Australian Synchrotron in Clayton – for an advanced surface imaging and spectroscopy facility at La Trobe’s Melbourne campus featuring a ‘Scanning Auger Nanoprobe’.
‘Working with the CSIRO and other organisations, this will act as a hub to support research rated well-above world standard, dramatically increasing Australia’s capability in the field of surface analysis and material science.’

Cell biology work led by Dr Marc Kvansakul and Professor Michael Ryan, and involving the University of Melbourne, will benefit from $360,000 for a rapid integrated X-ray diffraction facility.

And analytical chemist Dr Conor Hogan – whose highly innovative mobile phone technology for rapid medical analysis in remote settings has already generated a lot of interest internationally – received $150,000 for advanced fluorescence characterisation equipment, critical to studies in biology, chemistry and medicine.

More than $ 2.1million in separate ‘Discovery Grants’ was received by La Trobe University for nine research teams.

These include biochemical studies led by Professor Marilyn Anderson into natural antifungal molecules from plants and their application to control serious fungal diseases in crops and humans.

Zoologist Dr Heloise Gibb’s team is probing animal structure and function to predict how species and ecological processes might be affected by climate change and habitat loss, with the ultimate goal of improving conservation measures.

Professor Caixian Tang
heads a group of soil scientists trying to ascertain whether our ability to mitigate climate change by sequestering soil carbon is limited by the prevalence of Australia’s acidic soils.

Associate Professor Balasingham Balachandran is carrying out an international study into ‘seasoned equity offerings’, new equity issues by already publicly-traded companies. Considering the lack of confidence in financial markets during the financial crisis, he says this study will have significant implications regarding the current use and regulation of seasoned equity offerings.

Dr Celia McMichael
and members of the Refugee Research Centre are studying young adults with refugee backgrounds who have been living in Australia for around ten years, to see how they have settled and integrated into society. The study will provide evidence to inform humanitarian settlement policy and programs.

Full details about these and other newly funded ARC La Trobe research projects – including an additional 11 where La Trobe researchers are among the Chief Investigators – below.

For interviews with any of the researchers or other assistance please contact Ernest Raetz, Media and Communications, tel: 041 226 1919.



A) La Trobe University Discovery Grants - total $2,124.000


Anderson, Prof Marilyn A; Hulett, Dr Mark D; Plummer, Dr Kim M; van der Weerden, Dr Nicole L

Identification of the molecular targets on filamentous fungi that lead to specific recognition and killing by an antifungal plant defensin
Tobacco flowers naturally produce potent antifungal molecules for protection against disease. The purpose of this project is to understand why these molecules are so toxic to fungal pathogens with a view to using them for control of fungal diseases in crops and humans.
Total    $330,000.00


Balachandran, A/Prof Balasingham; Duong, Dr Huu Nhan; Theobald, Dr Michael F; Gul, Prof Ferdinand A

An international study of seasoned equity offerings: long term returns, earnings management, liquidity, ownership structure, and financial crisis
This study will provide critical insights into the impact of alternative mechanisms for seasoned equity offerings on liquidity and firm value. Considering the lack of confidence in financial markets during the financial crisis, this study will have significant implications regarding the current use and regulation of seasoned equity offerings
Total    $210,000.00


Banivanua Mar, Dr Tracey

Land and colonial cultures: tracing Indigenous and settler transformation in the Pacific, 1850-1900
This research asks how conversations about land between settlers and Indigenous peoples in Australia, New Zealand, Hawai’i and Fiji shaped radically new landscapes of ownership during the 19th century. Its outcomes will illuminate the shared history of this region, while enhancing our historical foundations for facing postcolonial tensions over land.
Total    $342,500.00

Cosgrove, Dr Richard F; Smith, Dr Colin; Roebroeks, Prof Wil; Pike-Tay, Prof Anne

Forty-two degrees of latitude: comparative archaeologies of southwest Tasmania and southwest France during the last Ice Age
The late Pleistocene archaeology of each region represents the end journeys of behaviourally modern humans after leaving Africa at least 70,000 years before. They are similar in age, preservation and are important in understanding our species' adaptation to climate perturbations and the different cultural responses to these.
Total    $232,500.00

Gibb, Dr Heloise; Parr, Dr Catherine L; Dunn, Dr Robert R; Sanders, A/Prof Nathan J

A global-scale analysis of functional traits in the face of global change

This project uses a global collaboration to develop a novel method for determining the response of extremely diverse animal taxa to global change.  The method focuses on morphological traits and their functions and will improve conservation efforts by predicting the types of ecological processes and species threatened.
Total    $250,000.00

Lee, A/Prof Helen M

Forced transnationalism: sending migrants' children home

Parents in some migrant groups in Australia send their children to the homeland in response to 'bad' behaviour. This project will entail a case study of Tongan migrants and their Australian born children and publications will address the implications of this practice for young people and their families and for both the home country and Australia.
Total    $128,000.00

McMichael, Dr Celia; Gifford, Prof Sandra M; Correa-Velez, Dr Ignacio

Becoming at home: the good starts for refugee youth cohort, transition to early adulthood and settlement outcomes

This project follows a cohort of young adults with refugee backgrounds who have been living in Australia for around ten years, and will examine settlement and social integration outcomes. This study will provide a robust evidence-base that can inform humanitarian settlement policy and programs.
Total    $231,000.00

Salzman, Prof Paul J

Literature and politics in the 1620s

The methodology used in this project will illuminate other areas of literature, including our own, because literary history remains in need of sophisticated ways to understand how culture, politics, and society intersect.The 1620s did not cordon writing and performance off from matters of state, but rather saw them as being intertwined.
Total    $90,000.00

Tang, Prof Caixian; Baldock, Dr Jeffrey A

Linking soil acidification with carbon dynamics in Australian agroecosystems

The ability to mitigate climate change by sequestering soil carbon may be limited in acidic soils, which are prevalent in Australia. The project will investigate the link between carbon cycling, soil acidification and liming, and provide important knowledge to identify agricultural practices which have the capacity to build soil carbon.
Total    $310,000.00

B) Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF ) grants - $ 1,110.000
Hogan, Dr Conor F; Francis, Dr Paul S; Barnard, Dr Peter J; Barnett, Prof Neil W; Mechler, Dr Adam I; Richards, Dr Anne F; Cutts, Dr Suzanne M; Pfeffer, Dr Frederick M

Advanced fluorescence characterisation facility

Fluorescence is the emission of light by a substance that has absorbed light of a different wavelength. Fluorescence techniques and fluorescent molecules have enabled a great many of the most important advances in biology, chemistry and medicine in recent decades. This facility will support a wide range of research projects using or exploring fluorescence and luminescence. The research supported will underpin advances in diverse scientific fields.
Total    $150,000.00

Partner/Collaborating Eligible Organisation(s) Deakin University

Kvansakul, Dr Marc; Ryan, Prof Michael T; Heras, Dr Begoña; Maher, Dr Megan J; Hawkins, Dr Christine J; Perugini, A/Prof Matthew A; Parker, Prof Michael W; Cappai, Prof Roberto; Ralph, Dr Stuart A; Griffin, Dr Michael D

Melbourne and La Trobe rapid integrated X-ray diffraction facility

This new facility will enable rapid X-ray diffraction studies of macromolecular crystals which are critical in reaching an understanding of cellular signalling events and interactions between microbial pathogens and their host organisms at the atomic level.
Total    $360,000.00

Partner/Collaborating Eligible Organisation(s)
The University of Melbourne

Pigram, A/Prof Paul J; Peele, Prof Andrew G; Pakes, Dr Christopher I; Van Riessen, Dr Grant A; Forsyth, Prof Maria; Barnett, Prof Matthew R; Howlett, Dr Patrick C; Wen, Prof Cuie

Advanced surface imaging and spectroscopy facility: Scanning auger nanoprobe
Understanding advanced materials and nano-fabricated devices on the nanometre scale is essential for innovation in the manufacturing, healthcare, pharmaceutical, energy and mining sectors. The next generation Scanning Auger Nanoprobe will support research rated well-above world standard and dramatically increase national surface analytical capacity
Total    $600,000.00

Partner/Collaborating Eligible Organisation(s)
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
Deakin University, Swinburne University of Technology Administering Organisation    La Trobe University

C) La Trobe University Chief Investigators for  ARC Grants administered elsewhere

Discovery Projects

1) The material cultures of early modern women's writing: editing, reception and mediation

Smith, Dr Rosalind L; Pender, Dr Patricia J; Salzman, Prof Paul J; Lilley, Dr Kate; Ross, Dr
Sarah C; O'Callaghan, Reader Michelle F; Wiseman, Prof Susan J
2012 $90,000.00
2013 $75,000.00
2014 $45,000.00
Total $210,000.00
Administering Organisation The University of Newcastle
Project Summary:
This project provides the first comprehensive account of how early modern women's writing was produced and circulated from its original appearance to the present day. Changing the ways in which we read and value women's writing, it will produce new knowledge about early modern texts and their afterlives.

2) Enhancing the quality of science learning through a representation-intensive pedagogy

Tytler, Prof Russell W; Prain, Prof Vaughan R; Hoban, A/Prof Garry F; Aubusson, A/Prof Peter;
Hubber, Dr Peter J; Chittleborough, Dr Gail D
2012 $75,000.00
2013 $75,000.00
2014 $75,000.00
Total $225,000.00
Administering Organisation Deakin University
Project Summary:
This project will investigate the quality of science learning occurring through an approach to teaching that involves students generating, negotiating and evaluating representations of scientific concepts. Students will generate multimodal representations using digital technologies, linking to the new Australian science curriculum.

3) Extending hospitality and making citizens: a historically and ethnographically informed analysis of the resettlement of refugees in Australia

Neumann, Prof Klaus; Gifford, Prof Sandra M
2012 $50,000.00
2013 $70,000.00
Total $120,000.00
Administering Organisation Swinburne University of Technology
Project Summary:
Australia's humanitarian program is considered a model of success internationally, but has rarely been subject to close scrutiny. The project is the first comprehensive critical analysis of Australia's past and present resettlement of refugees. It will inform Australia's response to the increasingly complex challenges posed by forced migration.

4) Laser spectroscopy of functional molecules

Bieske, A/Prof Evan J; Robertson, Dr Evan G
2012 $200,000.00
2013 $140,000.00
2014 $140,000.00
Total $480,000.00
Administering Organisation The University of Melbourne
Project Summary:
Frontier techniques of molecular laser spectroscopy and mass spectrometry will be developed and deployed to investigate the structure and function of molecules that underpin biological processes, drugs, and single molecule devices, including molecular motors, molecular switches, and energy harvesting systems.

5) Testing the importance of large-scale climate factors to plant community assembly following land-use change

Mayfield, Dr Margaret M; Bonser, Dr Stephen P; Morgan, Dr John W
2012 $90,000.00
2013 $90,000.00
2014 $90,000.00
Total $270,000.00
Administering Organisation The University of Queensland
Project Summary:
This project will examine the native plant species and functional diversity of Australia's rain forest communities to create a predictive framework of how plant communities recover following deforestation. Such a framework is key to focusing conservation efforts in degraded and multi-use landscapes.

6) Testing the integration and differentiation of national employment systems: multinational enterprises in an international comparative context

McDonnell, Dr Anthony; Bartram, Dr Timothy K; Burgess, Prof Kenneth J; Boyle, Dr Brendan ; Stanton, Prof Pauline M; Murray, Prof Gregor E; Minbaeva, A/Prof Dana ; Gunnigle, Prof Patrick
G; Edwards, Dr Tony J
2012 $83,220.00
2013 $40,598.00
Total $123,818.00
Administering Organisation University of South Australia
Project Summary:
Multinational enterprises play a leading role in shaping employment practices as their power disproportionately influences the direction of change in managing people. This project, conducted across six countries, enhances our understanding of how these organisations influence and shape the employment practices and systems in host contexts.

Linkage Projects

7) Bacteriophages for foam control in wastewater processing

Gras, Dr Sally L; Tillett, Dr Daniel; Martin, Dr Gregory J; Stickland, Dr Anthony D; Scales, Prof
Peter J
2012 $70,000.00
2013 $70,000.00
2014 $70,000.00
Total $210,000.00
Partner Organisation(s):
Melbourne Water Corporation, SA Water Corporation, Water Corporation of WA
Administering Organisation The University of Melbourne
Project Summary:
This project will develop new strategies to reduce troublesome foaming at sewerage treatment plants in Australia. It will enable water authorities to prevent foaming events, increase wastewater treatment safety and efficiency, decrease environmental and human health impacts and aid recycling of urban and industrial wastewaters.

8) Attraction and retention: the role of mobility in educational pathways and human capital Development

Corcoran, Dr Jonathan J; Bell, Prof Martin J; Budge, A/Prof Trevor M; McKenzie, Ms Fiona
2012 $50,000.00
2013 $50,000.00
2014 $50,000.00
Total $150,000.00
Partner Organisation(s):
Graduate Careers Australia, Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development
Administering Organisation The University of Queensland
Project Summary:
This project will examine the factors that attract and retain school leavers and tertiary graduates in cities, towns and rural areas of non-metropolitan Victoria. It will increase understanding of how spatial mobility shapes young people's transition through higher education to adulthood and guide regional development policy to enhance human capital.

Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities

9) Investigating materials on the atomic scale using 3-dimensional atom probe tomography

Stanford, Dr Nicole; Hodgson, Prof Peter D; Wen, Prof Cuie; Beynon, Prof John H; Chen, Prof Ying I; Pereloma, Prof Elena; Brooks, Prof Geoffrey A; Beladi, Dr Hossein; Voelcker, Prof Nicolas H; Hutchinson, A/Prof Christopher R; Timokhina, Dr Ilana; Dippenaar, Prof Rian J; Pigram, A/Prof Paul J; Davies, Prof Christopher H; Nie, Prof Jian-Feng; Calka, A/Prof Andrzej
Total $675,000.00
Partner/Collaborating Eligible Organisation(s)
La Trobe University, Monash University, Swinburne University of Technology, The Flinders University of South Australia,
University of Wollongong
Administering Organisation Deakin University
Project Summary:
A facility capable of examining the position of individual atoms inside a material will be established to serve the Australian research community. This information will be used to design engineering alloys with improved strength, biocompatibility and reduced environmental footprints. It will also be used to characterise alloys produced by new greentechnologies.

10 ) A centre for structural cryo-electron microscopy

Whisstock, Prof James C; Rossjohn, Prof Jamie; Lithgow, Prof Trevor J; Ramm, Dr Georg; Rood, Prof Julian I; Kvansakul, Dr Marc; Stojanovski, Dr Diana; Dougan, Dr David A; Hoogenraad, Prof Nicholas J; Puthalakath, Dr Hamsa; Colman, Prof Peter M; Lawrence, A/Prof
Michael C; Czabotar, Dr Peter E
Total $640,000.00
Partner/Collaborating Eligible Organisation(s)
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
La Trobe University
Administering Organisation Monash University
Project Summary:
This equipment will use powerful microscopes to visualise the shape of proteins. The data generated in the facility will provide fundamental insight into how large complex proteins govern life-and-death events in biology. These data will be important for scientists to develop new approaches to control aberrant protein function in disease.

11) A cellular nano-imaging facility: Probing cellular complexity

Tilley, Prof Leann; Harper, A/Prof Ian S; Ryan, Prof Michael T; Gleeson, Prof Paul A; Furness, Prof John B; Tiganis, Prof Tony; Nugent, Prof Keith A; Hartland, Prof Elizabeth L; Jans, Prof David A; Lackmann, A/Prof Martin; Maier, Dr Alexander G; Baum, Dr Jacob; Rogers, Dr Kelly L; Cowman, Prof Alan F
2012 $350,000.00
Total $350,000.00
Partner/Collaborating Eligible Organisation(s)
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
La Trobe University, Monash University
Administering Organisation The University of Melbourne
Project Summary:
Answering the major medical and biotechnology questions of the 21st century will be heavily reliant on the use of advanced imaging techniques. This facility will establish a new and revolutionary microscope which is capable of producing images of living cells in action at high magnification and with the greatest clarity.