2013 Arc Grants

Outstanding Result in 2013 ARC grants

The list below showcases yet another outstanding result by La Trobe University researchers in the 2013 round of ARC grants.

Discovery Grants

Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering

  • Professor Reinout Quispel which includes a prestigious DORA (Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award) $685,000 New structures in geometric numerical integration
    Differential equations (DEs) play a central role in modelling scientific phenomena in physics, biology, chemistry, astronomy, meteorology and geoscience. Using geometric numerical integration, this project develops new ways of solving DEs, which have significant advantages over traditional methods because they provide crucial nonlinear stability.
  • Dr Megan Maher $333,000 Molecular mechanisms for copper trafficking across membranes
    The trace metal copper is a requirement for life for all organisms, however, in all cells the quantities of copper need to be tightly regulated to avoid toxic effects. This project seeks to understand the molecular mechanisms of the Ctr proteins, which are responsible for the uptake of copper into cells.
  • Professor Paul Fisher and Dr Sarah Annesley $375,000 The role of dysregulated signalling by TORC1 in mitochondrial disease
    This project aims to identify disease-causing disturbances in the regulatory signalling networks in cells that are caused by defects in cellular energy production by the mitochondria. The outcome will be new understanding and new treatment possibilities for some common brain and cellular energy production diseases.
  • Professor Susan Paxton and Professor Eleanor Wertheim $360,000 Prospective predictors of body image attitudes and dieting beliefs during first years of school: providing guidance for prevention
    This project will examine family, media, peer and school adaptation predictors of body image outcomes in 5-7 year old children. Findings will inform the development of public health interventions to support parents and schools provide a positive body image environment for their children.

Faculty Business, Education and Law

  • Professor Xiangkang Yin and Jing Zhao $174,553 A new approach to information-based securities trading
    This project develops a new framework to study securities trading, which can generate dynamic and accurate measures of information environment of a risky asset market, and a technique of detecting false rumours. It will enable academics, practitioners and regulators to better analyse markets in the Australian context and enhance market efficiency.
  • Professor Bala Balachandran and Dr Lily Nguyen $180,000 The impact of payout policy changes on firm value and short selling activities across different taxation
    Given the ongoing concerns and disillusionment with financial markets, this project will look at the impact of corporate payout policy changes on firm value and short selling activities across different institutional and taxation regimes. Insights from this research will inform future policy changes around taxation and market regulation.

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Dr John Taylor $173,000 Sorcery and human security in Vanuatu: violence, health, governance, and the implications for effective development
    This project will provide the first comprehensive analysis of the prevalence and characteristics of sorcery belief and related practice in Vanuatu. This is an urgently required study with practical applications to the key development areas of healthcare and governance.
  • Dr Nicholas Herriman $272,000 Seeking the state: incorporating the state on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands
    Cocos Malay people have become disgruntled with the Australian government over perceived cultural and religious differences. The causes of Cocos Malay antagonism will be studied and ways to improve the relationship will be suggested. These will be published in two articles and a book.
  • Professor Susan Thomas $198,872 Jean Rhys: her literary career
    The project offers a revaluation of the creativity, career and literary and cultural legacies of Jean Rhys (1890-1979), a major modernist writer from Dominica. Combining archival, biographical and critical scholarship, it will resituate her in histories of Caribbean literature, modernism and neo-Victorian literature.
  • Dr Phillip Edwards and Dr John Webb $333,363 Ice Age villagers of the Levant: sedentism and social connections in the Natufian period
    This project will provide new understandings of how Natufian hunter-gatherers founded the earliest villages in the Jordan Valley around 12,500 BC. New analytical technologies will be used to evaluate the degree of sedentism at Wadi Hammeh 27 and investigate the social links binding this settlement to smaller Natufian seasonal sites.

Future Fellowship

Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering

  • Dr Brian Abbey $645,705 Extending x-ray crystallography to allow structure retrieval from highly disordered crystals and nanocrystals
    Around 70% of drugs on the market today depend on the activity of membrane proteins, which are complex molecules that form the membranes of the cells in our body. This project will develop new X-ray based techniques that will provide key insights into the structure of membrane proteins that can then be used for targeted drug development.
  • Dr Begona Heras $749,153 How bacteria fold virulence factors to cause disease
    This project will investigate how two clinically important bacteria, Salmonella and uropathogenic Escherichia coli, use specific proteins to generate an arsenal of virulence weapons that cause disease. This work will advance our knowledge of disease-causing pathways of bacteria that will enable the development of new antimicrobials.
  • Dr Marc Kvansakul $749,918 Structural studies of host-pathogen interactions
    The interactions between pathogens and their hosts is of major importance for the design of new strategies and therapies in diverse areas including infectious diseases, cancers as well as plant biotechnology. This project aims to understand host-pathogen interactions at the atomic level to help design future strategies to defend against pathogens.
  • Dr Belinda Parker $754,880 Crosstalk between breast cancer cells and the microenvironment to promote metastasis
    A major cause of death in breast cancer patients is spread to distant tissues. This project will identify interactions between cancer cells and surrounding cells that promote spread with the ultimate aim of identifying new markers to predict breast cancer spread in patients and new strategies for blocking this spread therapeutically.

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Dr Tracey Banivanua Mar $604,011 Rehearsals in Colonialism: tracking transPacific expressions of Indigenous and settler sovereignty, 1788-1900
    The Pacific’s Indigenous monarchies were connected by itinerant and sophisticated formulations of sovereignty. This study will track these during a time when unprecedented transPacific mobility linked the Australasian, Pacific and North American colonies, thus stimulating new debate and add new chapters to the history of empire in the Pacific.
  • Dr Ingrid Sykes $677,311 Microbial visions: French Colonial biomedicine in twentieth-century New Caledonia
    Doctors and scientists in the French territory of New Caledonia have maintained a cutting-edge culture of biomedicine since the early twentieth century. It is now essential to record and analyse the complex and ingenious modes of biomedical practice and research that continue to powerfully shape this Pacific space.
  • Dr Clare Wright $628,986 Red Dirt Dreaming: re-imagining the history of mining in Australia
    Mining has been more vital to Australia’s economic progress than wool, yet no national history of mining has been written for fifty years. This innovative new history of Australian mining to include all Australians will examine key events in Australia’s past through the social and cultural milieu of mining communities, environments and industries.

Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA)

Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering

  • Dr John Lesku $374,837 Ecophysiology and evolution of sleep and adaptive sleeplessness
    Animals that perform well on little sleep can be of great importance to understanding the elusive function of sleep. Innovative technologies will be used in real-world, ecologically-relevant situations to provide insight into sleep evolution and animals resilient to sleep loss, with implications for sleep function, and human health and wellbeing.

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Dr Penny Crook $326,489 An archaeology of colonial consumption: Sydney trade and material culture, 1788–1901
    This project will explore Sydney’s history as a colonial marketplace. It will employ emerging digital technologies and pioneering new methods to explore the cost, quality and value of archaeological relics found across Sydney, and underwrite new transnational histories of empire, commerce and consumer culture at the height of the British Empire.

Discovery Grants (not administered by La Trobe University)

Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering

  • Professor Keith Nugent – The University of Melbourne
    This project will develop atomic-scale imaging that is able to bypass the resolution limitations of modern electron microscopes. The project will investigate the physical processes underlying a new imaging source based on extracting cold electrons from laser-cooled atoms. Ultrashort pulses of cold electrons will enable time-lapse imaging of fundamental processes at the nano-scale, with applications in fundamental biosciences and materials science.
  • Professor Jim Whelan – The University of Western Australia 
    Mitochondria are essential organelles involved in energy production and various metabolic and biosynthetic pathways in plant cells. Signals from mitochondria act to regulate nuclear gene expression to coordinate mitochondrial activity with cellular activity, which is called mitochondrial retrograde signalling (MRS). To date our knowledge of the pathways and components involved in MRS is limited to a single model system. This proposal seeks to identify additional MRS pathways, characterise components of these pathways and the signals involved. This new knowledge can be used in translational research as a basis to breed plants with altered stress and growth properties.
  • Professor Reinout Quispel – The University of New South Wales
    Integrable systems boast a long and venerable history, and have such famous members as the Kepler system, the Korteweg-de Vries equation, and the sine-Gordon equation. More recently, interest in integrable systems has expanded to include systems with discrete time, that is, ordinary difference equations (or maps) and integrable partial difference equations. These discrete integrable systems are arguably more fundamental than the continuous-time ones. Based upon recent breakthroughs this project will combine analysis, geometry, and computer algebra to expand and systematise this new interdisciplinary field of discrete integrable systems.

Faculty of Health Sciences

  • Professor Jeni Warburton – The University of Western Australia
    Decades of societal progress have been achieved through advances in semiconductor technology during what might be termed the Silicon Revolution. The International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors has identified molecular components as a solution to problems including data storage and very high-density circuits over the next 15 - 20 years. This project will target some of the difficult challenges in realising molecular electronics technology: molecular contacts to surfaces; function beyond the wire; transistor-like response. This project brings together an international team with expertise in chemical synthesis, electronic structure determination and single molecule conductance measurements to address these challenges.
  • Associate Professor Adam Schembri – Macquarie University 
    This project will use corpus-based and experimental studies to compare pointing signs in three sign languages with pointing gestures used by hearing non-signers in order to answer the question: What relationship do gestures have to language? It will help us understand how pointing works as part of a sign language system, and how it is used as co-speech gesture. Both spoken languages and sign languages make use of pointing, and thus it represents a unique case study for the investigation of the relationship between gesture and language. This project will provide a distinctive contribution to our knowledge about the relationship between language and other aspects of human communication.
  • Dr Jeffery Grierson – The University of New South Wales
    Gay and bisexual men have high rates of drug use. This cohort study will contribute to Australia’s response to drug use by identifying: risk factors for, and prevalence and incidence of, drug use and associated harms within this high risk population; the role of gay community norms in individuals' beliefs about and motivations for drug use; and, implications for HIV and HCV infection. The findings will help to better target, educate and support those at risk of drug use and associated harms.

LIEF Grants (not administered by La Trobe University)

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Professor Tim Murray, Dr Nicola Stern, Professor David Frankel, Dr Jennifer Webb – The University of New South Wales
    This project will embed the federated archaeological information management systems infrastructure within six leading archaeology departments across Australia. It will develop and expand the mobile field recording system, the national data repository and a suite of online editing and visualisation tools to support archaeologists conducting research projects of national significance. By working closely with research projects and integrating the mobile platform and digital infrastructure within their workflow, this project will ensure that Australian archaeological research data is created in a digital, structured, and reusable form, benefiting the preservation of Australian cultural heritage and promoting new research for decades to come.
  • Professor Peta Tait – Flinders University 
    AusStage Phase 5: Australian live performance and the world – global networks, national culture and aesthetic transmission. AusStage stimulates new approaches to collaborative research and pioneers innovative methodologies for researching live performance in Australia. This project will internationalise AusStage by: developing new methodologies for analysing aesthetic transmission between Australian and international artists; collaborating with international partners to share data and enable research across national borders; and extending the data set to support research on global markets, international distribution and cultural diplomacy. New developments will support innovative research on live performance of international significance and collaborations with international partners.
  • Dr Christopher Pakes – The University of New South Wales
    Ultra low temperature scanning gate facility for study of advanced nanostructure devices and materials: Electronic devices and materials underpin a range of significant industries worldwide. However while there are numerous techniques for imaging the structure of a material, including X-rays, electron microscopy, atom probe tomography, and nuclear scattering, none allow us to see how the electrons and holes move inside a material or device. This project will create a new scanning gate microscope facility for imaging electrical current flow in advanced quantum devices and the new generation of topological insulators and atomically thin crystals such as graphene. The project will stimulate new studies of the next generation of electronic materials and devices, providing the underpinning knowledge for the future development of post silicon electronics.

Project Grants

  • Professor Michael Ryan (Department of Biochemistry) has received full funding of $551,226 for the project The role of accessory subunits and assembly factors in assembly and function of respiratory chain complex I.
  • Dr Michael Lazarou (Department of Biochemistry) has received full funding of $536,226 for the project Mitochondrial quality control in Parkinson’s disease: The molecular mechanisms of PINK1 and Parkin.

Early Career Fellowship

  • Dr David Stroud (Department of Biochemistry) has received full funding of $304,596 for the early career project Building and maintaining complex I of the mitochondrial respiratory chain.
  • Dr David Trembath (School of Psychological Science) has received full funding of $304,596 for the early career project Improving Treatment Outcomes for Children with Autism: Translating Intensive 1:1 Treatment into a Community-Based Model

Research Fellowships

  • Professor Graham Lamb (Department of Zoology) has received funding of $164,585 for the 6th year of his Research Fellowship (SPRF), for the project Understanding skeletal and cardiac muscle function in health and disease.

La Trobe University researchers are also involved in other successful projects awarded to other administering institutions.

  • Dr Miranda Rose (Allied Health) is a collaborator in a successful Project Grant to be administered by the University of Queensland. $1,270,185 has been awarded to undertake the project Preventing depression and reducing the impact of aphasia in stroke patients and their caregivers a year post onset via a brief early intervention: a cluster randomised control trial of the Action Success Knowledge (ASK).
  • Dr Sophie Hill (Public Health) is a collaborator in a successful Project Grant to be administered by the University of Newcastle. $386,854 has been awarded to undertake the project Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records for young adults with communication disabilities: charting the course for successful child to adult health service transition.

Further information

Media release: La Trobe gets $8m for vital research