ARC Success for La Trobe University Researchers 2017

The SHE college has increased the number of grants received from 1 to 9 (success rate 22%); the amount of funding received has increased from $324,686 to $2,971,913. Discovery Project national success rate 17.8%; La Trobe University success rate 18.8%.

Future Fellowships - continued success. $2,061,054 awarded to three fellows with a 33% success rate. National success rate 30.9%. Particular mention - Dr Jake Chandler - Politics, Media and Philosophy, the first major fellowship in Philosophy for an extended period of time.

La Trobe University has received $2,061,054 in Future Fellowship funding; $3,836,881 in Discovery Project funding; and $343,000 in Discovery Early Career Award funding.

La Trobe administered projects

Future Fellowships

Dr Jake Chandler, ‘Qualitative Models of Rationality: Philosophical Foundations & Applications’ (FT160100092) $604,000

Mathematical models of rationality, which aim to formalise the rules of good reasoning and decision making, have traditionally proceeded on the assumption that people's beliefs and desires are always given to us in terms of precise, quantifiable degrees of confidence and value. This assumption has been noted to be implausibly strong and alternative, qualitative frameworks have been developed to handle the frequent situations in which it fails. These, however, remain critically incomplete and their foundations poorly understood. Dr Chandler’s project will address their key omissions, secure their conceptual underpinnings and put them to work in clarifying and resolving a range of long-standing philosophical problems. Adequate models of rational decision making and belief revision are critical to our ability to scientifically cope with an uncertain and changing environment and to build computational systems that assist us in doing so. By carrying out essential fundamental research on an important but underdeveloped class of such models, Dr Chandler’s work open the way for the development of further concrete applications to a whole range of real-world problems.

Dr Jason Dutton, ‘Discovering new organic chemistry using an inorganic touch’ (FT160100007) $805,054

Dr Dutton aims to discover new organic chemistry by using a new philosophy, treating carbon as though it were a metal atom. Advances in fundamental organic chemistry have been critically important in the development of many products, from medicines to plastics to television display technology. Much research activity relies on applications of existing organic chemistry, while the invention of genuinely new organic chemistry is a more difficult challenge. Using the philosophy of viewing carbon as a metal, this project will conquer important problems in organic chemistry that have been unresolved for decades, and enable synthesis of valuable chemicals otherwise generated using expensive precious metal catalysts. It will result in the invention of new synthetic organic chemistry techniques and in doing so will allow for previously impossible or very difficult chemistry to become feasible. The proposed techniques will be commercialized in conjunction with an Australian fine chemical manufacturer resulting in direct support of a local company.

Dr Dongchen Qi, ‘Enabling Diamond Nanoelectronics with Metal Oxide Induced Surface Doping’ (FT160100207) $652,000

Building his recent breakthroughs in controlling diamond surface conductivity using transition metal oxides, Dr Qi’s project aims to enable diamond nanoelectronic devices with superior stability, robust operation and novel functionalities. Due to its unique properties, diamond is highly desirable for building high-power, highfrequency electronic devices, particularly for applications in electrical power control/conversion and telecommunication. This project aims to position Australia at the forefront of diamond nanoelectronics research by laying the foundations for the practical use of diamond for radio frequency (RF) power electronics. The high performance and technically viable device technologies developed through this project will enable diamond electronic devices for applications in telecommunications, radars and next-generation electricity grid which underpin Australia's Science and Research Priorities.


Dr Kaylie Wild, ‘Leading change on violence against women through the health sector’ (DE170101454) $343,000

Timor-Leste, has an extremely high rate of violence against women. The health sector is a critical partner in prevention, early intervention and leading change in community attitudes but, to date, no research has included the perspectives of health providers in the country. Dr Wild’s research brings together health professionals, policy-makers and women's experiences to provide the first in-depth insight into the challenges facing the health sector and its role in responding to violence against women. Her research will inform the development of healthcare models to address violence against women in post-conflict, low-income and remote settings. Strategies to prevent and respond to gender-based violence is critical for the health and wellbeing of women and children, promoting gender equality, reducing maternal and infant mortality and the development and political stability of fragile states.

Discovery Projects

Dr Philippe Chouinard, Prof Sheila Crewther, Prof Melvyn Goodale (University of Western Ontario), ‘Determining the neural mechanisms of automatic visuomotor associations’ (DP170103189) $362,000

Dr Chouinard’s team aims to determine how we select actions to visual cues in a rapid, unconscious, and automatic manner. Learning associations between visual stimuli and motor responses is part of normal development and continues throughout life. The rapid deployment of these actions is often critical for our safety yet we have limited knowledge of how the human brain does this. This project will use cutting-edge neuroimaging tools to characterise the spatial and temporal neural architecture underlying these processes and determine how the dorsal and ventral streams of visual processing, each specialised for motor control and recognition respectively, interact in vision-based actions as these actions become learned. The biological and cognitive principles emerging from this project will provide new frameworks for driving improvement in any domain in which goal-directed actions depend on the rapid processing of visual information, including human-machine interfaces for defense, economic development, education, health, science, and technology.

Prof Sheila Crewther, Prof David Crewther (Swinburne University of Technology), Prof Melvyn Goodale (University of Western Ontario), ‘A Grasp in Time: temporal interactions of dorsal/ventral visual streams’ (DP170101035) $399,500

To date, the speed of activation and interactions of the neural pathways for visual perception of objects with those associated with movements towards the same object have not been investigated. Professor Crewther’s team plan to utilize the temporal sensitivity of the latest neuroscience brain imaging techniques to measure the real-time sequence of interactions between these two visual streams during goal-directed grasping. This will provide new directions for the rehabilitation in many neurodevelopmental disorders, and by improving design of control systems for robotics, prosthetic limbs, and more seamless human-machine interfaces.

Prof Jane Farmer, Prof Josephine Barraket (Swinburne University of Technology), Dr Michael Roy (Glasgow Caledonian University), Dr Katharine McKinnon, Dr Sarah-Anne Munoz (The University of the Highlands and Islands), Prof Susan Kilpatrick (University of Tasmania), Dr Christopher Brennan-Horley (University of Wollongong) ‘Mapping the impact of social enterprise on regional city disadvantage’ (DP170100388) $257,000

Professor Farmer’s team will explore how social enterprises impact on wellbeing and community capacity in disadvantaged areas of regional cities. They use a spatial methodology to map where and how benefits are realised. Governments increasingly invest in social enterprise to bring individual and place impacts. Regional cities could be particularly suitable as commercial opportunities are constrained. This study will provide robust evidence, and web-based design tools and apps to provide information needed by policy and practice to develop social enterprises that can best impact on disadvantaged people and places. It will provide guidance and apps, using data visualisations, that allow regional city communities and councils to optimise design of social enterprises and support contexts. Knowledge produced will be the first, internationally, robust enough to evidence future social enterprise investment.

Dr Nicola Henry, Dr Asher Flynn (Monash University), Dr Anastasia Powell (RMIT University), Prof Clare McGlynn (Durham University), Prof Erika Rackley (University of Birmingham), Prof Nicola Gavey (University of Auckland) ‘Revenge pornography: The implications for law reform’ (DP170101433) $337,000

Dr Henry’s team will investigate prevalence, nature and impacts in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and examine different responses to these behaviours. Revenge pornography is a serious criminal justice problem, yet only one Australian jurisdiction has introduced legislation to address the issue. Applicable laws here and elsewhere are inconsistent and inadequate. Little is known about how widespread these behaviours are or the extent of resulting social, economic and psychological harms. This research will contribute to greater understandings of intimate relationships within the digital era.

A/Prof Andrew Herries, Dr Justin Adams (Monash University), Prof David Strait (Washington University in St Louis), Dr David Fink (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation), Dr Renaud Joannes-Boyau (Southern Cross University), Dr Colin Menter (University of Johannesburg), Dr Jessie Birkett-Rees (Monash University) ‘Visualizing the evolving landscapes of our early South African ancestors’ (DP170100056) $328,000

Dr Herries’ research will reconstruct the early evolution of our genus due to our recent discovery of one of the most complete early Homo crania from South Africa and the oldest Homo ergaster fossil in the world. It will address how Homo evolved and adapted to the ancient landscape and the extinction of species in response to changing environmental conditions and increasing aridity; something extremely relevant to the future of Australia and the planet.

A/Prof Andrew Herries; Dr Matthew Meredith-Williams; Dr Jayne Wilkins (University of Cape Town); ‘Acheulian to Middle Stone Age transition at Amanzi Springs, South Africa’ (DP170101139) $199,968

Sometime between 600,000 and 300,000 years ago Acheulian stone tool technology, defined by large generalized cutting tools, was transformed to a Middle Stone Age industry dominated by smaller, more specialized technology (points/blades). This transition remains poorly defined throughout Africa due to a lack of layered archaeological sites at high resolution that can be dated. Dr Herries’ project will enable us to define in detail for the first time the strategies and stages for the production of Acheulian technology in an unexplored coastal context. It will provide a detailed record of changes in technology across the Early to Middle Stone Age transition, a critical period leading up to the first occurrence of anatomically and behaviourally modern humans and the foundations of the technology that enabled our early ancestors to spread out of Africa and across the globe.

Prof Andrew Hill; Dr Suresh Mathivanan; ‘Understanding how protein and RNA cargo are sorted into exosomes’ (DP170102312) $386,500

Exosomes are small membranous extracellular vesicles that are released by cells and contain protein and RNA cargo. They are involved in intercellular communication which is a rapidly growing area of scientific interest. Professor Hill aims to understand how proteins and RNA are selected for packaging into exosomes and participate in the biological functions mediated by these vesicles. Determining how the exosome cargo is selected and related to its function in intercellular communication will enable us to understand how these vesicles play a role in maintaining cellular homeostasis.

Dr John Lesku; Asst Prof Timothy Roth (Franklin and Marshall College); ‘Ecological role of sleep in maintaining optimal brain function in birds’ (DP170101003) $138,074

Dr Lesku asks “What is the function of sleep?”. Existing ecological and physiological methods and viewpoints to this problem have become roadblocks to an answer. By bringing together aspects of animal behaviour, ecology, evolution and anthropogenic disturbance with sleep neurophysiology we might provide a more comprehensive understanding of sleep than achieved before. Here the team puts forth an original research program that will examine how animals use sleep-dependent cognition in real-world situations tailored to their unique ecology. By doing so, we will add a new dimension of understanding on the functions of sleep.

Prof Susan Paxton; Dr Rachel Rodgers (Northeastern University); Dr Amy Slater (University of the West of England); ‘Does social media literacy mitigate impacts of social media in adolescents?’ (DP170100709) $273,000

Although social media use is an integral part of the lives of most Australian adolescents, frequent social media engagement and photo-based activities are risk factors for body dissatisfaction, disordered eating and compromised well-being. This innovative project aims to determine protective and risk factors for problems associated with social media use in early adolescents. Findings will inform development of effective school-based resources to mitigate negative impacts of social media use and inform policy to enhance adolescent well-being.

Dr Richard Peters; Dr Thomas Chandler (Monash University); ‘Quantifying environmental constraints on animal behaviour’ (DP170102370) $333,339

Motion vision is crucial in the life of animals, in controlling locomotion, in foraging, for predator evasion and in communication. However, information on the conditions for motion vision in natural environments is limited. Dr Peters will unite biology with creative arts in an innovative approach that combines novel field techniques with tools from 3D animation and computer vision to determine how habitat structure, weather and motion vision influence animal behaviour.

Dr Ivan Poon; Dr Mark Hulett; ‘Determining the mechanism and function of dying cell disassembly’ (DP170103790) $391,000

Billions of cells in the body die daily as part of normal turnover. It is vital that dying cells are rapidly removed as their accumulation can interfere with normal tissue functions. To aid efficient clearance of dead cells, dying cells can disassemble into smaller fragments for neighbouring cells to engulf. Drs Poon and Hulett aim to describe a new mechanism of generating fragments of dying cells through a novel ‘beads-on-a-string’ membrane protrusion. This breakthrough will yield high impact academic outcome that has broad significance in many fields of research including cell biology and biochemistry, and generate basic knowledge that can be applied in medical science to understand or treat pathological conditions associated with cell death.

A/Prof Helena Richardson; Prof Tony Tiganis (Monash University); A/Prof Patrick Humbert; ‘Control of Cell Competition by Cell Shape Regulators in Tissue Development’ (DP170102549) $431,500

When cell shape regulators are perturbed in a cell within a tissue, through mutation or upon wounding, signalling pathways are altered that trigger death of the aberrant cells. Activation of a surveillance mechanism termed "cell competition" is important to remove the damaged cells. Dr Richardson’s team aim to understand the surveillance mechanisms that recognise and remove damaged cells will reveal new biomarkers and ways to modulate this process. This knowledge will be relevant to bioengineering and pharmaceutical industries, and can be used to increase organism fitness to increase productivity or to decrease it for pest control.

Externally administered projects

Barbara Keys (The University of Melbourne); Roland Burke (La Trobe University); Guoqi Xu (The University of Hong Kong); ‘Moral claims in international sports events’ $159,240

This project aims to understand how moral claims about international sport generate, reinforce and propagate normative views of global order. For over a century, advocates of the Olympic Games and other major international sports events have claimed that they bring moral benefits– from promoting peace to protecting human rights. This project aims to analyse how sport’s moral claims shape global norms and justify enormous outlays of financial and political capital. By understanding why these claims have been so influential for over a century, the project aims to understand the major political and economic consequences of moral expectations around international sport.

Arthur Georges (University of Canberra), Janine Deakin (University of Canberra); Stephen Sarre (University of Canberra); Tariq Ezaz (University of Canberra); Paul Waters (University of New South Wales); Lisa Schwanz (University of New South Wales); Jennifer Graves (La Trobe University); Clare Holleley (CSIRO); ‘Sex determination in dragons: Genetics, epigenetics and environment’ $1,006,500

This project aims to discover the master sex-determining gene in a reptile, how that gene is differentially regulated in males and females and by temperature, and to identify evolutionary drivers of transitions between genetic and environmental sex determination. In many reptiles, like mammals, chromosomes determine sex. In others, the temperature at which their eggs are incubated determines sex. This project will study how temperature reverses chromosomal sex determination in dragon lizards. This could show how climatic extremes affect the biology of climate sensitive reptiles, and understand their vulnerability to climate change.

Robert Scholten (The University of Melbourne); Keith Nugent (La Trobe University); ‘Atomic scale imaging with high coherence electrons and ions’ $765,500

This project aims to combine a cold atom electron-ion source with a commercial microscope column for atomic-scale imaging in biosciences and materials science. Nanoscale imaging with electron and ion microscopy are tools for investigating the world at the atomic scale, underpinning development in modern technologies from semiconductor devices to medical treatments. This project will use ideas from laser cooling of atoms and atom optics to achieve new imaging modalities for time-lapse imaging of fundamental processes at the nano-scale. It will allow increasingly small scale resolution of fundamental processes at the nano-scale.

Clare Tilbury (Griffith University); Christine Bigby (La Trobe University); Mark Hughes (Southern Cross University); Mike Fisher (University of Bedfordshire) ‘The production, use and effect of social work research’ $261,500

This project aims to reform social work research to improve the quality and effectiveness of human services. The human services industry is vital to many people’s quality of life, but lacks innovation and struggles to demonstrate its effectiveness. Crucially for social work, research expands thinking about how to respond to social disadvantage. This project intends to examine the scope and quality of Australian social work research in child protection, disability services, and aged care; assess the use of this research to the human services sector and its effect on generating innovation; and develop strategies to advance the production, uptake, and effect of social work research.

Claire Maree (The University of Melbourne); Kaori Okano (La Trobe University); Ikuko Nakane (The University of Melbourne); Shimako Iwasaki (Monash University); Lidia Tanaka (La Trobe University); Chie Takagi (Osaka University) ‘A panel study of Kobe women’s interview discourse’ $185,000

This project aims to investigate women’s life transitions and language use over 30 years. Analysis of changes to the languages, societies and cultures of Asia is essential to Australia’s Asia literacy. This project will analyse shifts and changes in women’s language, discourse and identities by examining ethnographic data of a longitudinal research project into working-class women’s life trajectories in Kobe, Japan. The project will research language, gender, class and mobility in Japan in the transition from young adulthood to middle adulthood. Understanding how life transitions and identities shape ways of speaking Japanese is expected to contribute to sociocultural understandings, and influence social and public policies about Japan.

Basil Donovan (The University of New South Wales); Denton Callander (The University of New South Wales); Victor Minichiello (La Trobe University); ‘Male sex workers and their clients’ $197,000

This project aims to study male sex workers’ relationships with their clients to evaluate how individual agency mitigates risks and dangers. Developments in biomedical HIV prevention can prevent infections but may also change sexual norms and the sexual marketplace for male sex workers and their clients. These changes align with rising rates of crystal methamphetamine use and online technologies in commercial sex encounters. As male sex work changes, a gap exists in understanding how men negotiate commercial sex encounters. This project expects to inform policies and practices to protect male sex workers’ health and safety, and provide public health information about HIV prevention and illicit drug use in sex work.

Lisa Bourke (The University of Melbourne); Christina Malatzky (The University of Melbourne); Olivia Mitchell (The University of Melbourne); Jane Farmer (La Trobe University) ‘Increasing inclusion in rural, generalist health services’ $298,500

The project aims to develop a 'toolkit' for health services to better serve minority groups. If health outcomes in Australia are to improve, health care must be provided to the poorest and sickest residents who need it most. However, these consumers will endure sickness rather than seek out services that are often exclusive and disrespectful. To provide accessible health care to disadvantaged residents, many of whom live rurally, all health services need to be responsive to diverse cultures and identities. This project works with rural health services to implement service-wide changes and discover how health services can adapt to the needs of diverse consumers.

Michael-Shawn Fletcher (The University of Melbourne); Maarten Blaauw (Queen's University Belfast); Agathe Lisé-Pronovost (La Trobe University); Hendrik Heijnis (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation); Joel Pedro (University of Copenhagen); Dominic Hodgson (British Antarctic Survey) ‘Effect of climate boundary changes on the Southern Westerly Winds’ $355,000

This project aims to produce high quality data on how the Southern Westerly Winds (SWW) respond to largescale changes in climate boundary conditions over multiple glacial-interglacial cycles. Because the SWW are key drivers of Southern Hemisphere climate, Southern Ocean circulation and global carbon dioxide concentrations, it is important to understand how they respond to changes in boundary conditions. Uncertainty about how they do so limits attempts at accurate predictive climate modelling. This project will test conceptual models of SWW dynamics and provide essential boundary conditions for predictive climate models. The project intends to simultaneously build and support a research capacity and global network, and advance Australia’s knowledge and contribution in the area of global climate dynamics.

Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment & Facilities (LIEF) Grants

Professor Julian Meyrick; Professor Joanne Tompkins; Professor Rachel Fensham; Associate Professor Maryrose Casey; Dr Glenn D'Cruz; Dr Gillian Arrighi; Dr Jonathan W. Marshall; Professor John O'Toole; Dr Bree Hadley; Associate Professor Ian Maxwell; Dr Caroline Wake; Professor Peta Tait; Dr Margaret Hamilton; Ms Janine Barrand. AusStage, Phase 6: researching Australian live performance – venues, visualisation and internationalisation $465,000

This project aims to construct a two- and three-dimensional visual interface and digital curatorial space, improving the existing AusStage open-access live performance database. This new interface, ‘Phase 6’, will create visualisation infrastructure, map relationships between Australian artists, audiences and venues, and collaborate with leading performing arts collections to foster compatible models and projects. Expected benefits are better understanding of the physical parameters of live performance and improved decision-making for metropolitan and regional communities about managing theatre sites and venues.

Professor Andrew Mowbray; Dr Philip Chung; Professor Andrew Stewart; Professor Graeme Orr; Associate Professor Anna-Louise Chapman; Associate Professor Shae McCrystal; Professor Mark Bray; Professor Peter Sheldon; Professor Michael O'Donnell; Dr Jillian Murray; Dr Michael Rawling; Mr Anthony O'Donnell. Historical depth and contemporary relevance for Australian Industrial Law, $450,000

This project aims to develop an ‘Australian Industrial and Workplace Relations Law Library’ on AustLII. The project will make relevant current law searchable in one location; digitise decisions contained in the major industrial law report series published since Federation; scan other key resources; add dynamic virtual databases; develop data mining tools to better recognise citation information in printed industrial law materials; and develop citation analysis, visualisation and other analytical tools for industrial and workplace law research. The project hopes to improve research in the field of Australian industrial and workforce relations system and the history and development of work in Australia, and inform policy and debate.

Professor Evatt Hawkes; Professor Marc Wilkins; Professor Michael Ferry; Professor Geraint Lewis; Eminent Professor Leo Radom; Professor Dietmar Muller; Associate Professor Michael Ford; Professor Eric Kennedy; Associate Professor Murray Cairns; Professor Bijan Samali; Professor Ian Anderson; Dr Sang Hong Lee; Dr Peter Unmack; Professor Graham King; Professor Brian Smith, Renewing Intersect’s share of the NCI peak facility. $900,000.

This project aims to continue the access of Intersect’s computational researchers to the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) peak supercomputing facility. The peak supercomputing facility at NCI is critical collaborative infrastructure on a globally competitive scale. Transformative advances in science and technology increasingly rely on high performance computing capabilities across a wide range of research disciplines. Ongoing access to this facility will allow researchers to tackle major problems in national priority areas including energy, health, and environmental change.

Professor Justin Zobel; Professor Michael Parker; Professor Andrew Ooi; Professor Richard Sandberg; Associate Professor Andrew Lonie; Professor Salvy Russo; Professor Toby Allen; Professor Irene Yarovsky; Professor Tiffany Walsh; Professor John Grundy; Professor Maria Forsyth; Professor Brian Smith. High-performance GPU cloud computational facility. $635,000.

This project aims to build a relatively low-cost graphical-processing-unit-based cloud-accessible facility. Much current cutting-edge research is based on intensive computational models and simulations, which are   used to deepen our understanding and predict real-world phenomena. This facility will provide a specialised computational platform for high-fidelity predictive models and simulations. It will underpin research in critical fields of science and engineering and be used by researchers from across Australia. This facility's computational capabilities are expected to complement other national computing resources, keep Australia globally competitive, and enhance research in fields including engineering, biology and materials science.

Professor Jonathan White; Dr Michael Griffin; Associate Professor Colette Boskovic; Dr Peter Barnard; Dr Jason Dutton; Dr David Turner; Professor Philip Andrews; Dr Christopher Ritchie; Professor Cameron Jones; Associate Professor Brendan Abrahams; Eminent Professor Keith Murray; Professor Stuart Batten. Victorian Single Crystal X-ray Diffraction Facility. $830,000.

This project aims to provide state-of-the-art X-ray diffraction instrumentation in a shared research facility. X-ray diffraction is essential for many research programmes, and the facility would support research in chemical synthesis, materials chemistry and structural biology. Structure determinations makes it possible to understand the underlying molecular structure of complex chemical and biological systems in terms of the underlying molecular structure. Anticipated outcomes are scientific and economic benefits to Australia arising from the training of young scientists and advancements in technology and medicine.

Professor Michael Parker; Professor James Whisstock; Professor Leann Tilley; Associate Professor Eric Hanssen; Professor Frances Separovic; Professor Jamie Rossjohn; Associate Professor Max Cryle; Professor Juliet Gerrard; Associate Professor Hans Elmlund; Professor Alan Cowman; Dr Daniela Stock; Professor Ricky Johnstone; Dr Lawrence Lee; Associate Professor Paul Ramsland; Professor Robert Pike. A high throughput Cryo-Electron Microscope for structural biology. $850,000.

This project aims to establish a high-throughput pipeline to determine the near-atomic-resolution structure of proteins by cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). Over the past five years, cryo-EM has improved the study of biological macromolecules at near-atomic resolution. This project will use two automated electron microscopes and a Titan Krios microscope to build a world-competitive integrated cryo-EM network for structural biology. This research is expected to increase the understanding of molecular events that are central for life.