Significant new research funding to The University of Western Australia will underpin the University's commitment to tackle the big issues facing the community.
The biggest of the grants to UWA from the Federal Government are for research into sustainable energy solutions for regional communities and improvements to the health and wellbeing of children.
UWA received more than $8.04 million to support 13 research projects - the second-highest level of funding to any Australian university and almost 80 per cent of the funding to universities in Western Australia. The funding, under the Australian Research Council's Linkage Projects scheme, will attract a further $7.26 million from collaborating partner organisations.
UWA Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bill Louden, said the research in regional areas would be aimed largely at securing sustainable energy for the resources sector - vital to the continuing growth of the Australian and Western Australian economies.
"We are pleased that the Federal Government has acknowledged the high quality of UWA researchers and their ability to collaborate successfully with business, industry and government," Professor Louden said.
"This latest funding will ensure research at UWA continues to focus on issues of direct importance to communities - locally, nationally and internationally," he said.
The Director of UWA's Centre for Energy, Winthrop Professor Dongke Zhang, received $2.5 million over five years to develop a secure source of sustainable energy for Australian regional communities which embrace environmentally sustainable and cost-effective approaches to global climate change. The project will investigate synthetic natural gas and biochar from biomass to provide energy in remote communities, as well as soil carbon sequestration.
Two other projects led by Professor Zhang attracted $730,000 over several years to investigate the conversion of methanol gas into sulphur-free, clean combustion diesel and to develop a biogas from green waste and animal droppings.
In addition, funding of more than $2 million over five years will enable researchers led by UWA Winthrop Professor Fiona Stanley, Director of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, to improve developmental pathways for children.
A collaboration between researchers and policy-makers across 11 government departments will deliver new evidence for understanding child, family and community-level factors in child health.
The Federal Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, announced the projects today. The Linkage Projects scheme funds collaborative projects between university researchers and partner organisations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.
Among other UWA projects that attracted ARC funding included the restoration of seagrass meadows; developing variations of subterranean clover-feed that will benefit the wool and meat industries while mitigating methane emissions from livestock; and combating fungal diseases in Australia's expanding sandalwood industry.
Winthrop Professor Dongke Zhang (Director, UWA Centre for Energy) (+61 8) 6488 8668
Winthrop Professor Fiona Stanley (Director of the Telethon Institute (+61 8) 9489 7968
for Child Health Research)
Sally-Ann Jones (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 7975 / (+61 4) 20 790 098