MSE successes in recent ARC and NHMRC grant funding

The Melbourne School of Engineering has done well in the recent round of ARC and NHMRC research grants. Overall the School had a 26% success rate for Discovery Grant applications, a 45% success rate for Linkage Projects and an 80% success rate for Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) grants. In addition, the Department of Mechanical Engineering achieved a very high application success rate of 80%.

Congratulations to Dr John Provis, from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, who has been awarded a Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA); one of only four awarded to University of Melbourne researchers. Dr Provis’ project entitled “Will geopolymer concretes stand the test of time?”, will develop new ‘green’ materials to replace traditional, high-carbon dioxide cements and concretes that are as durable as traditional options. The project will enable prediction of the durability of low-carbon dioxide geopolymer concrete, using laboratory tests, cutting-edge structural analysis and computations.

Funding has been received for 17 Discovery Projects: 16 lead and 1 non-lead; 6 Linkage Projects – 5 lead and 1 non-lead; 9 LEIF grants – 4 lead, 5 non-lead; and 3 non-lead NHMRC grants.

Other Discovery Grant successes include:

“Electromechanical controls of membrane transport phenomena” – Associate Professor Toby Allen, Dr Ronald Clarke.
This joint computational-experimental project will explain transport processes carried out by biological membranes under different physiological and pharmacological conditions, to understand the actions of viruses, toxins, antimicrobial peptides and membrane proteins, for novel therapeutics, drug delivery and biosensing applications.

“Influence of additives in solvent extraction processes” – Professor Geoff Stevens.
This project directly supports innovative change in the solvent extraction industry in Australia. This industry is responsible for generating in excess of $600 million dollars annually of export earnings for Australia. The project aims directly at developing efficient and innovative processes for this industry.

“Language engineering in the field: preserving 100 endangered languages in New Guinea”  – Associate Professor Steven Bird
Efforts to preserve the world’s endangered linguistic heritage are labour-intensive, and unable to keep up with the pace of language loss. This project investigates a new approach to language preservation, using techniques from language engineering, and leveraging the labour of mother-tongue speakers.

“Networked system identification, estimation and control: performance optimisation under communication and resource constraints” – Professor Subhra Dey, Associate Professor Girish Nair, Associate Professor Erik Weyer.
Design and analysis of performance optimised networked system identification, estimation and control algorithms will make the implementation of large-scale wireless sensor and actuator networks a distinct possibility, thus contributing to significant technological advances in critical areas such as health care, defence and industrial automation.

“Efficient computational methods for worst-case analysis and optimal control of nonlinear dynamical systems” – Dr Peter Dower, Professor William McEneaney
Natural and technological systems can exhibit extremely complicated behaviour in worst-case scenarios. This project will develop efficient mathematical and computational tools that will enable this behaviour to be understood and controlled.

“Energy efficient sensing, computing and communication” – Professor William Moran, Dr Mohammad Rezaeian, Associate Professor Peter Farrell, Professor Yuliy Baryshnikov.
This research will study trade-offs in resource use:  bandwidth, power, and computational capacity of systems of sensors such as cameras, radars, and distributed sensor networks based on a statistical mechanical theory of information processing, leading to practical algorithms to optimise resource use in the design of such systems.

“Extremum seeking control: a systematic design framework”, Professor Dragan Nesic, Dr Ying Tan, Dr Peter Dower, Professor Andrew Teel.
Design of engineered systems whose operation is “best” or optimal in some sense is essential in tackling a range of socioeconomic problems facing our society. This project will provide a methodology for design of such systems that would improve performance of various irrigation, optical communications, economics and power generation systems.

“Overseeing the internet: new paradigms of network measurement” – Professor Darryl Veitch, Professor Francois Baccelli.
Like the electricity network, the internet is a core infrastructure, and so must be reliable and efficient. A gap in bandwidth supply is like a blackout in terms of lost business and productivity. This project will provide the measurement breakthroughs to ensure that network behaviour can be accurately and comprehensively monitored.

“From environmental monitoring to management: extracting knowledge about environmental events from sensor data” – Associate Professor Matt Duckham, Dr Allison Kealy, Dr Kai-Florian Richter, Associate Professor Stephan Winter, Mr Stuart Kininmonth, Assistant Professor Alexander Klippel, Dr Patrick Laube, Mr Jarod Lyon, Dr David Medyckyj-Scott, Dr Tim Wark.
This project will produce resources for researchers of the Spanish renaissance vihuela de mano embodying all available source material and scholarly research in a public website and a comprehensive monograph. This will provide 21st century researchers, performers and readers with tools for them to interact with the assembled knowledge sources.

“Understanding cultural and ecological triggers for policies against water catchment degradation” – Dr Yongping Wei, Professor John Langford, Professor Raymond Ison, Professor Qi Feng, Professor JD Tabara.
You cannot step into the same river twice. This project aims to understand the co-evolution of science, culture and management policy in water catchment for improving the predictability and preciseness of water management policy.

“A new method for identifying actual groundwater contributions to base flow using both stream flow and groundwater head data” – Professor Andrew Western, Professor Jeffrey McDonnell.
Estimating the groundwater contribution to river flow is difficult but critical for managing water resources and protecting stream environments. This project will deliver better methods for estimating these contributions using existing stream flow and groundwater data.

“Towards an event based model of combustion generated sound” – Associate Professor Michael Brear, Professor Timothy Colonius, Dr Peter Hield.
This proposal will develop new tools for predicting combustion generated sound. Since combustion noise often limits system performance, these new tools could be used to significantly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants from power generation and transportation.

“Advancing a first-principles basis for the prediction and manipulation of turbulent wall-flow transport” – Professor Joseph Klewicki, Dr Kapil Chauhan, Assistant Professor Christopher White, Professor Manoochehr Koochesfahani.
This project aims to advance the design of energy-efficient and environmentally friendly processes and devices by developing analysis tools that tell us how to predict and control the heat and momentum transport caused by turbulent flow near a solid surface. The expected outcomes are ways to accomplish these aims via the direct use of the basic physical laws.

“Optimising flex fuel engine performance”, Associate Professor Chris Manzie, Dr William Moase, Associate Professor Michael Brear.
This project will enable alternative fuels to be used optimally in engines for transport and distributed electricity generation. This will benefit Australian industry through better engine control technology and the Australian public through reduced emissions and cost in running engines using natural gas or LPG.

“Integration of high-speed dynamic x-ray imaging and patient-specific computational modelling for non-invasive assessment of knee-joint function” – Professor Marcus Pandy, Dr Kay Crossley, Professor David Hunter, Professor Ego Seeman, Dr Anthony Schache.
The project will establish a new capability for the prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis that will place Australia at the forefront of biomedical engineering research internationally. The ability to integrate high-speed, mobile, x-ray imaging of joint motion with patient-specific computer modelling is unique globally.

“Artificial Intelligence meets Wireless Sensor Networks: Filling the gaps between sensors using spatial reasoning” (non-lead) – Associate Professor Jochen Renz, Associate Professor Matt Duckham, Associate Professor Sanjiang Li.
Monitoring potential disaster regions and integrating available information with expert knowledge can prevent disasters and save many lives. This project will develop a key component for intelligent systems that can autonomously monitor the environment, make the correct inferences and issue appropriate warnings and recommendations.

Lead and non-lead Linkage Projects are:

“Bacteriophages for foam control in wastewater processing” – Dr Sally Gras, Dr Daniel Tillett, Dr Gregory Martin, Dr Anthony Strickland, Professor Peter Scales.
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.

“Growing old and staying connected: touch screen technology for ameliorating older people’s experience of social isolations” – Dr Frank Vetere, Associate Professor Elizabeth Ozanne, Dr Lars Kulik.
Social isolation affects many older people. This project investigates novel technologies to prevent and to ameliorate social isolation experienced by older adults. This project will implement and trial a software application over an 18 month period, using a 3G connected touch-screen tablet, and evaluate its impact on alleviating social isolation.

“Implementation of cognitive radar techniques in resource limited radar systems” – Professor William Moran, Professor Efstratios Skafidas, Dr Jerome Vethecan.
Cognitive radar technology enables a multiple functional radar system to be built on a single chip, to be of high efficiency and low cost. Waveform design and scheduling play a key role in such a system. This project will investigate and design waveforms and scheduling methods for building a real cognitive radar system in the extremely high frequency band.

“Creating a smart city through an internet of things”, Professor Marimuthu Palaniswami, Professor Rajkumar Buyya.
This project will deliver smart new ways of urban monitoring using ubiquitous sensing and data analysis for city management and sustainability. It will deliver researcher training, global clientele for local technology and a platform for local industry growth.

“Precision timekeeping infrastructure: bridging the hardware/software divide” – Dr Julien Ridoux, Professor Darryl Veitch.
Accurate time is essential for critical services from telecommunications to banking, and increasingly, must be performed with software clocks within computers, using hardware clocks accessed over the Internet. This project will bridge the hardware/software divide to deliver reliable and cost-effective access to precise timing.

“Optimising blood flow in stented arteries: a fluid mechanics approach to incorporating optical coherence tomography” (non-lead) – Associate Professor Peter Barlis, Professor Andrew Ooi, Professor Ivan Marusic, Dr Jason Monty, Dr Stephen Moore.
Constriction in coronary arterial blood flow is a leading cause of death in Australia. Insertion of stents can rectify this problem but potentially lead to further complications.  This project will use medical imaging data to construct computer models to study blood flow and particle motions in coronary arteries and improve stent designs.

Lead and non-lead LIEF grants are:

“Biomaterials characterisation facility” – Professor Frank Caruso, Professor Kerry Hourigan, Professor Stephen Kent, Professor George Simon, Professor Geoff Stevens, Professor Paul Komesaroff, Dr Georgina Such, Dr Qizhi Chen, Dr Angus Johnston, Professor Jaye Chin-Dusting, Dr Julian Quinn.
The convergence of nanotechnology and biotechnology offers new opportunities to prepare nanoengineered materials for applications in biomedicine. The Biomaterials Characterisation Facility will provide equipment to characterise such nanoengineered materials to underpin advances in therapeutic drug delivery and tissue engineering.

“Internet of things testbed for creating a Smart City” – Professor Marimuthu Palaniswami, Professor Priyan Mendis, Professor Michael Taylor, Professor Edward Chung, Associate Professor Pubudu Pathirana, Professor Rajkumar Buyya, Associate Professor Chris Leckie, Associate Professor Matt Duckham, Professor Doraisamy Nandagopal.
The Internet of Things Testbed facility replicates the conditions of a city-wide distribution of sensors and data collection applications to model in real time the functioning urban sensing elements of a smart city, translating vast amounts of sensor data into meaningful information and ultimately action.

“Macromolecular characterisation and purification facility” – Professor Greg Qiao, Professor Qipeng Guo, Professor George Simon, Professor Xungai Wang, Professor Sandra Kentish, Associate Professor Tong Lin, Professor Wayne Cook, Professor George Franks, Dr Anton Blencowe, Dr Paul Gurr, Dr Yan Zhao, Dr Nishar Hameed.
In-depth characterisation of  biomacromolecules and nanomaterials is fundamental to understanding their properties and application to advanced materials and technologies. The three new instruments at this facility dedicated to the purification, separation and characterisation of these compounds will provide an essential resource for polymer/materials research.

“Coherent detection based characterisation facility for ultra broadband photonic and RF systems” – Professor William Shieh, Professor Benjamin Eggleton, Professor Rodney Tucker, Professor Ampalavanapillai Nirmalathas, Associate Professor Christina Lim, Professor Efstratios Skafidas, Dr Mark Pelusi, Dr Jochen Schroeder, Professor Michael Austin, Dr Thach Nguyen, Dr Lam Bui.
The new infrastructure will allow detection of ultrahigh-speed optical and wireless signals. The facility adopts coherent detection based technologies providing superior performance in resolution, sensitivity, and bandwidth. It will play an important role in supporting research activities to accommodate phenomenal Internet growth.

“A 700 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer for the Melbourne Biomolecular NMR Network: A high throughput resource” (non-lead; Dr Sally Gras)
The Melbourne Biomolecular Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Network will enable NMR experiments aimed at discovering new molecules for diagnosing, treating and preventing disease, and identifying and eradicating pests. The new equipment will allow researchers to work with large numbers of samples, to identify the biomarkers of disease and to find new drug candidates quickly.

“Advanced macro scale test chamber to simulate ground conditions for the development of new sustainable and renewable energy technologies” (non-lead; Professor Saman Halgamuge)
The Advanced Macro-scale Testing Chamber (AMTC) is a novel laboratory testing device capable of recreating deep geological conditions which can occur at depths of up to 13km underground. The AMTC will help scientists and engineers understand the Earth’s behaviour during deep geological activities such as geothermal energy collection, pollutant disposal, underground mining and earthquake modelling.

“Wind profiler network for planetary boundary layer research” (non lead;  Nick Hutchins).
Understanding winds in the lower atmosphere is of great fundamental and practical importance. This new wind monitoring network will help Australian scientists to better predict propagation of tropical cyclones, to improve the efficiency of wind energy production, and to better understand atmosphere-ocean interactions affecting weather and climate.

“Characterisation facility for materials in extreme environments” (non-lead; Dr John Provis)
X-ray powder diffraction is a powerful technique for determining the structure of matter at the atomic scale. This project will establish a new Australian capability for X-ray powder diffraction under extreme conditions that emulate real harsh service environments for advanced functional materials.

“Testing facilities for clean energy generation technologies” (non-lead; Professor Sandra Kentish)
As the world approaches peak oil production, the use of gasification to convert solid fuels to hydrogen and liquid fuels provides a low carbon footprint approach to the cleaner transformation of energy. This testing facility for clean energy transformation technologies will enhance the competitiveness of Australian science and engineering, contributing to the development of new technologies.

Non-lead NHMRC Grants

Associate Professor David Grayden and Dr Leigh Johnston, from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, will work with Professor Mark Cook from St Vincent’s Hospital on “Non-invasive Methods for Localising Epileptic Brain Activity”. Associate Professor Grayden will also work with Associate Professor Sarah Wilson, from the Psychological Sciences Academic Centre, on “Signals and noise: a study of the neurocognitive mechanisms underpinning habituation to noise in normal and damaged hearing”.  Professor Justin Zobel and Honorary Fellow Adam Kowalczyk, from the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, will work with Professor John Hopper from the Department of Population Health on “Complex statistical analyses of genome-wide association studies related to breast and prostate cancers using high performance supercomputing”.

ARC Future Fellows and Discovery Early Career Research Awards (DECRA) will be announced later this month.