30 July 2014

Affordable housing and low-cost dengue vaccines are among seven University of Queensland research projects recognised in the State Government’s latest round of science and innovation grants.

UQ has received nearly $2.5 million in grants under the State Government’s Accelerate Partnerships and Accelerate Fellowships schemes.

Both schemes aim to connect universities with industry and government partners to accelerate Queensland projects that are close to moving from research to reality.

These grants add to UQ’s outstanding successes in the recent ARC Linkage Grant round, where UQ had the largest number of grants exceeding $0.5M nationally.

The ARC grants also aim to connect universities with partners.

UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Anton Middelberg said the grants would underpin excellent research across a range of topics relevant to Queensland.

“These seven new projects all embed knowledge leadership for a better world,” Professor Middelberg said.

“Working with partners in Queensland, as well as nationally and internationally, is exactly what a top-100 ranked global university does every day.

“These exciting new projects will indeed accelerate our excellent research, and add the ‘plus’ factor that comes from working with partners.”

UQ has secured four highly-competitive Accelerate Fellowships across the Mid and Early Career brackets.

A Mid-Career Accelerate Fellowship has been awarded to:

  • Dr Claudia Vickers from the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), who is looking at ways of feeding the world’s growing population on limited and increasingly degraded agricultural land ($300,000). Dr Vickers will partner with the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Early Career Accelerate Fellowships have been awarded to:

  • Dr Guangming Jiang from the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology (EAIT) and the Advanced Water Management Centre, who is working on corrosion-proof concrete sewers resistant to climate change and weather extremes ($180,000). Dr Jiang will partner with many of Queensland’s water utilities.
  • Dr Esteban Marcellin from AIBN, who is researching how municipal waste can be turned into sustainable biofuels for the aviation industry ($180,000). Working in close collaboration with LanzaTech’s Synthetic Biology group, Dr Marcellin’s research will lead to better production of alcohol-to-jet fuel.
  • Dr David Muller from AIBN, who aims to develop a low-cost and effective dengue vaccine based on innovative Nanopatch technology, pioneered in Queensland by the AIBN ($180,000). 

Accelerate Partnerships have been awarded to:

  • Professor Mark Ragan from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, to develop new genetic data and tools to help predict coral reef response, resilience and adaptation during times of stress ($500,000). UQ will partner with the Australian Institute for Marine Science, the Australian National University, Bioplatforms Australia, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the Great Barrier Reef Authority and James Cook University on this project.
  • Dr Neena Mitter from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, to work on a non-genetically modified and non-toxic spray for crop protection ($498,146). Dr Mitter will lead an international team involving the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya, Washington State University and Nufarm Australia Ltd.
  • Dr Mathew Aitchison from EAIT, to develop quality prefabricated homes to address Australia’s housing affordability crisis ($500,000). This grant leverages work begun with Happy Haus and Hutchinson Builders supported under the ARC Linkage Program.

A team of researchers from UQ’s School of Biological Sciences, led by Professor Peter Mumby, will also collaborate on an Accelerate Partnership led by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, in partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services, the Association of Marine Tourism Operators, Biosecurity Queensland, TropWater at James Cook University, Reef and Rainforest Research Centre in Cairns and Terrain NRM.

Their project will identify optimum solutions to the Crown-of-Thorns Seastar problem on the Great Barrier Reef.

MEDIA: UQ Corporate Relations Manager Carolyn Varley; 3365 1120 or 0413 601 248; communications@uq.edu.au.