3 December 1998

UQ receives second-highest number of ARC Large grants commencing in 1999

The University of Queensland has maintained its position as one of the nation's leading research universities by attracting the second-highest number of new large project grants in 1999 allocations from the Australian Research Council (ARC).

The University also received the majority of new ARC large grant funds allocated to Queensland. The University received 69 percent or $3.43 million of the State's 99 new grants valued at $4.97 million for 1999.

Last year, the University received 63 new grants valued at $3.447 million.

The ARC is the Australian Government's major research funding agency for funding across all disciplines (with the exception of clinical/medical research which is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council) and its funding allocations are seen as an independent indicator of research quality.

Top ranking institutions in terms of the numbers of new ARC large grants were:

o University of Melbourne, 76 grants valued at $4.41 million (for 1999);
o the University of Queensland, 66 grants valued at $3.43 million;
o the University of New South Wales, 65 grants valued at $3.79 million;
o The University of Sydney, 63 grants valued at $3.67 million;
o Monash University, 46 grants valued at $2.20 million; and
o Adelaide University, 29 grants valued at $1.81 million.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Paul Greenfield said he was pleased with the University's success rate of 24.4 percent - almost four percentage points higher than the national success rate of 20.7 percent.

Professor Greenfield said with the Federal Government' Green Paper on Research Funding set to change the structure of the ARC in coming years, it was imperative University researchers applied for the grants next year while the system remained in its present form.

"While it is still unclear as to how the ARC will change in the light of the Green Paper, it seems universities' previous records in attracting the grants will be an important starting point so the more researchers securing grants from an institution, the better," Professor Greenfield said.

The largest ARC new grant awarded to the University was for a project measuring mesoscale forces and rotational dynamics using optical tweezers by Associate Professors Helena Rubinsztein-Dunlop and Norman Heckenberg from the Physics Department. This project will receive $95,000 for the first year.

The next highest ARC new grant was awarded to Dr Craig Franklin from the Zoology Department for a project examining the diving capabilities and physiology of cloacal turtles - turtles able to breathe through both gills and lungs - and the conservation implications of habitat disturbance. This project will receive $78,000 for the first year.

The University of Queensland has also been named the lead institution in seven ARC research infrastructure (equipment and facilities) program (RIEFP) grants worth $1.695 million.

The University received the fourth-highest number of RIEFP grants after the University of Sydney (8 projects worth $5.567 million), Australian National University (11 projects worth $4.3 million), and the University of Melbourne (10 projects worth $2.181 million).

Successful University of Queensland applications were:
o construction of a nationally and internationally-available microspectrophotometry facility to study comparative visual capabilities in animals from diverse environments, $120,000, Dr Justin Marshall (Vision Touch and Hearing Special Research Centre);
o a subject gateway for engineering and information technology (The Australian Virtual Engineering Library), $100,000, Associate Professor David Radcliffe (Mechanical Engineering);
o advanced characterisation system for nanostructured catalysts and catalyst supports, $150,000, Dr Max Lu (Chemical Engineering);
o instrumentation for nano-scale analysis in south-east Queensland, $700,000, Professor Ian Mackinnon (Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis);
o a high-temperature gel permeation chromotograph (GPC) to measure the properties, processibility and degradation of novel and commercial polymers, $110,000, Dr Peter Halley (Chemical Engineering);
o acquisition of an inductively-coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer for analysing major and minor elements in geological, environmental, metallurgical and toxicological materials, $190,000, Dr Yaoling Niu (Earth Sciences);
o a combinatorial chemistry-highthroughput mass spectrometer system; a new approach to the development of candidate therapeutic agents, $325,000, Associate Professor Paul Alewood (Centre for Drug Design and Development).

For more information, contact Director, Research Services Jan Massey (telephone 07 3365 3640).