12 December 2002

The University of Queensland will share in funding totalling more than $55 million out of the total $90 million pool in the Australian Research Council’s Centres of Excellence (COEs) round announced today.

UQ is a partner in five of only eight COEs to receive five year funding announced by the Minister for Education, Science and Training, Dr Brendan Nelson.

UQ is the lead partner in a new $10 million national Centre of Excellence in legume research, to be known as the Centre for Integrative Legume Research.

The other Centres of Excellence in which UQ will share are in Quantum Computer Technology ($14 million); Biotechnology and Development ($9,458,900); Mathematical and Statistical Modelling of Complex Systems ($10,906,575); and Quantum-Atom Optics ($10,950,000).

• The Centre for Integrative Legume Research will focus on legumes such as peas, chickpeas, lupins and soybeans, which are important for agricultural systems because they improve soils by fixing nitrogen. They provide sustainable pasture production and cereal rotation capabilities together with high quality products such as vegetable oils, protein and nutriceuticals such as anti-oxidants, phytoestrogens and folate.

Professor Peter Gresshoff of UQ’s School of Life Sciences said Australia had a long record of outstanding legume research and its application to sustainable food production.

“The new centre is expected to function as a world-class research centre which will use joint intellectual property, cloned genes, and expertise in plant molecular biology to understand and then manipulate the processes essential for plant growth and tissue specialisation,” he said.

• The Centre for Quantum Computer Technology (led by UNSW) is an Australian multi-university collaboration researching the fundamental physics and technology of building, at the atomic level, a solid state quantum computer in silicon together with other high potential implementations. The centre also conducts semiconductor research, including a sophisticated quantum measurement capability at ultra-low temperatures.

• The Centre for Biotechnology and Development (led by the University of Newcastle) is a virtual institute focusing on the national priority area of genome to phenome. The Centre is examining the cellular mechanisms responsible for the specification and differentiation of male germ cells.

• The Centre for Mathematical and Statistical Modelling of Complex Systems (led by the University of Melbourne) combines researchers in different areas of mathematics and statistics with an interest in understanding the behaviour of complex systems.

• The Centre for Quantum-Atom Optics (led by ANU) combines Australian theoretical and experimental research groups to create a powerful network to advance the rapidly developing field of quantum atom optics. The Centre aims to build a quantum toolbox to enable applications such as the transfer and storage of information for photonics, and precision quantum control of atoms for enhanced atom interferometry.

UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor David Siddle said that he was “absolutely delighted” with the outcomes.

“Participation in five of the eight Centres of Excellence, together with the fact that five of our applications were shortlisted for interview, demonstrates the depth of talent to be found at UQ,” he said.

“Many of the centres in which we will participate reinforce the strategic directions adopted by the University.”

Media: Further information, contact Jan King at UQ Communications 0413 601 248.