Monash secures $32 million in ARC funding

11/09/05

Monash University researchers have received $32 million, including $6 million from industry partners, for 85 projects announced today through the Australian Research Council's (ARC) National Competitive Grants Program.

Monash received funding for research into how immunity and infection are controlled, earthquake prediction, traffic flow in ant colonies, predicting the behaviour and spread of bushfires, why people choose teaching as a career and how the brain controls people_s response to stress.

The university_s largest Discovery grant of $1.7 million is being led by senior research fellow Dr Jamie Rossjohn from Monash's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Dr Rossjohn, in collaboration with Professor James McCluskey from the University of Melbourne, is using synchrotron radiation to investigate the processes that control infection.

Monash led the Victorian universities in funding received through the ARC's Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities grants, receiving $5.4 million to fund five projects including $570,000 for research into new techniques for disease diagnosis.

The vice-chancellor, Professor Richard Larkins, congratulated the researchers on their efforts.

"The scope of projects receiving funding this year emphasises the diverse range of areas Monash staff are working in," he said. "All staff should feel proud of their success."

The largest Linkage Project grant awarded to Monash went to the Civil Engineering department which received more than $720,000 from the ARC and $350,000 from industry for a project that aims to predict, control and reduce water and gas leakage in underground pipes.

The project's chief investigator Dr Jayantha Kodikara said it was a collaborative effort between Civil Engineering, Monash_s School of Geosciences, CSIRO, Queen's University, Canada, and seven Australian water and gas utilities. The project had world-wide applications that could save a precious commodity _ water - and many millions of dollars, he said.

"On average, Australian water pipes are between 50 to 70 years old and approximately 10 to 20 per cent of pipe water is currently unaccounted for," Dr Kodikara said. "Our project aims to improve this waste level by identifying problem areas and providing cost efficient replacement solutions."

Monash's second largest Linkage Project grant, totalling $712,000, was awarded to a team led by the School of Chemistry for a three-year collaborative research project with Australia_s largest chemical manufacturing company, Orica.

The team will investigate ionic liquids, a new class of compounds, and their potential for creating a cleaner, more energy efficient way of conducting chemical research at room temperature.

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