Four early career researchers awarded federal funding

03 Nov 2020 | 2 mins

Four researchers at The University of Western Australia have been awarded $1.6 million in Federal Government funding for four research projects that range from a study into the life and death of plant genes to an integrated approach to bushfire management.

Federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan today announced $84 million in funding for university research projects under the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) scheme through the Australian Research Council (ARC).

The scheme aims to support researchers in their early careers and each DECRA recipient will receive salary support for three years.

Professor Tim Colmer, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), said the ARC funding highlighted the groundbreaking work being carried out by the University’s early career researchers.

“Developing the research of early career researchers is paramount to the future success of the University and I’d like to congratulate all the recipients for advancing projects that will advance knowledge and have real-world impact,” Professor Colmer said.

Dr Philipp Bayer, from UWA’s School of Biological Sciences, was awarded $448,365 to build models that can predict the likelihood of gene loss in plants based on the gene’s physical environment and function.

“The project will develop our understanding of plant genetic diversity and support strategies to improve cultivated varieties of plants,” Dr Bayer said.

Dr Gina Trapp, from the School of Population and Global Health and Telethon Kids Institute, was awarded $401,567 to investigate the influence of the food environment near schools on children’s food intake.

“The project aims to be the first in Australia to map, measure and monitor the food environment near schools and investigate how the proximity of healthy and unhealthy food outlets impacts on children’s eating behaviours,” Dr Trapp said.

“The findings will be used to develop a set of policy and practice recommendations for key stakeholders to help create health-promoting food environments near schools.”

Dr Sarah Clement and Dr David Friesem will each relocate to UWA, from the University of Liverpool and Cambridge University respectively, to take up the DECRA awards.

Dr Sarah Clement was awarded $351,948 to lead a project to support an integrated and resilient approach to fire management to address the increasing scale and intensity of bushfires in Australia.

“The outcomes will include practical options to reform world-wide governance and policy around fire management practices,” Dr Clement said.

Dr David Friesem was awarded $446,362 to investigate how the first people to arrive in Australia responded and adapted to diverse environments and changing ecosystems.

“The analysis of microscopic remains of human activity, dated between 50,000 and 7,000 years ago, will produce new evidence on the earliest technology, ecology and landscape management in relation to environmental changes,” Dr Friesem said.

Media references

Anna-lee Harry (UWA Media and PR Adviser), 08 6488 7975

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