Four new research facilities boosted by Federal funding

03/11/2023 | 3 mins

The University of Western Australia will partner with industry to develop four new facilities, ranging from analysing the origins of organic materials to determining the chemical structure of materials, collecting and distributing data on cycling and providing extreme shielding from noise.

The projects will be funded through the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2024 grants scheme.

Professor Jo McDonald, Director of the Centre for Rock Art Research + Management in the School of Social Sciences, is UWA’s chief investigator on a Curtin University-led team that aims to develop a facility to measure the origins of individual organic compounds in complex mixtures.

“Researchers will analyse sugars in high-value foodstuffs such as honey, to develop methods of verifying the origin and authenticate for export markets,” Professor McDonald said.

“Other outcomes include determining the modern and ancient biological and ecological origins of materials through the isotope analysis of microorganisms, allowing us to understand the age of ancient Aboriginal rock engravings.”

Dr Ying-Li Wu collecting microbiome samples from desert varnish at Murujuga.  Image: Dr Ying-Li Wu collecting microbiome samples from desert varnish at Murujuga. Dating Murujuga’s Dreaming is an ARC LP collaboration with Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation to understand the age of the engravings in this important cultural landscape. Photo CRAR+M..

Professor George Koutsantonis, a chemist from the School of Molecular Science, is UWA’s chief investigator working on a University of Queensland-led project to develop a proposed network of high-end facilities for molecular and materials characterisation.

The infrastructure will enable advanced studies in chemistry, drug design, materials science and environmental sciences.

“The expected outcomes include characterisation of new materials leading to innovative applications, and potential commercialisation of new products,” Professor Koutsantonis said.

“The network will foster collaborations with international researchers and industry partners in areas of chemistry, functional materials, biotechnology, energy capture and storage, and environmental sustainability.”

Professor Sharon Biermann, also from the School of Social Sciences, will work with the University of New South Wales to establish a National Cycling Data and Analytics Platform to collect, integrate and communicate new and historic data on cycling infrastructure, attitudes and behaviours.

“The platform will track social and cultural changes that influence transport choices, create effective behaviour change programs and prioritise cycling infrastructure investment,” Professor Biermann said.

“The project will contribute to healthier lifestyles, reduced traffic congestion and emissions and energy efficiency of Australia’s transport sector.”

Professor Michael Tobar, from the School of Physics, Maths and Computing, is chief investigator on a University of Queensland-led project which aims to provide extreme shielding from background sources of noise which will enable low temperature, precision and quantum experiments underground.

“The expected outcomes include a deeper understanding of astrophysics, alongside technological advances in emerging quantum technologies,” Professor Tobar said.

“It will attract strong international collaborations with multidisciplinary teams, educating the next generation of scientists and advancing the growth of Australian high-technology industries.” 

Media references

Annelies Gartner (UWA PR & Media Adviser)  08 6488 6876

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