Funding boost for groundbreaking USC research

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Funding boost for groundbreaking USC research


Professor Roland De Marco, Professor Joanne Scott and Associate Professor Thomas Schlacher

12 November 2014

Senior academics from USC are collaborating on research projects that have received almost $890,000 in the latest round of major grants from the Australian Research Council (ARC).

A state-of-the-art clean energy technology, a better understanding of what marine ecosystems need to survive, and an examination of one of the Whitlam era’s lesser known social programs have all received research funding for the next three years.

USC’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Roland De Marco and Professor San Ping Jiang of Curtin University in Perth have received $375,500 for their collaborative research into a highly efficient new material to produce a new type of battery based on proton exchange membrane fuel cells.

Also an Adjunct Professor at Curtin University, Professor De Marco is pleased to continue a productive relationship with the university at which he worked for 16 years before his appointment to USC in 2011.

“This project will involve cutting-edge research in materials engineering to develop a cheap and affordable fuel cell technology that will allow, for the first time, efficient operation of the fuel cell at intermediate temperatures employing sustainably produced fuels such as methanol and ethanol,” he said.

“This research will allow Australia to be a leader in the development of innovative clean energy technology based on direct alcohol fuel cells that, due to its simplicity, is expected to see this technology used in portable electronic devices.”

USC’s Associate Professor Thomas Schlacher and Professor Rod Connolly of Griffith University have received $334,700 to carry out groundbreaking research into how marine ecosystems are interconnected, and what impact that has on their resilience.

“The idea has been around for a long time that if ecosystems are better connected they are somehow more resilient to human disturbance,” said Dr Schlacher.

“The counter argument is that if there is a problem, it could potentially spread like wildfire throughout interconnected ecosystems. Our research will study marine food webs to discover what the optimal connectivity for conservation is.”

USC’s Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Business Professor Joanne Scott joins Flinders University’s Professor Melanie Oppenheimer and Federation University’s Professor Erik Eklund to explore the history of the Australian Assistance Plan.

The team has received $179,400 to research the innovative national project introduced in the 1970s to stimulate and support community volunteering.

“At a time when many Australians are less engaged with politics, this project lets us reflect on options for engaging citizens in shaping a positive future,” said Professor Scott.

“Through this project we will explore how historical analysis can inform current debates in our community. I also hope it will enrich individuals’ and communities’ understandings of our past.”

 — Jane Cameron

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