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Nine Sydney researchers awarded ARC Future Fellowships

11 August 2021
$17m funding for mid-career academics
University of Sydney researchers have been awarded more than $17m from the Australian Research Council to tackle challenges of national importance.

Minister for Education and Youth, The Hon Alan Tudge MP, has announced the Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowships for 2021, which will fund 100 mid-career researchers to undertake high-quality research.

Nine University of Sydney academics have been named ARC Future Fellows, with more than $17.1m in funding awarded to researchers across a range of disciplines.

“It is fantastic to see nine University of Sydney researchers awarded Future Fellowships,” Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison said.

“Our performance in this scheme is getting stronger every year. These outstanding mid-career academics are tackling issues from extreme gender imbalances in critical industries, to developing more efficient solar energy for space travel, and exploring the socio-spatial implications of smart city development.” 

Professor Rae Cooper

Professor Rae Cooper AO from the University of Sydney Business School will investigate the gendered career trajectories of women and men working in three very male-dominated sectors: engineering, information technology and investment.

“The lack of representation of women in the workforce and senior ranks in any sector matters. These three sectors at the heart of the economy will be critical for building back after the pandemic and the fact that women are missing from their ranks is a significant problem.”

“Engagement with industry stakeholders both in Australia and internationally is at the heart of the project. I aim to build knowledge that will drive practical change.” 

Professor Anita Ho-Baillie

Professor Anita Ho-Baillie from the Faculty of Science and Sydney Nano will develop perovskite solar cells – a cost-effective and sustainable source of energy for space technology. This is the first Australian project to develop space-ready perovskite solar cells and could result in billions of dollars in savings for the satellite market. Additional savings are also expected when these cells are applied to other markets such as deep space probes, rovers on Mars and moon mining.

Associate Professor Tooran Alizadeh

Associate Professor Tooran Alizadeh from the School of Architecture, Design and Planning will explore the complex socio-spatial implications of smart city development and the ways in which they have been exposed during the COVID- 19 pandemic. By focusing on India, she draws on the urban experience of the Global South to present new conceptual vectors for smart urbanism discourse globally with special attention to equity and its significant role at times of crisis.

Dr Li Wei

Dr Li Wei from the Faculty of Engineering aims to address one of society’s major challenges – fast-climbing carbon dioxide emissions. He will create novel electrocatalysts to produce valuable C2 compounds (ethylene, ethanol and ethylene glycol) from carbon dioxide reduction reaction. The high-performance electrochemical conversion of carbon dioxide into valuable chemical feedstocks and energy-intensive fuels holds great promise to address the storage and transportation challenges of Australia’s abundant renewable electricity.

Dr James Flexner

Historical archaeologist Dr James Flexner from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences will investigate an internationally significant example of a well-preserved colonial landscape in Polynesia. The project will expand upon the geographical and topical scope of research into the colonial histories of the Pacific region while also pushing the boundaries of community-led approaches to research with Indigenous peoples.

Associate Professor Anthony Cesare

Associate Professor Anthony Cesare from the Faculty of Medicine and Health will explore how dynamic changes within the nucleus impacts DNA replication. This is important because disrupted replication can result in dangerous outcomes including mutation, genome instability and cell death. It will reveal novel basic biological mechanisms through cutting-edge cell and molecular biology experimentation.

Dr Simon Murphy

Dr Simon Murphy from the Faculty of Science will investigate how the formation of planets and their stars are intertwined, by determining the ages, masses and compositions of the stars to unprecedented precision. His ambitious aim to recalibrate the ages of young stars will provide significant benefits to major Australian astronomical surveys that are trying to understand Earth’s place within our Galaxy.

Associate Professor Wanli Ouyang

Associate Professor Wanli Ouyang from the Faculty of Engineering will design a new framework to automatically learn how to effectively use training samples - critical for machine learning and computer vision. The framework will be leveraged for large-scale object detection and image classification, which are essential components for intelligent transportation systems and medical imaging.

Dr Morten Andersen

Dr Morten Andersen’s project will shed light on the highly complex and dynamic sugar-coated surfaces of neutrophil white blood cells critical for the cell communication and function of our innate immune system. It will map the extensive sugar remodelling on and in the neutrophil and reveal new sugar-mediated mechanisms governing key immune processes.

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