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Eight Sydney researchers awarded ARC Future Fellowships for 2023

31 July 2023
$8.5m funding for mid-career academics
University of Sydney researchers have been awarded more than $8.5m from the Australian Research Council

ARC Chief Executive Officer, Ms Judi Zielke PSM announced the Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowships for 2023, which will fund 100 mid-career researchers to undertake high-quality research. 

Eight University of Sydney academics have been named ARC Future Fellows, with more than $8.5m in funding awarded to researchers across a range of disciplines. 

"I am delighted to see our mid-career researchers recognised for their incredible talent and dedication to impactful research spanning engineering, science, and medicine and health,” Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Emma Johnston said. 

“These Fellowships are incredibly competitive. I continue to be impressed by the calibre of our scholars from diverse disciplines, who are poised to make significant strides in their respective fields. We celebrate our researchers who are pushing the boundaries of knowledge and embracing cutting-edge approaches to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing our world today.”  

Associate Professor Ivan Kassal from the Faculty of Science and Sydney Nano will open new possibilities for simulating complex chemical dynamics and reactivity using quantum computers. By developing a comprehensive toolbox of quantum algorithms, conventional computational chemistry limitations can be overcome. This will allow quantum computers to accelerate the screening of chemical processes, leading to faster discoveries in catalysts, batteries, medicines, fuels, and solar cells. 

Associate Professor Carolyn MacCann from the Faculty of Science will explore the universal psychological processes that underpin aversive interactions. By applying emotion regulation theory, the project will explore aversive interactions through intensive longitudinal methods, experimental studies, and cross-national comparisons. The research outcomes include improved understanding of psychological processes and potential guidance for programs to decrease workplace bullying and domestic violence. 

Dr Daniel Tubbenhauer from the Faculty of Science centres on categorical representation theory, the 21th century way of studying symmetries. Their project is titled “Categorical representation theory and applications”. Symmetry is everywhere, and nature is designed symmetrically: Snails make their shells, spiders design their webs, and bees build hexagonal honeycombs, all based on the concept of symmetry. The research aims to advance this young field by addressing the two most crucial problems: strengthening the abstract framework and finding sought-after applications in key technologies. For example, they hope to lay the theoretical foundations for the next generation of applications such as in cybersecurity by better understanding of the limitations of traditional cryptography and improving on it.

Dr Alistair Senior is from the Faculty of Science, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, and affiliated with the Sydney Precision Data Science Centre and Charles Perkins Centre. Dr Senior’s research aims to understand how nutritional environments effect lifespan and its evolution. The expected outcomes are improved knowledge around the biology of ageing including the identification of diet-responsive genes and biological pathways. By identifying diet-responsive genes and biological pathways, this project will contribute to the biology of ageing and improve predictions of population adaptation to environmental change. 

Associate Professor Khoon Lim from the Faculty of Medicine and Health, School of Medical Sciences, Charles Perkins Centre and Sydney Nano will focus on engineering hydrogel-based biomaterials that can modulate physical and biological cues to direct blood vessel growth. This research will generate new knowledge in biomaterials, 3D bioprinting, biofabrication, and advanced material processing, with potential benefits in biomedical, veterinary, and cosmetic fields.


Associate Professor Dries Verstraete from the Faculty of Engineering aims to optimise a fuel cell/battery/ultracapacitor triple hybrid energy system for electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Through interdisciplinary approaches, his research will address energy source durability and longevity, leading to cost-competitive long-range rapid response air ambulance eVTOL operations.

Dr Chang Xu from the Faculty of Engineering focuses on the efficiency of deep neural networks used in Artificial Intelligence (AI), reducing the cost of training and deploying them in real-world applications while improving their generalisation and robustness. This increased efficiency will give Australian small to medium enterprises a competitive edge in embracing AI and enhancing automation, allowing them to find new applications in mobile devices such as smartphones, drones, autonomous cars, and robots.

Dr Matthew Griffith from the Faculty of Engineering and leader of the Bioelectronic Nanomaterials group in the Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis, will work towards improving the ability of electronic technologies to communicate with the human body by creating new material design rules that enable wireless neuromodulation technologies. Using world class facilities at the Sydney Nano Institute, he will combine innovations in organic conductor materials, nanoscale engineering and 3D bio-fabrication to tackle some of the most difficult challenges in neuroengineering. The ambitious end goal of this project is to position Australia as a leader in bionic devices by creating a new 3D bioprinting hub for low-cost fabrication of bioelectronic systems.

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