Image of graphene particles in a lattice

2021 Physics Grand Challenges winners announced

29 July 2022

New ideas in a new era of physics

The Physics Grand Challenges aims to support unconventional, innovative, interdisciplinary research projects with a total of $250,000 each to be awarded to two projects to use over a period of up to two years.

Initiated by the Head of School, Professor Celine Boehm, the Grand Challenges intends to showcase opportunities for physics to drive research and breakthroughs that could transform the world.

The event requires researchers to present a five-minute pitch to an audience of staff, students and a panel of judges, comprised of Physics Foundation members and distinguished industry colleagues.

The successful projects are:

An Eye in the Sky: Remote Sensing for Advanced Ecosystem Monitoring

A project working with Bush Heritage Australia, to develop advanced systems for monitoring ecological health, building bushfire resilience and better understanding the effects of bushfires, led by Associate Professor Maryanne Large.

The project is based around the idea of “precision conservation”, the idea that better data will inform better management of conservation reserves.

The highly diverse team includes physicists, geoscientists, robotics experts and ecologists. They will develop specialised instruments, and deploy them on UAVs and ultimately in space, to enable a data- rich understanding of whole landscapes.


Function Follows Form: Next Generation Bioscaffolds

A project to develop and demonstrate novel bioscaffolds suitable for synthetic blood vessels, and cardiac tissue led by Professor Simon Fleming.

The project brings together expertise in the School on the fabrication of microstructures in bioresorbable materials and on the plasma functionalisation of their surfaces. Combining this with the expertise of collaborators in stem cell biology, the project will demonstrate a novel approach to fabrication of complex 3D bioscaffolds with application to clinical building replacement blood vessels and cardiac tissue.

This project received seed funding from the Physics Foundation following the Physics Grand Challenges 2020 round. The funding has assisted in the advancement of the project leading up to their successful award of $250,000 in the 2021 round.

Read about our previous winners here