200 early career researchers have been awarded a combined $85 million in federal funding for projects starting next year, with advanced manufacturing, health and the environment the most successful research areas.
Announced on Friday by the Australian Research Council (ARC), the funding comes from the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) program, set up for early career researchers.
Applications closed in February, with Friday’s announcement representing an improved turnaround time from the funding agency, which will soon be reviewed.
The DECRA projects range from youth digital wellbeing and dietary influences on decision making to new graphene membranes to separate chemicals and CO2 separation.
$55.8 million was approved for 200 projects from a total request of nearly $600 million by early career researchers.
153 of the DECRA applicants were asked to revise their National Interest Test statements by the ARC chief executive before being recommended for funding. Most of these applicants had to revise the statements multiple times.
Applicants are also asked to identify the national science and research priorities in their project addresses. Advanced manufacturing was the most cited of the approved projects, followed by health and the environment. 70 of the approved projects had unspecified priorities.
Engineering was the field of research with the most approved DECRA projects.
Victoria was the state with the most funded projects, closely followed by New South Wales. The University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne were the most successful institutions.
One successful Curtin University study will explore the emissions of past volcanic eruptions and how they controlled the severity of environmental crises, aiding future mineral exploration and informing future climate models.
Another at the University of New England will study the Cambrian Explosion more than 500 million years ago in new detail. This will include a new 3D imaging method to study important fossil records in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia.
It is hoped the project will bolster the case for UNESCO World Heritage Serial Site status for the Flinders Ranges.
ARC chief executive officer Ms Judi Zielke announced the recipients on Friday, welcoming the Education minister’s decision to approve the funding.
“The DECRA scheme allows researchers in the early stages of their career to develop and apply their research skills, on projects that benefit Australians,” Ms Zielke said.
“The projects also give these researchers the opportunity to collaborate and build connections that will help them progress through a career in research.”
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