Future Fellows to explore space, quantum and economic sanctions

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

100 mid-career university researchers will share in $97.6 million in Future Fellowship grants over four years to explore areas ranging from post-Cold War economic sanctions and rock art to quantum computing and life on far-away planets.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) announced the round on Thursday, revealing one-in five applications for the Future Fellowships 2023 program were approved. It awarded $97.6 million of the $525 million sought in the round.

Mid-career researchers working at more than 20 universities will share in individual grants of around $1 million each to conduct their work as Future Fellows while training the next generation of researchers.


Dr Christian Schwab and Macquarie University received a near-$1 million grant to develop a spectrometer to search for life on extrasolar planets. The powerful spectrometer will search for biomarkers in the atmosphere of far-away earth-like exoplanets.

University of Western Australia Associate Professor Martin Porr will use his Future Fellowship to explore the appeal and impact of rock art sites around the world, while the University of Melbourne’s Dr Rachael Weaver received an $800,000 grant to o produce the first comprehensive analysis of native bird species in the cultural, scientific, and economic life of colonial Australia.

The University of Queensland received 11 Future Fellowships, the most of any university. One project led by Dr Mahsa Baktashmotlagh will seek to address the lack of transferability and uncertainty-awareness in AI models. The project aims to build uncertainty-awareness into models by teaching them to return ‘UNKNOWN’ when they encounter a previously unseen thing, instead of misclassifying it.

The University of Sydney’s quantum program received a boost with Associate Professor Ivan Kassal gaining a Fellowship to simulate a chemical reactions on quantum computers. The project will use quantum computers to carry out otherwise intractable simulations of a wide range of chemical processes using existing quantum devices.

Associate Professor Jessica Whyte at the University of New South Wales will explore the impact of economic sanctions imposed after the Cold War and their perception as tools of diplomacy.

The full list of recipients is available here.

“It’s wonderful to see the breadth of topics that will be explored in this round of the Future Fellowships scheme,” ARC chief executive officer, Ms Judi Zielke said in a statement.

“The projects range from an analysis of some of the world’s most significant rock art locations that will transform our understanding of rock art heritage sites and provide invaluable foundations for future approaches towards heritage management; to a project that offers the first evidence linking noise in the brain’s electrical activity to cognitive ageing, advancing the knowledge of and ultimately improving the quality of life for Australia’s ageing population.”

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

Leave a Comment

Related stories