Funding for three collaborative projects through the first round of the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) Grand Challenge Fund has been announced by the Minister for Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans.

Australia will provide $8.9 million to fund the Australian arm of the research and the Government of India will support the participation by Indian teams in these joint projects.

The three successful projects are:

  • 'Ensuring food security: harnessing science to protect our grain harvest from insect threats': a collaboration between the University of Queensland and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU);
  • 'Crop plants which remove their own major biotic constraints': a collaboration between the University of Melbourne and International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in India; and
  • 'Genomic Approaches for Stress Tolerant Chickpea': a collaboration between the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India.
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The CSIRO Organic Geochemistry of Mineral Systems Cluster has been officially launched  at Curtin University’s Resources and Chemistry Precinct.

The Federal Government has opened applications for funding to support anthologists interested in native title work.

The Federal Government has announced the successful applicants for the first round of the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) Grand Challenge Fund.

University of Wollongong scientists are behind the establishment of a global consortium which is using sunlight to convert water into important chemical fuels such as hydrogen gas.

An international consortium comprising around 100 scientists and mathematicians, including Australian researchers, has for the first time pooled shared knowledge and data to deliver a holistic understanding of the biological changes in a cell.

A lack of scientific knowledge is no longer the problem in countering the effects of climate change, but rather it is a lack of action.

Flinders University’s National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT) has established itself as a world leader in groundwater research, according to a panel of international experts in the field.

The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Bill 2011 was passed by the Senate on the 27th of February 2012. All parties endorsed the Bill and as a result no amendments were moved.

A three-year research collaboration between Swinburne University of Technology, Jaypee University of Information Technology (JUIT) in India and the Melbourne-based Co-operative Research Centre for Advanced Automotive Technology (AutoCRC) will consider the social and technological barriers and challenges to consumer uptake of alternative energy transport in India.

 

Swinburne's multidisciplinary team of researchers are looking at how to create a mass market and increase uptake of electric vehicles.

 

Consumers in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Chandigarh and Shimla will be studied to determine:

  • Factors driving the use of alternative energy transport, such as noise pollution and environmental pollution, cost of petrol and running out of petrol
  • Availability of alternative energy transport, including the purchase price, running cost and servicing cost of such vehicles
  • Feasibility of using electric cars and other factors such as personal preference, range anxiety, children’s influence on environmentally friendly transport, issues with aging population for use of such cars and gender issues.

 

Swinburne’s Faculty of Engineering and Industrial Sciences’ Associate Dean of Research, Professor Ajay Kapoor is leading the Swinburne team and is working in collaboration with the Australian academic community and industry participants.

At JUIT the project is led by Professor Nirupama Prakash, with Professor Alok Ray from Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi and Professor Rajesh Gill from Panjab University partners in the first phase.

 

Swinburne's electric vehicle group, led by Professor Kapoor, is positioned to make a contribution to the development of an electric vehicle industry, with more than 20 academic staff and 25 doctoral students.

 

“At Swinburne, we have an ambition to become one of the leading research intensive universities in the Asia Pacific,” Professor Kristjanson said. “We intend to build on our rich history to become the MIT of Australia by 2020, renowned for our research in the sciences, technology and studies of society.”

The Queensland LNP has promised an addition $4.6 million over four years  for research and development for the sugar industry.

A world-renowned scientist whose research spans why locusts swarm to the dietary causes of ageing and human obesity has been appointed Academic Director of the University of Sydney's new multidisciplinary centre specialising in obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

A $5 million biofuel project has been launched as part of the Australian Biofuels Research Institute (ABRI), to which the Federal Government has committed $20 million.

A pioneering scientific expedition that will document the health of coral on the Great Barrier Reef will be undertaken as a joint venture between global technology giant Google, the UQ Global Change Institute, not-for-profit organisation Underwater Earth, and insurance company Catlin.

The Catlin Seaview Survey aims to carry out the first comprehensive study of the composition and health of Reef coral to a depth  of 100m.

The project's chief scientist, Professor Ove Hoegh Guldberg from the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland  said the scientific data gathered would strengthen the understanding about how climate change and other environmental changes are likely to affect ocean ecosystems like the Great Barrier Reef.

“The visual nature of the project will also help bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and public awareness,” Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.

“The Catlin Seaview Survey comprises a series of studies which will reveal to the public one of the last frontiers on Earth: the oceans.

“For the first time in history, we have the technology to broadcast the findings and expedition through Google. Millions of people will be able to experience the life, the science and the magic that exists under the surface of our oceans. This project is very exciting.”

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said the survey was not just another scientific expedition; it aimed to capture the public's imagination and engage people with the science like never before.

The Catlin Seaview Survey camera, developed specifically for the expedition, will capture thousands of 360-degree underwater panoramas. When stitched together, these will allow people to choose a location, dip underwater and go for a virtual dive at all of the locations visited by the expedition.

Google is collaborating with the Catlin Seaview Survey and is working on a new feature on Panoramio (which links photos to locations), so that the 360-degree panorama images can be uploaded and made available to millions of people worldwide.

This will eventually mean that roughly 50,000 panoramas from the Survey will be accessible on Catlin Seaview Survey in partnership with Google Earth and Google Maps.

The project also will have a dedicated YouTube channel and the ability to broadcast Hangouts on air, which allows people to watch livestreams of the expedition team from the ocean floor.

The Catlin Seaview Survey will include a shallow reef survey, a deep reef survey and a megafauna survey, which combined will provide a baseline assessment of the composition, biodiversity and wellbeing of the Reef. The expedition will launch on the Great Barrier Reef in September 2012.

The Catlin Seaview Survey will comprise three surveys:

1. The Shallow Reef Survey will use a custom-designed underwater vehicle with a 360-degree camera to generate imagery of the reef. In collaboration with The University of Queensland, this will be assessed using image recognition software to enable a rapid visual census of corals, fish and many other organisms at 20 sites across the entire length of the 2300km Great Barrier Reef. This will provide a broad-scale baseline for understanding climate change on coral reefs.

2. The Deep-Water Survey will use diving robots to explore the reef at depths of 30-100 metres. Little is known of this region, yet it may hold some of the secrets of whether or not the coral reefs will survive rapid climate change. Using a combination of high-definition cameras, deep-diving robots and survey equipment, the deep-water component will provide a comprehensive study of the health, composition and biodiversity of the deep-water reefs.

3. The Mega-Fauna Survey team, led by Emmy award-winning cinematographer and shark researcher Richard Fitzpatrick, will study the migratory behaviour of tiger sharks, green turtles and manta rays in response to increasing seawater temperatures. A total of 50 animals will be tracked with satellite tags that continuously monitor their geographic position, temperature and depth. This data can then be compared against oceanographic data to get a better understanding of the animals' behaviour and migrational responses to the warming of the oceans.

The Catlin Seaview Survey is sponsored by Catlin Group Limited, an international insurance and reinsurance company. Stephen Catlin, the founder and chief executive of Catlin Group Limited, said:

“We are sponsoring the Catlin Seaview Survey so that experts obtain objective scientific data they require to make more reliable conclusions about the impact of climate and environmental changes on our oceans and our planet as a whole. The results will be broadcast on a scale never attempted before, so it is an exciting time for science. We're proud to be part of the team leading this pioneering project.”

“As an insurer, Catlin offers our clients protection against many types of risks, so it is natural that we should lead the way in sponsoring research to discover the risks of tomorrow.”

The Catlin Seaview Survey is collaboration between global insurance company Catlin Group Limited, not-for-profit organisation Underwater Earth (project creators) and partner Google.

The content captured through the Catlin Seaview Survey will be added to Google platforms and will also be available on the Catlin Seaview Survey website - www.catlinseaviewsurvey.com.

Victorian Minister for Innovation Louise Asher has officially opened a new nano-biotechnology research centre in India.

The Queensland Liberal/National Party coalition has announced it will commit up to $42 million over four years towards establishing the Australian Institute for Tropical Health and Medicine in conjunction with James Cook University with facilities in Townsville, Cairns, and the Torres Strait.

The Victorian Government has announced seven new global partnerships aimed at driving collaborative research and development within the higher education sector.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has announced changes to its policy on the dissemination of research findings, requiring  that that any publications arising from an NHMRC supported research project must be deposited into an open access institutional repository within a twelve month period from the date of publication. 

Kangan Institute's Automotive Centre of Excellence in the Docklands, Victoria, has been launched as the largest and most advanced automotive training and research facility in the southern hemisphere following the completion of the $84 million Stage 2 of the training facility.

 La Trobe University has signed a Memorandum of Understanding twith Indian ICT company, HCL Technologies o collaborate in research, development and commercialisation activities. The collaboration will focus on research and development for Intelligent Transport Systems.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and RMIT have announced a breakthrough in energy storage and power generation.

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