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$1.2 million towards world-leading research

USQ researchers will share more than $1.2 million from the Australian Research Council for cutting edge work in renewables, supersonics and astrophysics.

Minister for Education Dan Tehan and Member for Groom Dr John McVeigh announced the ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA) today (8 November), providing a funding boost for the country’s promising research talent including USQ’s Dr Min Hong and Dr Fabian Zander.

Dr Min Hong was awarded $400,116 in the latest funding release to developing materials that could revolutionise the renewables industry.

His research focuses on high-performance thermoelectric materials as a means to generate electricity from waste heat.

“A new generation of these materials could diversify the development of eco-friendly energy conversion technologies to replace the non-renewable carbon-based fossil fuels,” Dr Hong said.

He is already working with national and international experts at Northwestern University, USA, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA, Kyushu University, Japan, and University of Queensland.

Dr Fabian Zander is taking supersonics in a new direction, developing an airbreathing propulsion concept for engines that greatly exceed the speed of sound.

“An airbreathing rotating detonation engine is a theoretical next step for high-speed flight but questions remain about how to use an airbreathing inlet to achieve improved engine efficiency,” Dr Zander said.

“This work expands on Australia's position as a world leader in airbreathing hypersonics, and complements the current expansion of the national aerospace industry.”

From supersonics to astrophysics, USQ received $426,696 for a project that will help change how humankind understands the Solar System – working with Dr Xu Huang to search the stars for new exoplanets.

“The uniqueness of the Solar System is an inspiring question that has driven the exoplanet field for decades,” Dr Huang said.

“A key element of the formation and habitability of the Earth is the coexistence with Jupiter and Saturn.

“This project will establish Australian leadership in the transiting exoplanet field by providing thousands of planetary candidates from our survey to the national community.”

The ARC DECRA funding follows the University’s success in the ARC Future Fellowships for mid-career researchers earlier this month, with $888,000 announced for Dr Pingan Song from USQ Centre for Future Materials (CFM).

man in white lab coat looking at his research instruments
Dr Min Hong was awarded $400,116 in the latest funding release to developing materials that could revolutionise the renewables industry.