Research that's changing our world.

Science is our key focus at The University of Western Australia (UWA). From astronomy to zoology, our scientific research spans the world of science and often sets the global benchmark, with our work in 30 fields rated at or above ‘world standard’. Explore our projects to discover how our research is expanding the boundaries of knowledge and changing lives for the better all over the world.


Feed the world


Prevent, diagnose
and treat disease


Harness resources
and energy


Restore and maintain balance
in the natural environment


Further human knowledge
and enhance society


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Prof. David Lumley

Geophysical imaging, inversion and time-lapse monitoring of the Earth’s subsurface.

Geophysics is the study of the earth, oceans, atmosphere and beyond with the quantitative methods of physics, math and computer science.  Professor Lumley’s research expertise is in 3D, and time-lapse 4D, geophysical imaging of the Earth’s subsurface, especially using seismic waves, with societal benefits that include energy exploration and production,…

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Prof. Chunbo Ma

Nonmarket valuation of costs of fossil-fuel-fired electricity generation in China

This project assesses the public preferences for improved environmental conservation in the electricity sector. This project aims to examine welfare implications of various environmental policies introduced in China’s power sector using nonmarket evaluation techniques. Booming China’s hunger for energy seems insatiable. The dismal air quality across much of the country…

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Prof. Peter Eastwood

Arresting sleep disorders

Sleep disorders are an increasingly prevalent health problem within contemporary society, with poor sleep contributing to a range of medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and episodes of mental illness, as well as increasing the risk of accidents at work and on the road. Equipped with state-of-the art…

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Assoc. Prof. Ron Watkins

Geological background to human and mammalian evolution in the Turkana Basin, Kenya

Sedimentary rocks on the shores of Lake Turkana in the Kenyan Rift Valley are internationally renowned for containing an important record of human evolution over the past 3.5 Ma. However, the Turkana Basin contains a sequence of volcanic and sedimentary rocks dating back 35 Ma but is largely obscured by…

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Assoc. Prof. Cyril C. Grueter

Evolution of higher-level social organisation in humans and primates

Professor Grueter’s primary research interest is the evolution of sociality in humans and primates and the mechanisms that maintain cohesion in social groups. His particular interests revolve around the evolution of meta-group organization which describes cases in which individuals of different social units overcome hostility, interact and collaborate to varying…

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Prof. Marco L. Fiorentini

From Core to Ore: emplacement dynamics of deep-seated nickel sulphide systems

This project investigates the genesis of ore deposits containing nickel, copper and the immensely valuable platinum group elements. These systems provide insights into fundamental questions regarding the evolution and dynamics of the Earth System, because these ore deposits are windows into the deep mantle of our planet. the aim in…

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Assoc. Prof. Megan Ryan

Novel strategies for remediation of oil spills using native plants and their rhizosphere microbes

Harnessing native Australian plants and their rhizosphere microbes to enhance breakdown of environmentally persistent petrogenic hydrocarbons (PHCs) from oil spills is the focus of this project (rhizo-remediation). Plant roots exude compounds which may aid breakdown of PHCs either directly, or indirectly through promoting growth of certain soil microbes.  The project…

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Prof. Mark Jessell

West African Exploration Initiative

The West African Exploration Initiative (WAXI) is an ambitious research and training program led by UWA in collaboration with partner institutions in France, Ireland and across West Africa, and is focussed on the mineral potential of the West African Craton. The overall aim of West Africa Exploration Initiative is to…

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Prof. Stephen Powles

Revealing novel mechanisms conferring evolution of resistance in Lolium (ryegrass).

Professor Powles’ team are collaborating with researchers at the German chemical company Bayer CropScience to identify the genes that enable Lolium (ryegrass) to resist many herbicides through metabolic capacity to degrade herbicides.  Employing state of the art genomics platforms the specific genes responsible for resistance are being identified and ways…

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Assoc. Prof. Guan Tay

Genetics of addiction and treatment

Drug addiction is often entangled in a lifestyle of violence.  Law enforcement agencies have responded to use of illicit drugs by passing tougher sentencing conditions for trafficking and dealing, tempered with leniency for minor offences. This strategy has not resulted in a reduction of illicit drug use.  It was once…

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Prof. Alice Vrielink

Studies of the Transcription Elongation Factor Spt4/5

Gene transcription is essential for life and plays a critical role in the ability of cells to respond to regulatory cues. Spt5 is a highly conserved transcriptional regulator and interacts with many proteins implicated in human diseases, including cancer and AIDS. This project will investigate the mechanism by which Spt5…

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Prof. Daniel Franklin

Next generation forensic anthropological approaches towards skeletal identification

A requirement in routine casework involving unidentified skeletal remains is the formulation of an accurate biological profile. Choice of method is invariably related to skeletal preservation and by association the bones available. It is vital, however, that the method applied affords statistical quantification of accuracy and predictive confidence, so that…

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Prof. Shane Maloney

Does the core body temperature rhythm provide an index of vertebrate fitness?

Homeothermic mammals and birds consume considerable resources maintaining core body temperature within narrow limits. In response to energetic challenge or extreme environmental conditions, some species abandon homeothermy and exhibit torpor or hibernation. Until recently it was thought that species that do not use torpor or hibernation always maintained homeothermy, but…

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Prof. Daniel Murphy

Ecosystem response to disturbances: Implications for greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient cycling.

This program will provide a framework for understanding the impact of climate and anthropogenic disturbance on ecosystem nutrient cycles and associated greenhouse gas emissions. Research is focused on understanding the microbial populations responsible for the terrestrial component of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, with breakthrough technologies being used to address…

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Prof. Malcolm McCulloch

Response of Western Australian coral reefs to climate and environmental change

Increased levels of atmospheric CO2 is not only causing global warming and associated mass coral bleaching, but is also lowering the oceans’ pH and hence carbonate ion concentration, upon which corals depend to calcify their skeletons. Locally, increased pollution from for example runoff from degraded river catchments or dredging, can…

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Prof. Leigh W. Simmons

The evolutionary biology of seminal fluid

Professor Simmons is an evolutionary biologist whose research programs seek to determine the direction and strength of selection acting on male and female reproductive strategies, and on the morphological and life history traits that contribute to fitness, from the whole organism to its gametes. His current research, funded in part…

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Assoc. Prof. Peter Hammond

Picosecond Scale Timing of Photoelectrons generated using Synchrotron Light

Instrument development is key in opening new possibilities for research studies of atoms, molecules and materials.  Many modern experimental measurements utilise pulsed light sources such as lasers, synchrotrons and free electron lasers to excite matter. Though time resolved detection systems down to the 300 femtosecond regime are commercially available for…

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Assoc. Prof. Deirdre Gleeson

Management of microorganisms to unlock the phosphorus bank in soil

Australian grain producers apply $1 billion worth of phosphorus (P) fertilisers each year, but only 50% is taken up by plants. Much of the remaining fertiliser P becomes fixed in soil and the P ‘bank’ in Australian arable soils is estimated to be worth $10 billion. Within Professor Gleeson’s research…

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Prof. Richard Hobbs

The Ridgefield Tree Experiment

The Ridgefield Tree Experiment is a long-term study of ecological restoration in which trees and shrubs have been planted in various combinations to examine how these different combinations perform a variety of services, including carbon sequestration, in the face of ongoing environmental change. Initiated in 2010 by Australian Laureate Fellow…

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Asst. Prof. Morteza Chalak

Health impact of bushfire smoke and the willingness to pay to reduce it

Increase in bushfire smoke decreases air quality and has negative health impacts.  This research assesses people’s willingness pay in order to control bushfire smoke and reduce its health risks. Invasion of gamba grass in the Northern Territory increases fire fuel and bushfire smoke. Increase in bushfire smoke decreases air quality…

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Dr. Weronika Gorczyk

Archean geodynamics of continental lithosphere

In contrast to modern-day plate tectonics, studying Archean geodynamics presents a unique challenge, as currently there is no agreement upon a paradigm concerning the global geodynamics and lithosphere tectonics pre-1000 million years. The limited amount of geological and geophysical data available contributes significantly to the lack of a widely accepted…

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Prof. Craig Lawrence

Breeding rare and endangered endemic fish species

The southwest region of Australia is recognised by Conservation International as one of 34 global biodiversity hotspots and by WWF as one of the Earth’s 53 most biologically outstanding freshwater habitats. The southwest rivers and streams in Australia are one of 28 freshwater habitats identified by WWF as a Global…

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Prof. Michael Burton
Dr. Abbie Rogers

Valuing Australian marine ecosystems

Australia has one of the most extensive systems of marine parks in the world, with a complex set of management arrangements at State and Commonwealth levels of Government.  This project is interested in assessing how the Australian public value the protection of marine ecosystems and species, at a number of…

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Prof. Elizabeth Newnham

Resilience among disaster-affected communities in China

China experiences more natural disasters than any other nation. In 2011 alone, 159 million people were affected by disasters in China, accounting for 65.1% of global disaster victims. Although China’s large population and density of settlement compound the issues of disaster risk, relatively little is known about the impact of…

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Prof. Marit E. Kragt

Payments for environmental services in Lao PDR

Paying local landholders to provide environmental services (PES) has been recognised by the Government of Lao PDR as a prospective mechanism for achieving forestry, conservation and livelihood goals. However, the practicalities of how to implement PES schemes in the Lao PDR context are yet unknown. Investigating the practical application of…

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Prof. Daniel J Green

Preventia: Exercise in the prevention of cognitive impairment in humans

Professor Green and his team’s research continues the theme that they have developed in recent years relating to the impact of haemodynamics, such as shear stress and blood pressure, on adaptations in arteries in humans.  Their work has shown that the impact of exercise training on mortality and cardiovascular events…

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Prof. Linqing Wen

Audio-band Gravitational Wave Detection, Multi-Messenger Astronomy and Supercomputing

Several advanced ground-based laser interferometer gravitational-wave detectors are expected to be operational around 2015.   These include two LIGO detectors in the US and VIRGO in Europe.   First direct detections of gravitational waves from compact binaries of neutron stars and black holes are likely around 2017. A real-time search pipeline that…

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Assoc. Prof. Keith Stubbs

Chemical Glycobiology

Carbohydrates are present in every living system and are mainly known for their role as energy sources. However, carbohydrates and the enzymes that process these motifs have now been shown to be involved in all fundamental biological processes and are currently linked to, or involved in, every major disease described….

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Dr. Tony Kemp

Unveiling the geological dark ages – the search for the lost Hadean continents

The first 500 million years of Earth history, referred to as the Hadean Eon, was a period when the metallic core segregated, the oceans condensed, the atmosphere outgassed and the first rocky crust formed. In some models, it was also a time when plate tectonics started and the first continents…

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Prof. Gary Kendrick
Dr. John Statton

Overcoming critical recruitment bottlenecks limiting seedling establishment in degraded seagrass ecosystems

Seagrass ecosystems are global providers of critical ecological processes in coastal ecosystems. Restoration of degraded systems is central to recovering these processes, but success has been elusive. Seagrass literature shows few programs successfully incorporate seeds to restore areas despite seeds representing a sustainable alternative to vegetative transplants. The high rates…

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Prof. Andrew Page

Understanding and Modifying Risk of Suicide

Death by suicide arises from a thwarted sense of belongingness and the perception of being a burden on others.  When combined, the person thinks about suicide but must acquire the capability. Professor Page has been leading a team at UWA and Perth Clinic to develop a symptom monitoring system to…

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Dr. Falko Mathes

Polymers for improving soil moisture management and cropping productivity

The project aim is to develop new products that will help farmers better manage water and nutrients in the soil and thereby improve dryland productivity. Development is occurring in: (i) surfactant-enhanced soil wetting; and (ii) functionalised soil polymers. This collaboration marks an important step in building technology that demonstrates our…

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Prof. Phil Vercoe

Rumen Pangenome Program

The Rumen Pangenome Program, led by Professor Vercoe, focuses on sheep and the extent to which genetics can be used to reduce methane emissions and improve feed efficiency. The program is part of a global network of institutions and organisations using cutting-edge ‘-omics’ technologies to untangle the relationship between the…

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Prof. Colin MacLeod

Cognitive-Bias Modification

Over the last twenty years, Professor MacLeod has pioneered an innovative method of treating mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, known as Cognitive Bias Modification. The treatment works by altering automatic and unconscious biases in the way people selectively process emotional information, using simple computer programs and smart phone…

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Prof. Paul Vincent Attwood

The molecular structure, function and regulation of pyruvate carboxylase.

Pyruvate carboxylase is a key metabolic enzyme that is a member of the family of biotin-dependent enzymes. The enzyme is regulated allosterically, primarily by acetyl CoA. Allosteric regulation of many enzymes is a common, but often poorly defined phenomenon, however, there is growing interest in the design of drugs that…

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Dr. Jeremy Smith

Kisspeptin and the neuroendocrine control of reproduction

Dr Smith’s work represents an exciting new field of neuroendocrinology. The recent discovery of mice and humans lacking the kisspeptin receptor and their infertile phenotype has sparked scientists to explore the actions of this novel neuropeptide. The activity of kisspeptin neurons is now known to be absolutely vital for fertility…

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Prof. Eun-Jung Holden

Integrated Exploration Platform: Innovative data interpretation support for mineral exploration

As surface riches run out, mineral deposits are increasingly sought undercover.  To address this challenge, state government agencies have been investing heavily in data collection and release them freely to the explorers operating in their jurisdiction.  Geological Survey of Western Australia (GSWA) collects and releases a large range of geological,…

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Prof. David Badcock

Using the Human Visual System

During the last ten years Professor Badcock’s research group has been investigating the mid-level processes in vision that form global object and motion descriptions by grouping local image information. The goal has been to elaborate the underlying properties of these mechanisms and to determine the manner in which those involved…

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Prof. Shaun P. Collin

Pilbara Marine Conservation Partnership

The coral reef ecosystems stretching 300 kilometres along the Pilbara-Ningaloo coastline in Western Australia represent a biodiversity hotspot of global significance, as recognised by its World Heritage listing in 2011. Now, a team of UWA scientists led by Professor Collin, in partnership with the CSIRO, are conducting the first comprehensive…

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Prof. Rie Kamei

Seismic full waveform inversion of the earth

A high-resolution subsurface model provides vital information both for scientific purposes of understanding the earth, and for engineering purposes including hydrocarbon exploration and monitoring, and CO2 sequestration monitoring. Seismic methods extract spatial distributions of physical properties of the earth from seismic data generated by controlled sources (active seismic) or by…

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Assoc. Prof. Caitlin Wyrwoll

Enhancement of placental blood vessel development to improve fetal health outcomes

Poor fetal growth is detrimental not only in the short-term, but also the long-term. This is as poor fetal growth is associated with adverse health outcomes in later life such as high blood pressure and neuropsychiatric disease. Professor Wyrwoll’s  goal is to mitigate these adverse health outcomes by optimizing fetal…

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Roberto Busi

Impacts and movement of herbicide resistance genes across the Australian landscape

Weeds are one of the greatest constraints to world agriculture’s attempt to produce more food in a limited space.  Modern mechanized agricultural systems are essentially dependent on herbicides to effectively destroy weeds across large cultivated areas.  However, weeds have rapidly evolved resistance to synthetic herbicides.  Herbicide resistance has continued to…

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Prof. Tim Ackland

Mechanical loading assists tendon regeneration following Autologous Tenocyte Implantation (ATI)

Most conservative treatments for chronic tendinopathies only provide temporary relief from pain and inflammation, but do not improve tendon structure and biomechanics. ATI injections help to re-form the collagen matrix and this process is enhanced with optimal mechanical loading. The challenge is to replicate this load stimulus in human patients…

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Assoc. Prof. Andrew Rate

Rare earth elements: behaviour and fate in estuaries

Dr Rate leads a research group who have shown that rare-earth elements are anomalously enriched in some estuarine sediments, especially those which receive drainage from acid sulfate soils. Rare earth elements are widely used as tracers of important geochemical processes. This project is investigating a life-cycle of rare-earth elements in…

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Michael Shane Senior Research Fellow

Metabolic adaptations of Hakea prostrata – a world champion of low phosphorus tolerance

Inorganic phosphate (Pi) is an essential macronutrient for all life, and vital for crop production. The flora in south-western Australia has evolved on some of the world’s most Pi-impoverished soils. This Kwongon region is a biodiversity hotspot of global significance, and the non-mycorrhizal plant family Proteaceae features prominently, particularly on…

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Prof. Tim Colmer

Waterlogging and submergence tolerance in rice and other wetland plants

Flooding, resulting in soil waterlogging and in many situations even complete submergence of plants, is an important abiotic stress in many regions worldwide. Flooding impacts negatively on agricultural production, and floods shape many natural plant communities (e.g. floodplains and wetlands). Most crop plants suffer when in waterlogged soil; the exception…

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Dr Ken Flower

Impact of crop rotation in a no-tillage systems trial

Conservation agriculture (no-till) cropping systems have had major benefits for farmers, such as improved soil health, timeliness of sowing, moisture conservation and higher yields. The key components of this system are full crop residue (stubble) retention, diverse rotations and minimal soil disturbance. However, the recommendation for full residue retention is…

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Dr. Michael Considine

The seasonal perception and regulation of dormancy in grapevine

Plants have evolved to specialise in niche environments. Their ability to optimise their form and physiology under changes to that environment – which we call plasticity – is a feature that distinguishes plants from animals. There is no ‘normal climate’ for plants. Deciduous plants change their form through annual cycles…

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Prof. Kadambot Siddique

Conservation cropping in the drylands of northern Iraq

Agriculture currently provides about eight per cent of Iraq’s GDP and 20 per cent of its employments, supporting seven million people of a total population of 26 million. There has been a 50 per cent decline in Iraqi agricultural production in the past 20 years. Professor Siddique from The UWA…

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Assoc. Prof. Nader Issa

Passive seismic monitoring for CO2 geosequestration

Passive seismic monitoring is the science of recording and analysing natural or induced seismic energy.  The creaking and groaning caused by ongoing tectonic movements in the earth, or the fracturing of rocks in large (felt) and micro (unfelt) earthquakes, are just some of the signals we detect and measure.  Ocean…

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Prof. David Pannell

International evaluation of agri-environmental programs

Billions of dollars are spent around the world in programs that aim to protect the environment from adverse effects of agriculture. This project is undertaking critical evaluations of such programs in nine countries. There are many environmental policies and programs in place in developed countries, involving expenditure of large amounts…

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Assoc Prof. Jonathan Evans

Inbreeding threats to endangered species

In endangered species, where populations are small, inbreeding is a major threat to the sustainability of the species, possibly even hastening extinction. It is worrying that the methods currently used to measure inbreeding in threatened species have been largely untested. Professor Evans’s group has reviewed the empirical literature on sperm…

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Prof. Ben White

Agri-environmental policy design for the UK and Australia

The project addresses a key question in agri-environmental policy design: should farmers be paid for results (more biodiversity) or for their actions (fencing, stocking restrictions). The project develops mathematical models to predict how farmers decide when selecting alternative conservation contracts.  Some farmers select contracts that require them to put a…

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Prof. Hans Lambers
Assoc. Prof. Michael William Shane

Metabolic plasticity between Chilean and Australian Proteaceae endemic to soils of contrasting age and total phosphorus content

It is of growing concern internationally to capitalize on the enormous diversity of plant form and function across the globe to unearth novel adaptive traits that might be eventually genetically-engineered into modern crop varieties so they can effectively exploit the significant amounts of insoluble phosphate and organic-P compounds that remain…

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Prof. K. Swaminatha Iyer


Nanobiotechnology is a branch of nanotechnology with biological and biochemical applications. Professor Iyer’s research explores the design and development of multimodal nanoparticles which seek to expand upon the benefits of the first- generation, clinically tested nanoparticles by adding functionalities intended to improve delivery, therapeutic efficacy, and ultimately patient outcome. This…

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Assoc. Prof. Matthew Hipsey

Understanding the degradation and recovery of aquatic systems

Across both developed and developing nations, aquatic systems are relied upon for provision of services to humanity and most have experienced a fundamental shift in their biogeochemical function. Understanding the resilience of aquatic ecosystem function and thresholds of change is critical to support our ongoing restoration efforts. The long- term…

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Prof. Mikhail Kostylev

Novel ferromagnetic nanomaterials for gas sensing applications

Hydrogen is a key option for climate-friendly energy production but its use is severely limited by extreme flammability making advance hydrogen sensing technologies critical. We propose a new Hydrigen sensor based on a novel magneto-electronic approach. Completion of the project will generate knowledge resulting in the development of new technologies…

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Prof. Romola Bucks

Psychological health in obstructive sleep apnoea

Obstructive sleep apnoea is diagnosed in 5% of Australians with as many as 8 in 10 unaware of their condition.  In older age, rates rise as high as 62%. OSA contributes to days lost from work, ill health, low mood, and accidents at work and in the car. Yet, the…

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Asst. Prof. Cyril (Jon) Donnelly

The underappreciated role of the Gastrocnemius muscle for knee stability in sport

With recent advancements in the fields of musculoskeletal and simulation research, we are now able to calculate individual muscle forces during high velocity, single-leg landing sporting tasks where knee injuries are known to occur.  Results from this simulation research have shown that the relative contribution of the gastrocnemius is significantly…

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Prof. Sarah Dunlop

Cool it then move it; hypothermia and exercise to promote recovery after spinal cord injury.

Spinal cord injury is sudden, devastating and expensive both personally and for the health system with a price tag of ~$2bn pa in Australia. It affects approximately 1 person per day and approximately 10,000 people live with spinal cord injury. Paralysis is not just about nothing, but comes with serious…

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Prof. Linqing Wen

Using Pulsar Timing Array data to detect gravitational waves from supermassive black hole binaries.

A passing gravitational wave will affect the local space-time metric on the travel path of a radio pulse and can lead to observable fluctuations in its arrival time at Earth.  There is an international effort in using pulsar timing arrays (PTAs) to detect gravitational waves. The Parkes Pulsar Timing Array…

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Prof. Wallace Cowling

How Mendel’s peas could change plant breeding in the 21st century

A new approach is proposed to generate a dynamic and evolving gene pool for plant breeders.  If successful, Mendel’s “model” pea plants will help us change the way we breed the world’s major crop plants.  The concept is simple – why not breed plants as if they were animals?  Annual…

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Prof. Ram Pandit

Valuing Access to Protected Areas in Nepal

Protected areas are cornerstones of biodiversity conservation and are also the prime ecotourism destinations, covering 23.23% of land area in Nepal. Visitors pay a fee to get access to these areas. This entry fee has been the main source of park income, but remained constant for over two decades despite…

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Assoc. Prof. Amanda Ridley

The benefits of sociality: understanding the relationship between cognition and cooperation

Advanced cognitive ability and social complexity are often considered to be strongly intertwined. However, the importance of individual cognitive ability on investment decisions, group stability and fitness has never been comprehensively tested Individuals that live in groups could have an advantage over solitary individuals in their ability to develop cognitive…

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Prof. Harvey Millar

Mitochondrial function in plants and the role of metabolism is the energy efficiency of plants

Mitochondria undertake respiration which provides chemical energy from the oxidative degradation of organic and amino acids in plant cells. Their functions are highly integrated into the nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon metabolism of plants and are directly involved in the abiotic and biotic stress tolerance of plants. Professor Millar’s research has…

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Assoc. Prof. Guijun Yan

A fast generation system of crop plants for genetic analysis and breeding

Many plant breeding projects – such as those aiming to increase food production – depend on getting ‘pure lines’ of plants but this can take a lot of time as, most of the time, it depends on self-pollination for several generations. Several years may be required following a traditional process….

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Prof. Michael Tobar

Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space

Researchers from the School of Physics are working towards making Western Australia the primary Southern Hemisphere hub for future space missions, including a fascinating mission being led by the European Space Agency, known as the Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space (ACES), which plans to take the world’s first laser-cooled atomic…

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Assoc. Prof. Martha Ludwig

The Molecular Evolution of the C4 Photosynthetic Pathway

Global population is estimated to reach nine billion by 2050. Yields of important crop plants, like rice, wheat, corn and soybean, using current technologies will fall grossly short of demand, and innovative strategies to increase plant productivity are urgently needed.  Plants using C4 photosynthetic biochemistry (e.g. corn) evolved from species…

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Prof. David Blair

Detecting gravitational waves

The Australian International Gravitational Research Centre is part of the Australian Consortium for Interferometric Gravitational Astronomy (ACIGA), and was established in 1990 to enable collaborative research providing a national focus in a major frontier in physics: the detection of gravitational waves and the development of gravitational astronomy. Through strong national…

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Prof. Chunbo Ma

Productivity of China Coal-Fired Power Sector

A sound understanding of the world’s largest power sector will help improve the calibration of global future energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions. This project aims to examine the economic and environmental performance of the sector using detailed plant-level data over two decades. China is making a green refurbishment of…

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Prof. William Erskine

Seeds of Life, Timor-Leste

East Timor has a major Food Security problem ranking third globally in the percentage of chronically malnourished children. This project aims to improve national food security by the improvement and dissemination of new cultivars of the staple food crops – maize, rice, sweet potato, cassava and peanut. In 1999 the…

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Assoc. Prof. Jeffrey Shragge

Full-waveform imaging of laser-ultrasound measurements on CO2-injected sandstones

Geosequestration, or storing anthropogenic CO2 in deep sedimentary geologic formations, is an important strategy for minimising greenhouse gas emissions.  However, key questions remain in how CO2 interacts with host sandstone formations over a variety of time scales. The research partnership between UWA and the University of Auckland is developing innovative…

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Assoc Prof. Louise Barton

Does increasing soil carbon increase soil nitrous oxide emissions?

Increasing soil organic carbon is promoted as a strategy for sequestering carbon dioxide and mitigating anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing soil carbon can benefit crop productivity; however, there is a risk that it may also enhance nitrous oxide emissions, a potent greenhouse gas. Understanding how increasing soil carbon effects soil…

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Prof. Mark Spackman

Crystal engineering and host-guest chemistry

Molecular aggregates involving host and guest molecules underpin the design and development of functional materials in areas as diverse as catalysis, targeted drug delivery and gas storage. In this project Professor Spackman  aims to facilitate the rationalisation and prediction of their properties and inspire future development of these important materials….

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Prof. Peter Davies

Mapping threats to water security for both biodiversity and human use

Water is the most essential of natural resources, yet freshwater systems are directly threatened by human activities and will be further affected by anthropogenic climate change. This study provides the first comprehensive worldwide analysis of threats to fresh water that considers both human water security and biodiversity perspectives within a…

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Assoc. Prof. Matthew Nelson

Discovering the genes that control flowering time in canola

Time of flowering is a key adaptive trait in plants and is conditioned by the interaction of genes and environmental cues including daylength, ambient temperature and vernalisation (i.e. the cold temperatures experienced during winter). Understanding how these genes work will help plant breeders develop varieties adapted to a changing climate….

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Assoc. Prof. Jenny Rodger

Stimulating the brain

Professor Rodger leads a research team investigating mechanisms of brain plasticity. Her most recent work focuses on the use of non-invasive brain stimulation to promote morphological and functional repair of injured and abnormal brain circuits and restore normal behaviour. Electrical activity between brain cells is crucial for our everyday function…

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Prof. Ryan Lister

Exploring the epigenome

Epigenome research is providing great leaps forward in our understanding of the workings of human and plant genomes, and promising significant advances in human health, regenerative medicine and agriculture. By generating comprehensive maps of the epigenome using advanced DNA sequencing technologies, we have discovered previously unanticipated epigenome complexity in plants…

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Assoc. Prof. Jane Pillow

Improving Immediate and Longer Term Outcomes of Preterm Infants

The Preclinical Intensive Care Research Unit (PICRU) is an exciting new initiative of The University of Western Australia aiming to provide an exceptional national and international collaborative research facility that will enhance the understanding and treatment of infants born preterm. Innovative research evaluating the long-term outcomes of existing controversial and…

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Dr Donna Geddes

The Human Lactation Project

The composition of human milk is unique to the human species and confers a myriad of health benefits to our young yet composition varies widely between mothers. We seek to understand the factors that influence composition, particularly those that regulate infant appetite control and infant body composition. We aim to…

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Prof. Matthias Leopold
Assoc. Prof. Deirdre Gleeson

UWA-CZO, Australia’s first Critical Zone Observatory

The Critical Zone – Essential for Life on Earth. The Critical Zone acts as the Earth’s outer skin. It is the vertical zone from the top of the tree canopy to the bottom of our drinking water aquifers where soil interacts with rock, water, the atmosphere and living organisms. The…

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Prof. Marit E. Kragt

Achieving least cost GHG abatement opportunities in Australian grains farms

The Australian ‘Carbon Farming Initiative’ (CFI) aims to encourage new farming practices that can store carbon, or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Practices that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions include storing carbon in vegetation by planting trees or perennial shrubs, and storing carbon in soils through (for example) use of perennial crops…

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Assoc. Prof. Amanda Ridley

Group dynamics, critical group size effects and extinction risk

Understanding population dynamics is crucial for effective conservation biology. In many cases breeding is limited by high density, but in social species the opposite is true, exposing small groups to high extinction risk. However, analyses of population dynamics in social species is rare, limiting our ability to effectively conserve such…

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Prof. Boris Baer

Save the Bees: An interdisciplinary research approach to safeguard honeybees and their pollination services

Pollination services of honeybees are of central importance for the production of food and contribute towards the stability of ecosystems. For Australia, honeybee pollination is worth 4-6 billion Australian dollars annually and about a third of what we eat depends on bee pollination. Devastating declines are occurring in global honeybee…

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Assoc. Prof. Melinda Fitzgerald

Novel ways to limit damage following neurotrauma

The clinical problem my team is dedicated to solving is secondary degeneration following neurotrauma. My vision for the next four years is to advance the field by providing the necessary pre-clinical data to bring treatment strategies with strong translational &/or commercialisation potential to the clinic. As such, our work has…

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Prof. Jingbo Wang

Multi-particle quantum walks

Quantum computers, although still in their early stages of development, promise unprecedented computing power, unmatched by any conventional technology. This project explores a new path for constructing quantum algorithms: software for a quantum computer. Professor Wang’s approach involves interacting and entangling particles as they go for a quantum walk. Random…

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Research Assistant Professor Peter Metaxas

Magnetic nanoparticle detectors for medical diagnostics

Electronic biosensors have the potential to provide a revolution in healthcare by enabling sophisticated yet economical medical diagnostics at the point of care. This project’s aim is to develop smaller, faster magnetic nanoparticle sensors for application in magnetic biosensing techniques. From remote communities to emergency departments in major hospitals, rapid…

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Dr Julian Clifton

Resilience and vulnerability within coral reef dependent communities in Seychelles

Small island developing states are often characterised by a high dependency on marine resources, necessitating the careful and appropriate management of marine activities to ensure that these are used in a sustainable manner. Seychelles is a prime example of this, with the economy largely dependent on coastal and marine tourism…

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Prof. Andrew Whiteley


Earth’s soil is home to hundreds of thousands of microbial species, all of which strongly influence soil productivity, potentially affecting food and fibre production, greenhouse gas regulation, land rehabilitation, and biodiversity conservation. Despite their importance, there is little understanding about these soil microbes. MicroBlitz seeks to survey and map the…

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Asst. Prof. Julien Bourget

Life and Death of WA’s Barriers Reefs during the Past 20 Myrs

The Western Australia’s North West Shelf (NWS) is a world-class gas province where up to 3 kilometres of Cenozoic “overburden” sedimentary rocks have accumulated above the hydrocarbon reservoirs. Geophysical and geological analysis of this overburden has revealed the presence of ancient “barriers reefs” that formed along the NWS margins several…

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