UNE researchers granted more than $1 million in ARC funding

Published 04 November 2014

The role genes and environment play in student achievement, the evolution of the iconic Eucalyptus and the mathematics behind the spread of invasive species are the three University of New England research projects granted funding today by the Australia Research Council (ARC).

The research projects have been awarded more than $1 million through the Federal Government funded ARC’s Discovery Projects scheme.

The UNE’s Vice-Chancellor Annabelle Duncan congratulated Professor Yihong Du, Dr Rose Andrew and Dr William Coventry who are the lead researchers on the projects.

“This is a wonderful achievement, and testament to the significant research we are undertaking at UNE,” Professor Duncan said.

“These researchers are looking into areas which will have long term significance for not just the Australian community but for a global audience.”

Professor Du’s research is aiming to provide better predications of the location and speed of spreading fronts for things like invasive species through the use of mathematics.

Dr Andrew will use the latest genomic tools to see what evolutionary lessons we can learn from our beloved Eucalyptus, and the funding will allow Dr Coventry and Emeritus Professor Brian Byrne to continue their longitudinal study into the role that genes and aspects of the environment play in student achievement.

“We are very fortunate to have a high calibre of researchers here at UNE and the success of these funding applications shows the diversity of research we are undertaking,” Professor Duncan said.

The ARC’s Discovery Projects scheme provides funding for research projects that can be undertaken by individual researchers or research teams. More information about the scheme can be found here.

 

Research Project Briefs 

 

The mathematics behind the spread of invasive species. 

Professor Yihong Du’s research will look at the challenging problem in modern science of understanding the propagation phenomena in nature, such as the spread of invasive species or nerve signals. This project will develop new mathematics to explain the mechanisms behind various important propagation phenomena. In particular it will prove better predications of the location and speed of the spreading fronts.

 

Delving beyond NAPLAN –the role genes and environment play in student achievement.

Dr William Coventry and Emeritus Professor Brian Byrne have been granted funding to continue their longitudinal study into the relative importance of genes and aspects of environment on student achievement. The NAPLAN tests, which have been administered since 2008, are the most valuable nation-wide database on school achievement available. Through this twin study of NAPLAN, they hope to provide a more solid base for public policy debate on educational policy and practice. This study will further illuminate any differential effectiveness of schools and teachers on student outcomes, a topic of high public interest.

 

Unlocking the successful evolution of the iconic Eucalyptus 

Dr Rose Andrew’s research will use the latest genomic tools to unravel the evolution of woodland Eucalyptus. This research will identify the sources of adaptive genetic variation that have created the species-rich genus Eucalyptus. Sequence resources will be generated for a group of eucalypts that are understudied, but of immense ecological significance. The project will identify genes involved in speciation and local adaptation, as well as improving understanding of the significance of ancient variation and hybridisation in the diversification of Eucalypts.