Environment Institute celebrates success with the latest ARC funding round

In the latest round of ARC funding announced today Environment Institute researchers received five ARC Discovery grants, four Future Fellowships and a DECRA. This is a huge achievement for the Institute and we congratulate all involved.

The combined worth of the grants is over $5 million.

Discovery Grant Recipients

Professor Alan Cooper,
Associate Professor Phill Cassey,
Professor Martin Lambert
Professor Angus Simpson
Professor Steve Donnellan

Future Fellowship Reciepients

Dr Andrew Ridgwell
Dr Diego Garcia-Bellido
Dr Kate Sanders
Dr Lee Arnold

In addition Dr Camille Mellin, a post-doctoral fellow of Professor Corey Bradshaw received a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) to examine the effects of coral eating crown-of-thorns starfish.

Our Director Professor Bob Hill was awarded a Discovery associated with University of Tasmania.

Dr Jonathan Tyler was awarded a Discovery grant associated with the University of Wollongong.

For full details about the projects read below.

Discovery Grants

Professor Alan Cooper, Professor Jeremy Taylor, Professor Thomas Higham, Associate Professor Ludovic Orlando and Professor David Reich.

This project will use ancient DNA from permafrost-preserved Steppe bison bones and bovid exome capture systems to build a detailed record of the genomic impacts of rapid climate and environmental change at the end of the Pleistocene (30 to 11 kyr). It will generate critical data for studies of evolutionary processes such as extinctions, speciation and conservation biology and management.


Associate Professor Phill Cassey, Dr Joshua Ross, Associate Professor John Drake.

Our Australian economy depends on tourism and trade and this carries unavoidable risks for the introduction and establishment of new invasive pests and diseases. The project will contribute directly to safeguarding Australia from invasive pests and diseases.


Professor Martin Lambert, Professor Angus Simpson, Dr Aaron Zecchin, Adjunct Professor John Awkwright.

This research will develop a novel and advanced approach to determine the interior condition of pipes quickly and effectively using small water hammer pulses or waves. The outcome will be powerful tools to more cost effectively manage these crucial assets.


Professor Stephen Donnellan, Dr Philip Piper, Dr Kenneth Aplin.

This project proposes to use the recent evolutionary history of agricultural rodent pests, all of which emerged in situ from among a native rodent fauna, as a proxy for the origins and spread of agriculture, and its subsequent intensification. This project will use phylogeography and population genetics to infer the history of contemporary rodent populations, combined with archaeozoological and ancient DNA analyses of prehistoric samples to test our inferences.


Future Fellows

Dr Lee J Arnold. The causes of megafaunal extinction in Australia continue to be fiercely debated owing to chronological gaps in the palaeontological record, poorly constrained palaeoenvironmental histories and limited data on long-term faunal responses to climate change prior to human arrival. The chronologies generated through this work will provide a crucial new perspective on the ongoing megafaunal debate and will be used to test key assumptions underpinning anthropogenic- and climate-driven extinction hypotheses on local, regional and continental scales.


Dr Diego García-Bellido, The Cambrian ‘Explosion’, half a billion years ago, is regarded as one of the most important events in the history of the Earth, when most major animal groups first appear in the rock record, and for which South Australia has recently become a significant source of spectacular fossils. However, important questions remain regarding their Ediacaran roots, the speed of evolution at the time, and the environments in which the radiation took place. Studying the fossil evidence in the light of present-day ecological frameworks, and in comparison with modern behavioural and morphological analogues, as well as living relatives, can help us better assess our understanding of this first radiation of animals.


Professor Andrew Ridgwell, Earth history is punctuated by a huge variety of transitions and perturbations in climate, biogeochemical cycling, and ecosystems, some of which may hold direct future-relevant information. project will develop a computer model representation of this coupled carbon-climate-life system and test this against the geological record, explore the causes and consequences of carbon release events and extinctions as well as how the ocean floor delivery and preservation of organic car bon responds.

$ 971 644

Dr Kate L Sanders This project will uncover the genetic variation and demographic histories that allow rapid adaptation and speciation in natural populations. It will leverage the powerful framework provided by Indo-Australian sea snakes, and new gene sequencing technologies, to reconstruct the evolutionary histories of genes, populations and species. It will address what genetic changes are involved in adaptive shifts and speciation, whether these originate de novo or from pre-existing variation and how gene flow and changes in population size promote or constrain adaptation and speciation.


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