In Summary

Three Swinburne University of Technology researchers have been awarded prestigious Future Fellowships valued at more than $2.5 million from the Australian Research Council (ARC).

They are Dr Damien Hicks, Dr Glenn Kacprzak and Associate Professor Xia-Ji Liu. 

Their success builds on Swinburne’s top 100 international ranking in physics, by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, according to Swinburne Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development) Professor George Collins.

“These three physicists join a very select group of researchers across Australia who hold these highly competitive fellowships,” Professor Collins said. “We look forward to supporting their research and  promoting the scientific advances they each make in optical physics, astrophysics and quantum physics respectively.” 

Dr Hicks, from Swinburne’s Centre for Micro Photonics has been awarded $966,891 for Ultrafast Photonic Electron Microscopy: Visualising dynamics at the nanoscale.

His project will combine ultrafast lasers  with electron microscopy to watch changes at the nanoscale in physical and biological systems as they happen rather than just observe the before and after states. By providing a view into how order emerges from the thermal chaos of molecules, the project will help reveal the physical basis for life.

Dr Kacprzak from Swinburne’s Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing has been awarded $747,629 for Simulating galaxy ecosystems, which will increase the understanding of gas cycling, star formation and star death around galaxies.

Associate Professor Liu from Swinburne’s Centre for Quantum and Optical Science has been awarded $804,152 for Finding the lost particle: Majorana fermions in ultracold atoms.

In collaboration with the world-leading cold-atom laboratories in Australia, China and the USA, her project will pave a new direction to create and manipulate Majorana fermions – particles that are their own antiparticles – which could be used in atomtronics devices to connect classical electronic devices and quantum computers.

A total of 150 ARC Future Fellowships were awarded to researchers from Australian universities and other research organisations valued at $115 million over five years. The program aims to increase opportunities for mid-career researchers to work in Australia, rather than taking their expertise overseas.

The fellowships were announced yesterday by Federal Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne.

"It is crucial that we provide support for the nation's most highly qualified mid-career researchers. We need to ensure that Australia's best minds stay in this great country to do their research, which in turn bolsters our capacity to innovate," Mr Pyne said.