The University of Western Australia and its partner organisations will receive $67.5 million in overall funding for world-class equipment to advance scientific research in Western Australia and support WA jobs in STEM industries.
The State Government has committed $10.5 million over the next three years, with a $29 million co-investment from WA research institutions and $28 million investment from the Federal Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).
The State funding will be allocated to WA’s NCRIS nodes, which are based at UWA and its partner organisations, which include Curtin University, Murdoch University, Edith Cowan University, the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and the Telethon Kids Institute.
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Dawn Freshwater says the investment will ensure Australian researchers continue to push the boundaries of technology while working to improve food supply, health, security and the economy for all Western Australians.
“We need to make sure that we’re not just keeping up with the world’s leading STEM countries such as the US and China, but that we’re staying ahead of them in those areas where we excel, such as oceanography, micro-electrics and microscopy,” she says.
“This investment will ensure that WA’s science community and researchers will remain at the cutting-edge of world research to support scientific advances and innovation that will benefit our economy and environment.”
The national Integrated Marine Observing System, housed at UWA’s Oceans Institute, received $600,000 for its autonomous underwater glider facility and $500,000 for the Ningaloo Reef reference site.
Funding for the Australian National Fabrication Facility provided UWA’s Microelectronics Research Group with $1 million for micro-electromechanical systems infrastructure and $1 million to continue its research into infrared sensor technology, used in defence, weather forecasting, pollution monitoring, detecting oil spills in the ocean and ocean surveillance, including border patrol of illegal immigration or drug smuggling.
UWA’s Centre of Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis received $796,000 and $995,000 through Microscopy Australia to buy two new high-resolution electron microscopes that will allow researchers to analyse liquid samples, leading to ground-breaking research into medical research, engineering, agriculture, biology and mining. The Centre’s National Imaging Facility also received $627,000 to upgrade an MRI and $495,000 for a new CT scanner.
The Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network received $660,000 for ecosystem observation infrastructure. An important part of the network in WA is the South West Australian Transitional Transect Project, which enables measurements of biophysical processes across a landscape gradient and the relationships of biodiversity attributes in these environments.
Infrastructure to support WA’s complex biology will also receive a new investment from Bioplatforms Australia and the State, with Genomics, Proteomics and Metabolomics nodes opening for the first time in WA, and a total funding boost of $21 million.
This national research infrastructure area focuses on the capacity for analysis of human, animal and plant systems to underpin new health and medical, agricultural and environmental discoveries of importance for societal, industry and policy applications.