UQ excels in prestigious Federation Fellowships

11 May 2006

The quality and depth of research at The University of Queensland (UQ) and the quality of UQ's research environment has been recognised with the award of six prestigious Australian Research Council (ARC) Federation Fellowships. 

Federation Fellows are regarded as exceptional researchers of world renown in their fields and the six UQ winners this year will bring the number of Federation Fellows at UQ to 18. 

The University's 2006 Fellows were recognised for their demonstrated excellence in conducting outstanding and ground-breaking research, which covers areas such as organic semiconductors, quantum physics and the place of television in new media. 

UQ Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Siddle, said it was an honour for the University to receive so many Fellowships and it highlighted the range and depth of internationally renowned research at UQ. 

“The fact that we have been successful with six Federation Fellows (one of whom is returning from the University of Oxford) across a wide range of disciplines, reflects not only on the calibre of our applicants, but also on the quality of the environment in which they will work,” Professor Siddle said. 

"These six worthy candidates join our current 12 Federation Fellows in an unparalleled convergence of world-leading researchers at The University of Queensland.” 

UQ's 2006 Federation Fellows: 

Professor David Fairlie, from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience, is undertaking pioneering work in protein surface mimicry. Proteins are the key components that define life, ageing, disease and death but their use in medicine, science and industry is extremely limited by their complexity and high costs. Professor Fairlie's work will develop new chemical technology for creating simpler, smaller, cheaper, more stable and more bioavailable molecules that can execute selected functions of proteins. This approach could present new ways of influencing infection, diseases of the aged and could enhance preventative medicine in the form of drugs, vaccines and diagnostics. 

Dr Paul Burn, from the University of Oxford, will return to Australia to continue his innovative and world-leading research into organic semi-conductors. Organic semi-conductors have electronic properties similar to silicon and are being investigated for use in flat panel displays and lighting, plastic electronics and solar cells. Dr Burn will establish a Centre for Organic Semiconductor Research at UQ, which will be a world leading initiative focusing on the development of new materials and an understanding of how they work in opto-electronic devices. 

Professor Graeme Turner, Director of UQ's Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies, has played a foundational role in the field of Australian cultural studies. His research program will investigate the role of television in a post-broadcast era increasingly dominated by new media formats such as the internet, tackling an international comparative study of the role of contemporary media in an extensive geographical and theoretical capacity. Given the traditional importance of television in forming and informing people, the research will ask whether new media forms such as online journalism may take its place. 

Professor Andrew White, from UQ's School of Physical Sciences, has built an international reputation through his work in quantum physics. His characterisation of a quantum logic gate, the fundamental building block of a quantum computer, has set the standard in the field. The key technological advances of the 21st Century will be due to quantum technologies. His research program will launch a major new initiative to develop optical quantum technology that integrates many photons to form powerful quantum devices. This will not only lead to advances in quantum information but also extend Australia's early lead in quantum technology research. 

Professor Hugh Possingham, Director of UQ's Ecology Centre, is a world renowned researcher in the science of ecology and conservation biology. His research will look at finding solutions to some of the global biodiversity problems that are central to Australia's long-term environmental sustainability. His work will devise methods to make better decisions about where to invest conservation dollars amongst the biodiversity hotspots of the world and Australia to deliver environmental sustainability. 

Professor Guifre Vidal, from UQ's School of Physical Sciences, is a world leader in his field through his groundbreaking research at the interface of quantum information science, quantum many-body physics and computational physics. His research program as an ARC Federation Fellow will develop theoretical and computational tools for the study and engineering of quantum systems. His work will be critical in underpinning basic research efforts in condensed matter physics, quantum optics and quantum field theory, and in applied research in quantum information processing, nanotechnology and superconductors. 

Federation Fellows are considered to be world-leaders in their chosen fields of research and the program is aimed at attracting some of the world's best research talent as well as offering opportunities for top Australian researchers to continue their work here. 

The Federation Fellowships are funded under the Australian Research Council's (ARC) National Competitive Grants Program and each Fellow will receive an indexed salary of approximately $250,000 a year for five years. 

Further details of the ARC Federation Fellowships can be found at www.arc.gov.au 

Media inquiries: Andrew Dunne at UQ Communications (07 3365 2802 or 0433 364 181).