James Cook University scientists have been awarded more than $1.1 million for ground-breaking research into rare earth compounds, coral reefs and Australia’s succulent plants.
The Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham, has announced the Australian Research Council’s Major Grants this morning.
Dr Hugo Harrison from the ARC Centre for Coral Reef Studies at JCU has received a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award worth $366,000.
Dr Harrison will study how the movement of coral fish between Australia's Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef affects the ecology and evolution of the species. It will be the first study to measure the connectivity of these areas and identify critical regions for the design of networks of marine protected areas.
Professors Peter Junk and Joe Holtum have been awarded a total of $756,500 under the Discovery Projects scheme for two separate projects.
Professor Junk will undertake research into rare earth compounds, to underpin future applications in chemical manufacture, new materials and recycling.
With abundant, but until recently neglected, rare earth resources Australia is positioned to become a major supplier of these strategic elements as the world faces a shortage created by a Chinese monopoly and much reduced exports.
Professor Holtum will investigate why Australia, the driest vegetated continent, has no landscape dominated by large succulents but nevertheless supports distinctive, diverse and widespread succulent plants.
He will explore the evolution, assembly and biodiversity of Australia’s succulent flora, examining the roles of genetic composition, photosynthetic physiology, aridity, fire, soil nutrients and salinity in its historical expansion.
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