14 November 2012

Faster search engines, new technology platforms on way

Nine research projects of RMIT University researchers have received funding in the latest annual round of "Discovery" research grants from the Australian Research Council.

The projects cover a wide range of topics, from improvements to computer search engines, to new developments in nano-technology, to understanding the spread of tuberculosis in southern Africa, and the rise of so-called "ethical consumption" in Australia.

"We're pleased to see $2.53 million in ARC funding will come to these worthwhile research projects at RMIT in the coming year," RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, said.

"While the projects are diverse, a common element is that they align well with RMIT's commitment to play an active role ensuring that technology and design expertise is applied to help transform the lives of individuals and communities in positive ways.

"It's noteworthy that seven of the nine discovery grants are for projects associated with RMIT's Platform Technologies Research Institute, which does vital work to extend foundation areas of technology which generate many applications and spin-off benefits."

One of the newly-funded RMIT projects will examine a possible approach to improving the accuracy of searches by search engines, with a view to saving time and effort getting to the right information.

The project, to be run by Professor Mark Sanderson and Dr Falk Scholer, of the School of Computer Science and Information Technology, will be pursued in collaboration with Dr Andrew Turpin of the University of Melbourne and two US-based researchers

"Although we're used to web search engines successfully finding content, there are many times where search quality needs substantial improvement," Professor Sanderson said.

"One example is in enterprises where it is proving difficult to find important information held in corporate databases.

"The project funding will help us explore a promising solution that we hope will help users find relevant information much more easily."

The other projects by RMIT researchers to attract funding in the latest round are:

  • An investigation of heat and mass transfer occurring in nano-fluids, led by Professor Jiyuan Tu of the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Design of components for nano-scale multi-state memories, led by Dr Sharath Sriram of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Researching the history of the development of a tuberculosis pandemic in southern Africa, led by Professor Jock McCulloch of the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies
  • Design and synthesis of boron nitride thin film coatings with exceptional properties, led by Professor Dougal McCulloch of the School of Applied Sciences
  • Interventions to enable adaptive evolution of complex networks, led by Professor Jinhu Lu, of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Interaction of quantum systems from solid-state theory to practical photonic platforms, led by Associate Professor Andrew Greentree, of the School of Applied Sciences
  • Integration of architectural, mathematical and computing knowledge to capture the dynamics of air in design, led by Professor Mark Burry, of the Design Research Institute
  • Charting the rise of so-called "ethical consumption" into the mainstream of Australian consumerism, led by Associate Professor Tania Lewis, of the School of Media and Communication

ARC Discovery grants are intended to support excellent basic and applied research by individuals and teams.

In addition, three RMIT academics received Early Career Researcher Award funding designed to support the work of newer researchers.

These were Dr Catherine Gomes, of the School of Media and Communication, Dr Donald Wlodkowic, of the School of Applied Sciences, and Dr Annan Zhou, of the School of Civil, Environmental and Chemical Engineering.

These projects, worth $1.08 million in total, are for the funding period 2013-2015.

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Professor Margaret Gardner AO

Professor Margaret Gardner AO: "Researchers help transform the lives of individuals and communities in positive ways."