HIE secures two ARC DECRA Awards for 2021

Dr Eleonora Egidi and Dr Mingkai Jiang

Two of the Institute's early career researchers have received prestigious Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (ARC DECRA), to focus on priority areas of research for the benefit of Australia and its international communities.

The ARC DECRA scheme provides focused research support for early career researchers to foster excellence in foundational and applied research. The scheme also supports national and international research collaborations; builds scale and focus of research in Australian priority areas; and promotes enhanced opportunities for diverse career pathways for emerging researchers.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President (Research, Enterprise and International) Professor Deborah Sweeney congratulated the recipients on their outstanding achievements in critical research areas.

“These grants serve to strengthen the direction of research impact in priority areas for Australia and internationally and will continue to shape excellence in early career research at Western Sydney University,” said Professor Sweeney.

“I congratulate the researchers on these funding successes and look forward to the continuing evolution of research directions that benefit all of our communities.”

ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards

DECRAs are awarded to promising early career researchers (ECRs) who have been awarded a PhD within five years, or longer if combined with periods of significant career interruption. The award gives ECRs an opportunity for diverse career pathways in both teaching and research, and in research-only positions in high quality and supportive environments with a broadened aim to expand Australia’s knowledge base and research capability.

Congratulations to Dr Eleonora Egidi and Dr Mingkai Jiang on their ARC DECRA success:

Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

  • Dr Eleonora Egidi ($438,428), ‘Small but bold: harnessing microbes to boost drought tolerance in grasses’

    Drought threats grasslands worldwide, and new adaptation and resilience building approaches are required to protect the wealth of ecosystem services provided by grasslands. Soil microbes offer an untapped opportunity to enhance drought survival in grasses. Yet, to harness this potential, we first need
    to identify the key microbial functions that contribute to plant tolerance to drought. This project aims to determine the microbe-mediated ecological and functional mechanisms that underpin grass performance under drought. This knowledge will lay the foundation to accelerate the design and implementation
    of effective microbial manipulations and management strategies, and thus increase our success in protecting this important ecosystem.
  • Dr Mingkai Jiang ($335,528), ‘Assessing Eucalyptus forest responses to rising CO2 and climate change’

    Rising atmospheric CO2 and the associated changes in rainfall regimes are rapidly reshaping how Australia’s forest ecosystems function and underpin our daily life. Whether Australia’s native Eucalyptus trees can withstand the impacts of climate extremes such as drought and heat under rising CO2 is
    a crucial question that this project aims to resolve. Using an innovative framework that integrates novel knowledge, data assimilation and ecosystem modelling, this project will provide critically needed evidence to disentangle the multifaceted impacts of climate change to Eucalyptus trees. This will
    help reduce the predictive uncertainty in assessing the vulnerability and resilience of Eucalyptus forests in the changing Australian landscape.