Minerals, butterflies and war guilt to be studied from $1 million in grants funding

Recipients of Australian Research Council grants, Gerd Shcroder-Turk, Sandra Wilson and Fang Xia

Researchers at Murdoch University have received more than $1 million in grants from the Australian Research Council as part of its competitive Discovery Projects scheme.

The first of those grants will see Associate Professor Fang Xia lead a body of experimental work to better understand how porosity and permeability change in minerals when they are reacting with fluids under high temperature and pressure conditions.

“Mineral porosity and permeability provide fluid pathways that are critical to the formation of ore deposits within Earth’s crust, and better understanding them will not only guide mineral exploration to discover new deposits, but also provide a scientific basis to underpin the development of greener technologies for recovering natural resources,” Assoc. Prof. Xia explained.

“In the future, base and precious metals will be recovered without traditional energy intensive mining, transportation, and crushing and grinding a large amount of mined rocks.

“Instead, fluids will be injected into the Earth’s crust at one position, flow through the entire orebody, dissolve ore minerals along the way, and extract metal-containing fluids at another position. This means a much lower environmental impact. Our research will bring this greener technology closer to being realised.”

The grants will also fund Associate Professor Gerd Schroeder-Turk’s research into the formation process of biological nanostructures in several species of green butterflies. The research aims to use the tool box of physics and biology to decipher how nature produces these functional nanostructures.

“The green colour of these innocuous butterflies is caused by a beautiful and complex nanostructure, known as the gyroid. I am very excited to start work to understand better how these butterflies build these beautiful nanostructures,” Assoc. Prof. Schroeder-Turk said.

“Understanding nature's strategies for the formation of nanostructures is also a useful step towards effective and efficient engineering of our own nanomaterials. The class of nanostructure used by these butterflies have been proposed in the context of quite a few nanoscience applications, from optical materials to pharmaceutical applications.”

Research will also be undertaken to investigate how a sense of historical grievance is used in the contemporary world, both politically and ethically.  Professor Sandra Wilson, Murdoch University’s Academic Chair of History, will lead the research into perceptions of Japan’s continuing guilt for atrocities committed during the Second World War. 

“Responding appropriately to historical grievance has become a matter of acute political importance in many countries, including Australia,” Prof. Wilson explained.

“By examining the way previous atrocities have been dealt with, this project can inform Australian government policies on how best to devise effective and lasting reconciliation measures.”

Murdoch University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation, Professor David Morrison congratulated the recipients on receiving the funding and said it is pleasing that both new and more established staff have received recognition through the ARC process.

“Murdoch University, through its talented staff and students, has a tremendous reputation for its research,” Professor Morrison said.

“The research being undertaken through this grants program, not just by Murdoch researchers but across the nation, will deliver benefits for generations to come.”

Professor Schroder-Turk acknowledged all researchers who applied for an Australian Research Council grant.

“I am really happy the stars aligned for my application this year. But I am thinking of all those colleagues who did not get as lucky this time. Academia is a collegial endeavour,“ Professor Shroder-Turk said.

Discovery Project 2020 Research Collaborators:

Fluid-induced creation and decay of porosity and permeability in minerals

Associate Professor Fang Xia (Murdoch University); Professor Andrew Putnis (Curtin University); Professor Allan Pring (Flinders University); Professor Francois Renard (University of Oslo)

Meta-microscopy of insect tissue: How nature grows bicontinuous nanosolids

Associate Professor Gerd Schroeder-Turk (Murdoch University); Dr Bodo Wilts (Adolphe Merkle Institute); Associate Professor Peta Clode (University of Western Australia); Professor Nipam Patel (Marine Biology Lab MBL, University of Chicago)

The Politics of Guilt in Asia: the Afterlife of Japanese War Crimes

Professor Sandra Wilson (Murdoch University); Professor Robert Cribb (Australian National University)

Posted on:

6 Dec 2019

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