This science funding program attracts internationally prominent researchers from interstate or overseas to Western Australia.
Fellows build and lead world-class research teams in the State and contribute to the development of the State’s science capability and capacity.
There are currently two Fellows undertaking Western Australian Fellowships:
- Professor Mark Jessell, a structural geophysicist, commenced his Fellowship in October 2013. He is advancing 3D modelling of Western Australia’s geology, enabling more efficient mineral exploration. Professor Jessell relocated from France to take up a position at The University of Western Australia’s Centre for Exploration Targeting.
- Professor Carole Jackson, an astronomer, commenced her Fellowship in August 2013. She is leading a team generating research output from the Murchison Widefield Array, a Square Kilometre Array precursor project. Professor Jackson relocated from New South Wales to take up a position in the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR).
The Fellows supported under the Western Australian Fellowships Program have delivered a range of economic, environmental and social benefits for the State. They have delivered significant scientific outcomes, built valuable research capacity (people and facilities) and attracted high levels of research funding.
In addition to the current Fellows, 10 Fellowships have been supported since the establishment of the Program in October 2003:
- Professor Andrew Whiteley - Soil Microbial Diversity
- Professor Shaun Collin - Sensory Systems of Vertebrates
- Professor Malcolm McCulloch - Coral Reefs
- Professor Steven Tingay - Radio Astronomy
- Professor Lister Staveley-Smith - Radio Astronomy
- Professor Peter Quinn - Radio Astronomy
- Professor Ian Small - Plant Molecular Biology
- Professor Klaus Regenaur-Lieb - Geology
- Professor John McKenzie - Microbiology
- Professor Julian Gale - Nanotechnology
Achievements of Recent Fellows
The three most recently concluded Fellowships were held by Professor Andrew Whiteley, Professor Shaun Collin and Professor Malcolm McCulloch, all of whom continue their research in Western Australia.
Professor Andrew Whiteley
Professor Whiteley is a microbial ecologist and soil scientist whose Fellowship investigated new approaches for environmental rehabilitation, underpinned by developing and utilising a detailed database and understanding of soil microbial diversity in WA.
Highlights of his Fellowship included:
- a baseline map (based on microbial DNA) of the diversity and distribution of microbes in soils across all of WA’s major habitats, which is being used to manage and promote healthy microbial communities relevant to rehabilitation of mine sites, agriculture and conservation; and
- MicroBlitz, the world’s first soil sampling citizen science project, which used members of the public of all ages to collect soil samples, and made a crucial contribution to the WA soil microbial map.
Professor Whiteley’s Fellowship commenced in November 2012 and formally concluded in 2017. His research and citizen science work is continuing through the School of Agriculture and Environment at The University of Western Australia.
For more information about Professor Whiteley’s research, visit the UWA MicroBlitz page.
Professor Shaun Collin
Professor Collin is a neurobiologist whose Fellowship investigated sensory systems of vertebrates (vision, smell, hearing and ability to detect electric fields). In particular, his research focused on the evolution of light detection and the impacts of light on biodiversity, sustainability and health.
Research highlights of his Fellowship included:
- the application of discoveries about shark senses to develop shark deterrents, including wetsuits and prototype devices utilising bubbles and sounds; and
- enhanced understanding of vision (and other senses) in aquatic and land animals, which will assist with protecting Western Australia’s rich biodiversity.
Professor Collin’s Fellowship commenced in December 2009 and formally concluded in 2014. However, his work is continuing through the Oceans Institute at The University of Western Australia, where he is currently the Acting Director.
For more information about Professor Collin’s research, visit the Neuroecology page on The University of Western Australia website.
Professor Malcolm McCulloch
Professor McCulloch is a geochemist whose Fellowship aimed to determine how rapidly increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and ocean acidity are affecting marine ecosystems and coastal environments, with particular emphasis on coral reefs.
Research highlights of his Fellowship included:
- the discovery that corals have an internal mechanism that provides them with additional resilience to cope with increasing ocean acidity (associated with climate change); and
- computer models for predicting the response of Ningaloo Reef (Coral Bay) to heat stress and changing ocean acidity, which will assist with reef management and protection.
During his Fellowship, he established a new node of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, which continues.
Professor McCulloch’s Fellowship commenced in 2009 and formally concluded in 2013.
The major research capacity seeded through his Fellowship has continued and is expanding under the prestigious ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship that he commenced in 2013.
For more information about Professor McCulloch’s research, visit the Centre for Coral Reef Studies and Coastal Marine Systems page on The University of Western Australia website.