University of Southern Queensland (USQ) researchers will receive more than $1.2 million from the Australian Research Council Award for cutting edge work in renewables, supersonics and astrophysics. Minister of Education Dan Tehan and Member for Groom Dr John McVeigh announced the ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA) providing a funding boost for the country’s promising research talent including USQ’s Dr Min Hong and Dr Fabian Zander.

Dr Xu Huang’s project, fantastic companions of giant planets and where to find them, will help change how humankind understands the Solar System – to search the stars for new exoplanets. “The uniqueness of the Solar System is an inspiring question that has driven the exoplanet field for decades,” Dr Huang said. “This project will establish Australian leadership in the transiting exoplanet field by providing thousands of planetary candidates from our survey to the national community.”

Dr Min Hong’s project is in developing high-performance FeTe-based thermoelectric materials.  The grant will go towards releasing the developing materials that could revolutionise the renewables industry. He is already working with national and international experts at Northwestern University, USA, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA, Kyushu University, Japan, and University of Queensland. “A new generation of these materials could diversify the development of eco-friendly energy conversion technologies to replace the non-renewable carbon-based fossil fuels,” Dr Hong said.

Dr Zander is taking supersonics in a new direction, developing an air breathing propulsion concept for engines that greatly exceed the speed of sound as “This work expands on Australia’s position as a world leader in air breathing hypersonics, and complements the current expansion of the national aerospace industry.”

The ARC DECRA funding follows the University’s success in the ARC Future Fellowships for mid-career researchers. .

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