Home News Desk Future Fellowship research grants try to stem Australia’s brain drain

Future Fellowship research grants try to stem Australia’s brain drain


The Australian government in November handed out 200 fellowships to cutting-edge researchers who are at the midpoint of their careers. The goal is to attract and retain intellectual talent on the continent and encourage areas of study considered to be in the nation’s interest.

In other words, Canberra is trying its darnedest to plug the brain drain.

The Future Fellowships program is in the second of a five-year existence. By the time it wraps up in 2013, it will have handed out four-year fellowships of up to $141,000 to 1,000 Australian and international researchers. In addition, the Australian Research Council will give the researchers’ organizations up to $50,000 a year for infrastructure, equipment, travel and relocation costs.

What does this all mean? It means money for:

  • Ashish Sharma, who is simulating water climatology at University of New South Wales.  The work is designed to help water-resources planning in a changing climate.
  • Aidan Sims, who is at University of Wollongong working on operator algebra, which describes quantum physics and predicts how quantum systems will behave.
  • Zane Andrews of Monash University, who is looking into how appetite-suppressing brain cells maintain normal function and prevent the development of obesity.
  • Patricia Valery of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, who is building evidence and a database designed to improve the critical health of indigenous Australians.
  • William Shieh, who is at the University of Melbourne studying ultra-high-speed optical data transport for the Internet.

In a statement accompanying the latest awards, Innovation Minister Kim Carr said he created the Future Fellowships “to address the lack of Australian opportunities available for our talented mid-career researchers.”

“The government made sure the scheme would bring to our shores the best minds from around the globe, strengthening our research capacity and ensuring we have the skills we need as our academic workforce ages.”