Professor David McAlpine awarded Australian Laureate Fellowship; ARC Linkage Grants announced

6 May 2016

Professor David McAlpine, Macquarie University’s Director of Hearing Research at the Australian Hearing Hub, has been announced as a 2016 Australian Laureate Fellow by the Australian Research Council (ARC).

The Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme gives outstanding research leaders the opportunity to tackle some of the most urgent and complex research issues facing Australia and the world. Professor McAlpine will receive $2,468,738 towards research exploring how a sense of space is generated by the auditory brain.

“I’m interested in how the brain represents the ‘auditory scene’; the complex wash of sounds that arrives at our two ears, and from which we make sense of the world. Spatial hearing is necessary for locating the source of a sound, and critical for communication in noisy listening conditions,” said Professor McAlpine.

“The research spans neural modeling, methods for recording individual neurons in the brain, as well as brain-imaging and electrophysiology in normal and hearing-impaired listeners, including those who use cochlear implants. With the findings I hope to improve our understanding of how we naturally perform these remarkable feats, with potential applications in how we can restore the ability in individuals who have lost their hearing and rely on hearing devices to hear.”

Globally, 360 million people experience hearing loss and one in six Australians are currently affected by a hearing impairment, resulting in a wide range of adverse health, social, and financial impacts. By 2050, 1 in 4 Australian’s will have some form of hearing loss.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Sakkie Pretorius congratulated Professor McAlpine on the achievement, and said he was delighted to see this tradition of excellence continuing at Macquarie.

“Macquarie is one of a very small group of universities that have been awarded an ARC Laureate Fellowship each year for the last four years.  Each of our Laureate Fellows is a world-leading researcher and the research they conduct will have world-changing impact.  Professor McAlpine is an outstanding researcher who is making a difference to research at Macquarie University and a difference to the well-being of people with hearing impairments.

“As Director of Hearing Research at the Australian Hearing Hub, Professor McAlpine is in an excellent position to forge ahead in the hearing space, supported closely by the University’s numerous Departments and Centre of Excellence with expertise in audiology, linguistics, cognitive sciences and more, as well as with our neighbouring corporate partners.”

Professor McAlpine joined Macquarie University and the Australian Hearing Hub following a decade long stint as Professor of Auditory Neuroscience at University College London and Director of the UCL Ear Institute. The Australian Hearing Hub brings together some of the country’s leading hearing and healthcare organisations, researchers, educators, clinicians and innovators, with Macquarie, one of the country’s leading research universities, to collaborate on world-leading research projects.

Also announced by the ARC were the 2016 Linkage Grants. Macquarie was successful in receiving grants in the following areas: 

·       Dr Ian Jonsen and colleagues received funding for their project which aims to understand the effects of climate change on marine food webs, from plankton production to predation by iconic marine fauna, by integrating data on oceanographic conditions and fish distribution with the foraging patterns and breeding success of seabirds (Grant amount: $213,445).
·       Associate Professor Mark Carter and colleagues received funding for their project which aims to examine how schools decide about adjustments for students with disability (Grant amount: $191,000). 
·       Professor Mark Wiggins and colleagues received funding for their project which aims to address diagnostic error in advanced technology systems, by providing a mechanism to assess and improve individual diagnosticians’ performance (Grant amount: $362,000).
·       Associate Professor Nathan Hart and colleagues received funding for their project which aims to develop a new shark deterrent technology to protect surfers and paddlers (Grant amount: $300,000).
·       Professor Ewa Goldys and colleagues received funding for their project which aims to relieve chronic pain in animals and lay the foundations for future human therapies, using molecular assays, cell technologies and immune/hormonal pain generators (Grant amount: $340,000). 
·       Professor Michael Withford and colleagues received funding for their project which aims to develop a photonic sensor capability to measure chemical compounds that cause concrete corrosion in waste-water pipes (Grant amount: $576,000).
·       Associate Professor David Spence and colleagues received funding for their project which aims to create single mode lasers of ultrahigh spectral brightness (Grant amount: $358,000).

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