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Early career researchers funded to tackle Covid challenges

Image: Australian Academy of Sciences

Grants aim to boost engagement on pandemic response between Australia and Asia-Pacific region

The Australian Academy of Science has awarded A$250,000 to early and mid-career researchers through its Regional Collaborations Programme Covid-19 Digital Grants scheme.

The 26 funded projects, which should “increase connectivity and engagement between Australian and Asia-Pacific economies in response to the Covid-19 pandemic”, include research at Federation University into artificial intelligence-based alarm systems to monitor Covid-19 patients, research into remote support for lung rehabilitation at Monash University, and a comparison of virtual healthcare in Australia and Pakistan at Swinburne University of Technology.

Jin Han (pictured), an early career researcher at the Black Dog Institute for mental health research, received an A$8,940 grant to develop an online mental health course for international students suffering from stress due to the pandemic. “International students are more prone to social isolation with less access to public resources due to potential financial, informational, language or cultural barriers,” she said.  

Other Covid-19 Digital Grants will support projects on health in Timor-Leste, clinical trials and self-destroying plastics for personal protective equipment.

The grants were administered by the Australian Academy of Science with funding from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

In a separate move affecting early to mid-career researchers, the Australian Department of Health will hold a “roundtable” discussion to investigate factors affecting health researchers. The roundtable will include the Health Services Research Association of Australia and New Zealand, which is surveying its members for feedback.

Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to 14 other grants awarded by the academy under a programme of the same name in April 2019. Those grants were not connected to the Covid-19 Digital Grants.