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Fellowships to help University researchers soar

The 2019 Sydney Research Accelerator (SOAR) Fellowships, worth up to A$ 500,000 in total collective funding, have been awarded to five academics of the University of Sydney Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.

According to a recent report, the SOAR Fellowship is a key research scheme within the University’s overarching 2016-20 Strategic Plan.

It supports outstanding early- and mid-career researchers to take the next step in their careers.

A total of ten early-career researchers and ten mid-career researchers from across the University have been named 2019 SOAR Fellows, with five coming from the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.

They will each receive A$ 50,000 per annum to support their research, innovation and personal development as part of the two-year program.

Dr Omid Kavehei from the School of Electrical and Information Engineering and Dr Joseph Lizier from the School of Civil Engineering have are the early-career researchers named SOAR fellows for 2019.

Associate Professor Joachim Gudmundsson from the School of Information Technologies, and Associate Professor Ian Manchester and Dr Oscar Pizarro, both from the School of Aeronautical, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering are the mid-career researchers named SOAR fellows for 2019.

With the SOAR fellowship funding, Dr Kavehei plans to further develop a smart wearable neural-interface for long-term ambulatory detection and prediction of epileptic seizures.

This fellowship will help to address the question of how to make a reliable and chronic brain-signal monitoring system which could be used long-term and is non-invasive.

Dr Lizier plans to use the SOAR fellowship to deepen his expertise and impact of his work in computational neuroscience, and to lead projects with international collaborators by consolidating ties with the Max Planck Institute, for instance.

Associate Professor Gudmundsson’s research focuses on developing effective algorithms and data structures for geometric data, particularly to support movement analysis in the fields of ecology, animal-behaviour research, sports, defence, GIS and transport.

During his SOAR fellowship, Associate Professor Manchester will develop new models and algorithms that make machine learning of complex dynamical systems more robust, accurate, and secure.

This will enable the next generation of robot control systems that can learn from experience while guaranteeing safety, a critical element in many applications such as surgical robots that can learn from human surgeons.

Moreover, his research will also contribute to cybersecurity by helping protect automated systems against deliberate “false data” attacks designed to cause damage.

Dr Pizarro, through the SOAR fellowship, will establish and cultivate collaborative relationships with the University of Porto and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, among others, focused on using low-cost, scalable autonomous systems for seafloor characterisation and monitoring.

Having five academics from the Faculty named across the two funding categories is testament to the quality of research being undertaken.