Projects to help clean up space junk, develop the mathematical skills of disadvantaged students and support the repatriation of Indigenous human remains are among those to feature in the latest round of research funding to Canberra's universities.
The Australian National University has been awarded more than $43 million in Australian Research Council funding for 91 proposals. The University of Canberra received $1.5 million for two research projects.
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham announced on Tuesday the $416.6 million funding for close to 1000 projects nationally.
Associate Professor Celine d'Orgeville, from the ANU Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre at Mount Stromlo, won a $502,000 grant to help build a new laser system for the first Australian laser guide star.
The laser guide star system will be crucial for civil and defence telescopes such as the new Giant Magellan Telescope under construction in Chile, as well as systems to be used to track debris in space.
"The ground-based telescopes used to study the universe, image satellites or track space debris all require laser guide star adaptive optics to defeat the blurring caused by atmospheric turbulence," Associate Professor d'Orgeville said.
"The semiconductor guide star laser is a key component of these systems, and the AITC will now be in a position to provide a complete solution to the problem."
University of Canberra Centenary Professor Thomas Lowrie and Professor in Education Robyn Jorgensen received $541,000 to better understand the influence of spatial reasoning on school mathematics.
Spatial reasoning, which allows you to visualise three-dimensional objects in your mind and manipulate these images mentally, is a good skill to have when generating solutions in some fields such as architecture, design, science or engineering.
"For our most disadvantaged students, opportunities to develop such reasoning skills are limited - they are typically not taught in schools," Professor Jorgensen said.
"The consequences of low numeracy and spatial-reasoning are profound in terms of learning mathematics, learning in general and their adult life."
Dr Cressida Fforde from ANU's National Centre for Indigenous Studies received a $1.2 million grant to lead a collaborative project that aims to build a digital facility to support the repatriation of Indigenous human remains.
The new project would involve collaboration with Professor Daryle Rigney from Flinders University, as well as key indigenous researchers, and organisations across Australia and in the United States, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Germany.
A full list of successful projects is available on the ARC website.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.