Twelve Australian researchers awarded ‘Unnati’ grants to work on projects in India

The list of projects includes a digital map designed for women’s safety, research tackling fluoride pollution in groundwater, and a test to support gut health.

The prestigious Australia India ‘Unnati’ Research Collaboration Grants have been awarded to 12 Australian researchers for a range of projects.

The list of projects includes a digital map designed for women’s safety, research tackling fluoride pollution in groundwater, and a test to support gut health.

The Unnati Grants, administered by the Australia India Institute and funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, are anchored on the principle of the Hindi word ‘unnati’, striving to advance the impact and outcomes of research collaborations.

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Twelve Australian researchers across nine universities have been awarded grants of up to $30,000. They will be supported by Indian partners from more than 20 higher education institutions, research centres, and industry.

Image: CEO of the Australia India Institute, The Hon Lisa Singh (Source: Twitter)

CEO of the Australia India Institute, The Hon Lisa Singh said in a statement that the selection process was highly competitive, with more than 180 applications via the Australian Researcher Cooperation Hub-India.

Ms Singh said:

“The Selection Panels were impressed by the high quality and diversity of the research proposals received, demonstrating the immense interest and enthusiasm for fostering research collaboration between Australia and India.”

She added:

“We are delighted to support these outstanding researchers and their innovative projects through the Unnati Grants. The selected projects have the potential to make significant contributions to their respective fields, advancing knowledge globally and strengthening bilateral research links.”

The grants have been awarded across four priority areas of mutual importance between Australia and India: food and water security, the future of healthcare, environmental change and energy frontiers, and digital humanities and intelligent futures.

The funding will be used to progress existing research collaborations and support new partnerships across a range of impactful topics, including:

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Food and water security 

Making village groundwater visible: Outscaling MARVI
Australian Principal Investigator: Dr Dharma Hagare, Western Sydney University  
Indian Co-Investigators: Dr Parmeshwar Udmale, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay; A/Prof. Shive Rai, Banaras Hindu University; Prof. Jayantilal Patel, Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology

Innovative solutions for safe drinking water in rural India
Australian Principal Investigator: A/Prof. Meenakshi Arora, University of Melbourne
Indian Co-Investigator: Dr Manoj Tiwari, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur

Climate Adaptation, Food and Water Security in the Indian Sundarbans Project
Australian Principal Investigator: Dr Annabel Dulhunty, Australian National University
Indian Co-Investigators: Dr Jenia Mukherjee, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur; Ms Sukanya Banerjee, Rabindra Bharati University

Research and innovation partnerships are instrumental in education’s role as the flagship sector of the Australia-India relationship.

Future of Healthcare 

Developing biomarkers for leaky gut
Australian Principal Investigator: Dr Purnima Bhat, Australian National University
Indian Co-Investigators: Dr Rupjyoti Talukdar and Dr Nageshwar Reddy, Asian Institute of Gastroenterology 

Building clinical trial capacity in India through the RESPOND Trial
Australian Principal Investigator: Associate Professor Kristen Gibbons, The University of Queensland
Indian Co-Investigators: Professor Vivekanand Jha, The George Institute for Global Health India; Professor Jayashree Muralidharan, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research

Developing an enhanced model of care for survivors of exploitation
Australian Principal Investigator: Emma George, University of Adelaide
Indian Co-Investigators: Professor GVS Murthy, Indian Institute of Public Health; Dr Beryl D’Souza, Good Shepherd Hospital 

Environmental Change and Energy Frontiers

Heat stress in vulnerable populations
Australian Principal Investigator: Professor Petra Tschakert, Curtin University Indian Co-Investigators: Dr Anshu Ogra and Professor Upasna Sharma, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi

Clean energy for healthy environments and lives in India
Australian Principal Investigator: Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis, Australian National University
Indian Co-Investigators: Professor Shiva Nagendra and Professor Krishna Vasudevan, Indian Institute of Technology Madras; Mr Raghuraman Chandrasekaran, E-Hands-Energy

Phase change energy storage technology for temperature and fire control of batteries and electronics
Australian Principal Investigator: Professor Frank Bruno, University of South Australia
Indian Co-Investigators: Dharam Buddhi, Uttaranchal University, Dehradun; Professor Richa Kothari, Central Jammu University; Mr Chanderashekhar Dhangar, Adiabatic Technologies Pty Ltd 

Digital Humanities and Intelligent Futures

Improving women’s safety using digital technologies 
Australian Principal Investigator: Dr Jinwoo (Brian) Lee, University of New South Wales 
Indian Co-Investigators: A/Prof. Sundeep Kumar and Dr Anoop Shukla, Manipal Academy of Higher Education 

Digital Shillong: Mapping, visualising, and interpreting urban historical data
Australian Principal Investigator: Professor Andrew May, University of Melbourne
Indian Co-Investigators: Professor Desmond L. Kharmawphlang, North-Eastern Hill University; Dr Madeline Tham, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Meghalaya Chapter); Mr Nathaniel Majaw, Northeast India Audio-Visual Archive, St Anthony’s College

Strengthening Australia-India cybersecurity partnership for digital innovation
Australian Principal Investigator: Dr. Kamaljeet Sandhu, University of New England
Indian Co-Investigators: Professor Amlan Chakrabarti, University of Calcutta; Dr. Rajesh Many, Mahatma Gandhi University

Further, Ms Singh observed:

“We look forward to witnessing the progress of the Unnati Grant projects and the long-lasting impact they will leave on the research landscape of both countries. Through collaboration, we can harness the expertise and resources of both nations to achieve greater progress in key areas of priority, leading to lasting social and economic outcomes for Australia, India and the planet.”

Grant activities under ‘Unnati’ will be completed by 8 December 2023.