Coral reefs, protein folding and climate change: Research conferences win funding

March 19, 2024

The Australian Academy of Science is proud to support scientific research through sponsorship of research conferences that focus on rapidly developing fields of research.

The Academy is pleased to announce funding towards four conferences to be held across 2024 and 2025.

Elizabeth and Frederick White research conference: The role of atmospheric dynamics in climate

Untangling how atmospheric dynamics and climate change will influence future extreme weather in Australia will be the focus of a workshop for the Elizabeth and Frederick White research conference in 2024.

Atmospheric dynamics encompasses physical processes within atmospheres, including the motion of air and propagation of waves, providing insights for short-term weather forecasting and long-term climate change. It's the most important source of uncertainty when it comes to predicting future climate extremes, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The workshop will convene national experts and world-leading scientists, aiming to better understand the impact of atmospheric dynamics on weather extremes, particularly in Australia.

Funding for the Elizabeth and Frederick White research conferences is offered for research conferences in the physical and mathematical sciences related to the solid Earth, the terrestrial oceans, Earth's atmosphere, solar-terrestrial science, space sciences and astronomy.

Fenner conference on the environment: Australian drought under a changing climate

Improving understanding of future drought in Australia will be the aim of the Fenner conference on the environment for 2024.

Australia has faced severe droughts with big impacts for drinking water supplies, agricultural production and the wellbeing of communities. But planning for future droughts remains challenging, as predicting frequency and intensity remains uncertain.

Scientists and stakeholders from diverse disciplines will gather to break down barriers in drought research and advance science relevant to Australia’s needs.

Funding for Fenner conferences on the environment is offered for conferences that bring together those with relevant scientific, administrative and policy expertise to consider current environmental and conservation problems in Australia, with the aim of contributing to the formation of policies that can alleviate some of these problems.

Boden research conferences: Protein folding and model reef ecosystems

Two proposals received funding for Boden research conferences in the 2023 round.

The first focuses on coral reef ecosystems, which are under threat from climate change. Researchers spanning diverse fields will meet in early 2025 to discuss how to use big data to build and test a model reef ecosystem, with the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo Reef as test cases.

Big data models aim to allow researchers to understand reef behaviour and function under different conditions, including those emerging as oceans heat up.

The second conference focuses on protein folding—a foundational process where long protein chains fold up into specific shapes that facilitate different functions in living cells. Recent acceleration in machine learning has shown huge potential for predicting protein folding.

Researchers will gather in 2024 to discuss this new horizon for protein folding research, with implications for discovering new drugs, diagnosing diseases and creating synthetic biological systems.

Funding for the Boden research conferences supports small specialist conferences in the biological sciences to facilitate discussion of current advances and problems.

Applications now open 

The 2025 award round for all three research conference awards will are now open, closing on 1 June 2024.

Find out more about the Academy’s awards and opportunities 

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