Building interdisciplinary research into climate, energy and disasters

Photo: Romolo Tavani/Adobe Stock Seeds being planted, seedlings growing
22 November 2023

The Australian National University (ANU) Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions (ICEDS) has today announced funding to support exciting interdisciplinary research into a diverse range of climate change, energy transition and disaster risk challenges.

In the second ICEDS Seed Funding Grant round, over $160,000 will support ten ANU projects to conduct novel, additional research across the fields of energy, disaster-risk, and climate.

Climate change and its impacts are worsening, increasing the frequency of disasters, and stressing the urgency for rapid decarbonisation and climate adaptation. The ICEDS Seed Funding Grant is designed to foster the interdisciplinary research required to respond to these complex challenges.

Emily Macleod, a Chief Investigator for a project that aims to develop guidelines for a national child disaster workforce strategy, said that an interdisciplinary approach to the project was critical. “Bringing together researchers from the Centre for Mental Health Research (National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health), the Crawford School of Public Policy, the Fenner School of Environment and Society, and the Research School of Medicine and Psychology enables us to develop guidelines that are robust and policy ready,” she said.

This year’s funding round included a new Ideation grant category which awarded up to $10,000 to support earlier stages of research and development. The category helped Nicole Vargas put an idea that she has been developing since joining ANU last year into action. Her team will conduct a pilot study investigating molecular responses to heat stress in healthy populations with a goal of informing vulnerability to extreme events in at-risk populations with larger funding in the future.

For Rini Astuti, the Ideation category provides a unique opportunity for her project to explore creative ways to engage with the public and policymakers. Rini is the Chief Investigator on a project that will look at centering socio-environmental justice issues in critical minerals and energy transition research and policies. “If we want our research to have an impact, it is important to engage with the public. However, research funding is often limited to only cover the cost of conducting the research or can be inflexible. The introduction of a new category that can be customized to our research or project needs, such as this Ideation category, is exactly what we need,” said Rini.  

The ten projects are: 


Chief Investigator and Team 

After the smoke has cleared: the long-term effects of bushfire smoke on community health, wellbeing and perceptions in the ACT 

Rachael Rodney-Harris,

Alison Calear, Bruce Christensen, Sarah Clement, Aparna Lal, Jo Lane, Zoe Leviston, Emily Macleod, Sotiris Vardoulakis, Iain Walker

Centering socio-environmental justice issues in critical minerals and energy transition research and policies 

Rini Astuti, 

Sujatha Raman, Rebecca Pearse, Budy Resosudarmo, Ehsan Tavakoli-Nabavi, Arianto Patunro

Chasing storms with AI enhanced seismic and infra-sound sensor arrays 

Rhys Hawkins, 

Chengxin Jiang, Voon Hui Lai

Development of guidelines for a national child disaster workforce strategy 

Emily Macleod, 

ALison Calear, Tegan Cruwys, Rachael Rodney Harris, Stewart Sutherland, Sharon Bessel

Development of a MOF-plasmonic composite for direct CO2 capture and conversion 

Zelio Fusco, 

Huan Doan, Valeska Ting, Fiona Beck

Innovative carbon sequestration: concentrated sunlight and thermodiffusion for campus emissions balance 

Juan Felipe Torres,

Mahdiar Taheri, Milad Mohsenzadeh, Shuqi Xu, Joe Coventry, Sahar Hosseini, Fiona Beck, Mona Mahani

Innovative self-cleaning solar thermal desalination technology for low-cost freshwater generation in remote areas 

Milad Mohsenzadeh,

Juan Felipe Torres, Mahdiar Taheri, Mona Mahani, Shuqi Xu, Sahar Hosseini

Investigating molecular responses to heat stress to inform vulnerability to extreme heat events: a pilot study 

Nicole Vargas, 

Riccardo Natioli, Sotiris Vardoulakis, Ulrike Schumann, Riemke Aggio-Bruce, Adrian Cioanca, Michael Tong

Leveraging advanced battery technologies for enhanced power grid control 

Yijun Chen, 

Elizabeth Ratnam, Ian Petersen, Nanduni Nimalsiri, Zeinab Salehi, Gayan Kulappu Thanrige

Synthetic experts: using large language models in climate, energy, and disaster domains 

Ehsan Nabavi, 

Mona Mahani, Saman Razavi, Mahdiar Taheri