UWS engineer named one of Australia's best and brightest 'Future Fellows'

Date: 11/09/2009

The University of Western Sydney has welcomed the Federal Government's appointment of Dr Zhong Tao as one of the nation's first Future Fellows, an initiative for promising mid-career researchers.

Dr Tao, who researches the construction of concrete filled steel columns, was previously a full time post doctoral research fellow with UWS, and will return to the School of Engineering, which has one of Australia's best laboratories for testing and monitoring of heavy infrastructure.

An initiative of the Australian Research Council (ARC), Dr Tao's prestigious Fellowship is worth $686,000 and is a four-year appointment. He joins 200 other Future Fellows who have been chosen as the best and brightest mid-career researchers across Australia.

Dr Tao's research will investigate how stainless steel columns filled with concrete operate at different temperatures and in different working environments.

UWS Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Cheetham says the University is pleased to be helping to reinvigorate the Australian research workforce by hosting this Future Fellowship position.

"Dr Tao's research will promote the better use of stainless steel in Australia's building, bridge and offshore infrastructure, thereby providing significant socio-economic benefits to Australia," Professor Cheetham says.

"Moreover, it will greatly increase Australia's infrastructure maintenance capability.

"The outcomes will be incorporated into design codes to be used by structural engineers, providing more economic and environmentally friendly building techniques, particularly for bridges and specialty structures."

Stainless steel columns, such as the flagpole on top of Australia's Parliament House building and the Dublin Spire in Ireland, are becoming increasingly popular due to their aesthetic appearance, fire resistant properties and low maintenance costs.

However the cost of building these stainless steel columns can be prohibitive, fuelling widespread interest in techniques to fill the columns with concrete.

Dr Tao's Future Fellowship will be carried out within the new Civionics Research Centre at UWS, which is directed by Professor Brian Uy, and will involve an international collaboration with Professor Lin-Hai Han at Tsinghua University, one of China's most selective institutions.

This collaboration is being supported through the UWS Eminent Research Visitor and the International Research Initiatives schemes.

Dr Tao career to date is highly impressive - he's been awarded five patents, and has been involved in over 100 publications.

He has supervised over 40 higher degree research students, and has been successful in attracting 16 major research grants since he received his PhD in 2001.

Dr Tao was previously a full-time postgraduate research fellow with the University, and will be returning to UWS to take up his Future Fellowship.

Announcing the Future Fellows, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, says the Federal Government established the ARC Future Fellowships scheme to address the gap in opportunities for mid-career researchers in Australia, which has forced many of Australia's talented researchers to search for work overseas.

"This first round of the ARC Future Fellowships scheme will see our best and brightest continue their world-class research at home, boosted by the four-year fellowship," Senator Carr says.



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Mark Smith
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