Graduate Research Projects awarded in 2016

The following seven projects were funded in the first funding round of the Graduate Research Project Grants in 2016.

Representation of Tone and Rhythm in Asian and African Languages.

Outline: The project will investigate tone in Asian and African languages with a focus on answering two questions: 1 – Music has rhythm; stress languages have rhythm; simple tone languages have rhythm, how can rhythm be diagnosed and represented in languages having a more complex tone system? 2 - Given that Asian and African languages have different tonal representation traditions, is it possible to characterize the behaviour/patterns of both types of tonal systems using a single kind of formal representation?

U21 Members involved: HKU (1 doctoral candidate), UBC (2 doctoral candidates), OSU (1 doctoral candidate).

Skills/Developmental Activity: Sharing of expert knowledge alongside, development of healthy practices in terms of planning, communicating, executing and argument-resolving; invaluable training for international collaboration.

Proposed Outputs: Open seminars at collaborating laboratories, presentations at conferences such as: Laboratory Phonology, Annual Conference on African Linguistics, Generative Linguistics in the Old World or International Conference on Bantu Languages, plus publications in journals such as: Phonology, Journal of East Asian Linguistics.

Budgeted activities: Mobility, Research costs.


Solution-processed organic solar cells with novel interfacial and donor materials.

Outline: The project will look at ways to enhance the performance of Organic photovoltaic (OPV) devices, regarded by many as the future of solar energy, with a view to bringing these devices closer to the market. This collaboration, between synthetic chemists and physicists, will look at transferring materials and processing techniques used in other electrochemical applications to the development and analysis of enhanced OPV devices.

U21 Members involved: Auckland (1 doctoral candidate), Melbourne (1 doctoral candidate), Birmingham (1 doctoral candidate).

Skills/Developmental Activity: Training in multidisciplinary science and appreciation of commonality among approaches from different disciplines. Expansion of research skills and networking opportunities via on-line seminars and lab visits to develop professional skills.

Proposed Outputs: Development of new techniques and mechanisms for the fabrication of organic solar devices and peer-review publications covering novel materials and chemical characterization.

Budgeted activities: Mobility


Mobility, Migration and the Family: Establishing the U21 Asia Pacific Graduate Student Network on Family Migration.

Outline: The project will establish a network of doctoral students who are researching issues related to family-based migration in the Asia Pacific region. It aims to provide a platform for the sharing of knowledge between U21 students opening up possibilities for ongoing academic collaboration and skills development, along with the organisation of an international symposium, where doctoral students in the field of family migration can meet to share their research approaches and findings.

U21 Members involved: HKU (1 doctoral candidate), Queensland (1 doctoral candidate), NUS (1 doctoral candidate), Auckland (1 doctoral candidate).

Skills/Developmental Activity: Training session at the Symposium on best practices for working with interpreters, presentation skills, website design and management skills.

Proposed Outputs: A new U21 Asia Pacific Graduate Network on family-based migration with associated website and newsletter.

Budgeted activities: Symposium (including travel costs), Training.


A study of the microbiome on smartphone touchscreens in the households of psoriasis subjects.

Outline:  The project will leverage a large-scale household-based cohort in Hong Kong to conduct a study that will examine the microbiome exchange of psoriasis subjects in a family-based setting via smartphone touchscreens.  Results of the project will be used in the development of an innovative non-invasive tracking strategy to monitor personal microbiome and lead to improved disease prevention and management.

U21 Members involved: OSU (1 doctoral candidate), SJTU (2 doctoral candidates), HKU (2 doctoral candidates), Glasgow (1 doctoral candidate).

Skills/Developmental Activity: Working in a highly interdisciplinary team will allow the students to learn and develop knowledge and skills outside of their own discipline. The international nature of the project will also enhance transferable skills such as communication, analytical/problem solving, project management and presentation.

Proposed Outputs: Better understanding of transmission and interaction of microbiome among psoriasis patients and their family, leading to improved disease prevention and management. Findings will be published in peer-reviewed journals.

Budgeted activities: Research Costs.


Asia-Pacific Collaboration in Flow-Induced Noise and Vibration.

Outline: The project aims to develop a long-standing collaboration in flow-induced noise and vibration. This collaboration will share research ideas to develop new understanding and control of fan and rotor noise. By bringing together students investigating rotating, aerodynamic noise sources with those developing novel noise control techniques, the collaboration aims to produce exciting new quiet technology.

U21 Members involved: UNSW (2 doctoral candidates), SJTU (2 doctoral candidates), Auckland (2 doctoral candidates).

Skills/Developmental Activity: By establishing a network of peers, this project will develop collaboration skills such as cross-cultural exchange and communication, enhanced teamwork, and publication and presentation.

Proposed Outputs: Co-authored research publications and a database of results (experimental and computational data).

Budgeted activities: Mobility.


A comparative study of teacher’s works in the privatized educational contexts of England, Sweden and Chile.

Outline: This project will bring together a group of doctoral candidates whose current research relates to teacher’s works in privatised contexts to explore the extent of commonality, difference and tension between the various research designs and processes, culminating in a student-led Symposium at an international educational research conference. The doctoral researchers will use social media as a means of communication, both to other interested academic researchers and also to the public and non-academic stakeholders.

U21 Members involved: Nottingham (2 doctoral candidates), Lund (2 doctoral candidates), PUC (1 doctoral candidate).

Skills/Developmental Activity: Training in the use of podcasting and social media in a research context, collaborative research skills such as communication, knowledge sharing, cross-cultural working and writing and presenting conference papers.

Proposed Outputs: Project website/blog, doctoral symposium and co-authored peer-reviewed publication.

Budgeted activities: Social media Training, Mobility.


Does facial emotional communication between different cultures rely on conscious evaluation?

Outline: This project will study the cultural differences in perception of rapidly presented facial expressions. It is thought that basic facial emotional expressions, such as anger, fear, happiness and sadness, are universally recognised across different cultures – this project will use modern research methods in psychophysiology to test this theory.

U21 Members involved: Nottingham (1 doctoral candidate), Edinburgh (1 doctoral candidate), PUC (2 doctoral candidates), Auckland (1 doctoral candidate), NUS (1 doctoral candidate).

Skills/Developmental Activity: Research study design and analysis with multidisciplinary and anthropological dimensions – including training for all doctoral candidates in programming and physiological measurement. In addition transferable skills such as project/time management, communication, and cross-cultural working will be developed.

Proposed Outputs: Jointly authored peer-reviewed publications on cross-cultural face perception in a social research or social neuroscience journal.

Budgeted activities: Research costs, Conference attendance.