QCIF’s Dr Nick wins largest ARC grant in QLD

A QCIF eResearch Analyst’s research project was the highest funded in Queensland in the November round of Australian Research Council grant announcements.

Dr Nick Hamilton, an eResearch Analyst with QCIF and UQ’s Research Computing Centre, and Institute Bio-Mathematician at UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), is the lead Chief Investigator of an ARC Discovery Project grant that received $652,020 in funding.

The IMB project aims to address a roadblock in cell imaging and analysis by creating new mathematical and machine learning techniques for large data sets.

Outcomes will include a suite of computational tools that can be applied across bioscience to fully reveal and quantify information contained within microscopic imaging.

Dr Nick, a mathematician and bio-imaging specialist with expertise in mathematical modelling and machine learning, said the project aims to contribute to a better understanding of the human immune system by maximising the benefits of the powerful Lattice Light Sheet Microscope (LLSM), newly installed at IMB. 

“With the LLSM we have the ability to observe the fine-grained operations of the human immune system in cells called macrophages in unprecedented detail in real time in three dimensions. Already, we have observed new structures called ‘tent-pole ruffles’ that form dynamically on the surface of cells in response to pathogen invasion,” said Dr Nick.

“However, with up to seven terabytes of image data being generated daily by the LLSM, we need to develop new automated machine learning approaches to find and quantify the tens of thousands of events that are occurring in our data sets,” he said.

The project will leverage the power of the RCC-developed Metropolitan Data Caching Infrastructure (MeDiCI), an award-winning high-performance data storage fabric, to store the tera-scale data sets generated. It will also use UQ’s new Wiener supercomputer, currently being installed at the Queensland Brain Institute, to crunch the data and extract the valuable information contained within.

Queensland received more than $56 million in funding from the November round of ARC grants, — the third most rewarded state behind NSW and Victoria. More than $332 million was awarded nationally.

QCIF congratulates Nick and the IMB team, including fellow investigators Prof. Jenny Stow and Dr Adam Wall, on their successful ARC grant bid. We look forward to seeing the results.

Dr Nick Hamilton (middle) celebrating receiving an ARC grant with his fellow project investigators Prof. Jenny Stow and Dr Adam Wall of IMB. (Photo: Darren Brown, IMB)