School of Social Sciences

Our DECRA Success

DECRAs, or Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards, are the most prestigious nationally-funded research awards for early career academics. They fund recipients for three years to focus on a research project with national significance. Each year, only around 200 DECRAs are awarded across all areas of research and all universities in Australia.

The School of Social Sciences is proud to be host to six on-going and new DECRA Fellows, a remarkable success rate that demonstrates the strength of our research base. Our success is based both on cultivating our own researchers and providing them with the support and opportunity to excel and on attracting DECRA fellows to join our team.

UWA Social Sciences is a fantastic home for cutting edge research across the social sciences. If you are thinking about applying for a DECRA in 2018 and want to explore opportunities with UWA, Get in Touch.


Ky Gentry

The Presence of the Past: Historic places & community identity in Australia

Between the mid-1960s and 2010 the number of recognized historic sites and buildings in Australia grew from less than 200 to more than 100,000. This project examines this explosive growth of interest in, and efforts to protect, historic sites in Australia over this period. Focusing on the perceived social-political value of historic sites, it explores how historic places have been understood and valued by different sections of society, and how governments – local, state, and federal – have responded to this growing public interest and perceived value of heritage. Identifying how historic sites are used, it will further our understanding of how cultural values and identities are mediated, and how heritage landscapes and the historic fabric impinge on cultural well-being and belonging.


Kelly Gerard

Advancing Gender Equality Through Aid: Realising Women's Empowerment

This project evaluates the determinants of aid programming for women’s empowerment in Southeast Asia. Women’s empowerment has gained substantial visibility as a global development objective, however progress has been slow. This research offers the first study of the political economy of the design, implementation and evaluation of aid programs for women's empowerment across development institutions, companies and NGOs. Exploring these dynamics is key to understanding how these initiatives can generate more successful approaches to empowering women. The study will build on current practices to improve aid programming and place Australia at the forefront of donors’ efforts to advance gender equality.


Maïa Ponsonnet

Can the language we speak change the way we feel? Emotions, language and culture in Arnhem Land (Katherine region)

My DECRA project investigates expressivity and emotions in language, i.e. how people talk about emotions using words, metaphors, and 'expressive' resources such as interjections or melodic contours. I specialize in Australian Indigenous languages and the project will establish a typology of expressive features on the Australian continent and elsewhere. Cross-linguistic comparisons will shed light on the impact of linguistic diversity on the way people in the world construe, experience and manage emotions.


Celeste Rodriguez Louro

Aboriginal English in the global city: Minorities and language change

The project aims to document patterns of variation and change in metropolitan Aboriginal English. Since colonisation, Australian languages have contended with the encroachment of English and Aboriginal English has emerged as a powerful carrier of ethnic identity. The project offers the first quantitative study of how Aboriginal English storytelling functions cross-generationally, and whether global linguistic innovations are apparent. Exploring these dynamics is key to understanding language change in minority urban communities, and to refining educational programs to suit the needs of Indigenous children and youth. It will place Australia at the forefront of language variation and change studies of minority Indigenous urban varieties.



Glenn Savage

National schooling reform and the reshaping of Australian federalism

This project examines how national schooling reforms in curriculum, pedagogy and assessment are reshaping the role of Australian governments in education policy. It focusses on the impact of reforms on state education departments, which formally control schooling, but now face the challenge of producing effective policies in a volatile national context in which federal and national agencies are gaining power. Through policy analysis, interviews and case studies in four Australian states, the project aims to generate theoretical insights about the changing nature of Australian schooling and federalism, and create powerful opportunities for policy learning and knowledge production across the nation.


Ingrid Ward

Deep histories of human occupational continuity and change in the ancient coastal Pilbara, NW Australia

The 65,000 year archaeological record of human occupation in northwestern Australia is highly discontinuous. These gaps may reflect significant changes in occupation, site use and preservation, all of which vary in response to past changes in climate and environment. Disentangling these factors at the site-specific, local catchment and regional scales is crucial to understanding the complexity of human-landscape dynamics, and the pattern of archaeological preservation in Australia. Based in the ancient Pilbara region, this project uses high-resolution geoarchaeological and chronological methods to provide a more nuanced assessment of the processes that shaped the archaeological record along our arid margin and the human story behind it.