Leading the charge: supporting electric vehicle research at UQ

1 December 2020

Trevor and Judith St Baker are true patrons of the ‘living giving’ movement, devoting their recent years to supporting the causes they care about most. 

Alongside almost ten years of generous support of medical research at UQ, the couple made a landmark commitment to sustainability in 2018 when they gave $1.5 million to establish the Tritium Fellow in E-Mobility at UQ – an endowed research position dedicated to advancing electric-mobility locally and abroad. 

For Mr St Baker, the independent fellowships were not only an opportunity to invest in technology to improve air quality and public health, but also to bolster employment in Australia’s emerging electric vehicle industry. 

“E-mobility research and innovation is developing exponentially, and research innovations often lead to increased employment opportunities in the industry,” Mr St Baker said.

“Brisbane company Tritium – a leader in fast charging technology – is a perfect example of how university innovation can lead to job creation: it has grown from an idea developed by three UQ students into a company that now employs 232 people in Australia.”

Tritium E-Mobility Fellow – Dr Jake Whitehead

The inaugural and current Tritium E-Mobility Fellow – Dr Jake Whitehead – says the fellowship has created a unique opportunity for the University to secure a position as a global leader in e-mobility technology and research. 

“The St Baker’s generous gift came at a critical juncture where the world is becoming more aware of the significant environmental, health and economic benefits e-mobility technologies can deliver,” Dr Whitehead said. 

“While e-mobility is growing exponentially overseas, we still have some catching up to do locally.

“With the enormous local talent we have in the Australian e-mobility industry, it is important we remain on the front foot, continue to innovate, and fully capitalise on the substantial benefits these technologies can deliver.

“As the Tritium E-Mobility Fellow, I’ve been working to drive research that will improve the uptake, performance and economics of e-mobility not only in Australia, but across the world.”

After 18 months in the role, Dr Whitehead has already made significant progress in his research, heading several key projects. 

He has received a competitive Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowship for research in consumer preferences and smart-charging infrastructure, and is currently leading two projects investigating the feasibility of Zero Emission Buses and Trucks in Queensland through the Transport Academic Partnership. 

Dr Whitehead will also soon launch a world-leading Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) trial with the aim of understanding how transport pricing bundles can influence travel behaviour, and in particular, encourage the use of e-mobility modes, such as electric bikes and scooters, for sustainable commuting.

Ultimately, Dr Whitehead hopes his research can help inform more strategic policy and incentives that will increase both the local and international uptake of electric vehicles, with better outcomes not only for our planet, but also for our health and our economy. 

During the campaign, gifts like the St Bakers’ made an incredible difference in fast-tracking the pioneering research we need to tackle the big environmental issues like air pollution and climate change. Every gift – no matter what size – has a part to play in creating the solutions. 

Because of you, the good doesn’t stop. 



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