UNSW's excellence in science, engineering and environmental sustainability has been recognised with the award of three prestigious Australian Laureate Fellowships - twenty per cent of the total awarded nationally.

Two of the fellowships will go to funding research into climate change and the third will focus on sustainable building systems. The recipients are Professor Matthew England, joint Director of the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre; Professor Chris Turney, a Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Exeter in the UK who will soon join UNSW, adding to the University's leading reputation for climate change research; and Professor Mark Bradford of UNSW's Faculty of Engineering.

The Australian Laureates Fellowship Scheme, administered by the Australian Research Council (ARC), is designed to attract and retain world-class researchers to key positions in Australia. Replacing the previous Federation Fellowships, the Laureates are Australia's most keenly sought fellowships, valued at up to $3.1m each over five years.

UNSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Les Field said the fellowships demonstrated the University's research leadership in the key areas of climate change adaptation and sustainable development.

"Our researchers are making advances in areas of vital importance to our future and furthering the outstanding record of Australian research in the international arena," Professor Field said.

"I also welcome Professor Turney to UNSW, where his knowledge and skill in climate science will add a new dimension to our world-class climate change research capabilities."

About UNSW's Laureates:

- Professor Matthew England, an ARC Federation Fellow, is an expert in the ocean's role in the global climate system, climate change and large-scale climate dynamics. His project aims to improve Australia's preparedness for climate change by better quantifying the risk that ocean warming will transform the continent's climate, rainfall, and sea levels, as well as the ocean's uptake of carbon and the global ocean circulation. This research will ultimately benefit sectors including agriculture, water management, fisheries and tourism.

- Professor Chris Turney researches past and future climates, how people respond to change, dating of natural archives, and recent human evolution and migration. He aims to use novel and innovative palaeodata and modelling approaches to quantify and understand the mechanisms and impacts of abrupt climate changes in the Australasian region and place these in a global context on sub-annual to decadal timescales. The outcomes of this project will enable an improved understanding of the mechanisms of both past and future abrupt climate change in Australia and globally.

- Professor Mark Bradford is a previous ARC Federation Fellow. His research interests in civil engineering include structures subjected to extreme actions; numerical methods; structural retrofit; design codes and dynamics and elasto-dynamic buckling. The aim of Professor Bradford's project will be to develop a "green" sustainable composite steel-concrete building frame system that reduces greenhouse gas emissions throughout the life-cycle of building construction, usage and deconstruction. The project will provide a solution to a major contemporary engineering challenge facing Australia.

The Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme provides $239 million over five years for up to 75 talented research leaders. The first cohort of 15 fellows was announced on 22 June 2009, with two of these inaugural fellowships going to UNSW academics - Professor George Williams of the Faculty of Law, and Professor Richard Bryant of the School of Psychology.

Media contact: UNSW Director of Communications, Judy Brookman | 02 9385 3249 | 0421 061 251 | j.brookman@unsw.edu.au