Top honour awarded to three UNSW research pioneers

Three leading researchers have been awarded Australian Laureate Fellowships to tackle some of the world’s big issues, including ageing, clean energy and quantum computing.
Louise Caldicott | UNSW Newsroom

UNSW academics have been awarded 3 of the 17 prestigious 2019 Australian Laureate Fellowships from the Australian Research Council. 

Scientia Professor Kaarin Anstey, Director of the UNSW Ageing Futures Institute and Professor of Psychology at UNSW Science, will receive $3,232,000 to advance our understanding of cognitive ageing. She will evaluate the impact of technology, lifestyle and experience on cognitive resilience and function.  

“Population ageing is occurring globally,” said Professor Anstey, who is also a Senior Principal Research Scientist at NeuRA. “This is creating an urgent need for evidence to help people to age well and productively, and the results of this research will help facilitate this.” 

professor andrew dzurak

Scientia Professor Andrew Dzurak

Scientia Professor Andrew Dzurak, from UNSW Engineering, was awarded $2,895,366 to develop a new quantum computer processor. This will resolve issues to market the technology commercially. 

“Quantum computing is one of the great scientific challenges of this century. It has important applications in pharmaceutical design, finance and national security,” commented Professor Dzurak, who is also Program Leader for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology. 

The project aims to develop a quantum computer processor based on a new “silicon CMOS qubit” technology developed by Professor Dzurak and his team in 2014 and 2015. These qubits will use the same silicon metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) transistors in today’s microprocessor chips, so existing production plants can be used to fast-track development.

Professor Liming Dai, from UNSW Engineering, will use $3,508,332 to develop new approaches to carbon-based catalysis without using metals, which are expensive and scarce. Such advances in processing will create new applications for clean, renewable energy and environmental technologies. 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Nicholas Fisk congratulated UNSW's new Fellows. 

“Australian Laureate Fellowships are highly coveted in the research sector and are justifiably regarded as the pinnacle of achievement" Professor Fisk said. “Today’s news is testimony to the exemplary work being done at UNSW, and none are more deserving than these three research stars.

“Laureates provide researchers with the funding, support and time they need for outcomes-focused research to tackle the most pressing issues facing Australia, from population ageing to quantum computing.” 

Professors Anstey and Dai are among the early recruits to UNSW’s Strategic Hires and Retention Program (SHARP). SHARP hires support the University’s research performance not only through their own high-quality and much-cited research, but also in the collaborations and mentorships they initiate and their contribution to UNSW’s overall culture of research excellence. 

Minister for Education Dan Tehan announced the 2019 Australian Laureate Fellows today. The 17 fellows will share $53.8 million to lead research projects over five years across Australia. 

In a press release, Mr Tehan said: “The Australian Laureate Fellowships support outstanding researchers to lead significant research projects. 

“These fellowships foster leadership skills and provide excellent training and mentoring opportunities. The projects also have real-world applications that will deliver economic, environmental and social benefit to all Australians.” 

Read the full list of UNSW recipients at the ARC website.