Resources and energy, climate change, urbanisation, population growth, conservation and sustainability will be areas of focus for a new University of Queensland school.
The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences came into being on 1 January and now combines UQ’s School of Earth Sciences and the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management.
Professor Jonathan Aitchison, who will head the new School, said it would be an interdisciplinary powerhouse of academic expertise, developing practical solutions to big issues.
“The school will give greater breadth and depth to the study of earth and environmental sciences, greatly benefitting students, strengthening research capacity, and will provide greater disciplinary coherence and opportunity,” said Professor Aitchison, the Head of UQ’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.
“It makes sense to bring earth and environmental sciences together in the University.
“The new school is a recognition of the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of geological and geographical sciences, environmental management, coastal processes, urban planning and safety science.”
Professor Aitchison said UQ had a strong international reputation for excellence in earth and environmental sciences.
It ranks number 1 in Australia in life sciences in the Times Higher Education Ranking and number 12 globally, number 32 internationally in geography, and is in the world’s top 100 Earth and Marine Sciences institutions in the 2016 QS rankings by subject.
“The combined staff of the new school are recognised as experts in their fields,” Professor Aitchison said.
“They conduct pure and applied research with strong links to our industry, government and university partners who have provided excellent support over many years.
“In addition, our people have a strong reputation for quality teaching of undergraduate and postgraduate students in all discipline areas across the new school.”
Professor Aitchison said integrated teams of earth scientists, physical and social scientists, environmental management specialists, health and safety experts, and urban planners would work together to generate new knowledge and opportunities for further discovery.
Current collaborative research projects and consulting pieces would continue as usual and new projects would begin as funding and support becomes available.
“By providing a new academic structure for these related disciplines we will provide opportunities to improve end-to-end delivery of services and research outcomes,” he said.
“This benefits industries, government, university partners, and communities, and continues availability of state-of-the-art facilities for industry and research project work.”
Professor Aitchison is a geologist and an expert in plate tectonics, palaeontology and geo-microbiology.