Environmental Laboratory

Making Waves

Oct 04 2016 Read 1734 Times

Author: Rachael Simpson on behalf of CCSUS

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A new marine science centre launched in July is aiming to provide solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the world’s seas and society, from climate change, to energy and food security. The Collaborative Centre for Sustainable Use of the Seas (CCSUS) brings together more than 40 scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas).
They will combine leading-edge marine science with practical expertise and the latest technological know-how to ensure that our seas and oceans are used sustainably for the benefit of people in the UK and world-wide. Scientists based at Cefas, [Lowestoft], and UEA will collaborate with policy makers, advisers and industry to support UK and international marine policy in a range of areas including, marine fisheries, energy and conservation.

Rachael Simpson, Editor of IET, spoke to Centre Director, Professor Simon Jennings to find out more.

1. The CCSUS, Collaborative Centre for Sustainable use of the Seas, can you give me a bit of a background on this centre - history of how it came about and its aims?
Cefas1 (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science) and UEA2 (University of East Anglia) have had a longstanding and productive relationship. Many Cefas employees were trained at UEA and have held Honourary positions that enable them to contribute to teaching and research.
Back in 2008 we signed a strategic alliance together to formalise our relationship and appointed a joint lecturer between us to allow us to work even more closely. Through that process we learnt that the whole was really much greater than the sum of the parts – we started winning new income, increasing our publication rates, training more doctoral students, and increasing the impact of our science, and although we’ve invested in just one joint lecturer since 2008 we’ve bought in about £4 million in joint income and published around 190 joint research papers. But perhaps more importantly we drove new research on topics such as advanced monitoring and sensor technologies, impacts of climate change on fisheries and society, and the impacts of storm surges.
We were a natural partner for the School of Environmental Science (ENV) with which we signed the alliance. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework - the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions - ENV was identified as leading in the UK for Research Impact with 35% world leading and 53% internationally excellent research. ENV were also 3rd in the UK for the amount of world leading research achieved.
ENV were also engaging more and more with industry and other stakeholders because Martin Johnson, our current joint lecturer in marine science, had established Marine Knowledge Exchange Network MKEN, a rapidly growing network of cross?sector marine stakeholders which was seeking to increase capacity in stakeholder relevant marine and coastal research, to ensure marine and coastal research is delivering collaborative impact and application, and to realise the social, economic and environmental potential of our seas and oceans.  Some 29% of the 1100 people in the network are from industry and 49% from policy sectors.

ENV, UEA and the Norwich Research Park more widely have outstanding scientific track records and all want to demonstrate even greater impact from their research.
Cefas, a Government agency with a growing portfolio of international and commercial work in Food Security, Energy and other sectors, plays a direct role in marine management and policy support and wants to base their work on the best available research.
We could see that the development of a new centre would allow us to combine leading-edge marine science and technological know-how from UEA and the wider Norwich Research Park with practical and policy expertise to ensure that our seas and oceans are used sustainably for the benefit of people.
This is a win-win for the partners, because UEA grow the impact of their research and Cefas strengthen their own science-base by interacting with a wider spectrum of innovators.
The Centre will also create new opportunities for leverage with the Schools of International Development, Economics, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Maths, Computing Science and Pharmacy as well as the Sainsbury Laboratory, John Innes Institute and Institute of Food Research on the Norwich Research Park.

The purpose of CCSUS could be stated briefly as: Build a self-sustaining future for a centre of excellence providing innovative and effective solutions to support UK and international marine policy and further strengthen UEA’s reputation in environmental and biological science teaching, and provide industrial placement, research and other early-career opportunities.

 

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