Heriot-Watt University has today reaffirmed its commitment to finding solutions to combat the climate emergency.
In a major new initiative, the University will help train the next generation of researchers and practitioners, responsible for sustainably managing the UK’s marine resources.
Over the next seven-years almost 50 interdisciplinary PhD students will be trained through the Centre for Doctoral Training on Sustainable Management of UK Marine Resources (SuMMeR CDT). Based at locations across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, they will focus on subjects ranging from marine and social sciences to law, health, education and economics.
Students emerging from this PhD programme will have an innate understanding and appreciation of the importance of seeing global challenges from a trans-disciplinary perspective.
Together they will cover existing and emerging topics of local, national and global importance, from enabling biodiversity gains and delivering Net Zero, to enhancing coastal protection and supporting coastal communities, and from pioneering marine technology to fostering a sustainable marine economy.
The Centre is being supported by £2.2million in funding from the Natural Environment Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation.
Professor Michel Kaiser, Chief Scientist at Heriot-Watt University and the SuMMeR CDT’s Deputy Director, added: “The strength of our partnership is our close collaboration with industry, Government and non-governmental partners. Students emerging from this PhD programme will have an innate understanding and appreciation of the importance of seeing global challenges from a trans-disciplinary perspective. They are the next generation of global problem solvers, we will prepare them to be societal champions of the future.
“Marine resources are critical to the Scottish economy, this Centre for Doctoral Training will focus on trans-disciplinary approaches and hence train individuals that can ‘think out of the box’. For that reason, we are delighted to have as our co-chair of the advisory committee to the SuMMeR CDT, Dr Cornilius Chickwama, a graduate of Heriot-Watt, who is the interim Deputy Director in the Office of the Chief Economic Advisory to the Scottish Government.”
The SuMMeR CDT is being coordinated by some of the UK’s foremost marine universities. Led by the University of Plymouth, its core hosting partners include Heriot-Watt, Bangor University, Exeter University, Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the Marine Biological Association.
They will in turn work with collaborative partners at the Zoological Society of London, UK Centre for Environment and Hydrology, and the universities of Portsmouth and the West of England.
The initiative is also being supported by more than 45 associate partners from research, industry, government and third sectors, giving students the opportunity to understand current marine resource management issues from multiple perspectives.
The first cohort of 16 students aligned to the SuMMeR CDT will start their courses in the autumn of 2022.
Melanie Austen, Professor of Ocean Society at the University of Plymouth and Director of the SuMMeR CDT, said: “As global populations continue to rise, a huge range of increasing demands are being placed on our coasts and seas. People are turning more to the ocean as a potential source of food and energy, and to support human health and wellbeing. However, there is a delicate balance to be struck so that we harness the power of the ocean without affecting its contribution to the health of societies and the planet as a whole. That can only be achieved by looking at the issues from all angles, and the students and collaborations involved in the SuMMeR CDT will play a crucial role in driving that approach forward.”