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Partnership spawns new environmental degree

A new postgraduate research degree aimed at addressing some of society’s most pressing environmental problems is to be launched by the Universities of St Andrews and Dundee, the first concrete example of the new partnership between the two institutions.

The first students will take up their places on the one-year Master of Research conversion course in October 2001 following an award of over £400,000 from the Natural Environment Research Council. The award, initially for five years, will support seven students each year. The course is likely to grow beyond this number.

Director of the Gatty Marine Laboratory at the University of St Andrews Professor Ian Johnston said, “In today’s world, environmental biology is tomorrow’s major focus of study. The new degree meets an important national need to bring graduates trained in the mathematical, physical and molecular sciences into environmental biology where there are significant career opportunities. Mathematical modeling and genomics are driving many of the most important advances in our understanding of the environment and its living resources. Graduates with strong analytical skills will be ideally placed to tackle such issues in jobs ranging from environmental risk assessment to conservation biology. The new course is particularly timely given growing public concern over climate change and other long-term environmental trends. The power of the partnership between the two universities is that it accelerates the rate at which new problems can be addressed, whether through research or educating tomorrow’s workforce.”

Meanwhile, Chairman of the partnership group on biological sciences and Deputy Principal of the University of Dundee Professor David Boxer said, “This is a fine example of the complementarity on which this partnership is founded. Alone, neither university could cater for a wide-scope specialist degree of this nature but together we combine our expertise and resources to develop an excellent programme ranging right across the field of environmental biology from zoology and marine biology to plant sciences and microbiology, areas in which each university has established a specialist reputation for excellence.”

Places will be advertised early in the New Year. The students will study at both institutions, distributing their time according to the nature of their research projects. In Dundee, they will work within the division of Environmental and Applied Biology while, in St Andrews, they will be based in the Division of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology.

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS – The two universities formally announced the Promoting Partnership initiative in December 2000 after receiving a strategic change grant of over £300,000 from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council. The partnership will help the institutions expand both teaching and research in important emerging areas, experiment with innovation, build relationships with the private sector and significantly contribute to the social and economic well-being of Scotland. Further information can be obtained from Claire Grainger, Press and Public Relations Officer, University of St Andrews on telephone (01334) 462530 or mobile 07730 415 015; or Carol Pope, Press Officer, University of Dundee on telephone (01382) 345108.

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