The NRN-LCEE has started!

Professor David Thomas has been appointed to lead the new National Research Network for Low Carbon, Energy and the Environment. The NRN-LCEE, jointly led by the Universities of Aberystwyth and Bangor under the auspices of their Strategic Alliance, is one of three National Research Networks funded by Welsh Government and HEFCW: one in each of the three Grand Challenge research areas identified in the 'Science for Wales' strategy: advanced engineering and materials; life sciences and health; low carbon, energy and environment.

Professor Thomas, who holds a Chair in Marine Biology at Bangor University, has an impressive academic profile with research interests spanning ocean and land-based sciences across a wide range of climatic conditions, including polar environments. He has just returned to the UK after holding a prestigious appointment in Finland and the University is delighted that he has been able to return to Wales and take this position. Professor Thomas said: “The Network will add focus to the Welsh research effort in water, food and energy resources - a crucial area identified by government chief scientists and the research community. The Network will focus on working at the interface between the environmental and biological science agendas to develop a new systems-based approach to natural resource management that is closely linked to societal needs and can feed directly into policy development and implementation.”

The NRN-LCEE aims to enhance research capacity of the highest quality, building excellence in the Universities in Wales and in key partner research organisations: NERC’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the British Geological Survey Wales, and the Met Office. The Network builds on the internationally excellent research already happening in these Institutions and the wider research community in Wales, and will deliver and build on that excellence to position Wales as a world-leader in its approach to natural resource management. The scientific outputs of the Network should also increase commercial opportunities for businesses in Wales and will provide critical information for policy makers and government at a local and national level.

Minister for Economy and Science, Edwina Hart, said: “I am pleased to see Professor David Thomas has been appointed to lead the Sêr Cymru Low Carbon, Energy and Environment National Research Network. He will help build on some of the excellent work going on in this field in Wales. This appointment and the start of this Network is another important step forward in our Sêr Cymru programme to develop science and innovation in Wales.”

Professor Julie Williams, the Chief Scientific Advisor for Wales said: “I am delighted that David has agreed to lead the Sêr Cymru Low Carbon, Energy and Environment National Research Network. The research undertaken by the Network will address some of the most pressing challenges facing society today and he is well suited to the role especially given his experience of running research teams and his wealth of experience and knowledge in a range of research areas spanning ocean and land based sciences, as well as climatic conditions.”

Recently, Dr. Serinde van Wijk has been appointed as project manager for the NRN-LCEE. “I am really looking forward to work as part of the NRN, and to contribute to creating and connecting all the various opportunities that it brings. There is such a wide range of research areas that falls under the remit of this Network. It is exciting to be able to facilitate new opportunities that will benefit the research community and that will create bridges across previously unaddressed research areas; developing novel, interdisciplinary approaches to science of high societal relevance.”

The NRN-LCEE will appoint teams of high calibre early career post-doctoral scientists and PhD students to develop new fundamental research and applied science projects with the specific aim of raising the profile of environmental science in Wales and increasing research funding from UK and EU sources. Watch this space for more information!

Publication date: 3 March 2014