UOA7 – Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences
To counteract human activities that cause significant changes to the environment, endangering natural resources, we created, in the Abertay Centre for the Environment (ACE) a research environment with knowledge exchange partnerships to identify solutions and create major economic opportunities to contribute to a more sustainable society. ACE’s guiding philosophy links quality research to end users as is evidenced by our wide range of intellectual and industrial partners. The UoA7 submission includes 16 staff (14.45 FTE) from two research groupings within ACE: the Scottish Informatics Mathematics Biology and Statistics (SIMBIOS) Centre and the Urban Water Technology (UWTC) Centre. Over the assessment period we have grown strength in multi- and inter-disciplinary research and played an international leading role in developing: (i) a systems approach to inform sustainable exploitation of soils, (ii) technologies that provide innovative technical solutions for water and waste management; and (iii) a framework for assessment, visualisation and communication of sustainability technologies in order to address societal barriers to their uptake.
The future strategy aims to integrate research activities into a single University-wide leadership (RLINCS) to drive our discipline strengths and propose strategic research focused appointments; to support early career researchers; to fund proof-of-concept projects and staff training; and to contribute to the Graduate School to inculcate inter-disciplinary working. This will enable us to (i) grow our research esteem in industry-informed research and our research income stream from RCUK and EU councils, (ii) expand our portfolio of interactions with stakeholders and KE activities, align them with Scottish Government priorities and (iii) expand our ‘distinct method for sustainability assessment’ to national and international applications across disciplines.
Strategy to Impact
Our strategy is founded on an inter-disciplinary research environment that enables us to respond quickly to stakeholders’ needs, something which is especially important in environmental science where emerging problems commonly demand such a response. Our strategy is to build on our research culture where stakeholder and industry focused research is integrated and strengthened by fundamental research (e.g. our fundamental research in complex systems and interactive media). We are in this position due to our substantial investment in the development of this strong culture of interactions with stakeholders, through employment of 5 staff that were predominantly involved in KE activities.
Exemplar case studies:
Case study 1: Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems
Research and knowledge exchange in sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) has driven the design and integration of SUDS into urban environments, into urban planning and everyday practice in the UK, Europe and worldwide. Evidence gathered through this research has supported drainage policy nationally and now underpins important parts of urban infrastructure, improving environments and their resilience to flooding.
Case study 2: Sustainability Assessment and Visualisation Enhancement
This study brings together 2 strands of research in: (i) environmental sustainability and decision taking, and (ii) novel computer games technology for efficient 3D real time and interactive visualisation of complex model outcomes. This research and knowledge exchange both defined sustainability indicators which informed planning of the £1bln Dundee waterfront development, and changed practice in project design and construction processes. The application of our research has also changed how information is displayed to stakeholders, enabling stakeholders to make informed decisions.