News and Events

Natural Hazards Research Group wins 2014 Resilient Australia Award!

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Sydney Coastal Councils Group and School of Geosciences, University of Sydney

25 November 2014

Dr Filippo Dall’Osso and Associate Professor Dale Dominey-Howes together with their research partners the Sydney Coastal Councils Group, were awarded the Federal 2014 Resilient Australia Award for their project “ Coastal Vulnerability to Multiple Inundation Sources”.

The award was presented to them by the Federal Minister for Justice, The Hon Michael Keenan MP at a special ceremony held at the National War Memorial in Canberra yesterday. They were awarded the national prize in the category of “Local Government” having been nominated by the NSW State Government having won the 2014 NSW Resilience Award in the same category in September this year. Congratulations for this achievement!

The Coastal Vulnerability to Multiple Inundation Sources project expands awareness and understanding of the vulnerability of coasts to different types of inundation and the impacts on buildings and infrastructure. It has enhanced community safety and preparedness by identifying vulnerability hotspots, evacuation corridors and refuges. It has also enabled recommendations to be formulated in relation to planning and development, coastal and emergency management and communication. It has empowered local and state government decision makers with adaption tools and resources for capacity building, policy development, the implementation of best practice and broader behavioural change.

Visit the Ministry for Police & Services website to see the other NSW winning entries.

Congratulations Geosciences Graduates!

31 October 2014

The School of Geosciences would like to congratulate Dr Ann Turner, Dr Tubtim Tubtim and Dr Sophia Maalsen on their recent graduation! Good luck on your future endeavours, we are all very proud of you!

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Left to Right: Dr Bob Fisher, Prof Phil Hirsch, Assoc Prof Bill Pritchard, Dr Ann Turner, Dr Tubtim Tubtim, Dr Sophia Maalsen, Assoc Prof Kurt Iveson and Prof John Connell

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Left to Right: Dr Ann Turner, Dr Tubtim Tubtim, Dr Sophia Maalsen and Assoc Prof Kurt Iveson

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Left to Right: Dr Tubtim Tubtim, Assoc Prof Kurt Iveson and Dr Sophia Maalsen

2014 Melbourne Cup can become 'the race that stops the whip'

30 October 2014

The thoroughbred racing industry is innovative, yet proud to maintain traditions – both at the track and in the breeding barn. This is not necessarily bad, but when should an activity involving the use of animals for human entertainment maintain tradition, and when should it change?

Read Phil McManus' article on The Sydney Morning Herald.

Phil McManus is a professor of urban and environmental geography at The School of Geosciences, University of Sydney.

Failure to Adapt! Lessons from the US experience of Hurricane Sandy

29 October 2014

Failure to Adapt

Date: Monday 17 November 2014
Time: 6:00 - 7:30pm
Location: History Room S223, The Quadrangle, University of Sydney


This is a special talk co-presented by The School of Geosciences, The Australian Coastal Society and Geosciences' GeoCoastal and Natural Hazards Research Groups.

Once again, the USA has experienced the impact of a significant coastal storm, Hurricane Sandy. And, once again we have responded in a manner that ignores the reality of long-term coastal vulnerability, ignores future climate change, creates environmental harm, and ignores the true costs of subsidizing coastal development. There were initially some serious post-Sandy discussions regarding the need to ensure that we simply don’t “just put everything back where it was.” Two years later, there have been few substantive moves to relocate property away from coastal hazards or to change the footprint of vulnerable coastal communities. In fact, the oft-heard outcry is “We will rebuild!” This is particularly true of coastal resort communities in New York and New Jersey. Some communities have initiated large-scale efforts to elevate (in situ) infrastructure and private property. But, for the most part, all coastal communities will be relying on various methods to continue protecting infrastructure in place. This will be done largely through the largest beach and dune building effort in US history. In New York, regulatory agencies seem to have given up trying to prevent property owners from using hard structures to defend their investment homes, leading to some of the largest structures ever built to protect a single home. All of this is made possible through the fact that we have no national plan for coastal management, adaptation, or storm recovery. Significant federal subsidies assume most of the risk for coastal investment creating a moral hazard for coastal property owners and communities. We are paying them to make the wrong choices, and they are lining up to do so.

Don't forget to register for the event.

Opportunity: Interdisciplinary field-school at Angkor, Cambodia

28 October 2014

An exciting opportunity exists for three Geoscience students to take part in a two-week, 6-credit point field school at the extraordinary World Heritage site of Angkor, in Cambodia.

The in-country program will take place 13-27 January 2015. During that time, students from Asian Studies, Archaeology, Geosciences and Architecture will be embedded as interdisciplinary teams within the University’s Greater Angkor Project - a multi-national research program that has been at the forefront of research at Angkor for more than one decade. Further details are available on the field school website.

Geosciences students with an interest in urbanism, geoarchaeology, climate change, and remote sensing can enrol in GEOS 3054, and will find this an invaluable experience.

The Sydney Southeast Asia Centre will grant $2000 to each successful application to assist with airfares, hotel accommodation etc.

Expressions of Interest must be provided using the online form. PLEASE BE QUICK. Demand will be high, and pre-departure language and cultural training begins in November.

For further information contact

Geography Asia-Pacific field school reunion 2014

18 October 2014

Since 1988, geographers at the University of Sydney have run 25 undergraduate and four postgraduate field schools to Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The programs have been between two and six weeks in duration and have taken students to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, southwestern China and Indonesia, as well as to Fiji, New Caledonia, Samoa and Vanuatu. They have been run in close liaison with local universities and students in each location. The field schools have been run by Philip Hirsch, Maurie Daly, Bill Pritchard, Chuck Greenberg, John Connell and Jeff Neilson.

On Saturday 18 October 2014 approximately 150 of the nearly 600 students who have been on these field schools gathered in the Maclaurin Hall at the University of Sydney for a grand reunion, together with Phil, Maurie (who retired in 1995), Bill, John and Jeff. Students from the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and more recent of the field schools reflected on ways in which the field school experience has stayed with them through life, work and further studies. A trivia quiz brought students together from across the years and destinations, with a bottle of Lao rice whiskey as first prize. Following the geographers’ example, University of Sydney field schools are now run in Southeast Asia by Agriculture, Law, Medicine and the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre. In 2015, geographers will run three field schools, to Laos, Indonesia and India.

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1988 and 1989 fieldschoolers

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1990 fieldschoolers with Prof Maurie Daly and Assoc Prof Bill Pritchard

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2010 Mekong fieldschoolers

Mapping the seafloor from space

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Professor Dietmar Müller - mapping the seafloor from space

5 October 2014

A new high-resolution marine gravity map that reveals tiny seafloor features has been created by an international scientific team using satellite radar measurements of the ocean surfaces.

University of Sydney geophysicist Professor Dietmar Müller is a member of the team whose research was published today in the international journal Science.

The team combined new radar altimeter measurements from satellites CryoSat-2 and Jason-1 with existing data to construct a new global marine gravity model. The result is a model two times more accurate than previous models.

Read the full article.

Hunger games: changing targets and the politics of global nutrition

26 September 2014

During the United Nations General Assembly meetings this week, Ban Ki-Moon has convened a high-level side event on the Zero Hunger Challenge. This initiative by the UN Secretary-General bears the tag line “Hunger can be eliminated in our lifetimes”.

The Zero Hunger Challenge works in much the same way as the Make Poverty History campaign. Even if unachievable, there is merit in setting out goals as core aspirations for the global community.

So, if the goal of “zero hunger” is unachievable, what level of progress should we aspire towards? And how can we measure this success, given our woeful history of defining and calculating global hunger?

Read the full article written by Bill Pritchard and Chetan Choithani.

Geosciences offering Intensive Field School to India

25 September 2014

We are pleased to announce an Intensive Field School to India will be held in February 2015. This Field School will be worth 6cp and is tailored to students in Geography, Political Economy and Development Studies.

The attached flyer has all the relevant details.

An information session will be held at 3pm Thursday 16 October 2014, Madsen Conference Room 449, Madsen Building.

For any queries, please contact Bill Pritchard at .

Congratulations Gabby McDonald!

17 September 2014

Honours student Gabby McDonald was one of 16 students world-wide to be awarded a Student Field Trip Travel Grant from the Society of Economic Geologists to participate in "Archean Base and Precious Metal Deposits, Southern Abitibi Greenstone Belt, Canada”. The field trip was lead by a team of Canadian experts and travelled from Timmins to Noranda and then Malartic visiting world famous mines. Gabby finished her own Honours fieldwork in the Yilgarn Craton just in time to get on the plane to Canada.

Sydney Geographers on the new Geographical Society Council

29 August 2014

Academic staff from the School of Geosciences have been elected to the 2014/2015 Geographical Society of New South Wales (GSNSW) Council. Professor Phil McManus succeeds Professor Gordon Waitt (Wollongong) as President of the GSNSW, and Dr. Josephine Gillespie was re-elected as a member of the Council. A number of graduates from the School of Geosciences are also members of the new Council. Please see the full list of Council positions and contacts.

For further information about the GSNSW and its exciting activities, geographical resources and membership offers, please visit the Society's homepage.

Earth hazard geosciences in the news!

23 August 2014

School of Geosciences member Associate Professor Dale Dominey-Howes appeared on day-time television on Tuesday 19th August to discuss the recent discovery of large methane sinkholes (blowholes) in Siberia. The discussion also explored the possible connection with global warming. Check out the interview on Channel 7’s “The Daily Edition”.

Major research grant success

23 August 2014

Dr Emma Calgaro and Associate Professor Dale Dominey-Howes from the Asia – Pacific Natural Hazards Research Group in the School of Geosciences have been successful in winning a major disaster resilience grant. Together with The Deaf Society of New South Wales, the New South State Emergency Service and the New South Wales Rural Fire Service they have been awarded a total of $237,406 for a project entitled “Sharing responsibility for natural disasters by enhancing the emergency preparedness of deaf people”.

The grant award is made under the Community Resilience Innovation Program, a component of the National Disaster Resilience Program and the funds are provided by the New South Wales Ministry for Police and Emergency Service.

This is a particularly exciting award as it represents the stage two implementation step of a previous project led by Dale funded from 2011 – 2013.

Dale explains, “the project builds upon our skills as Geographers to draw together the physical earth system hazards processes Australian communities experience with the social, cultural and behavioral contexts that define community resilience and vulnerability”.

For further information on this project, please contact Dale.

Congratulations Patrice!

15 August 2014

Congratulations to Associate Professor Patrice Rey who has been elected as a fellow of The Geological Society of America.

Society Fellowship is an honor bestowed on the best of our profession by election at the spring GSA Council meeting. GSA members are nominated by existing GSA Fellows in recognition of their distinguished contributions to the geosciences through such avenues as publications, applied research, teaching, administration of geological programs, contributing to the public awareness of geology, leadership of professional organizations, and taking on editorial, bibliographic, and library responsibilities.

Find out more.

New Colombo Plan Scholarships to Indonesia

30 July 2014

The School of Geosciences has successfully obtained government funding to support 6 undergraduate geographers to undertake a semester-long immersion program in geography at the University of Indonesia in 2015. To apply for these scholarships, each worth $5000, please contact or see the attachment for further details.

Applications close August 20, 2014.

Food@Sydney Seminar Series 2014

25 July 2014

This exciting initiative from the Food node of Sydney Environment Institute is presented in collaboration with the Charles Perkins Centre and Sydney Ideas. Leading academics, influencers and activists from Sydney and beyond will delve into the big food issues facing Australia and the world. From food waste to food sovereignty and from obesity to small agriculture - these talks will tackle critical food challenges.

For more information about times and venues, please visit the Sydney Environment Institute.

University of Sydney Geographers at the World Congress of Sociology in Yokohama, Japan

16 July 2014

Five members of the School of Geosciences presented at the World Congress of Sociology in Yokohama in Japan this week. Yayoi Fujita Lagerqvist, Bill Pritchard, Chetan Choithani and Mark Vicol all gave talks in a Special Session on Indigenous Knowledge, Local Livelihoods and Food Security, convened by Bill Pritchard. Leonardo Valenzuela presented a paper at a special session of the Sociology of Risk and Uncertainty.

More information on the official conference website.