News and Events
Agricultural land grabs: What are their impacts Australia and globally?
April 21 2016
Agricultural land grabs: What are their impacts Australia and globally?
When: Monday 23 May 6.00 - 7.30PM
Where: Lecture Theater 104, New Law School Building, Eastern Avenue, University of Sydney
Since the global food crisis of 2007, agricultural land has become an attractive asset for large private corporations and state-owned entities wanting to secure food supplies. These investments have had varying effects. At times, they have been associated with forced removals of pre-existing landholders with weak tenure rights. On other occasions they have driven up local property prices and altered production priorities towards export markets. Either way, they have been implicated in creating a more vertically integrated food system aligned to global markets. This panel will discuss these issues from international and Australian perspectives.
Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Lawrence, University of Queensland
Dr Sarah Sippel, Senior Researcher, Centre for Area Studies, University of Leipzig, Germany
Professor Bill Pritchard, Geography discipline, School of Geosciences, University of Sydney
Learn more about this event.
March 22 2016
The University of Sydney has cemented its position as a global leader in research and educational excellence in the 2016 QS World University Rankings by Subject.
Thirty-two of our subjects were ranked in the top 50 globally, of which nine were ranked in the top 20.
Veterinary Science was ranked ninth in the world and number one in Australia, while three other subjects also shared the number one national ranking – Architecture/Built Environment (17th globally), Medicine (17th), and Nursing (13th).
The prestigious rankings are regarded as the most comprehensive global comparison of universities at individual subject level.
The results highlighted the University’s strengths in subjects across all the disciplines ranked, including Law (11), Education (16), Accounting and Finance (18), Geography (22), English Language and Literature (20) and Engineering - Civil and Structural (20). For the first time, Philosophy entered the top 50 globally with a rank of 37 worldwide.
Across the board, the University was ranked among the world’s elite institutions, with 41 of the 42 subjects assessed achieving a rating in the top 100 globally.
To compile the rankings, QS evaluated 4,226 universities, qualified 2,691 universities and ranked 945 institutions in total. The process included analysing more than 113 million citations, and verifying the provision of more than 15,530 programs.
View rankings by subject.
School of Geosciences research team in landmark household survey of rural Myanmar
February 24 2016
This week, 29 field assistants began a landmark survey into the food security and livelihood circumstances of people in rural Myanmar. This research is being funded through the Australian Research Council project ‘Nutrition insecurity and livelihood decision-making in rural Myanmar’ which Professor Bill Pritchard, of the School of Geosciences, is a chief investigator. The research is the first of its kind since Myanmar has taken steps to open up to the outside world. Professor Pritchard is joined by two other Australian-based chief investigators in this multi-disciplinary project – Professor Michael Dibley from the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, and Professor Anu Rammohan from the School of Economics at the University of Western Australia. The project also involves partnerships with two universities in Myanmar. Mark Vicol, a recent PhD graduate from the School of Geosciences, is employed as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the project and is currently in rural Myanmar supervising data collection. Over the next two months, a total of 3,600 households will be surveyed in 120 different villages across the country. Data is being recorded on tablet computers and uploaded in real-time via Myanmar’s new 3G network, allowing project members in Sydney to monitor results as they are being collected. Preliminary results will be reviewed at a meeting with Government of Myanmar representatives in late May, and will be submitted for publication afterwards.
Maps that tell a story – the great seaweed pile up continues!
February 23 2016
Professor Elaine Baker and Grid-Arendal's Levi Westerveld have produced a story map on a seaweed known as sargassum, that is smothering the golden beaches of the Caribbean and also turning up on the other side of the Atlantic on the African coast. The first large scale seaweed pile up was observed in 2011 and has continued, with last year a bumper seaweed year. The thick layers of seaweed covering the beaches affect tourism in the Caribbean and coastal fishing in West Africa, – they rot, consuming oxygen and killing fish and other organisms. Its not known exactly what has caused this seaweed explosion, but it seems to be related to increased nutrients and changes in ocean circulation patterns and sea surface temperatures, as a result of climate change. Elaine is working with colleagues at the University of Sierra Leone to further understand the problem.
Find out more.
GRID-Arendal, a centre collaborating with the United Nations Environment Programme, launched its Story Map Gallery in 2015 to communicate environmental issues through a story and map format.
DVCR Compact ‘Strategic Research Initiative’ Scheme success!
February 3 2016
Congratulations to Associate Professor Dale Dominey-Howes, whose application for the Faculty of Science - DVCR Compact ‘Strategic Research Initiative’ Scheme was successful (one of only three funded grants). The project is entitled ‘Investigating stakeholder attitudes to antimicrobial resistance – new insights to underpin a ‘One Health’ policy approach in Australia’.
Congratulations to all the successful applicants to the Faculty of Science–DVCR Compact ‘Strategic Research Initiative’ and ‘Seedfunding’ Schemes for 2016 Successful proposals under the Strategic Research Initiative Scheme are titled ‘Network of Minds’ led by A/Prof Jean Yang (School of Mathematics and Statistics), ‘Implementation of a fragment-based drug discovery program at The University of Sydney’ (Prof Joel Mackay; SOLES) and ‘Investigating stakeholder attitudes to antimicrobial resistance – new insights to underpin a ‘One Health’ policy approach in Australia’ (A/Prof Dale Dominey-Howes; School of Geosciences).
Student scholarships to Asia take off
February 3 2016
Hannah John, a School of Geosciences Geography Honours student from 2015 as featured in The Sydney Morning Herald - well done Hannah!
The article provides an overview of the New Colombo Plan student mobility schemes available to young Australian students, and also sheds light on our School’s tradition and strength in field-based learning in the Asia-Pacific region. Read about it.
UAC Offers - Congratulations future University of Sydney students
January 20 2016
Congratulations on being offered a place to study at the University of Sydney. This is a wonderful achievement. You now face the exciting challenge of choosing units of study. Many students know to enroll in GEOS1001 Earth, Environment and Society because it is a gateway into the world of geography, geology, geophysics, environmental studies, marine science and coastal research. Other students are not sure what they want to do, and choose GEOS1001 Earth, Environment and Society because it leaves open possibilities for moving into these areas in the future. Some students choose GEOS1001 Earth, Environment and Society because it complements their other units of study in biology, economics, sociology, business, anthropology, history, and so on. Finally, students from various degree programs are simply looking for an elective that is different to their core units of study and is both interesting and of contemporary relevance. GEOS1001 Earth, Environment and Society is all of the above. For further information on this exciting first year unit of study, and other first year units in the School of Geosciences.
Head, School of Geosciences
2016 Wingara Mura - Bunga Barrabugu Summer Program
January 14 2016
This week's highlight! The School of Geosciences have been involved in the 2016 Wingara Mura - Bunga Barrabugu Summer Program (WMBB), an indigenous summer program that aims to provide students with a hands-on, experiential opportunity to live on campus and experience university life,and confidence to continue their journey into higher education and create a motivational atmosphere to help students make informed decisions about their futures.
A big thank you to Geosciences staff and postgraduates Nikki Montenegro, Billy Tusker and Stephanie Duce for running our successful hands-on workshops and presentations for the WMBB students this week! Our year 9 & 10 students learned about crowdmapping for bushfire preparation and how to harness the power of mapping, the internet, and everyday people for managing disasters. The students completed a mapping activity where they used computers and tablets to create their own maps, creating points to identify potential hazards, landmarks, safe evacuation areas and community assets.
The year 11 & 12 groups participated in a mapping the 'green' city activity where they learned about green space, its importance and how to use GIS technologies to create maps. For this hands-on, interactive activity, the Geosciences team guided the students around the University of Sydney campus where they were able to use their own smartphones and tablets to determine which areas of the university where 'green space'. The students mapped a total green space area of 309,000m² !
On behalf of the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney, thank you to WE ARE A STAR magazine, the Compass Team, the student ambassadors and a big thank you to our WMBB students for your energy and enthusiasm! We had such an awesome time with you this week.
Check out what other activities the WMBB students got up to this week.
Scientists have used groundbreaking technology to figure out how the Earth looked a billion years ago
January 6 2016
Time machine: History and current advances in reconstructing the Earth through deep geological time – an article on Quartz by Steve LeVine
The article is a review of the development of ideas and technologies in reconstructing the Earth through deep time, aimed at understanding supercontinent assembly, breakup and dispersal, starting with Alfred Wegener. The article focusses on research activities in the context of the IGCP 648 project "Supercontinent cycles and global geodynamics” led by Zheng-Xiang Li. The piece provides some historical context, and highlights the work of a number of leading scientists, postdoctoral researchers and PhD students currently involved in this work. It starts with some of the early work of Chris Scotese’s Paleomap Project, who can be seen here explaining how plate reconstructions were made in 1993 using high-speed vector graphic computer workstations built by Evans and Sutherland. The experience with this early plate reconstruction technology when Dietmar Muller was a graduate student, first at the University of Texas at Austin, working with Scotese, and later at Scripps, led to the current GPlates software, which makes it possible to produce interactive plate tectonic reconstructions and animations on desktop and laptop computers. The review highlights the current collaborative effort to develop new approaches and "big data analysis" technologies to generate reconstructions of planet Earth that obey the "rules of tectonics and geodynamics", assimilate a variety of geological and geophysical data and cover several supercontinent cycles – this may be called a “plate tectonic time machine".
Read the full article on Quartz.
Congratulations on completing your HSC!
Congratulations to all the students who are receiving their HSC results. It is a big day, and a day that can mean doors open and close on various ideas for study and career. We understand the importance of this day, and the possible confusion that follows as students (and their parents) seek further information to negotiate the world of university course offerings, units of study and opportunities.
The School of Geosciences (geography, geology, geophysics, environmental studies and coastal & marine studies) will be present at the University of Sydney Information Day on 5th January, 2016. In the morning, we will be giving three half hour talks – one each on Environmental Studies, Marine Studies and on Geography, Geology & Geophysics. Once again, we will also be staffing a booth in the beautiful Great Hall to answer your questions.
2016 is a year of opportunity – a year to learn about climate change, about sustainability, about life on this planet ranging from tectonic shifts millions of years ago to contemporary events in cities around the world. The gateway to this exciting world of learning is GEOS1001 Earth, Environment and Society which introduces the big questions relating to the origins and current state of the planet: climate change, environment, landscape formation, and the growth of the human population.
If you want to understand the world, make a difference to the future of the planet and enjoy a professional career while doing so, then we look forward to meeting you.
Once again, congratulations on your HSC results.
Professor Phil McManus
Head of School of Geosciences
December 8 2015
One hundred percent of the University of Sydney's research has been rated at, above, or well above world standard in the 2015 Excellence in Research for Australia report.
The Australian Research Council has released its third Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) report, which provides a comprehensive assessment of the quality and breadth of university research. Results clearly demonstrate the breadth and depth of research excellence at the University of Sydney, with 100 percent of its research rated at, above, or well above world standard.
Outstanding results were achieved across the breadth of the University – including in the humanities, information and computer sciences, life sciences, mathematics, medical and health sciences, physical sciences and social sciences.
Congratulations to the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney for some excellent results in Geology and Geophysics for outstanding performace that is well above world standard, and to Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience and Human Geography areas for performing above world standard!
Read the full story.
Operations staff recognised at Shine! Awards
December 7 2015
Congratulations to colleagues from the Operations Portfolio who have been recognised in the inaugural Vice-Principal (Operations) Shine! Awards. A special congratulations to Ramana Karanam, Team Leader for the Cluster Finance & Business Services at the University of Sydney for being nominated by several colleagues for the Shine! Awards. Ramana works closely with the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney within the finance team and we would like to thank him for his hard work and dedication.
Watch the video.
Geoscience PhD candidate wins Chris Powell Medal
December 1 2015
Congratulations to Geosciences PhD candidate Nicky Wright who was awarded the Chris Powell Medal for Postgraduate Research in Tectonics and Structural Geology from the Geological Society of Australia SGTSG.
The medal is awarded at each regular field conference of the SGTSG for an outstanding research paper arising from postgraduate research on some aspect of structural geology or tectonics. In Nicky's case, this was a paper published in Geology earlier this year that received quite a bit of media attention Revision of Paleogene plate motions in the Pacific and implications for the Hawaiian-Emperor bend. Congratulations Nicky!
More information about the GSA Awards.
December 1 2015
University of Sydney ranks first in Australia and 14th worldwide for employability.
University of Sydney graduates have been rated the most sought-after in Australia in the first comprehensive global rankings into employability.
The University of Sydney topped the list of Australian universities in the inaugural QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2016, and was also rated in the top 15 globally with a rank of 14.
The rankings mapped more than 30,000 people to identify the educational background of the world's most employable people.
Read the full story.
November 27 2015
The world-famous Australian reef is providing an effective barrier against landslide-induced tsunamis.
A tsunami has been found to have occurred up to 20,000 years ago, which could have impacted Aborigines living on the then fringe reef. Now the Great Barrier Reef provides a barrier to potential wave energy from submarine landslide-induced tsunamis. Details of the findings were published this week in the international journal Marine Geology.
The world-famous Australian reef is providing an effective barrier against landslide-induced tsunamis, new research shows.
What has developed into the Great Barrier Reef was not always a barrier reef – it was once a fringing reef and did not offer the same protective quality. This is because the coast at this time was much closer to the source of the tsunamis, said lead author of the paper, Associate Professor Jody Webster, from the Geocoastal Research Group at the University of Sydney.
New Tools for the Blue Pacific
November 26 2015
The School of Geosciences is currently hosting technical and legal representatives from 12 Pacific Island States for the 14th working session of the Pacific Maritime Boundaries Project. The management of marine resources and the protection of the marine environment in the Pacific underpins the recently adopted UN sustainable development goals.
This significant project assists the Pacific island countries to secure the full entitlement to their marine jurisdiction under international law, through negotiating maritime boundary treaties, submitting claims to the UN for areas of extended continental shelf and reviewing and modernizing their maritime zones legislation.
A particular focus for the School of Geoscience at this workshop is supporting the development of geospatial information tools to support maritime governance. The University has been involved in supporting the establishment of the innovative spatial information system, PACGEO.
‘PACGEO has really taken off in the Pacific and is being used in ways we didn’t initially envisage. This year, it was a vital part of the post-Cyclone Pam disaster response in Vanuatu,’ said Mr Jens Kruger of the Geoscience for Development Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
The project is part of the Enhancing Pacific Ocean Governance programme funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs – a collaboration between the University, the Secretary of the Pacific Community (SPC), Geoscience Australia, GRID-Arendal, the Australian Attorney-Generals Department, CSIRO, the Australian Department of the Environment, the Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and the Commonwealth Secretariat.