Climate change professor takes leading role

Professor Barry Brook

Professor Barry Brook
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Wednesday, 7 March 2007

The University of Adelaide is to play a leading role in climate change research, with the appointment of a new Professor of Climate Change and the establishment of the Research Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability.

Established with funding from the State Government and the University of Adelaide, the Research Institute will be headed by Professor Barry Brook, who has taken up the position of the Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change.

As part of his role at the University, Professor Brook will help to advise government, industry and the community on how to tackle climate change.

Professor Brook said the Research Institute would draw together expertise in climate change from across the University.

"A cross-disciplinary approach to climate change is extremely important, because climate change has the potential to affect many different aspects of our lives," Professor Brook said.

"Through the Research Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability, researchers will be able to form better synergies and focus research efforts in a strategic way to meet the needs of the State and the nation.

"The Institute will also serve as an important vehicle for public communication. Through the Institute, we will be able to inform the public about the science that's being undertaken into climate change and how it can benefit them," he said.

In announcing Professor Brook's appointment, which is funded by the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Premier Mike Rann said research was vital to determining how the community can prepare for and respond to the impact of climate change.

"The impact of climate change on South Australia cannot be underestimated," Mr Rann said.

"We are already seeing the effect drought is having on our water resources, and as these conditions continue we will have to deal with the impact on our wildlife and native vegetation."

The Chair of Climate Change is named after Sir Hubert Wilkins, a South Australian who spent his life researching the weather and how it impacts on people.

"Sir Hubert was concerned about the loss of native flora and fauna in Australia in an era when few people thought about conservation, so it is fitting that we name this Chair in his honour," Mr Rann said.

The Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Adelaide, Professor James McWha, praised the State Government for its vision in making this appointment.

"I am delighted by the Labor Government's commitment to climate change research," Professor McWha said.

"This initiative is further proof of the impact the University of Adelaide can make on the community.

"The University has many researchers working in areas that are key to the climate change issue - soil, plant and water scientists, engineers, architects, demographers, and many others. The new Institute will provide an excellent opportunity to bring this expertise together."

Previously a Professorial Research Fellow at Charles Darwin University, Professor Brook's contributions to the fields of conservation biology, population modelling and extinction theory are recognised internationally.

In 2006 he was the youngest ever recipient of the prestigious Fenner Medal by the Australian Academy of Science for distinguished research in plant and animal science.

He is also the recipient of an Australian Flora Foundation Prize, the Kyoto Professorial Fellowship, and was listed among 2000 Outstanding Scientists of the 21st Century.

He has written more than 70 scientific papers on conservation biology, ecosystem stability, ecology and genetics, and has won eight Australian Research Council (ARC) grants since 2001.


Contact Details

Professor Barry Brook
Director of Climate Science, Environment Institute
The University of Adelaide
(now at University of Tasmania)
Mobile: +61 420 958 400

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762