Adelaide science attracts world's best

Thursday, 26 February 2004

South Australia's capabilities in biotechnology, agriculture and wine, earth and environmental sciences and chemistry and physics have received a major boost, with the appointment of four new, world-class Heads of School at the University of Adelaide's Faculty of Sciences.

Adelaide's Faculty of Sciences is one of the most dynamic and research-intensive science faculties of any Australian university. The new appointees include local, national and international leaders in their fields, with some travelling from overseas to take up their positions.

The new appointments are:

  • Professor John Carver - School of Chemistry & Physics
  • Professor Bob Hill - School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
  • Professor Richard Ivell - School of Molecular & Biomedical Science
  • Professor Wayne Powell - School of Agriculture & Wine

Professors Ivell and Hill have already begun their new positions, with professors Carver and Powell expected to join the university in March. (see bio information below)

"The appointment of these four scientists is a major achievement not just for the University of Adelaide but also for South Australia," says the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, Professor Peter Rathjen.

"Each of the new heads will provide a unique level of leadership, combining internally respected research with academic management, that will be invaluable for the future direction of all areas of science."

"The national and international prestige that our Heads of School carry will not only translate into improved research outcomes, but will augment our ability to commercialise research, and to develop links with industry, government, and other research organisations," Professor Rathjen says.

"Continued pursuit of the cutting edge in their respective fields will also feed into teaching, providing unique educational benefits for future generations of students.

"Two of the four professors are coming to Adelaide from overseas, and another is coming here from interstate. That is a very telling situation. Not only is the University of Adelaide at the leading edge in many of its science research fields, but these widely regarded academics can see the potential for helping South Australia to make an even greater impact in research, commercialisation and education."

Professor John Carver - School of Chemistry & Physics

Professor Carver is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Wollongong, where he has worked for more than 15 years. He has conducted postdoctoral research in Biochemistry at the universities of Oxford and Adelaide, and is a graduate of the University of Adelaide and the Australian National University. He has a strong international research profile in the field of peptide and protein structure and function, along with many national and international collaborations.

"Professor Carver's research will strengthen the link between physical sciences and biology, thereby augmenting South Australia's capabilities in biotechnology and medicine," Professor Rathjen says. "With the State's rapidly ageing population (the nation's fastest), developing therapeutics for age-related diseases will be of particular importance."

Professor Bob Hill - School of Earth & Environmental Sciences

Professor Hill held the position of Head of School of Plant Science at the University of Tasmania prior to his return to South Australia in 1999. He joined the South Australian Museum as Head of Science, and was instrumental in developing closer links between the Museum and the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Adelaide. Professor Hill has an international reputation for research in the area of palaeontology, with a particular interest in Australian vegetation.

"Professor Hill's research on the evolution of the Australian vegetation is central to understanding the living vegetation and the major management issues surrounding biodiversity that are currently the subject of serious debate in this State. His current interest in the role of fire in the evolution of the Australian vegetation is particularly critical in this regard," Professor Rathjen says.

Professor Richard Ivell - School of Molecular & Biomedical Science

Professor Ivell worked at the University of Hamburg for the last 20 years, where he was Institute Director and Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, specialising in the molecular physiology of reproduction. As Editor-in-Chief of the internationally acclaimed journal Molecular Human Reproduction, Professor Ivell brings a broad range of experience and expertise across the biomedical sciences.

His appointment has been supported by the State Government through a BioInnovation SA Fellowship.

"The interface between biotechnology and medicine is a strength in South Australia, and will lead to new health options, new drugs, and new biotechnological opportunities. Professor Ivell's depth of experience in this field will be a catalyst for the generation of new interfaces, new ideas, new scientists, and new spin-off opportunities," Professor Rathjen says.

Professor Wayne Powell - School of Agriculture & Wine

Professor Powell was Deputy Director at the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI), where he was also Director of Postgraduate Studies and had overall responsibility for research programs. An Honorary Professor at Herriot-Watt University UK and Oregon University USA, he has also worked with the DuPont Company in the USA where he gained experience and exposure of working in a global private sector organisation.

His appointment has been supported by the Australian Centre For Plant Functional Genomics Pty Ltd and the Molecular Plant Breeding Cooperative Research Centre.

Professor Powell has a distinguished international reputation for research in plant genetics, cereal breeding and genome science. "He will bring to Adelaide experience in developing and leading public/private sector strategic partnerships, together with innovative research practices that will enhance this State's ability to attract investment into plant genome science and augment our strong capabilities in plant breeding and agriculture," Professor Rathjen says.


Contact Details

Professor Peter Rathjen
Executive Dean
Faculty of Sciences
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5650
Mobile: 0422 007 811

Professor Bob Hill
Environment Institute
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 6807
Mobile: 0409 286 970

Professor Richard Ivell
School of Molecular &amp
Biomedical Science
Business: +61 8 8313 3114