Message from the Head

In my humble opinion, the rich context of the Earth sciences and our innovative pedagogy make the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences (EOAS) one of the best places in the world to receive a science education. The success of our alumni in their careers is the most obvious evidence of this. Our scholars also continue to be recognized with numerous research awards and prizes. And while research funding does not directly correlate with research quality, it is a good measure of the esteem in which our investigators are held in the academy. By this metric we are doing well— EOAS has the largest research budget in the Faculty of Science at UBC.

How can we build upon our education and research successes and move EOAS forward? I believe the best way to do this is to support and recruit outstanding people and to develop a strong interdisciplinary EOAS community of students, staff, faculty and external partners.

There are a number of reasons to promote an interdisciplinary and collaborative community. Students with a broad perspective of the Earth sciences have advantages in their careers and are better citizens. Exposure to the unity of the Earth sciences also makes our students more informed leaders, who can help society discuss and make decisions about how we manage our environment and resources. Interdisciplinary collaborations are also an efficient way to transfer knowledge and techniques from one discipline to another in addition to a way to discover (or recognize) new research opportunities. Interdisciplinary, team-based research allows us to tackle larger, complex problems, such as resource development or climate change, that are beyond the scope of a single discipline.

We are already highly collaborative and interdisciplinary in both education and in research. We have joint academic programs with almost every science department. Our Environmental Science specialization transects disciplines of science and policy, Atmospheric Sciences is jointly delivered with Geography in the Faculty of Arts, and our Geological Engineering program is a Faculty of Applied Science program. Many individual faculty members in EOAS already participate in multiple collaborative research and training teams. It is well known that science advances rapidly when new tools and techniques are applied to problems – think of the impact of computers on modeling and understanding of natural systems, or the impact of mass spectrometers on the ability to observe the geochemistry of trace elements. We want to continue to remove barriers to team-building and tackle the most consequential research challenges.

In the coming years, we will have the opportunity to bring new people with fresh ideas and skills into the department. If the past is any guide to the present, we will soon have many opportunities to hire. We have been exceptionally successful in recruiting the very best young people to our team and I fully expect this will continue. With your continued support and engagement, the future of EOAS is very bright.

Professor Roger Beckie
Head of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences