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Research Dean appointed for Division of Sciences

23 June 2005

Research Dean appointed for Division of Sciences

Dr Gary Wilson of the Geology Department has been appointed Associate Dean of Research for the Division of Sciences.

Pro Vice Chancellor for Sciences, Vernon Squire says this is a new position, created to facilitate and encourage the expansion of high quality research within the Division.

“The research funding environment has changed a lot, and I felt that as a division we needed someone to keep abreast of those changes, to optimise our success in funding rounds, and to make all the processes involved easier for our many talented researchers.”

Dr Wilson says the University as a whole needs to develop a more strategic approach to research.

“We have one of the strongest research capability bases in the country, but we haven’t been good at acquiring external funding support for the research,” he says.

“My vision is to develop a research programme at the University of Otago which commands funding, rather than repeatedly reorganising applications to match changing funding streams. It needs to be capability-driven rather than opportunity–driven.”

As well as funding, Dr Wilson says the most successful researchers need a multi-talented team around them to ensure on-going research success: logistics in arranging the practicalities, administrative, technical and research support are all essential. They also need a system that allows them the time and freedom to be research active and productive.

He feels that his experience in a range of different research environments gives him an edge in providing support to researchers, having worked in a Crown Research Institute, taught in three different university systems in the US, the UK and New Zealand, and as a “soft-funded” researcher in a research institute in the US.

“My short term plan is to put resources into improving grant-writing success in areas where, traditionally, we’ve not been successful. Then, I want to look at the overall funding environment and develop a strategic plan for world class research and research capability in Sciences,” Dr Wilson says.

This is precisely in line with Pro-Vice-Chancellor Vernon Squire’s reasons for appointing him in the first place: “I see in Gary someone who is not afraid to say what he thinks. He’s energetic and very capable, and I’m predicting that he will be able to work out a solid strategic development path for Science research.”

Professor Geoff White, Deputy vice Chancellor for Research says "Gary's vision for Sciences is highly consistent with the direction for the whole University, and his appointment is very welcome".

The position is the equivalent of one day a week, and Dr Wilson takes this up on top of his high-profile research for the Andrill Project, his paleomagnetic research programme, supervising a team of PhD students, and somehow spending time with his young family.


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