Soil expert Iain Young appointed as Dean of Science

4 April 2018
Biophysicist Professor Iain Young led major research groups in Scotland before taking a leadership role at the University of New England, followed by his appointment heading Sydney's School of Life and Environmental Sciences.
I’m keen to ensure that we ... set out to answer the most difficult fundamental questions, which will define the future of all on the planet.
Professor Iain Young
Professor Iain Young

Professor Iain Young

The inaugural head of the University’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences (SOLES), commencing in 2016, Professor Young is a biophysicist who works at the interface of physics and biology, using soil as a model system to examine functionality in complex porous media over space and time.

Before joining the University of Sydney, Professor Young spent six years as a head of school at the University of New England, following extensive experience leading major research groups in his native country of Scotland.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence said: “Iain has significant experience in academic leadership, and inspires with a compelling vision of ‘knowledge for service’.

“He has made a real impact as the first Head of the University’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences, and I am confident his disciplinary expertise, industry connections, the deep respect in which he is held by his peers, and his passion for the University’s research and education vision will see him take our Faculty of Science to new heights.”

Professor Young took a Bachelor of Science with honours and a PhD in soil physics at the University of Aberdeen before commencing his academic career at the Scottish Crop Research Institute.

His academic work crosses the boundaries of modelling and experimentation and he is known internationally in these areas, particularly in the functional quantification of the 3D architecture of soil and how the spatio-temporal processes of such complex structures impact on microbial and plant life and vice-versa.

Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Garton said: “Following 18 months as Head of SOLES, which makes up one-third of the Faculty of Science, Iain will bring to the deanship a deep understanding of research leadership and strategy, and an energy and passion for education, student experience and student outcomes.

“His existing strong relationships within the University and with external community and stakeholders will be invaluable as the University and faculty continue to pursue the aspirations for excellence in research and education in our 2016–20 Strategic Plan, and particularly so as we roll out the Faculty of Science strategy later this year.”

Professor Young said he was looking forward to becoming Dean of Science, describing Sydney as a great university with a remarkable history.

“I am keen to be part of the team that defines its brilliant future,” he said.

“The Faculty of Science carries out remarkable research and teaching, and we need to build on those activities by attracting the most creative and exciting staff to educate the students and provide a focus on excellence.

“I’m keen to ensure that we develop a culture that encourages the best teaching practices, risk-taking, deep thinking and provides a foundation from which we can successfully set out to answer the most difficult fundamental questions, which will define the future of all on the planet.

“Using our knowledge in the service of the country will be a key aspect of the faculty. Our links with the people of Australia, employers and the unique Australian environment will be a defining feature of our future.”

Professor Young will formally commence as dean on 12 July, when Professor Trevor Hambley’s term ends.

“I am delighted Trevor will remain within the University community to continue his research,” said Professor Garton.

“While there will be many opportunities to pay tribute to his achievements as dean, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge his enormous contribution in many areas, including taking a major leadership role in the Science in Australia Gender Equity program (SAGE), his devotion to improving Work Health and Safety in the faculty, and his central involvement in significant change programs, notably the creation of SOLES.

“Beyond the faculty his impact has been important, genuinely collaborative and constructive. His contribution to University strategy and his thoughtful contribution to robust debate at SEG and, more recently the University Executive, has been deeply appreciated by all.”

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