The Institute of Biological & Environmental Sciences (IBES) was established in 2007 as the research wing of the School of Biological Sciences. It was the third research Institute to be formed within the College of Life Sciences and Medicine. At the time of formation the other two Institutes are the Institute of Medical Sciences and the Institute of Public Health Sciences. IBES is run by a director who is advised by a management group. Since this time the college has been joined by the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health
The IBES comprises three research programmes (Ecology, Integrative Physiology and Biological Interactions in Soil) involving a total of 55 full time academic staff and their research groups. This includes about 80 post doctoral research staff and 150 PhD students. Current active research grants total approximately £21M (c. 22M €uros, 30M US$).
Staff from IBES are predominantly housed in two buildings which are located adjacent to the Cruickshank Botanic Gardens on the site of the Kings College Campus in Old Aberdeen. In addition some staff from the ecology programme are located at Oceanlab a dedicated facility for the construction of deep-ocean submersibles that are used to study the biology of the deep ocean. Oceanlab is located about 12km north of Aberdeen on the banks of the Ythan estuary. Other ecology staff are located at the Cromarty Lighthouse field station a permanent facility about 140 km North of Aberdeen located next to the Moray firth. Oceanlab II is due for completion in summer 2009.
A particular feature of the work conducted within IBES are population ecology studies using long-term data sets. These include a study of fulmars in the Orkney islands which was started by the ex-head of Zoology, Professor George Dunnett in the 1950s, and also studies of voles, seals, dolphins, grouse, choughs and song-sparrows all of which include decades of research activity. These data sets provide an invaluable resource for understanding the long-term responses of animals to environmental factors. Other areas of strength in our research profile include deep-ocean biology, soil microbiology, fish immunology, mammalian physiology and vector biology. We have significant expertise in the multidisciplinary study of Northern habitats.
A theme cross cutting almost the entire activity of the Institute is prediction of the biotic impacts of environmental change.
Our work is underpinned by technical excellence in modern molecular methods, including state of the art laboratories that have been completely refurbished in the past 3 years at a cost of £12.7M. We have a notable strength in the use of stable isotope ratio mass spectrometry for which we are one of the strongest research groupings in Europe.
Staff currently working in IBES were returned in two separate units of assessment in the Research Assessment Exercise in 2008. The quality profiles indicated 15-20% of our activity was 'world leading' and 55% was internationally competitive. In unit of assessment 16 we were top in Scotland, and in unit 14 we were 3rd.