The University's research profile is grounded on a broad-based platform across a wide range of disciplines. The aim is to undertake research to make a difference to both the world of knowledge and the knowledge of the world. The four cross-university themes build on areas of current research excellence, where researchers and their collaborators are already making a difference on the local, national or international stage. Knowledge exchange is a fundamental part of theme activity, to ensure that research addresses innovative solutions for contemporary problems and issues. Each theme builds upon interdisciplinary research and addresses key societal questions.
Aberdeen is known as the energy capital of Europe with links to energy centres all around the world. The University has many years of experience in working with energy partners, using research to address the technological, economic and social needs of Scotland, the UK and the world. Our Energy theme focuses upon: Upstream Oil and Gas involving expertise in exploration and production (geosciences), engineering, petroleum economics, legal and environmental management. Much of the work is through the Aberdeen Institute for Energy , which focuses on the North Sea basin. Whole Energy Systems focuses the integration of a variety of energy sources (Oil, Gas, Coal, Renewables, Nuclear, Biofuels etc), Energy Efficiency and Energy Security bringing together systems of energy production with systems of energy utilisation to enhance energy security. The research includes energy efficient buildings and sustainable cities, transport systems and behaviours, economic modelling of energy supply and demand, energy management and reduction, energy availability and energy security, energy competition, socio-economic, socio-political and socio-cultural impacts of energy production.
Key questions for the theme are:
- How can we manage increasing demands for energy with diminishing fossil fuel reserves while minimising the impact of their use?
- How can we manage the transition from a fossil fuel based delivery to a more balanced and sustainable portfolio of energy resources to meet our future energy requirements?
- How can we best develop infrastructure and technologies for a fully sustainable energy system with zero emissions?
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Environment and Food Security
A legacy of global industrialisation, urbanisation and human population expansion has been the creation of a host of undesirable environmental issues, such as climate change, food shortages, biodiversity loss, over-exploitation of resources and ocean acidification. A challenge for twenty-first century is to properly understand and mitigate these issues, to ensure safe and sustainable ecosystems which support human well being. These issues will dominate social, political and research agendas for the foreseeable future. The University of Aberdeen has an international reputation for cutting edge research that is shaping global understanding of the various processes and inter-relationships underpinning ecosystem function and agricultural production. Our theoretical and empirical work spans genes to globe, across terrestrial, marine and freshwater realms. Key questions for the theme are:
- How can we sustainably feed 9 billion people by 2050 whilst, at the same time, reducing the environmental footprint of food production?
- What are the causes and consequences of environmental change, especially those driven by changing climate and land usage?
- How can we sustainably manage our terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats, to conserve the multitude of resources and processes they supply?
View more information about the Environment and Food Security theme.
Aberdeen lies at the hub of a region that, besides Scotland, extends eastwards to the Nordic and Baltic countries and to northern Russia and Siberia, and westwards to Iceland, Greenland, Canada and Alaska. This region, conventionally known as the 'circumpolar North', is defined not so much by latitude as by the tight intersection of climatic, environmental, historical, geopolitical and cultural conditions, all of which come together to give it a significance for the future of life on earth quite out of proportion to its relatively sparse human population. With its geographical location facing both East and West, Aberdeen offers a base for northern research that uniquely affords a truly circumpolar perspective. In a number of fields, such as in geosciences, environmental biology, archaeology, anthropology and Scandinavian studies, the University has already established a leading international research reputation. Bringing together this new agenda for the North, we address the following key questions:
- How can we account for the rise of the early medieval kingdoms of northern Europe, and what were their influences on ways of life, relations with the land and literary cultures?
- What were the processes and impacts of colonialism in the northern circumpolar regions, and what economic, political, environmental and cultural transformations did they set in train?
- How do light, latitude and culture influence the social communication of emotion among the peoples of the North?
- What are the ecological and societal impacts of past and recent climate changes in the northern regions, and how have people adapted to them?
View more information about the North theme.
Pathways to Healthy Living
The University of Aberdeen has an enviable reputation for research excellence in basic medical research and applied health sciences. There are strong links with the National Health Service, industry and policymakers. Our recent merger with the Rowett Institute for Nutrition and Health adds extensive expertise in nutrition research and partnerships with the food industry. The Pathways to Healthy Living theme facilitates cross-disciplinary research to enhance understanding of all aspects of lifelong health. Interdisciplinary collaborations seek to address the complex mechanisms by which individuals, lifestyle, the local community, socio-economic and environmental conditions affect ageing. We are particularly interested in studying resilient responses to aging as more people are getting older. With our established strengths in basic, natural and nutritional sciences, translational medicine, health economics, education and psychology, we hope to improve not only life expectancy but also life expectancy free of disease.
Key research questions for our theme are:
- What are the mechanisms of healthy resilient aging?
- How can we establish sustained lifestyle changes, which increase longevity?
- How do health inequalities and resilience influence well-being and socio-economic performance?
View more information about Pathways to Healthy Living theme.