Esteemed Academic comes to Aberdeen to head up new Centre for Transport Research

Esteemed Academic comes to Aberdeen to head up new Centre for Transport Research

A prestigious appointment has been made within the School of Geosciences at the University of Aberdeen.

Professor John Nelson is joining Aberdeen as part of the institution's highly successful Sixth Century recruitment campaign, one strand of which aims to build a community of the world's finest academics through Sixth Century Chairs.

Professor Nelson trained initially as a Geographer and completed his PhD in Transport Engineering.  He currently holds the Chair in Public Transport Systems at Newcastle University, within the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences. 

His appointment within the Department of Geography and Environment is part of a major investment in the field of transport research and Professor Nelson will head up a new Centre for Transport Research, following a major funding partnership with the UK's largest transport provider, FirstGroup.  

Following the news of his appointment, John Nelson, Professor of Transport Studies, said: "I am delighted to have this new opportunity to develop my interests in transport research.  The University of Aberdeen is going to be a perfect research base for me and I am looking forward to being part of a particularly dynamic and forward-looking College.

"This is an exciting time to be involved in transport and I am keen to exploit the opportunities for multi-disciplinary research offered by the University as well as working closely with an internationally-leading public transport operator."

Professor Nelson's research interests lie with public transport operations and management.  He also researches the evaluation of public transport system organisation and the impact of policy frameworks and institutional structures.

The Centre's research in transport will focus on three major themes:

  • Public transport: application and evaluation of new technologies; the impact of regulatory reform on public transport system organisation;
  • Transport and environment: examination of alternative energy futures for transport, particularly the role of alternative fuels; development of strategies for delivery of "clean" urban transport; accessibility planning for rural areas.
  • Transport and society: investigation of the psychological aspects of travel decisions; study of the impacts of new technology-driven demand management strategies on patterns of mobility.

Professor Albert Rodger, Vice Principal and Head of the College of Physical Sciences, welcomed the new appointment and said: "Professor John Nelson will strengthen significantly the University of Aberdeen's existing highly regarded research into transport. It is a further excellent reflection of the international research standing of the School of Geosciences at the University of Aberdeen that we can attract someone of the calibre of Professor Nelson and I am delighted to welcome him into the College."

Moir Lockhead, Chief Executive of FirstGroup explained the reasoning behind First's support for the Centre for Transport Research.  He said: "We are a global leader in providing safe, innovative, reliable and sustainable transport services and we transport close to 2billion customers worldwide every year.  First is delighted to be supporting the new Centre for Transport Research.  The Centre, I am certain, will help cement Aberdeen as a heart for transport thinking and innovation. 

"We will work closely with John and his team and develop some interesting and groundbreaking transport research, which I hope in the long term, will enable us to develop improved transport services for the travelling public."

The strengthening of the University's capability in transport research follows important developments in the region. A public and private collaboration initiated by Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Forum (ACSEF), the Next Generation Transport Group, including FirstGroup, will, as part of its remit, aim to put Aberdeen City and Shire on the map as a national and international centre of future thinking in transport and logistics.

ACSEF recognises that transport is a major driver in the economy, a quality of life imperative and fundamental to the future of the area.  The existing strength of public and private expertise in transport in the region gives it a natural advantage that is being galvanised to make a big impact.

The group unveiled the first stage of their plans at the ACSEF summit at the end of last month, which looked at showcasing Aberdeen City and Shire as a model for delivery of local initiatives, as well as promoting the region's resources worldwide.

Professor Nelson takes up his new appointment at the University on July 1.

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