University signs Memorandum of Understanding to further research into climate change

Dr Tim O’Hare, Deputy Head of the School of Biological and Marine Sciences, with Professor S. Ramananda Shetty, Vice-Chancellor of Nitte University in India

The University of Plymouth and Nitte University in India have entered a formal partnership to further research into the impact of climate change on the marine environment and public health.

The two institutions are already collaborating on a number of initiatives, and were jointly awarded funding in December 2016 to investigate the effects of South Asia’s first outbreak of ciguatera fish poisoning.

Now they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding which will see academics and students from Plymouth’s School of Biological and Marine Sciences working more closely with Nitte’s University Centre for Science Education and Research, part of the UNESCO Microbial Resources Centre for Medical and Marine Biotechnology.

This will include exploring continued joint research opportunities, as well as teaching and postgraduate study experiences that could benefit students and academics at both institutions.

Dr Mairi Knight, Head of the School of Biological and Marine Sciences at the University of Plymouth, said:

“Climate change is one of the major challenges facing our planet, and developing collaborations of this nature is crucial to enhancing our understanding of its causes and effects. We hope this partnership will enable us to share knowledge and experience, creating outstanding opportunities for students and staff at both institutions. It is also an exciting time for us to join up with a respected institution in one of the world’s fastest-growing higher education nations.”

Professor S. Ramananda Shetty, Vice-Chancellor of Nitte University, added:

“Plymouth has an outstanding reputation in the field of marine biology and it is exciting for us to be able to partner with it in this way. We believe this will be a mutually beneficial collaboration, so that Plymouth’s expertise will enhance our existing work across the healthcare and science sectors, but we also can make a positive contribution and create opportunities for researchers and students in the UK as well.”

The Memorandum of Understanding states the collaboration will aim to promote research leading to a better scientific understanding of the impacts of global change on natural resources specifically, but not limited to, marine and aquatic environments.

It will also explore the potential for staff and student exchanges, with a view to broadening the experience of faculties and students at each university and providing them with increased cultural understanding.

And there will be potential for postdoctoral, PhD and Masters students from both institutions to undertake periods of study and research at either university.

Dr Lucy Turner, Lecturer in Marine Biology at the University of Plymouth, has been instrumental in forging the partnership and has been collaborating with Prof Indrani Karunasagar at the UNESCO Microbial Resources Centre for Medical and Marine Biotechnology for several years. She said:

“Our work with Nitte already has growing global relevance as these climate-induced changes to the ocean foodweb have the potential to impact areas outside of India. Similarly, understanding the barriers to more sustainable small-scale aquaculture practices – including to those countries that depend on seafood as a significant protein and revenue source – are of growing importance.”