Friday, 16 August 2013

A world leading Geological Survey

The Financial Director David Allen of BIS (Business Innovation and Skills government department) visited BGS last week, along with Graeme Reid who is responsible for research in BIS; Graeme knows us well and thought we would be a good centre for David to visit given our commercial focus. The aim was to show how a Research Council works and what our role is in translation of knowledge into useful information for the private sector and the public.

David was extremely interested by all that he discovered. The focus of the science discussion was on subjects such as shale gas, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and nuclear waste disposal, but also on what we do with groundwater and vulnerability to climate change and how we work overseas. He was keen to discover how we work with universities and also with other government agencies. He recognised the important role of BGS as an independent voice on geological matters and asked some probing questions on how we manage to remain independent while also advising industry consortia.

We visited the rock press where David managed to witness a rock failure under pressure and saw what he referred to as the dating lab at NIGL (I think we must have used this expression) ; he understood the importance of both of these facilities in understanding rock behaviour but also in standardisation to underpin geology.

The visit to the National Geological Repository was especially useful as it happened to be full of consultants working on shale gas cores to prepare the next licensing round. They were all "typical geologists" and carrying hammers and lenses (not that I approve of hammering cores), so he did see and observe the stereotype, that I assured him we are changing.

This is from a slide that I presented to David Allen during his visit.

There may be a certain amount of chest banging, but BGS outputs are excellent...

A world-leading Geological Survey

• 516 scientists; working with more than 40 Universities and institutes
• More than 150 current private sector customers
• Around 20 bespoke science laboratories
• 5 NERC and national science facilities 
• The NationalGeoscienceDataBase and Repository
• 93% impact cases in NERC research review recognised as excellent or outstanding 
• Internationally leading or better positions in 78% of research areas
• 75% 4 year increase in peer reviewed papers to 245 in 2012; 
• >150 items of advice to policy makers in the UK, Europe, and overseas in 2012
• > 300 000 web visits a month

In addition we have about 120 staff that support our science in various ways, such as business development, IT, graphics, communications and administration.

Dave Allen was fascinated. BGS represents a mere £26 million of a more than £16 billion budget, but he saw the economic benefit in spades! 

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

BGS commended for its ‘outstanding research impact’

The British Geological Survey (BGS), along with other centres in the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), has been assessed to determine the excellence and impact of its research. The review, carried out by the NERC, was similar to the Research Excellence Framework system used to assess the quality of research in Higher Education Institutions (HEI).

BGS is extremely pleased that the committee found that the impact of the research carried out by the BGS is ‘outstanding’. One area of particularly outstanding impact is the use of information technology to transform the usability of its data to create 3Dgeological models and associated modelling technology and digital geoscience information products such as the iGeology app. Other areas of outstanding impact included the BGS National Geological Repository, its internationalactivities and the NERC isotope geoscience laboratory’s (NIGL) work on depleted Uranium.

The review panel considered that that 78% of the BGS’s research was  the equivalent of the REF ‘internationally recognised’ standard, with a significant proportion being at the REF  ‘internationally excellent’ level. NIGL, along with the Climate Change and Quaternary Science and Hydrogeology are to be commended for their performance in the research review.

BGS is one of the top geological surveys of the world and as such has a dual research and service role, I am extremely proud of what we have achieved to date, but we must continue to define the trend that is now observable across many global geological surveys towards greater research excellence through collaboration with HEI, research institutes and Academies.”

Further information and details of the review can be found here: