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Southampton professors receive prestigious award for research

Published: 
7 September 2012

Two professors from the University of Southampton have been awarded prestigious Wolfson Research Merit Awards by the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science.

Professor Eric Achterberg, from Ocean and Earth Science at the University who is based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, received the award to support his research on marine biogeochemistry, in particular on the control of oceanic primary productivity by trace metals and nutrients, and the factors determining CO2 uptake by the oceans.

The research will lead to a better understanding of the factors controlling atmospheric CO2 uptake by the oceans, and allow for improved predictions of the future role of the oceans in the global carbon cycle.

Professor Achterberg says: “The research will deliver new insights into the rates of nutrient and iron supply to the surface oceans from atmospheric and deep water sources, and the consequences for primary productivity, nitrogen fixation and hence biological oceanic CO2 uptake.”

“There are still major uncertainties on the effects of ocean acidification on ecosystems and biogeochemical processes, and upcoming cruises and mesocosm studies will provide exciting new insights on these issues. The project will see deployments of novel nutrient and carbonate chemistry sensors in exciting field studies, which will provide critical data to computer models of the global carbon cycle and will improve our capacity to make climate projections for the future.”

Professor Fabrice Pierron, Chair of Solid Mechanics, received the award to support his research into the use of new state-of-the-art imaging systems such as CCD (Charge coupled device) cameras, CT or MRI scanners to image the mechanical properties of materials, with a view to reduce society’s ecological footprint through improved design of lighter, stronger and environmentally friendlier engineering structures.

Professor Pierron says: “The research will deliver new insights into developing the next generation of experimental tools to address the full complexity of the deformation of materials, such as composites or welds. Increasing computing power has led to a growing gap between simulation capabilities and experimental methods to obtain real life parameters to feed into these models for the simulations to be realistic. This project is a contribution to the narrowing of this gap.

“The novelty is to integrate powerful imaging systems to map out the deformation of materials, from standard engineering materials to biological tissues or rocks and soils, together with mathematically advanced data processing tools, to control the complete identification procedure. This will also provide engineers with rich, stable and well-defined material mechanical parameters for more realistic numerical simulations.”

Jointly funded by the Wolfson Foundation and the Royal Society, the Wolfson Research Merit Award provides universities with additional support to enable them to attract to this country, and retain, respected scientists of outstanding achievement and potential.

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