8 October 2014 12:47

A Lancaster University researcher has become the first director of a new international environmental research centre in China, committed to helping solve the world’s big environmental challenges.

Dr David Tyfield from the Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University has relocated to Guangdong, China’s richest and most populated province, to create a base for the new International Research and Innovation Centre for the Environment (I-RICE).

I-RICE is jointly funded by Lancaster University and two institutes of the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences: the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry (GIG), where the Centre is based, and the Institute of Urban Environment (IUE)

Dr Tyfield’s role as the first director of I-RICE will be to help facilitate research collaborations between academics in different countries, focusing on finding innovative solutions to the big environmental challenges facing the world.

Dr Tyfield said: “The environment is a major issue of huge public interest in China and the Chinese government is serious about tackling the country’s environmental problems.

“Guangzhou – formerly known as Canton – is China’s third largest city, with a population of 13 million, and has been the gateway to China for many centuries. It’s the capital of Guangdong province, which is amongst the most industrialised and agriculturally intensive in China. In the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry it also boasts one of the country’s most productive and prestigious research institutes on environmental issues.

“The research projects we are looking at, however, are not limited to China. The focus of the research could be in many different parts of the world, and involve scientists from different countries and disciplines.”

I-RICE’s first grant application has been submitted to the European Delegation in Beijing, to fund 26 PhD students and staff from European countries to carry out environmental research in China, spending extended periods of between three and 24 months here.

David is a social scientist with a long interest in China. He is currently co-investigator and lead coordinator of a £500,000 research project on low carbon innovation in China, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. David’s focus is on sustainable urban mobility, including the use of electric vehicles and electric 2-wheelers in China.

He will be based in the same building as colleagues from the £5.1 million Lancaster China Catalyst Programme, a sister project to IRICE. The Catalyst Programme links Chinese and UK environmental businesses and brings them together with academic researchers to work on real world environmental issues.  The aim is to boost environmental innovation and exports in both countries. A new funded International Innovation Masters has been launched to support this programme.

These initiatives follow the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Lancaster University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2010 and have been endorsed and supported by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Contact David for more information, especially if you would like to discuss ideas for collaborative research projects with Chinese partners.