UWA professors recognised for research

A geotechnical engineer from the University of Western Australia’s (UWA) Oceans Institute has been named the WA Early Career Scientist of the Year for 2011. Professor David White is based at UWA’s Centre for Offshore Foundation Studies (COFS) and is conducting research involving offshore oil and gas structures, including pipelines. Although Professor White was on study leave in the UK at the time of the announcement of the award, he said in a statement that he was very pleased to have his research recognised.
“Geotechnical engineering is one of UWA’s strongest disciplines, and I hope this award will draw attention to the positive impact that our research has on the oil and gas industry in WA.
“The seabed around Australia presents unique engineering challenges to the oil and gas industry and when I moved to Australia five years ago, I was attracted by the opportunity to conduct research that would be adopted by industry,” he said. Professor White said that because the offshore oil and gas sector was often front page news in WA, it provided an easy context in which to highlight engineering in action. “The experimental research that I conduct is very much a team effort, and this award is also recognition of the world-leading capabilities at the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems, including our geotechnical centrifuge facilities and the new ‘O-tube’ cyclone simulator.” Winthrop Professor Mark Randolph, another UWA Oceans Institute researcher and a colleague of Professor White’s, was also acknowledged at the science awards as a finalist in the Scientist of the Year category. In the same statement, Head of the COFS and Oceans Institute deputy director Winthrop Professor Mark Cassidy commended both engineers. “David and Mark are outstanding researchers who have achieved international reputations for their work and leadership in areas of offshore engineering such as pipeline stability analysis,” he said. “Their work, along with that of their COFS colleagues, has been adopted in the long pipelines being built offshore, and further strengthens UWA’s reputation as an international research centre for the oil and gas industry.”
In another UWA development, Chevron has invested more than $5.7 million to establish an endowment that is capable of supporting a Professional Chair in Gas Process Engineering in perpetuity at the university.
UWA stated that the investment built on the success and growth of a vital partnership that was established by its vice-chancellor Professor Alan Robson and Chevron’s general manager for the Greater Gorgon area Colin Beckett in 2008.
Professor Robson said that the partnership between UWA and Chevron reflected the crucial role of high-quality university research in the energy sector. “The UWA-Chevron partnership is bringing real and substantial benefits to the industry which ultimately flows to the wider community,” he said. Chevron’s funding to UWA is part of an ongoing commitment to the company’s prestigious global University Partnership  Program which also includes Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Texas A&M University in the US.


By Jaimee Conn

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