What St Petersburg has been developing in ecology and management in natural resources has been outlined at the exhibitions and forums.

The Director of the Institute of Earth Sciences, Vice-President of the RGS told about how the University is developing education in ecology and overarching priorities in ecology.

How do you think the programmes SPbU offers in Ecology and Management of Natural Resources respond to the current challenges?

St Petersburg University offers a wide range of educational programmes in ecology and management of natural resources, among which are international programmes implemented with the world’s leading institutions and universities.

One of the key aspects we can develop to boost their efficiency is engineering. SPbU has an experience to open such programmes with a specific focus on the applied aspects. For example, a very popular graduate programme of this kind is Engineering Physics.

Our agenda today is to open the programmes that would meet the employers’ demands and interests. SPbU has been long since incorporating this approach into its policy. It is essential, as ecology is to respond to challenges posed by society, business, and industry.

The academic community ops for an interdisciplinary approach to the management of natural resources. Does SPbU offer interdisciplinary programmes in ecology?

A complex approach towards the rational use of natural resources is at the core of any international decisions and documents in relation to climate change and world’s economy. Obviously, this fact is vital in developing the programme SPbU offers. They are mostly interdisciplinary in nature.

Moreover, complex regional research are gaining momentum as well, which is reflected in the educational programme in Ecology and Management of Natural Resources, graduate programme “POMOR” implemented since 2011 with the universities in Germany, and a new programme Cold Regions Landscapes Integrated Sciences (CORELIS).

Tells us about research in ecology and management of natural resources at SPbU? What are the key areas? What are the projects? Are there any interdisciplinary integrated ones among them?

SPbU has a wide scope of research in ecology and management of natural resources. They engage both experts in the Earth sciences and in biology. Most of the projects are interdisciplinary and integrated.

Among them are those that focus on economic and social development of the regions in terms of natural conditions and resources. This year, the Russian geographical Society supports a big project on logistics in Siberia and Far East by SPbU’s scientists. Another cluster of research at SPbU is concerned with environment preservation in the regions of oil and gas exploration.

At SPbU, a number of the research projects in ecology and management of natural resources focus on bioproductivity of the World Ocean and, definitely, climate change.

Ecology is sort of an add-on in natural and social sciences, and most projects in the Earth sciences are partly related to it.    

Director of the Institute of Earth Sciences Kirill Chistiakov

One of the promising areas is to implement the projects from the regions where there are lots of problems in relation to spatial development and ecological assessment.  SPbU creates the opportunities to solve these problems. It offers unique equipment, analytical tools and high-calibre experts.

At SPbU, the most popular equipment is lidar complexes at the Research Park. Air sensing, assessment of contamination spread, identifying the contamination sources, self-purification potential of the environment are the most current problems in our region, and the SPBU’s experts in the Earth Sciences are actively engaged in solving them.  

What is the infrastructure SPbU can offer to develop education and research in ecology and management of natural resources?

Science infrastructure opens great opportunities for the most ambitious projects in ecology and management of natural resources. By using the equipment SPbU’s Research Park can offer you can study the composition of the substances, carry out express analysis, evaluate pollution and study how the pollutants move in the environment. We can sense air and use bioindication methods for assessing the quality of the habitats. The University has created favourable conditions for research and education, in particular in ecology and management of natural resources.

Can you think of any student initiatives in this sphere?

SPbU’s students are doing their best to be at the forefront of science and engineering and be socially active. I can give an example when the students ran the research projects in the conservation areas. Last year, our students were among those who won the competition of the projects on environment preservation, energy-saving technologies, and ecological education. Our students won in tow categories: Urban Ecology and Ecological Education. The competition was organized by the Committee for Management of Natural Resources, Environment Preservation and Ecological Safety of St Petersburg and SF Mineral.

Currently, our students are carrying out a complex ecological and geological research of the green recreation areas in and around the city.

Another, rather curious, initiative was proposed by the students in climate studies. Today they are studying how the territory in the mouth of the river Smolenka can develop. They perform calculations by using computational methods that will show how the ecosystem of the adjacent territories will develop if there is a complex high buildings near the mouth of the river.

Finally, SPbU will develop new waste collection schemes. Most students are actively engaged as volunteers in the ecological projects.

How does SPbU develop international cooperation with other universities in this sphere?

We offer educational programmes in ecology with the Russia and world's leading institutions. For example, the graduate programme in Polar and Marine Research (POMOR) is a Russia-Germany project that comprises more than ten big institutions and universities in Germany. Accredited by ASIIN, the programme offers a complex approach to the polar and marine research and global climate changes.  You get a joint degree: Master of SPbU and Master of Sciences of the partner-university in Germany.

The University is developing cooperation with Finland, and our students in ocean studies can have internship together with the Finish students. We also collaborate with Norway, and our students can have internship in Norway as well, in particular students in ecology in Svalbard.

Finally, our collaboration with East is gaining momentum. SPbU is developing cooperation with Harbin Institute of Technology, in particular in ecological geology, and with Beijing universities. Over years, SPbU has been actively collaborating with Tokyo University.