A leading US glaciologist has been selected as Professor and Dean of Surveying at the University of Otago. Professor Christina Hulbe is currently Chair of the Geology Department at Portland State University, in Portland, Oregon. She will take up her position at Otago’s National School of Surveying in February 2013.
As a geophysicist who specialises in glaciology, Professor Hulbe’s research involves measuring contemporary changes in glaciers and polar ice sheets and using computer modelling to study the physical processes underlying observed change. Ultimately, this knowledge leads to better projections of future change and better understanding of the past.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne says that she is delighted that Professor Hulbe has accepted the University’s offer of the position of Dean of Surveying.
"Christina Hulbe is a proven academic leader with a strong research and teaching background. As well as being an excellent choice to lead the School of Surveying, she is well-placed to make important contributions to Otago’s polar research, an area in which the University already enjoys national leadership and international recognition for excellence."
After gaining her Bachelor's in Geological Engineering at Montana College of Mineral Science and Technology and Master’s in Geology from Ohio State University, Professor Hulbe earned a PhD in Geophysics from the University of Chicago.
Her publication record includes numerous research articles in peer-reviewed journals and she has long been a leader in her professional community. Such roles include serving as past Vice President of the International Glaciological Society and currently chairing that organisation’s publications committee. She has also served a term as Physical Sciences Editor at the journal Antarctic Science.
Professor Hulbe is greatly looking forward to moving with her family to Dunedin and taking up her leadership role at the School of Surveying.
"Surveying is the academic home for thinking about how to make the right measurement in the right way, and this has always been an important thread in my research. I look forward to what I can learn from my new colleagues in the School," she says.
Professor Hulbe says that she intends to work collaboratively with academic and general staff at the School to carry its traditions forward while also exploring new ways for it to connect across campus and farther afield.
"I believe the discipline of surveying has a lot to offer in a fast-changing world where sustainable development and resilient resource management become more important every day. Collaborative, engaged research is already taking place in the School and I look forward to helping it grow."
She says that both the School of Surveying and the Department she currently leads have something important in common - close connections to the professional side of their respective disciplines.
"This means that we share a particular mindfulness of our students’ career goals and seek to equip our graduates with the skills and knowledge to adapt and thrive in a constantly changing world of work, while also providing them with the benefits of a well-rounded university education. Academics in both disciplines also recognise how important it is to stay well connected with our alumni, so that we can continue to support them and learn from them as well."
She says she looks forward to starting a series of conversations with New Zealand’s professional surveying community about the School, its programmes, and the evolving nature of the profession in the 21st century.
Andrew Stirling, President of the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors, and Dr Don Grant, Surveyor-General at Land Information NZ, both expressed their appreciation of the opportunity they had to contribute to the University’s selection process for the role and to meet with Professor Hulbe.
They welcomed her appointment and said they look forward to working with her in the future, particularly given the critical role that the School plays for the survey and spatial science professions and the New Zealand survey system.
Professor Hulbe is no stranger to Otago, having greatly enjoyed her spell as a Fulbright senior scholar at the University in 2009.
She says that the University’s commitment to research, teaching, and its role as an agent for positive change in the community all helped to convince her that Otago is an ideal place to begin a new chapter in her academic career.
"Otago’s strong focus on sustainability makes this university the right place to forge connections between academic research and real-world applications and I believe that Surveying has a lot to offer on those themes," she says.
Professor Hulbe says that in advancing her own polar glaciology research, the ability to take part in New Zealand’s growing Antarctic research endeavour is an exciting prospect.
"Both the recently created Antarctic Research Institute and expertise in the School of Surveying will give me great new opportunities to build on my past work and chart new territory. The polar research conducted by faculty and students at Otago is world-class and I look forward to joining that interdisciplinary community."
As someone who holds teaching to be very important, Professor Hulbe says she is looking forward to developing her contributions in this area at Otago.
Her current teaching at Portland State University includes technical courses such as ‘Numerical Modelling of Earth Systems’ alongside interdisciplinary courses aimed at weaving connections among the sciences and the humanities.
"Something I bring to Otago, which I hope will be of service, is a strong commitment to interdisciplinary research and teaching, but which is always grounded in disciplinary expertise."
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