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Leading geologist and early Earth expert heading to Curtin

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Professor Martin Van Kranendonk

World renowned astrobiologist and geologist, Professor Martin Van Kranendonk has been appointed Curtin University’s new Head of School of Earth and Planetary Sciences in the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Professor Van Kranendonk is a leading researcher on the geology of the Pilbara region and of early Earth, including tectonics and the evidence for early life. He also has extensive leadership experience, notably as the Director of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology, a NASA-affiliated organisation based at the University of New South Wales, and has been involved with NASA in the search for life on Mars.

Curtin Pro Vice-Chancellor Science and Engineering, Professor Mark Ogden congratulated Professor Van Kranendonk on his appointment.

“We are excited to welcome Martin to Curtin. Not only does he have a stellar research background, his expertise in leading teams and inspiring excellence will be valuable assets to the School as it continues to provide world-class teaching and learning on the past, present and future of our planet and the solar system,” Professor Ogden said.

“Martin will be instrumental in driving the strategic direction of our Earth and Planetary Sciences research, programs and curriculum, so we can continue to produce outstanding, job-ready graduates, and help answer some of the Universe’s most complex questions. 

“My sincere thanks to Professor Ian Fitzsimons for his outstanding contribution as Head of School since 2018, and we are delighted he will be staying on at Curtin returning to his teaching and research role.”

Professor Van Kranendonk said he was eager to make the role his own, when he takes up the position in early 2024.  

“Much of my career has been focussed on the geology of Western Australia, whose resources and highly skilled research and industry workforce remain a crucial part of Australia’s economic prosperity,” Professor Van Kranendonk said.  

“As Head of School, I hope to continue Curtin’s excellent reputation for leading Earth and Planetary Sciences research and student development, while at the same time forging new links across the sector and grasping fresh opportunities to keep pace with an ever-changing world.”

Professor Van Kranendonk comes to Curtin from the University of New South Wales where he was Professor of Geology and Astrobiology at the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences. He completed his PhD at Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada. After more than 18 years conducting government geological surveys in both Canada and Australia, Professor Van Kranendonk’s passion for inspiring the next generation of students in the understanding of our planet, led him to embark on his current career in the university sector.

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