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Leading soil ecologist appointed new Head of School at Curtin

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An internationally recognised microbial ecologist has been appointed the new Head of the School of Molecular and Life Sciences at Curtin University.

Professor Sarina Claassens, the Director of the School of Biological Sciences and Professor of Microbiology at North-West University in South Africa, will start the new position in September.

With more than eight years’ experience in higher education leadership, Professor Claassens’ 18-year research career focuses on soil microbiology related to environments that are affected by different land-uses including mining and agriculture.

Curtin University Faculty of Science and Engineering Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark Ogden welcomed Professor Claassens to Curtin, adding she would bring a wealth of experience to the role.

“I’m delighted that Professor Claassens is joining us to take on this important Head of School role,” Professor Ogden said.

“She brings extensive leadership experience, complementary research expertise, and clear strategic vision to the School and the Faculty. I look forward to working with her as she leads Molecular and Life Sciences to even greater heights.”

Professor Claassens said she was looking forward to taking up the new position at Curtin in September.

“The Curtin values really resonate with me, and I felt at home from the moment that I first stepped onto the Perth campus,” Professor Claassens said.

“I am looking forward to contributing to the research excellence that the School of Molecular and Life Sciences is already known for, as well as working with the next generation to help foster the future leaders in these significant fields. People are central to my leadership perspective, and I would like to foster a working environment where there is a strong sense of belonging and where individuals can thrive.”

A National Research Foundation of South Africa-rated researcher, Professor Claassens has forged a career as a passionate investigator of the anthropogenic impacts on soil from a microbial viewpoint as well as devoting her time to mentoring students at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level.  

Curtin’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences comprises of the disciplines of Agriculture and Food, Chemistry and Ecology, delivering outstanding education programs in these and related topics including agribusiness, environmental science, and biochemistry. The School also has a strong and widely respected research focus, housing significant research areas, including the Centre for Crop Disease and Management, and the ARC Training Centre for Healing Country.

For more information about Curtin’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences, visit here.

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