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Siberia visit highlights potential for research collaboration

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An international summer school program has given Curtin University students, staff and world-renowned climate change experts from around the globe the opportunity to visit Russia.

Ten students and three staff from Curtin’s Faculty of Science and Engineering were invited to participate in the inaugural program with Tomsk State University, Russia. The program took leading international participants, including Nobel Peace Prize winner, Professor Terry Callaghan, on a 1200km journey from Tomsk to the Altai Mountains.

Curtin Director of the Rio Tinto Centre for Materials and Sensing in Mining, Professor Vladimir Golovanevskiy, who played a major role in the establishment of the program, said the experience was life-changing.

“The overarching theme of the program was the exploration of the natural environment of Arctic and Alpine areas, looking into relief, soils, permafrost, glaciers and the ecology as indicators of climatic changes,” Professor Golovanevskiy said.

“This program brought together more than 50 participants from eight countries to go on a 1200km journey through the Altai Mountains region, where they attended guided tours of environmental biodiversity hotspots, plenary sessions and lectures, field trips and undergraduate and postgraduate student presentations.”

Curtin Director of the Sustainable Engineering Group, Associate Professor Michele Rosano, said the trip highlighted the potential for research collaboration between Tomsk State University and Curtin.

“Both Siberia and Western Australia share a fairly geographically remote location and arid environment. We are both also substantially resource rich, particularly in mineral wealth, which could give us a fair bit to consider in the management of our resources and agricultural sectors,” Associate Professor Rosano said.

“By comparing Curtin’s engineering technologies, methodologies, and the ways we teach engineering and science with Tomsk State University, a research collaboration scheme could provide great benefits to researchers and students at both universities.”

Professor Golovanevskiy said the program would help to further strengthen Curtin’s relationships with Tomsk universities and other top Russian educational and research institutions.

“The experience was enriched by the open and friendly nature of the Russian people and wealth of knowledge from Tomsk State University academics and other distinguished speakers from around the world,” Professor Golovanevskiy said.

Professor Golovanevskiy has played a key role in the establishment and strengthening of ties with Tomsk, including the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the six Tomsk universities and Curtin in March 2010, a three-week stay of Tomsk sculptor, Leonty Usov, as an artist-in-residence at Curtin in April 2010, a research seminar between Curtin and Tomsk Polytechnic and Tomsk State universities in October 2010, and several reciprocal senior research staff visits.

During the Siberian summer school program, Professor Golovanevskiy and Associate Professor Rosano presented a joint lecture on the socio-economic effects from the aftermath of natural disasters.

Curtin University intends to host the next International Summer School program with participating universities in 2012.


Andrea Barnard, Public Relations, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 4241, Email:

Professor Vladimir Golovanevskiy, Director Rio Tinto Centre for Materials and Sensing in Mining, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 9073, Email:  


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