FCT

R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Ambiente

Unidade de I&D

CENSE - Center for ENvironmental and Sustainability rEsearch [ENVS-LVT-Almada-4085] visitada em 04/02/2009

Classificação: Excellent

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
Overview
This large Unit was recently formed after a strategic planning exercise. The Unit has strong links to society and the market, enjoys excellent networking and is consistent with the University's strategic goals. The Unit has a clearly stated mission and a clearly defined management structure with an external advisory committee. The Unit engages in some cutting edge research and has produced a very significant number of publications with a strong average citation rate. It is engaged in more than 40 research projects with diverse sources of funding from European, Portuguese, public and private organisations and enjoys formal and informal collaborations with many important international scientific organisations. The Unit, as a matter of policy, takes its responsibility to Society very seriously. There are a large number of research students working on a diverse range of topics in both the academic and commercial fields. The students interact as one group, have excellent supervision arrangements and opportunities to gain international experience. The Unit has a graduate training programme including summer schools.

Management
The Unit has a clear management structure and is governed on a day-to-day basis by an Executive Committee which includes student representation that is advised by an External Advisory Committee. The Unit also enjoys strong links with higher University management.

Facilities
The facilities we visited were of a high standard. We also understand that the Unit has access to excellent campus company facilities, but did not visit these.

Recommendations to the Unit
We find the Unit's strategic plan to be exciting, realistic and achievable.

Commendations
We commend the high degree of synergy that the Unit has achieved from a wide range of academic and commercial research interests. We also commend the links to business innovation evidenced by the recent Prémio Pessoa 2007 award. We would like to congratulate this Unit for being an example of how a wide range of academic and commercial skills can be integrated around a clear strategy to produce high quality international science.

Conclusions
We have no doubt that this Unit has exceeded our expectations in its degree of internationalisation and grade it Excellent. This is a Unit in which one or more groups carried out internationally recognized outstanding research which contributed to the advancement of the field while most others did high quality international research which lead to some contributions to their specific fields.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
Climate change and sustainable energy [RG-ENVS-LVT-Almada-4085-314]
Introduction
This is a small relatively new group that was created in 2004.

Focus, Relevance and Feasibility of the Research Aims
The general research focus is in 3 main areas: Terrestrial Carbon Cycle Assessment; Water Cycle Modelling with a particular emphasis on the Iberian Peninsula; and Energy & Carbon Emissions Modelling – clearly of relevance. A main objective of work in the past 2 years has been the development of a model (TIMES) to generate energy scenarios for 20 and 50 years ahead. This has led to a major achievement of the Unit – being invited by the Portuguese Government to provide post Kyoto scenarios for the country.

Productivity (including evidence of international levels of attainment)
For its size, the group has achieved a moderate to high level of productivity in terms of publications – 12 peer-reviewed publications over a 4-5 year period, with 8 during 2006-09, including one in Global Biogeochemical Cycles, but with no citations given. The Group have also published 2 Book Chapters, and have contributed to International Conferences (8) since 2004.

There is evidence of International involvement by Group members, such as mobilising training periods for young scientists at NASA Goddard and at MIT and research collaborations with NASA Goddard, Boston University and European Universities.

Training
1 PhD and 3 MSc theses and 8 Bologna Master theses completed in the review period and the current 6 PhD students provide evidence that the group is providing a reasonable research training environment.

Overall Perspective
The group‘s overall achievements have been largely due to 3 persons, one of whom is now leaving to join another Portuguese Institution. While the thematic research area is potentially a good one, as it stands the Group lacks critical mass and is in need of at least another Researcher at the Post-Doctoral level in order to further progress and to continue to make an impact at national and international level.
Ecological economics and environmental management [RG-ENVS-LVT-Almada-4085-316]
Introduction
This is a moderately sized group which was formed in 1998.

Focus, Relevance and Feasibility of the Research Aims
The focus is the promotion of inter-disciplinary research through integration of ecological and environmental activities with social & economic issues. The group’s activities have relevant social impacts such as dissemination of relevant outputs for policy makers and other stakeholders. Research has led to significant knowledge and its applications have informed policy at national and at international level.

Productivity (including evidence of international levels of attainment)
For its size, the group has achieved a high level of productivity in terms of publications. The Group have also published 4 Books and 13 Book Chapters; have organised an International Conference, 2 Workshops, and an International Seminar series. . The Group’s international involvement includes one Marie Curie RTN, coordination of an EU project, reviewing for the EU and research journals.

Training
In the review period 5 PhD and 20 MSc projects have been completed. In addition 18 Bologna Masters students completed in 2008 and several PhD students are due to complete in 2009. On the basis of these metrics, the group is providing a good research training environment.

Overall Perspective
The groups’ overall achievements have exceeded expectations with significant indications of the impact and relevance of this work at national and at international level. The group outlined at the site visit a strategy for sustainable funding for the future, through research based companies, the European Space Agency and EU FP7 programmes.
Environmental assessment, monitoring and remediation [RG-ENVS-LVT-Almada-4085-932]
Introduction
This is a moderately sized group with research themes focussed on environmental assessment, monitoring and remediation. It is a well established Group of international prominence.

Focus, Relevance and Feasibility of the Research Aims
The research focus is in four main areas, each led by a separate leader: electro-mediation; air & water quality; data information technologies; and environmental impact assessment. The electro-mediation group is a world leader whose research is leading to significant and major contributions to knowledge of electro-mediation techniques applied to the removal of contaminants from CCA treated wood wastes, soils and water – deemed to be of major environmental relevance.
Important relevant work is also being carried out on air quality in terms of legislative compliance and on the health effects of air quality on morbidity and mortality.
Research aims are deemed to be very feasible with the possible exception of reliable use of satellite inferred air quality products.

Productivity (including evidence of international levels of attainment)
The group for its size has achieved a very high level of productivity in terms of publications: 47 peer reviewed publications (nearly all International) with a total of 191 citations in 2003– 2008. In the same period, they also have published 2 books and 15 book chapters, and 88 International Conference Proceedings.
Evidence for the International standing of the group includes: involvement in Cost Action Workshops; representation at Global / European initiatives: GEO, GEOSS, INSPIRE; vice-chairman of an International Conference; founding member and member of International [ISTEB, ICOBTE] Committees.

Training
6 PhD theses and 21 MSc theses (including 13 Bologna Masters thesis) were completed in the review period 2003–2008. There were 14 PhD students and 18 MSc students ongoing in 2008. These metrics offer good evidence that the group is providing a very good research training environment.

Overall Perspective
The Group have been very successful in obtaining funding, >2 M€ since 2003, and have also been very successful in acquiring funding from industrial sources.
While one of the Group members is Co-ordinator of Erasmus / Socrates Exchange Programmes, ideas on the development of a graduate programme for the Group at both local level and beyond should be encouraged. An increase in number of PhD students completing is anticipated. The Group – particularly in the very relevant areas of electro-mediation & environmental assessment have made a major international impact and are strongly commended for this.
Information and communication technologies [RG-ENVS-LVT-Almada-4085-315]
Introduction
This is a relatively small, well-funded and very dynamic group dividing its time between collective intelligence applied to spatial data, evolutionary computation and reality platforms and interactive displays and tools.

Focus, Relevance and Feasibility of the Research Aims
The group has made a number of cutting-edge advances in the analysis of spatial infrastructures, involving participation in the INSPIRE programme, and in evolutionary computation including interactive visualization relevant to technologies such as Google Earth. Future directions include collective intelligence tools, environmental applications of genetic algorithms and advanced interactive displays. The group’s strong links with industry, for example YDreams, through shared personnel, sponsorship & employment of PhD students and substantial funding are commended.

Productivity (including evidence of international levels of attainment)
The group has already demonstrated very good productivity with 10 papers in international journals, together with 4 books, 9 book chapters and shorter contributions in regional journals, 3 conferences (including 1 International), 2 Workshops, four contracts with industry and four patents. The group has strong international connections – with centres in the US (e.g. MIT, University of Illinois) and Europe (e.g. University of Delft).

Training
The group currently has 8 PhD students (excluding 5PhD and 1MSc completed up to 2006) involved in a range of innovative projects many involving cooperation with the commercial sector. The overall research training environment is good and includes monthly seminars and an annual International Summer School founded by the Group Leader.

Overall Perspective
The group’s overall achievements have met expectations with many clear indications of the high impact and relevance of this work at an international level. Future plans and objectives are exciting and entirely reasonable and realistic.