FCT

R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Ciências da Terra e do Espaço

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Geofísica da Universidade de Coimbra [EASP-Centro-Coimbra-611] visitada em 02/02/2009

Classificação: Good

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
Overview
This is a small to moderate, recently formed Unit which is vibrant and ambitious. We note with approval that nearly all the indicators of productivity and the size of the Unit are all increasing with time. The progress made is good given the amount of time the Unit has been in existence. We also appreciated their forward looking approach, whilst retaining the traditions of the past. However, the range of specialities covered are perhaps too diverse and we did not feel that the Unit's plans were realistic in their entirety. The Unit badly needs a coherent strategy for integrating the disparate groups. They are also severely limited in terms of laboratory space and communications facilities, both of which must be overcome if the Unit is to further improve its international profile.

Management
The management is loose, informal and inclusive. It is highly functional and entirely suitable for a Unit of that size, but if the Unit continues to grow a formal management structure will be necessary.

Facilities
The current laboratory facilities were not fully demonstrated, but what we saw was not compatible with the needs of the 21st century. Whilst the Unit is seeking to protect a scientifically and historically important site, it can only do this with the full support of the University. The Unit must develop a strategy to both protect the site and for further internationalisation of their research and they must be realistic should it prove impossible to do this. The Panel found it difficult to ascertain the full refurbishment requirements and their equipment needs although we appreciate the need to modernise. In particular the lack of a fast cable connection from the Observatory to the University must be resolved.

Recommendations to the Unit
It is essential that during their planned review of their activities that the Unit prioritise their research funtions and then focus on those with the greatest potential. The Unit must also actively seek funding for post-doctoral research staff.

Commendations
We commend the reflective and honest methods adopted by the Unit to identify those areas in which it can develop a considerable international profile. We also commend the various outreach activities. We share their enthusiasm but advise that they should not over-extend themselves. We are also encouraged by their interdisciplinary approach to developing research teams.

Conclusions
We currently rank the Unit as Good. If the Unit is able to develop a tighter focus and continue its upwards trend in productivity we have no doubt that it has the potential to improve. However, the matter of the available facilities must be addressed for this to happen. This is a Unit in which one or few groups did high quality international research which leads to some contributions to the field while most groups did good, solid research at international level leading to incremental contributions to the field.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
Lithosphere - Atmosphere Interface [RG-EASP-Centro-Coimbra-611-1429]
Introduction
This is a moderate-sized group of researchers and other PhD level researchers that was established during the review period.

Focus, Relevance and Feasibility of the Research Aims
The general research focus is on geophysical characterization of rocks, surface processes and hydrogeology. These are topical research areas in the Earth Sciences which would be expected to lead to significant contributions to knowledge and understanding at national level and significant contributions at international level. The name of the group does not clearly reflect the research that is being undertaken - surface processes and hydrology but the rationale of bringing together a hydrological approach with a geophysical approach to subsurface mapping is commendable. The volcanic research that is undertaken by this group sits between the main expertise of the Solid Earth group and this group.

Productivity (including evidence of international levels of attainment)
In spite of its size, the group has achieved a low level of productivity in terms of publications. Only a few publications are in peer-reviewed international journals (Journal of Hydrology, Mathematical Geology, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research) and the group is very strongly encouraged to submit more of their research to such journals in the future.

Training
1 PhD and 8 MSc projects completed in the review period is evidence that the group provides a moderate research training environment.

Overall Perspective
The groups overall achievements have met expectations with some indications of the impact and relevance of this work at international level (organization of two conferences). Future plans and objectives are somewhat developed and ambitious, and might lead to outcome of international relevance and importance. It is expected that the group will appear more focussed as they become established.
Planetary geosciences [RG-EASP-Centro-Coimbra-611-1327]
Introduction
This is a small group of researchers that was first established during 2003 and is conducting interdisciplinary research in planetary geosciences.

Focus, Relevance and Feasibility of the Research Aims
The general research focus is on planetary geosciences. These are very topical research areas in the Earth Sciences which have led to significant contributions to knowledge and understanding at national and international level.

Productivity (including evidence of international levels of attainment)
For its size, the group has achieved a good level of productivity in terms of publications. Many of these are in peer-reviewed international journals - the rate of publication in ISI journals is steadily increasing.

The group’s status as Recognised Collaborating Laboratory for the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission is noted and commended as evidence of their International standing in this area. Evidence for International standing is also apparent from their collaborative research links and involvement with instrument development for ExoMars Rover and C1XS.

Training
2 MSc projects completed and 3 PhD projects started in the review period is evidence the group provide a good research training environment.

Overall Perspective
The groups overall achievements have met expectations with significant indication of the impact and relevance of this work at international level. Future plans and objectives are reasonable and realistic and will lead to outcome of international relevance and importance.
Solid Earth [RG-EASP-Centro-Coimbra-611-1392]
Introduction
This is a large group of researchers that was first established during 2003 and is conducting interdisciplinary research in geophysics.

Focus, Relevance and Feasibility of the Research Aims
The research focus is across a wide range of problems across geophysics, seismo-stratigraphy and tectonics. These are topical research areas in the Earth Science which would be expected to lead to significant contributions to knowledge and understanding at national level and some contributions at international level. However, research is very severely hampered by the lack of a fast cable connection from the Observatory to the University - the group is currently unable to join the international geophysical data networks.

Productivity (including evidence of international levels of attainment)
For its size, the group has achieved a moderate level of productivity in terms of publications. A good number of these are in peer-reviewed international journals - the rate of publication in ISI journals is steadily increasing.

The group is commended for their desire to maintain the historic Geophysical Observatory and for their outreach activities. Evidence for International standing in the field of geophysics is emerging with a few publications in relatively high impact factor journals.

Training
2 MSc projects completed and several PhD projects started in the review period is evidence the group provides a good research training environment.

Overall Perspective
The groups overall achievements have largely met expectations with indications of the impact and relevance of this work at international level. Substantial delays incurred in planned relocation of the seismic station and magnetic laboratory hindered research plans. Future plans and objectives are reasonable although rather unfocussed due to the need for funding and equipment but should lead to outcomes of international relevance and importance.