Ex-FIFA Ref Gets Aberdeen Uni ET Director Role

Ex-FIFA Ref Gets Aberdeen Uni ET Director Role
Underhill used to be a professional football referee on the FIFA circuit.

The University of Aberdeen has named John Underhill as the director of its new interdisciplinary center for energy transition.

Underhill is the Academic Executive Director of the UK Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT), entitled GeoNetZero (GNZ). Supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), GNZ is described as a $6.6 million (GBP 5 million) industry-academic collaboration between 12 Universities and eight industry partners that is exploring the role of geoscience for the low carbon energy transition and challenge to meet net zero emission targets.

Underhill, who has been the recipient of numerous awards in the geological industry, previously served as the president of the European Association of Geoscientists & Engineers (EAGE) in 2011-12. He has also previously held professorial posts at The University of Edinburgh and Heriot Watt University and was a member of the UK Energy Minister's Technology Leadership Board (TLB). Underhill was also a professional football referee on the FIFA circuit, which saw him officiate European Champions League, international and Scottish Premier League games between 1994 and 2008.

“The Energy Transition is a significant global challenge, and it is a privilege to have the opportunity to lead the university’s efforts to address, critically evaluate and seek the right solutions that ensure we retain energy supply as we decarbonize,” Underhill said in a university statement.

“Having been pivotal for the energy industry and wealth creation and quality of life that the UK has enjoyed over the past half century, Aberdeen and the north east region is uniquely placed to shape and deliver the transition that it is required,” he added in the statement.

“I am delighted to take on this role and look forward to working towards the goal of a just, fair and affordable transition that protects jobs and livelihoods on the journey to meet net zero emission targets,” Underhill went on to say.

The Uni of Aberdeen’s new energy transition interdisciplinary center is one of five new interdisciplinary centers being established at the university. Aside from the energy transition, these will focus on health, nutrition and wellbeing; social inclusion and cultural diversity; data and artificial intelligence; and environment and biodiversity. The centers are hubs designed to encourage and enable academics to work across scientific boundaries to provide solutions to complex problems facing the key research challenges of our time, the university stated.

In January this year, the University of Aberdeen launched the UK’s first postgraduate degree program in Energy Transition Systems and Technologies. In October, the university announced a commitment to divest from fossil fuels. The decision relates directly to the university’s commitment to show leadership in working for the sustainable future of the planet through Aberdeen 2040, the university outlined in a statement at the time. The Uni of Aberdeen’s 2040 strategy commits the organization to achieving net-zero emissions before 2040. 

To contact the author, email andreas.exarheas@rigzone.com


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