Following on from our post about the response of current and former students, another striking aspect of our petition against the restructuring of SBCS has been the response from the global scientific community. Scientists from Britain, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and South Africa have expressed their support for SBCS and their opposition to what managers are proposing to do. Some of them have worked in the School previously or have research collaborations with SBCS colleagues which are now imperilled. The judgement of the scientific community on these ill-thought-out proposals is decidedly negative. They point out the fact that SBCS is a world-leader in aquatic biology but its reputation will take a massive hit from these proposals. They also highlight the damage that will be done to UK science education, precisely at a time when we need it more than ever.
Prof Libor Gruhoffer, Czech Republic
Dear friends, please, don’t forget that SBCS at Queen Mary University is an excellent School… do your best to rescue the School and to keep it for next generations of gifted students and faculty. Libor Gruhoffer, Dean, Faculty of Biological Science, University of South Bohemia (2004-2011); rector of the University of South Bohemia (2012-).
Dr. Anne Robertson, United Kingdom
The aquatic science team at QMUL has a well deserved and excellent national and international reputation in teaching and research. I hope management builds on this expertise rather than undermining it.
Dr. Alfred William Rutherford, United Kingdom
The rise of SBCS in the last 10 years is a major success story. It a centre for excellent research in both biology and chemistry. It is particularly strong for photosynthesis research (natural and artificial), an area that is in the midst of a major expansion, given its importance for alternative energy needs and for food security. It seems madness to undermine the SBCS just when the investments made are reaching fruition and at a time when it is needed most.
John Dainton, United Kingdom
I am a scientist, and proud to be one. I believe I have some reason to be proud of what I have achieved in my life, mainly because of the benefits which it has brought to my fellow citizens. I owe this success in part to the collaboration of my colleagues in my science (Physics) worldwide, which enabled me to bring to the three universities who have employed me much more than just what modern management parlance with its undefined but believed metrics can measure. I also deliver regularly substantial grant income to my employer in the form of “indirects and estates”. I suspect that if the management in QMUL were to do a real “business plan” on what is proposed concerning Bio and Chem Sciences they would see that they have a flourishing activity which brings huge added-value in all senses to QMUL. In case you doubt my assertions, please go and ask the VC of Lancaster University why they are now reversing the decision which they took to shut down Chemistry more than 15 years’ ago, and just how difficult it is for a thriving 94 group University to rebuild a new Chemistry Department. Short term, misplaced business-driven, precipitous action has long term consequences of a hugely damaging nature.
Mr. Peter Cadmus, CO
I write on behalf of the Aquatic Ecotoxicology Laboratory at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA. Over the years your stream ecology faculty, especially Jenny Schmid-Araya have fielded questions and given advice. Dr. Schmid-Araya is one of the ONLY experts in her field. Just as our department helps others when needed, the faculty of the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary University have assisted many scientists from around the world. Please retain your researchers and instructors, THEY are what makes you a prestigious university.
Dr. Geoff McFadden, Australia
I visited SBCS in 2010 and was impressed with the calibre of work and the vision of the group. A strong sense of shared purpose seemed to prevail and I imagine this outfit could come up with a consultative plan to make the cost savings required but to continue and prosper.
Dr. Julian Eaton-Rye, New Zealand
As I am a photosynthesis researcher I know the staff at Queen Mary SBSC who work in Photosynthesis are recognised throughout the world as “world class”. They are an assesst to the UK and to the international community. I suspect the same can be said of the vast majority of the staff of SBCS.
Dr. Yasuhiro Takemon, Japan
The QM SBCS should be the last school as a target of reduction in restructuring since it is indispensable for keeping academic standard in the basic science of the world. I expect QM continues having philosophy of superior treatment of basic biology promising the initiative in the next generation.
Dr. Dan Luca Danielopol, Austria
I support the petition as I know that Queen Mary University, School of biological sciences paid an important role in the advancement of aquatic sciences and built during the year generations of valuable students! do not dismiss this wonderful and valuable human capital!
Dr. Clive Coen, United Kingdom
As a professor in biomedical science, I am astonished by the lack of wisdom surrounding the proposed redundancies. The School has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research (e.g. the internationally important research being undertaken on mole-rats). Furthermore, it is increasingly clear that strategies based on the expectation of large-scale recruitment into London are likely to show meagre success.
Mr. Zvonimir Marelja, Germany
Honestly, I am shocked! I was granted an EMBO fellowship at the SBCS in summer 2011. I was impressed about the relaxed and ambitious atmosphere and the various research areas. These were some of the reasons I decided to go there. If I had to decide now where to go, I would most likely not choose the SBCS.
Dr. M Tokeshi, Japan
The success of an academic institution cannot be expected if its staff are poorly treated with penalising burdens and morale-lowering ‘restructurings’. The proposals are totally detrimental to the future of QM SBCS. I’m apalled that such ill-thought plans could ever be brought forward by responsible management of a UK university. Sincerely hope that this is atypical of the state of UK academic institutions.
Dr. Clare Garvey, United Kingdom
As I understand it, this school is sacrificing the quality of teaching and compromising the experience that potential students may have. What a shame and how short sighted. It’s an ill though out knee jerk reaction to the current economic climate that isn’t even justified on financial grounds. Shame on the principal and head of school! Dr Clare Garvey Editor, Genome Biology (and ex student)
Dr. Sharon Moore, United Kingdom
This seems an ill-thought out plan considering that many schools are restarting chemistry based programmes. In the current climate students are looking for relevant work-related programmes and chemistry appears to be in demand nationally.
Dr. Stephen Prince, MD
I was a member of academic staff in the School of Biological Sciences for 17 years (1971-1988). In that time we grew the School by merger of the Plant Biology and Zoology Departments, then added Westfield College. This has been a power-house of research and teaching. To loose it would be a great loss.
Dr. Graham Catton, United Kingdom
I greatly value the two years I spent doing a post doc in this excellent department.
Dr. John Bryant, United Kingdom
This proposed closure is just madness personified. The UK needs well qualified scientists more than ever so we need to increase science intake into universities, not decrease it. Added to this is the the fact that bioscience, biomedical science and chemistry are enjoying a rightfully deserved surge in prestige on which universities should be building.
Dr. P. David Polly, IN
Having worked at QMUL for nearly ten years, I went through four rounds of restructuring, the last of which landed me in SBCS. Perhaps the only reason I left was to find a stable environment where my time could be spent on core activities of teaching and research. Unsurprisingly my research productivity is higher, the output of my graduate students is higher, and I spend more student-hours teaching than I ever did at QMUL because I no longer have to devote time to being evaluated, to strategic responses to restructuring proposals, to redesigning curricula, or to job applications. If QMUL would stop restructuring and give time for the results of the last one to bear fruit, it could easily be a university of international caliber because it is otherwise a place full of high profile, hard working academic staff, motivated students, and support staff who are known to work miracles.
Dr. Peter Schmid, Austria
What goes on at Queen Mary in respect to redundancies and/or restructuring at the SBCS is simply disgusting. If this is the future of science, then there is no future for and in science. To make science simply reliable on external funding favouring fashonable monothematic themes, will eliminate any progress in the sciences AND in economy and the wider society. The School is known to be populated by researchers of the highest caliber often being world-wide the sole representive of organismal groups and excellent ecological expertises. I ask you not to proceed with any plans altering and undermining all those research and teaching areas in the SBCS.
Dr. Tamsin Burland, United Kingdom
SBCS is populated with talented and dedicated scientists, please don’t destroy this unique community!
Dr. Lucia Gutierrez, Australia
I am a researcher from The University of Western Australia extremely concerned about the future of my collaborators from SBCS.
Dr. Konstantin Knrapko, MA
I am an associate professor at at Harvard Medical School, my laboratory has an important collaboration with a researcher at SBCS. My personal I am concern is that this unwelcome restructuring will adversely affect my collaboration as it I am sure will many other international collaborations at SBCS.
Dr. Nigel Bennett, South Africa
Dr Faulkes [of SBCS] and I have worked together for 28 years and are both considered world authorities. I cannot understand how you would want to destroy such a productive and efficient school with a fire and hire approach – it does not work.
Dr. Orie Shafer, MI
The restructuring plans proposed by SBCS at Queen Mary, University of London, show a troubling disregard for the current state of scientific research and its funding. The plan as I understand it is not reasonable and, if implemented, will bleed SBCS of gifted and highly qualified academic staff and will deny researchers the long-term stability necessary for creating world-class research programs.