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Earth Systems Graduate Launchpad
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One of the students, Mr Michael Saliba, delivering his presentation  

The Institute of Earth Systems held its first ever Earth Systems Graduate Launchpad at the Auditorium of the University of Malta’s Valletta campus on Friday 10 July 2015. The event showcased research projects undertaken by final year B.Sc. (Hons) in Earth Systems students and was attended by professionals, academics, and students.

Through oral presentations and posters, students outlined research projects conducted on a range of different aspects of Earth Systems, including geophysics, coastal geomorphology, meteorology, renewable energy generation, biodiversity conservation, land-use change, and natural resources management. Geophysics projects included studies of landslide susceptibility, seismic occurrences, microzonation, and tsunami risk in different parts of the Maltese Islands. Coastal geomorphology research included studies of erodibility, erosion rates, and aeolian transport, while meteorological projects included studies of cyclone events and urban heat islands, as well as improvements to weather prediction models.


Selected posters 

Biodiversity conservation projects included a study of fragmentation effects on Least Weasel populations, a project studying pest contagion in selected regions of Malta, a study of the potential for restoration ecology to be applied to different parts of Malta, the development of a pollen database, and analyses of the financial sustainability and resilience of Natura 2000 sites. Finally, resource management projects included an analysis of Malta’s water footprint, a project analysing the degradation rate of solar panels, an analysis of the sustainability of the restaurant industry in Malta, and an evaluation of the potential for permaculture applications in public spaces. Other projects presented included an analysis of landscape change over time in a Gozitan town, an evaluation of environmental considerations in consumer food choices, and an analysis of the role of childhood experiences in forming environmental attitudes. 


Some of the student presenters from the morning session 

The range of topics presented reflects the breadth of the Earth Systems framework, with the B.Sc. (Hons) course providing all students with a general understanding of different Earth Systems and their interactions, and allowing them to then specialise in a specific topic area of their choice, both in their dissertation project and in later postgraduate studies. The B.Sc. (Hons) in Earth Systems course was coordinated by Dr Elisabeth Conrad from the time of its inception in October 2011 until late 2015, when Ms Belinda Gambin took over the role of Coordinator. Over 130 students have read for the degree thus far, and the programme welcomed its fifth student cohort in October 2015. 

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