Ever Since Darwin: Reflections on Natural History
“The new research and teaching focus on Energy Resources at UP will address the energy demands of the country as South Africa’s sustainable economic and human capital growth is strongly dependent on the future exploitation of its fossil energy resources.” This sentiment aligns perfectly with the vision of the newly appointed Head of the Department of Geology, Prof Annette E. Götz, who was appointed as Professor of Sedimentology and Energy Resources and Head of the Department from 1 December 2014.
Prof Götz holds an MSc (1992) and a PhD (1995) from Darmstadt University of Technology (TU Darmstadt), Germany, both of which focused on carbonate sedimentology and micropalaeontology. Before joining Rhodes University as the Geology Department’s sedimentologist in 2012, she worked as Associate Professor at TU Darmstadt focussing on energy-related research with special emphasis on geothermal energy. From 2007 till 2008 she also held the position as Managing Director of the TU Darmstadt Energy Center and served as referee for the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Germany from 2009 until 2010.
Her research focus is on coal and hydrocarbon exploration – conventional and unconventional resources of sedimentary basins in Europe, China, Middle East, Mexico, Australia, Nigeria and Southern Africa. She is Head and Scientific Project Manager of the Karoo Research Initiative (KARIN), incorporated under the newly-established NRF-DST Centre of Excellence for Integrated Mineral and Energy Resource Analysis (CIMERA) that is co-hosted by the University of Johannesburg and the University of the Witwatersrand. KARIN aims to explore all aspects of the unconventional hydrocarbon potential within the Karoo Basin by investigating the sedimentary environments in which the potential source rocks formed as well as their subsequent thermal and structural history, in addition to considering the present physical nature of the potential source rocks and an environmental analysis, which will inform future exploration initiatives. KARIN also aims to equip South African postgraduate students with the necessary high-level skills to pursue research, and ultimately careers, in the area of hydrocarbon exploration and extraction.
Whilst the country has relied almost exclusively on coal from the Karoo Basin for its power needs for over a century, it has no known exploitable reserves of petroleum and very little natural gas. Thus, the need to better understand our onshore and offshore sedimentary basin deposits and their related energy resources is very obvious. With the expertise of Prof Götz UP will provide the ideal conditions to assist in the developing graduates for international petroleum and gas companies working regionally and across the continent. Consequently, the new focus area provides a landmark opportunity for UP to address future manpower needs in the energy sector not just in South Africa, but regionally.
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