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World-leading academic Professor Murray Hitzman to head €4.7m SFI research programme at UCD

Posted: March 07, 2018

  • Academic to lead €4.7m SFI-funded research programme at UCD
  • Professor also appointed Director of Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences

World-leading economic geologist Professor Murray Hitzman will lead a new €4.7 million research programme at the UCD School of Earth Sciences as a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Professor.

Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Seán Kyne TD, has also announced the appointment of Professor Hitzman as the new Director of the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG).

iCRAG is an SFI Research Centre at UCD, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and industry partners.
The SFI Research Professorship programme was established to attract outstanding research talent to Ireland and to enhance the country’s reputation as a location to carry out high-impact and high-quality research.

The research that Professor Hitzman will lead at the UCD School of Earth Sciences will focus on studying the geology, geochemistry and geophysical signature of mineral deposits in the Irish zinc-lead ore field. It will also examine other mineral systems across Europe and Africa.

Minister Kyne made the announcements at the 2018 Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) international convention in Toronto.

“This is an exciting development for iCRAG and demonstrates Ireland’s ability to attract leading international geoscientists,” he said.

Speaking at the announcement, Professor Murray Hitzman, said: “Through iCRAG, I look forward to building on the excellent work carried out by Professor John Walsh and his team, and to help in driving forward applied geosciences as a key research area of national importance.”

Professor Andrew J. Deeks, President, University College Dublin, said Professor Hitzman’s appointment will position UCD and Ireland as an "international leader" in minerals research.

Professor Hitzman was responsible for building and directing the largest economic geology research group in the United States at the long-established and highly-respected Colorado School of Mines.

His key research achievements involved the development of new genetic models for both established and poorly understood classes of metallic mineral deposits.

Professor Hitzman has a proven record as an ore-finder and mine developer, primarily for copper, lead, zinc, gold, and rare earth minerals, across Europe, North and South America, Australia/Oceania and South America.

He is moving to Ireland following his position of Associate Director for Energy and Minerals at the US Geological Survey.
iCRAG’s research focuses on the discovery, de-risking and sourcing of raw materials, water and energy resources that are critical to the global economy.

As Director, Professor Hitzman will oversee the SFI Research Centre’s programme across seven different institutions and 150 researchers to deliver scientific and economic impact for Ireland.

Through Professor Hitzman’s research programme, a new 4D model of the structural/stratigraphic architecture of the Carboniferous basin in Ireland will be developed.

In addition, more detailed models of individual mineral deposits and prospects will be constructed utilising existing geological, geophysical and geochemical data, and new seismic datasets.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: “It [the appointment] will further enhance iCRAG’s reputation as a global centre for geoscience research.”

Head of the UCD School of Earth Sciences, Professor Frank McDermott said: “We are very fortunate to attract a scientific leader of Murray’s calibre and international reputation to help drive our School’s ambition in economic geology and related research areas.”

By: Jamie Deasy, digital journalist, UCD University Relations