University of Cambridge honours UOW scientist

Apr 02, 2007

The University of Cambridge has recognised the contribution made by the published research of UOW academic, Professor Colin Woodroffe, (Earth and Environmental Sciences) by approving him for the degree of Doctor of Science.

A Doctor of Science is a degree awarded on the basis of a collection of published works which make a distinct and original contribution to the advancement of science or learning.

Professor Woodroffe’s research has focused on the way in which coastal landforms change. His publications include a scholarly book, entitled Coasts, form process and evolution, published by Cambridge University Press in 2003, as well as more than 100 scientific papers in prestigious journals.

He studied geography as an undergraduate at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. Inspired by the enthusiasm of the academics and postgraduates who taught him, Professor Woodroffe undertook postgraduate studies, also at the University of Cambridge.

His PhD thesis examined the morphology, stratigraphy and sedimentary dynamics of mangrove shorelines in the Cayman Islands in the West Indies. This fascination with the dynamics of tropical and subtropical coastlines led to opportunities to research a wide range of coastal environments, including island coasts across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, embayments on the New Zealand coast, and estuaries around the coast of Australia.

His publications include studies of coral reef development and sea-level history, in remote parts of the world such as Belize, Tuvalu, Tonga, the Cook Islands, and the Maldives, as well as papers on the Australian coast.

Such studies of past coastal changes, expanded through acquisition of topographic data from sophisticated survey techniques, such as airborne lidar and ship-borne swath mapping, and integrated using geographical information systems (GIS), are especially relevant in the context of anticipated global climate change. They provide the essential background against which it is possible to assess vulnerability of coasts to the impacts anticipated as a result of present and future environmental change.

Professor Woodroffe’s more recent studies have examined the implications of climate change for low-lying reef, deltaic and estuarine coasts and reef-island development.

Professor Woodroffe has just returned from fieldwork on the low-lying atolls of Kiribati in the central Pacific Ocean, where his reconstruction of past environments in the central Pacific Ocean is now focusing on the potential to extend the historical record of the behaviour of climate associated with the climate phenomenon known as ‘El Niño’ over the past few thousand years, using fossil coral.

He will receive the degree at a ceremony in Cambridge later in the year.



Professor Colin Woodroffe was recently congratulated on admission to Doctor of Science by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, Professor Alison Richard (right), at a reception hosted by the Cambridge Society of New South Wales. Professor Woodroffe’s wife, Salwa, also attended the reception

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