Marine expert recognised for contribution to university

A leading oceanographer has been recognised for his contribution to the University of the Highlands and Islands. William Austin, an expert in marine geoscience, has been made an honorary Professor by the institution.

Professor Austin, a reader at the University of St Andrews’ school of geography and geosciences, was awarded the title for his work at the Scottish Association of Marine Science (SAMS) UHI, a partner of the university based near Oban. He has collaborated with SAMS UHI researchers on many projects over the last 20 years, including studies of modern processes in Scottish fjords (sea lochs), the development of new palaeoclimate archives and work in the Arctic.

The award also recognises Professor Austin’s illustrious career. Since graduating with a PhD in marine geology in 1991, has held prestigious research fellowships from the Royal Society of London and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, spoken on marine topics at numerous international conferences, attracted more than £1m of research funding and contributed to and authored over 100 academic publications, including book chapters and journal articles. He has also taught and supervised many research students and is the current chair of the Geological Society of London’s marine studies group.

Professor Austin, who grew up on the Welsh island of Anglesey, but now lives in Anstruther, Fife, is excited about the opportunities the award will bring. He said: “I am honoured to have received this professorial recognition and feel genuinely excited about developing new research projects, building new collaborations and sharing my wealth of experience. I plan to dedicate a significant amount of my energy to enhancing the international research and teaching profile of SAMS UHI at the unique Dunstaffnage-based facilities. As a member of the Scottish Funding Council’s Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland partnership, the opportunity to strengthen research links in marine sciences between St Andrews and SAMS UHI is very welcome at this time.”

University of the Highlands and Islands principal and vice-chancellor, James Fraser, commented: “This award formalises long-standing collaboration between the university, SAMS UHI and Professor Austin. We are pleased to have worked with such a respected academic and feel this professorship is a fitting way to mark his dedication to marine geoscience and contribution to the university. We look forward to developing further collaborations with Professor Austin.”

SAMS UHI director, Professor Laurence Mee, added: “Professor Austin is a very experienced and innovative scientist who has dedicated a major part of his career to postgraduate training and enhancing cooperation between like-minded Scottish institutions through his leadership of the SAGES [Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society] Graduate School. He has been a long-term collaborator with the university through SAMS; this honour is well deserved and we look forward to even closer cooperation in the future.”

You can find out more about the University of the Highlands and Islands and its marine related courses at


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