Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University includes the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD) and the Centre for Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology (CMBB). Around 50 academic staff work within the School of Life Sciences. Key topics include environmental biology, a largely marine-based discipline developed from the involvement of the University in North Sea oil exploration, and biotechnology, centred on micro-organisms and cereal plants, notably barley, wheat, maize and sugar beet. Again this arises from our long association with the brewing and distilling industries.
We have expanded our research portfolio into food science, human and exercise physiology, and psychology. Our environmental and food-beverage related research both rated a Grade 4 in the Research Assessment Exercise (2001).
Approximately 80 postgraduate students, pursuing either a taught programme or engaged in research, are presently working on-campus in Life Sciences. Discussion groups and journal clubs are held regularly to provide both students and staff with an opportunity to talk about their work and that of others. In addition, over 150 students are pursuing postgraduate distance learning qualifications.
Much of the research and some of the teaching is carried out in collaboration with the industrial sector, and with research institutes such as the Scotch Whisky Research Institute (located on the University Research Park) and the Scottish Crops Research Institute.