Greetings from your new Head of Department

Dear colleagues, students and hello to the entire Department of Geoscience and Petroleum

I would like to meet you as your new head of department at IGP.  Even though I’ve met some of you already or some of you know from before, I’m sure there are a lot of people who don’t know me at all. Therefore, I thought I could say a few words about myself and my CV first. Further, I would like to say some words about my motivation why I applied for this job and my plans in near future.

First, a little about myself.

I’m an educated geologist. I studied in my hometown in Giessen, Germany at Justus-Liebig University. I finished with a Diploma or what today is a Master’s degree. The focus of the master’s thesis was clastic sedimentology.

After that, I started my Dr-degree at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. And although I could take part in a fantastic two-month ship-based expedition to Antarctica, the subject of my PhD thesis was on paleoclimate and paleo environmental reconstructions of Cretaceous Black Shales in Colombia, South America. Methodical focus was on fieldwork, sedimentology and organic geochemistry.

After my PhD, I held a 2-year post-doc position immersing myself even more in the topic, but as the 2-year scholarship neared its end, the search for the next project/job began. The idea was to apply for access to sample material from the unique shallow stratigraphic drilling cores from IKU, the Continental Shelf Institute here in Trondheim, which later became part of SINTEF. And since I was on a job hunt, I attached my resumé.

It was in late 1997 when I moved to Trondheim and was employed by IKU as a researcher in the basin modelling department. My research assignments were mostly about black shale formation, characterization and prediction, but the focus was now more on an applied direction, in the search for source rocks. And I had no idea about modelling to begin with.

But it was an incredibly exciting time with many good colleagues, learning by doing, project involvement and good teamwork. After a few years I became a senior researcher and eventually the head of the department. In this last period when I was leading the department, I was more and more engaged in planning the department’s strategy and development, organizing national and international collaboration with industry partners and universities.

In 2012, after more than 7 years in that management position, Equinor, then Statoil, was searching for new young and experienced employees in their research units. And even within my favorite subjects, within paleoclimate modelling, source rocks and petroleum systems analysis. For me, it was an opportunity to consider going back to more technical work, to do more research again. I took my chances and have been working for the last eight and a half years with source rocks from all over the world and over almost the entire geological timescale.

But then I was recently made aware of the announcement for the position here at IGP. And again, I began to consider whether I should try something new. In the job advertisement, the strategic research areas within sustainability, energy and ocean space were highlighted which I find very exciting. I applied for the position because I would like to help develop strategies and plans, build up and lead research groups that lay the foundation for sustainable value creation of geological resources.

The industry is going through a fundamental change, we are approaching an energy transition. I did not plan to mention it and I don’t want to dive into this topic in more detail, but the recent IEA and UN/ICCP reports have raised discussions about our energy future and there is a lot of political discussion right now with the Norwegian elections coming up soon. But I want to say, especially to our students and young professionals that geoscience with all its academic and technical disciplines and applications is and will remain of highest importance for the development of our industry, our society and our prosperity, and I am convinced that education and research within geosciences must be strengthened to meet the challenges that the future energy transition may include.

Within the next weeks and months, I will have to learn a lot. My ambition is to meet all research teams and technical groups at IGP. I believe in an open and constructive dialogue and want to encourage you all to join these meetings. There is also the round of employee interviews coming up soon, another option where we can meet and discuss in more detail.

A last comment on the Corona situation. I want to thank all colleagues here at IGP for their tremendous efforts and hard work during the last months. The situation has been sometimes quite difficult and unpredictable with changing rules and regulations on short notice. That made planning activities, teaching and team-working very demanding and has raised the work load a lot. I hope with increasing vaccination numbers and that also students soon get their full protection the situation will be more relaxed, and we can go back to a more normal campus live again.

With that I want to thank you for joining me here today and I hope to see you all soon in smaller groups and discussions.

Thank you very much for your attention,

take care

Ute Mann,
Head of Department