Faculty of Science welcomes new Dean!

September 19, 2018
Print

Why would a scientist from New Zealand, who has an international research program covering the Maldives, Fiji, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands and the Great Barrier Reef, move halfway around the world to become dean of Science at SFU?

Apparently, a desire to become part of what Paul Kench describes as “a very high-performing and vibrant community of scholars who span the science disciplines.”

Kench, the former head of the School of Environment at the University of Auckland, had barely shaken off jet lag when he began his five-year term as dean of Science on Sept 4.

A steep learning curve on Canada’s post-secondary system as well as lessons on driving on the right-hand side of the road and on SFU’s unique micro-climate were the least of Kench’s concerns.

The greater challenge, he says, is to position SFU on the international map. “I’m impressed at the quality of science undertaken within the faculty…we need to continue to work on strategies to ensure it gets the international recognition that it deserves,” he says.

Kench is also committed to “creating dialogues with faculty, staff and the student body about opportunities to capitalize on our current research strengths and explore new interdisciplinary science collaborations to make our mark in addressing some of the world’s complex problems.”

Kench is a coastal geomorphologist with interests spanning coral reef geomorphology, coastal processes, medium-term coastal change, gravel beach processes and applying coastal science to support coastal management.

How will his new home base will affect his research? “Auckland was also some distance from my field sites in the Indian and Pacific Oceans,” he says.”Many of my field locations are difficult to get to and I frequently spend days in a boat transiting to different atolls. From Vancouver I can be in Hawaii and the Marshall Islands comparatively quickly.”

He also adds, “While my new role will curtail the frequency of field excursions, I have a wealth of data and some very exciting projects that I am looking forward to completing and writing up.”

In fact, Kench’s first trip will be to New York this month to address a United Nations committee on climate resilience and sustainable development in the Republic of Kiribati.

Proust questions:

1.   What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Sailing or diving – particularly in the tropics.

2.   Which living person do you most admire?

I admire the unsung heroes who work quietly and tirelessly to support those in need.

3.   What is your greatest extravagance?

Travel. I have been extremely fortunate through my research to visit some extremely remote and spectacular islands.

4.   Which talent would you most like to have?

To be multilingual!

5.   If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

That we take global threats to our environment more seriously.

6.   What is your most treasured possession?

My noise-cancelling earphones – they really do shut out the world.

7.   What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Being a keen sportsperson and having an ageing body.

8.   What do you most dislike?

Bullying and dishonesty……….sorry that’s two things

9.   What is your motto?

Don’t take no for an answer

10.        Do you like rain – lots and lots of never-ending rain?

Of course not – no one likes rain – it just happens. At least it’s not rainy and windy.

11.        What was your first job?

I worked in a butchery to put myself through university. My first post-PhD job was as at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

12.        What was the smartest decision that you ever made?

My last one – but hopefully every decision is a bit smarter than the last one.

13.        What are you most looking forward to?

Meeting the interesting and passionate faculty, staff and students across the SFU community.