Professor Olle Hints has been appointed as the new head of TalTech's Department of Geology. Michael Hitch, the former director of the institute, will continue in the university as an associated professor, supervising doctoral students and participating in research and development projects.
The new head of the geology institute considers the biggest challenges of the institute to be the continuous development of the mining and mineral resource field, improving the quality of study programs and teaching, and collaboration in applied research in Estonia, as well as internationally. "The institute of geology has always been a research-centric structural unit. Of course, strong international research has to continue, but studies on mineral resources and mining and more broadly serving society in the institute's focus areas must receive equal attention. The knowledge of its georesources is essential for every country, including Estonia," said Hints and added that since last year, the institute along with its partners has been carrying out the national research and development program ResTA, one of the goals of which is the recognition, protection and better valuation of our mineral resources in the future. "This year, we anticipate the first results of this project, which are important in shaping the state's resource policy but are also definitely interesting in a purely scientific way," Hints added.
Professor Hints also sees great perspective in close cooperation with TalTech's other structural units, especially the Department of Marine Systems and the School of IT. "In the form of the institutes of geology and marine systems, a unique competence in Estonia covering the geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere has concentrated in TalTech. Understanding the functioning and connections of these Earth systems is critical in offering solutions to future challenges related to environmental and climate change. On the other hand, TalTech has world-class competence in data science, IT, automatics, and robotics, the application of which for a smart mining industry could be an international strength of TalTech. We plan to use this cooperation potential with the updated bachelor's program of Earth sciences and technology, which launches in 2022."
The pleasant developments of last year were the graduation of the first students of the Georesources program and them continuing their path towards a master's degree, as well as several new doctoral students beginning their work. New doctoral students and specialists with international experience are also expected to join the institute's team this year. This will help to face the coming challenges according to professor Hints.
Olle Hints received his education in geology from the University of Tartu and defended his doctoral thesis at Tallinn University of Technology in 2002. He is a long-time employee of the geology institute and has fulfilled different roles from laboratory assistant to department manager.
The main directions of professor Hints' research are related to sedimentary rocks, geochemistry, micropaleontology, stratigraphy, and explaining the development history of the Earth and life. He is the author of more than 200 research articles and other publications. Since 2008, Hints has been conducting studies at TalTech and instructing students, including doctoral and postdoctoral students. He led the development of the Estonian research infrastructure's network of geological collections and information system of georesources. The creation of a similar international network in collaboration with Europe's largest natural history museums began in 2020. Professor Hints is a member of the TalTech Senate and partakes in the work of several specialized organizations in Estonia and abroad.
The new main job of professor Michael Hitch is leading the Western Australian School of Mines at Curtin University in Perth.
TalTech Institute of Geology
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