Academic staff and specialists at the faculty conduct research within a few main subject areas: molecular biology, microbiology, fish and marine biology, ecology and evolutionary biology, biogeography, human geography, tourism studies and environmental science.
- Each group conducts research that usually falls within one or more subject areas. The groups also engage in varied collaborative efforts, with both international and domestic partners.
- The Institute of Life and Environmental Sciences (LUVS) is the main research venue for lecturers and specialists in the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences.
In the last 50 years, molecular biology has flourished as an independent discipline, in addition to which molecular biology and biochemistry methodology has proven useful in research in life and environmental sciences. Groups in operation within the faculty seek to answer key questions in molecular biology, e.g. on the nature of the genetic code, proteins that copy and repair DNA and the expression of antibacterial peptides. (Further descriptions and list of research groups).
The world of microorganisms has become accessible through advents in microscope technology and cultivation. The biotechnology revolution began with research on microorganisms, and currently genetic technology can be applied in isolating un-culturable microbes, identifying inherent floras of bacteria in the environment as well as infectious variants that are harmful to humans and animals. Microbiologists at the faculty work on other projects, for example regarding the use of lipids as a protection against viruses and bacteria, and diversity in high temperature hot springs. (Further descriptions and list of research groups).
Fish and marine biology
The ocean is one of Iceland's most important resources, and sensible management of this resource is essential for the nations continued prosperity. Research involves most factors relating to yield and sensible resource management. Fundamental questions on ocean currents and flow around the country, the nature of deep-sea communities, the type and diversity of exploitable marine stock, how they respond to fisheries, and factors that influence recruitment, spawning and hatching. Scientists at the faculty also conduct research on factors relating to the condition of fish stock and that can bring about an increase in the value of catch and products. (cf, www.marice.is. Further descriptions and list of research groups).
Ecology and evolutionary biology
Organisms develop in an ecological context, at times very quickly, but most often over a long period of time. Research groups within the faculty deal with questions covering the whole of this spectrum. Some research focuses on the properties of ecosystems, for example the great fluctuations in the biota of Lake Mývatn, the stand development of birch on Breiðamerkursandur, and the territorial behaviour of fox in Hornstrandir. Examples of research on evolutionary biology are for example the hunt for genes that relate to the adaptability of cod to depth, classification of crabs that survived the Ice Age under glaciers, the hybridisation of birch and dwarf birch, and the research and development of promoter sequences. (Further descriptions and list of research groups).
Natural geographers deal mainly with are the lands appearance and the processes that form this appearance. Geographical information systems and remote sensing technology are important research tools. At the faculty, research is carried out for example on the interplay between climate, land use, geological change, soil, vegetation and settlements. Further research topics include soil carbon balance and its connection with ecological cycles and finally, natural hazards, such as floods or volcanic eruptions, and how public institutions and organisations can respond to such events. (Further descriptions and list of research groups).
Human inhabitation, utilisation of resources, the interplay of culture and space - these are all classical research topics the importance of which has increased even more in recent years. Various research is conducted at the faculty, focusing on the development of settlement patterns and industrial activity in Iceland, as well as the formation of Icelandic urban areas. Research into the importance of landscape in an Icelandic context is a cultural geography aspect. Further research relates to development and development cooperation, directed towards deprived areas of the world. (Further descriptions and list of research groups).
Tourism studies: Environment and planning
Tourism has increased steadily in recent years, not least here in Iceland, and the nature is the magnet that attracts most tourists to travel in Iceland. Considerable research into the culture of Icelandic nature tourism and its environmental impact is conducted at the faculty. The distribution of tourists and their travel behaviour is mapped and the capacity of various tourist attractions has been investigated. In this way, knowledge that can be applied to improve the planning of these tourist spots is gathered.
Tourism: Economy and culture
Tourism is an important foundation of the economy and habitation in many regions. This is the focus of some of the research in tourism at the faculty. The arrival of cruise ships and services generated thereby is an example of a topic. Another example is innovation related to cultural heritage in fishing communities. A number of interesting topics await further research; this can increase value creation within the tourism industry and ensure a general consensus on the industry's future direction.
Interplay between man and nature is one of the main topics within environmental science. Research in environmental science naturally encompasses a vast subject area on the boundary between ecology, geology, geography and tourism studies. The key questions relate to the protection and utilisation of natural resources, for example to assess the impact of tourism and tourists' experience of Icelandic nature; to investigate the impact of construction projects on ecosystems; the diversity and appearance of land and sea; and research mans influence on historical changes in landscape, flora and fauna.