While USC was initially established as primarily a regional teaching university for undergraduates, it is now evolving into a targeted research university.
The recent appointment of Professor Roland De Marco as USC's first Pro Vice-Chancellor of Research, underlined the university's commitment to supporting excellence in research. Three Research Centres now exist as focal points at USC: GeneCology Research Centre; Forest Industries Research Centre; and Sustainability Research Centre. Additionally, several other research clusters or themes have developed and new ones are emerging. Through these focal points, USC maintains research collaborations worldwide with a strong emphasis in the Asian-Pacific region. USC has recently enhanced its research profile through the recruitment of outstanding researchers and up-to-date infrastructure. The Sustainability Research Centre (SRC) was formalised as one of the University of the Sunshine Coast's flagship research concentrations in September 2007. In 2012 the SRC was also designated as a Tier 1 Research Centre, one of only three in the university. Within the past year, the SRC has made two critical research-based hires in geosciences (Professors Patrick Nunn and Roy C. Sidle) to increase its visibility and profile in biophysical sciences to complement the strong faculty counterpart in social sciences. The SRC has the capacity to attract top-level Honours students from various faculties and support post graduate students as well as Research Fellows. The SRC offer both undergraduate majors and minors in Sustainability and a Ph.D. by research in Sustainability. The core focus of the sustainability educational programs aligns with the social, behavioural, biophysical, and economic sciences. In addressing concerns of society and the environment, this important transdisciplinary research area offers a broad spectrum of opportunity.