Awards Ceremony, President's Day 2014 (Wednesday 4 June)
Mr David Shilston, President opens proceedings.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As an engineering geologist, and especially as the first to be President of this Society, it gives me particular pleasure to begin the Awards Ceremony today with a word or two about the applied and industrial geology awards made by this Society through the year.
Picture: Mr David Shilston (front row, right) with the 2014 Award winners.
Some awards for applied work you will see presented later today. However, there are others, including prestigious awards made by the Society’s specialist groups.
This year, the Petroleum Group’s Silver Medal will be presented to Mike Daly of BP; and last autumn, the Engineering Group’s 14th Glossop Medal was awarded to Professor Jim Griffiths of the University of Plymouth;
I think these winners fully deserve to receive the first round of applause for today.
Finally, before we get going in earnest with the presentation of Awards, I would like to welcome Dr Mary Scott to our proceedings. Mary is the widow of Dr Robert Andrew Scott, who died in 2012 at the tragically early age of 51 after a working life devoted to Arctic research. In his memory, his family established an annual undergraduate prize at the School of Earth Sciences in Bristol University; it is The Robert Andrew Scott Prize for overall excellence in geology fieldwork.
Picture: Mr David Shilston (front row, left) with the 2014 Medallists.
In addition, the Society was pleased to announce in 2013 that CASP (formerly the Cambridge Arctic Shelf Programme, where Robert was Senior Geologist) had donated £50,000, as an expendable endowment in Robert’s memory. This sum has been invested by the Society and the interest is being used to support a single, annual research award of £2,000. The first Robert Scott Award has been made this year - to Lisa Mol, who is also present today.
Anyone who has ever been President of anything will know that your colleagues keep you on a tight rein most of time. But we begin today with three Awards that are in my gift. Please be reassured that I seek advice from people who can recognise rare promise when they see it; but the final choices are all mine. Which is why these are called the ‘President’s Awards’.
Oliver Shorttle (President’s Award)
Our apologies to Oliver Shorttle whose presentation photograph was lost due to a camera malfunction.
The first President’s Award goes to Oliver Shorttle, described as one of the most extraordinary young Earth Science researchers in the world today. Oliver obtained a top first at Cambridge and has completed a groundbreaking PhD study of mantle heterogeneity and convection. A gifted observer, highly numerate, he is blessed with an insight that allows him to cut to the quick when presented with a mass of confusing data. He has a reputation as a careful analyst and programmer, making improvements to several geochemical procedures.
Lest this make him sound pallid and laboratory-based – Oli is not afraid to get his hands or his boots dirty, and relishes his fieldwork in Iceland and elsewhere, walking for miles over difficult ground to obtain the best possible samples. What these samples are telling him, detailed in several brilliant papers already published, has helped resolve many long-standing conundrums about the convecting mantle under Iceland.
Ladies and gentlemen, Oliver Shorttle.
Hannah Hughes (President’s Award)
The second President’s Award today goes to Hannah Hughes of Cardiff University, where she is currently in her third year of a PhD. After her first degree at Oxford and a prizewinning MSc at Camborne School of Mines, she is now studying mafic igneous rocks from Western Scotland to assess their potential for nickel-copper and platinum group elements - while trying at the same time to understand the evolution of the sub-continental lithospheric mantle over time.
With the publications arising from her MSc, and with more in press from her current PhD research, she will already have a substantial publication list by the time she completes her doctorate.
Hannah has amassed an incredible amount of data during her PhD but what marks her out is the way that she has interpreted it, showing a maturity far beyond most PhD students at that stage.
Ladies and gentlemen, Hannah Hughes.
Michael Babechuk (President’s Award)
The third President’s Award today goes to Michael Babechuk, who began his academic career in Ontario at the University of Windsor and Laurentian University, prior to transferring to Trinity College Dublin with his PhD supervisor Prof. Balz Kamber, when he took up a chair there.
Michael has received many awards and scholarships, and even though he is only part way through his doctoral research he has already published six papers, five as lead author. His research on weathering horizons, which is already revolutionizing the subject, is surely destined to be highly cited. Applied to the ancient Earth, his research also has important implications for our understanding of interactions between the atmosphere and lithosphere, including evidence for the oxygenation of the early atmosphere.
Michael is a skilled and helpful geochemist, generous with his skills and time, and is proving to be a fine teacher of undergraduates at Trinity.
Ladies and gentlemen, Michael Babechuk.
Maggie Elizabeth Williams (Distinguished Service Award)
We come now to the Society’s Distinguished Service Award.
This year’s recipient, Maggie Williams, is currently Retired Chair of the Earth Science Teachers Association, ESTA, and has a highly distinguished record of contributions to the fostering of Earth science teaching and teacher training in the UK.
Maggie graduated in Geology from Leicester University in 1971, and then did a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at Keele. At the other end of her formal career, she was awarded a doctorate from Liverpool University in 2003, the year after retirement from her position as Assistant Principal and Head of Geology at Birkenhead 6th Form College (where, incidentally, from 1988 she set up the Geography and Geology departments from scratch!).
Her teaching experience has been extensive, having first become Head of Geography and Geology at Rock Ferry High School after teaching there for 14 years. It was during that time that Maggie joined ESTA (or the Association of Teachers of Geology as it was then known) - a body she has served faithfully and indefatigably ever since. This service has included seven years as Treasurer, as Special Projects Manager, Examinations Officer, Advertising Officer, Conference Convener, Member of the Secondary Working Group, Newsletter Editor and Assistant Editor of the journal Teaching Earth Sciences, for which she regularly contributes articles - and many more roles, too numerous to mention.
Her diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis may have precipitated her retirement from formal employment, but this did not loosen in any way her engagement with Earth sciences and their teaching. Indeed, if anything that engagement redoubled – and she took over as ESTA’s Chair at short notice in 2011.
Maggie is fond of remembering how she was helped by ESTA in her early years as a geology teacher, and saying that it is her goal to provide the same service for fellow teachers, especially when starting out, and to enhance ESTA’s role as a ‘caring, sharing’ support-body for these colleagues.
Maggie, in recognition of your unconquerable enthusiasm and dedication, we are delighted to award you today the Distinguished Service Award of The Geological Society of London.
We now come to the Funds of the Society.
Katherine Helen Joy (Murchison Fund)
The Murchison Fund of the Society is awarded to Katherine Helen Joy of the University of Manchester. Katie Joy is in the front line of current research in lunar geology, and has been involved in several international planetary science missions, applying her understanding of geological processes to the interpretation of geochemical remote sensing data. She has studied the volcanic and bombardment history of the Moon using lunar meteorites and Apollo samples. She also has investigated its surface composition as a co-investigator on X-ray fluorescence instruments that flew with the European Space Agency’s SMART-1 and India’s Chandrayaan-1 orbiters.
She has been inspirational in bringing lunar geology to the general public and school children via blogs, the BBC’s Sky at Night, and notably the ‘Moon Zoo’ project which encourages ‘citizen scientists’ to study the lunar surface. She has served as Secretary and Chair of the UK Planetary Forum and has been to Antarctica, searching for meteorites with the NASA funded ANSMET team.
Katie, for helping to understand the geological processes of the Moon and as an ambassador for extending knowledge of our nearest planetary neighbour, we are pleased to award you the Murchison Fund of The Geological Society of London.
Paul Gregory Butler (Lyell Fund)
The Lyell Fund of the Society is awarded this year to Paul Butler of Bangor University, North Wales. Paul is the leading figure in the extraction of ultra-high resolution records of marine climate change from annual growth increments preserved in exceptionally long-lived and fossil bivalve mollusc shells.
Paul was one of the team that discovered the longest-lived non-colonial animal known to science. He has transferred cross-matching and cross-dating techniques from tree ring dating - or ‘dendrochronology’ - and applied them to marine bivalves, notably Arctica islandica. This has created long, absolute chronologies from the ocean that are now yielding geochemical records of climate change at a level of resolution comparable to those derived from trees on land.
Paul is an unusual nominee for the Lyell Fund in another way, quite apart from his exceptional abilities and his central role in the emerging fields of sclerochronology and scleroclimatology. Now aged 60, Paul’s research career has developed, following a return to academic study in 2001, after his earlier working life as a systems analyst. He has therefore reached his current pre-eminence, from a standing start, in just 12 years.
Paul Butler, please accept the Lyell Fund of The Geological Society of London.
Claire Louise Corkhill (William Smith Fund)
The William Smith Fund goes this year to Claire Corkhill, of The University of Sheffield. Claire Corkhill’s research is aimed at developing concepts for the safe geological disposal of UK nuclear wastes. In this politically and emotionally fraught area, the communication of this research, to many different audiences, is of crucial importance - and Claire has shown herself more than able to rise to the challenge.
Working at the interface between geoscience and materials science - Claire currently has 20 peer reviewed publications to her name. Her present research focuses on determining the durability of nuclear wastes within a geological disposal facility and predicting the behaviour of radionuclides in the subsurface. Throughout her Vice Chancellor's Fellowship she has taken a leading role in the research agenda with increasingly novel approaches –most recently she has developed radio-imaging techniques to examine technetium migration and immobilisation in lithological and cementitious materials.
Her work’s growing international reputation is demonstrated by an invitation to chair the ‘Scientific Basis for Nuclear Waste Management’ symposium in Boston in 2012.
Claire Corkhill – for your innovative work in a vital area of applied geochemistry, please accept the William Smith Fund of The Geological Society of London.
Craig David Barrie (Wollaston Fund)
The Wollaston Fund of the Society goes this year to Craig Barrie, of the NERC Isotope Community Support Facility, SUERC, Glasgow. This is not the first time he has been up here to collect an accolade – he seems to get them wherever he goes, winning the Glasgow University fieldwork award 2003, the Mineralogical Society’s Undergraduate Student award in 2004 and becoming the Journal of the Geological Society’s 2009 Young Author of the Year.
Clearly, Craig is now more than a young mineralogical researcher of great promise – that promise is now being more than amply fulfilled. Since completing his PhD at Liverpool University in 2008, he has published 15 papers that have furthered our understanding of sulphide minerals, notably sphalerite and pyrite, through his careful integration of microstructural and microchemical studies. Moreover, he is already making his mark internationally through research collaborations, and in specialist groups and editorial boards here in the UK.
Craig Barrie, who is unfortunately unable to be with us today, is an enthusiastic, prolific, highly talented scientist – in recognition of which we are delighted to award him the Society’s Wollaston Fund for 2014.
Robert Baron Chandler (R H Worth Prize)
The R H Worth Prize celebrates the practice and encouragement of geological science by and among amateurs. This year we are pleased to award it to Robert Chandler.
Robert Chandler is by profession a high school science teacher, but over nearly five decades and in 33 papers he has also made a significant contribution to our knowledge and understanding of Middle Jurassic ammonite faunas and biostratigraphy. He has generated a refined biozonation scheme for the Aalenian – Bajocian in South West England that is now also widely recognised across all of Western Europe. Through bed-by-bed collecting from many quarries, he has developed an unrivalled expertise that has attracted collaborators from many countries, including Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal and China. This international acclaim and recognition has vastly improved biostratigraphic correlation across the continent.
In addition to his academic work, Bob is an enthusiastic proponent and promoter of geological conservation, working closely with Natural England. He has identified key Inferior Oolite localities in the South West, organised re-excavations and recordings of classic sites, and worked with landowners to aid the establishment and management of SSSIs. He played a crucial role, for example, in obtaining landowner permission to develop the Horn Park SSSI within the trading estate that is now established within this former quarry, near Beaminster in Dorset.
Through his work with local and regional societies, Robert encourages amateur geologists, and fosters liaison between them and professional scientists, leading field trips and delivering public lectures. He has also acted as field supervisor and demonstrator for undergraduate and masters students through the University of London and Birkbeck College.
Robert Chandler, for this outstanding effort, please accept, with our admiration and respect, the R H Worth Prize of The Geological Society of London.
Edward Philip Frank Rose (Sue Tyler Friedman Medal)
The Sue Tyler Friedman Medal, awarded for excellence in research into the history of geology, goes this year to Ted Rose.
Ted began his academic geological career working on fossil echinoids from Libya for his DPhil at Oxford, and researched through the 1970s and 80s primarily on other post-Palaeozoic carbonate successions of the Mediterranean region – participating in two IGCP projects, and publishing papers on fossil and living echinoids. He developed projects on Malta and especially Gibraltar, co-authoring the first large-scale published geological map of the famous Rock.
However another strand to his life, the Territorial Army (from which he retired in 1990, with the rank of Colonel), led him towards Military Geology. He became one of its most active proponents. From 1978 his interest broadened into the history of the subject, from Napoleonic origins and 19th Century role in officer training to its influence on the British Geological Survey’s foundation, thematic cartography, exploitation of groundwater resources, military tunnelling, and much more. A close association with Austrian and German military geologists has given him unique insight into the experiences of both sides during our two major 20th Century conflicts.
Ted has co-edited two books published by the Society, Geology and Warfare and Military Aspects of Hydrogeology, and he was senior co-author of a Geologists’ Association Guide to the Geology of the D Day Landings in Normandy, 1944. He has been an indefatigable promoter and supporter of the International Conference on Military Geosciences series. Since retiring from lecturing at Royal Holloway in 2003, his research output has increased - firmly establishing him throughout Europe and North America as doyen of military geology historians.
Ted Rose, please accept with our deep respect and gratitude, the Sue Tyler Friedman Medal of The Geological Society of London.
Ted Rose replied:
Mr President, I thank you for your kind words, and the Council and its Awards Committee as well as those who so kindly nominated me for this much-appreciated honour.
There are many others who deserve my thanks. As a schoolboy, my geological interests were encouraged and guided by palaeontologists at London’s Natural History Museum. At Oxford, my ‘soft rock’ enthusiasm was nurtured as an undergraduate in the then Department of Geology and Mineralogy (especially by Ron Oxburgh, Stuart McKerrow and Harold Reading), and as a research student in the Department of Zoology (by David Nichols). Thereafter in the University of London, teaching geology to students at Bedford College and subsequently Royal Holloway proved to be a stimulating as well as very enjoyable career. Moreover, thanks to the forbearance of my university colleagues, and more especially the support of my family, I was able to develop a simultaneous part-time career in the Territorial Army. Thus I was able to apply principles of geology during brief assignments to British troops in many countries of the world – a period in which I came to respect greatly those members of the armed forces amongst whom I had the privilege to serve. University and military experience have therefore together provided the background for the scholarship for which you have so generously rewarded me today – pleasingly in the year that marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, and the 70th of the Normandy D-Day, events that catalyzed British military applications of geology. My research, however, would have been impossible without the stimulation provided by many co-authors, and the facilities afforded by easy access to major libraries and archives, coupled with the help of highly competent and considerate librarians – amongst whom those of this Society rank very highly indeed in my esteem.
Max Laurence Coleman (Prestwich Medal)
The Society’s Prestwich Medal goes this year to a geologist who has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in science and who continues to work at the forefront of astrobiological research. I refer of course to Professor Max Coleman.
Max’s work displays extraordinary breadth, focusing mainly on processes, using his favorite approach, stable isotope analysis. His main area of expertise lies in sedimentary and environmental biogeochemistry, though his recent work has concentrated on astrobiology, defining inorganic signatures of life and quantifying energy budgets of biotic processes. Closer to Earth, he has integrated chemical, microbial and physical processes to understand and remedy environmental problems and most recently innovated the concept of using cosmic-ray muons to monitor subsurface storage of CO2.
Following his pioneering early studies (a paper he co-authored in 1977, on isotopic evidence for the source of diagenetic carbonates formed during burial of organic-rich sediments, is still extensively cited today), Max has retained his interest in fundamental interactions between sedimentary organic matter and inorganic and aqueous species. He is known for applying microbial biochemistry to geological problems, including self-organisation, and controls on the optimised dissipation of chemical potential energy. He has studied controls on the chemical composition of basinal brines, and discovered new, natural geochemical tracers that define sources and processes. His contributions to the diagenesis of clastic sediments, at all scales, are widely acknowledged.
Max Coleman, you are a geoscientist with an amazingly broad grasp of the subject, and an industrious and conscientious supervisor who has acted as Mentor to over 25 successful PhD students and to 24 post-docs. Moreover, you continue to make outstanding contributions at the forefront, and we trust that you will be encouraged to even greater exertions by accepting today, with our admiration and gratitude, the Prestwich Medal of The Geological Society of London.
Max Coleman replied:
A response to any citation must be a list of thanks. Sadly, this is only a subset of that list.
Firstly, Mr President thank you for your kind words.
Secondly for two reasons I thank my parents for,
1. encouraging my curiosity- still going strong - leading to my research career and
2. when I was born - exactly the right time – so often I’ve been in the right place at the right time.
For my BSc I learnt by rote many geological history facts but in my final year continental drift theory emerged, effectively geology’s unifying theory – so,
More deducing + Less memorizing = Passing my finals.
How prescient of my parents to realize such perfect timing 20 years earlier.
They were equally clever in predicting the explosion of UK interest in stable isotope geochemistry as I lurched into that field. This gave me many, fruitful collaborations. But their forecasting the fashion for multidisciplinarity came perfectly timed for me to do pioneering stuff combining microbiology and isotope geochemistry.
Next, thanks to Chas Curtis, who introduced me to biogeochemistry. We’d visit each other every few months nominally to continue writing our next paper but also actually for social activities, thus taking considerable time to write and revise papers – as TS Eliot wrote in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,
“Time for you and time for me,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.” … … … or for us, a beer.
The Awards committee, I know think that publications are important. Therefore, many thanks to the fifty Ph.D. students and postdocs I’ve advised so far, for maintaining intellectual entropy and occasionally even writing.
Finally, thanks to my wife and two daughters who complained vociferously - not excessively - and tolerated my frequent absences for conferences or fieldwork.
Sir, you encouraged me to even greater exertions and I am so encouraged, thank you.
John Campbell Maclennan (Bigsby Medal)
We come now to the Bigsby Medal, which this year is awarded to John Maclennan of Cambridge University.
John Maclennan’s work, mostly on the interface between igneous petrology and geophysics, has made a considerable impact. His breadth of knowledge and depth of understanding of igneous petrology and geochemistry, combined with outstanding mathematical ability, render him unique within the UK Earth science community.
In the 13 years since completing his PhD, John has had an enormous impact on our understanding of magmatic processes and has established himself as one of the UK’s leading igneous petrologists. Those dozen or so years have seen 47 peer-reviewed papers in press, including Nature and Science, earning well over 100 citations a year.
John’s major contributions stem from his work on plume-ridge interaction in Iceland. In his PhD he showed how the composition of Icelandic basalt requires that the melt source be fed actively from below, strengthening the case for a mantle plume.
His later work has focused on the composition of olivine-hosted melt inclusions, and what they tell us about the melt-extraction process. He has pioneered the measurement of lead-isotope ratios in these inclusions and shown that these vary significantly within even a single lava flow. His other contributions include an elegant treatment of plume-ridge interaction through the V-shaped ridges of Iceland, and proposed a relationship between the Iceland plume, gas hydrates and the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum.
In addition to these original and fruitful researches John continues to serve the UK magmatic processes community through such bodies as the NERC Peer Review College, the IODP Science Steering and Evaluation Panel, and the Society’s Volcanic and Magmatic Studies Group.
John Maclennan, you are a rising star of UK Earth science and you will no doubt achieve much more. Please accept today the Bigsby Medal of The Geological Society of London.
John Maclennan replied:
First of all, I would like to say thank you to the President and the Society for this recognition. It is a great honour. Casting my eye down the list of names of previous recipients fills me with pride and fear at the same time! Sollas! Bailey! Tilley! Wager! How can I live up to this?
I am a Glaswegian. I grew up on top of a drumlin with a clear view of the Campsie Fells. Basalt flows and volcanic plugs pepper the landscape. For years I believed that the swampy smell of rotting wood in the famous fossil grove drifted from the bark of recumbent carboniferous lepidodendron. In fact, it was the Victorian timber. I had a great education in Glasgow, at school and at home. My parents are both inspirational teachers. I should in particular thank my mother, who is here today. She let me borrow her car for six weeks in the blistering summer of 1995 so that I could whizz around Ardnamurchan for my mapping project. What a sacrifice!
Despite this fantastic schooling in Glasgow I was so distracted by rugby and loud music that I arrived in Cambridge thinking that I was a physicist. This is an embarrassing condition from which I still from time to time suffer. Fortunately Barrie Rickards and Graeme Chinner made me understand and cherish the value of careful geological observation. Geology gave me the prospect of imminent intellectual autonomy.
So then onto my PhD. In Highland clan tradition, the Maclennans are the battle-pipers for the McKenzies. Here is a 21st century scientific re-enactment of that tribal relationship! Dan McKenzie was a superb supervisor, inspirational, supportive, and gave me just the right amount of freedom to make me feel like I was in control. The challenge of finding elegant model solutions to what at first look like messy observational problems is something that still drives me to this day. Carbohydrate blasts at the Cavendish Canteen with White, Lovell et al., kept me scientifically broad.
Postdocs at IPG Paris and in Edinburgh were a time of enlightenment, particularly long coffee breaks and walks in Mull with Godfrey Fitton.
I’ve been back in Cambridge for 8 years now I am surrounded by fabulous and dedicated colleagues – especially those that stepped to invigilate exams for me today! But I want to focus on thanking the fantastic team of PhD students and postdocs that keep me afloat. In a few years, my approach and balance of skills will be far from unique in the Earth Sciences.
Finally, I would like to thank my wife Kathryn and energetic son Finn for keeping me happy and amused every day, and for tholing my trips away to see volcanoes and the borealis race.
Christine Peirce (Coke Medal)
We now come to the Society’s two Coke medals, awarded to geoscientists who have made a significant scientific contribution and been of significant service to geology through activities of benefit to the community.
The first of these medals goes to an outstanding marine geophysicist who has consistently played a pivotal role in ensuring that British marine scientists are equipped with the instrumentation they need to carry out internationally competitive science - Professor Christine Peirce of Durham University.
Christine Peirce’s own research has focused on the structure and evolution of mid-ocean ridges, oceanic islands, rifted continental margins and subduction zones.
Her most significant work has been done at mid-ocean ridge crests, where she used the P-wave velocity and density structure derived from seismic and gravity data, to demonstrate how magma accumulates within the crust at slow-spreading ridges.
She then constructed a new model that predicts how the ocean floor grows, through prolonged phases of amagmatic extension interspersed with short periods of magmatic accretion. Her work on the deep seismic structure of the crust and upper mantle surrounding large volcanic and sedimentary accumulations, and her imaging of the surfaces of deformation associated with these loads has been another key contribution. This holds profound implications for our understanding of the lithosphere’s long-term physical properties, and how such properties as flexural rigidity vary with load and plate age. This in turn tells us a lot about the large scale architecture of sedimentary basins, and the relative role of tectonics in controlling stratigraphy.
Christine Peirce, you are not only an outstanding researcher but also a tireless champion for UK marine geophysicists’ access to the highest quality instrumentation. Your leadership, generosity with time, effort and ability on behalf of the entire marine geophysics research sector, make you a worthy recipient of the Coke Medal of The Geological Society of London.
Christine Peirce replied:
Mr President, Fellows, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very proud and honoured to receive one of the two Coke Medals awarded by the Society this year.
I found geophysics out of happenstance. Following science subjects at A-level and having no idea what to do with them next, my father came home from work one day and described his latest job. He was an electrical engineer and was in the process of installing the power supply for Western Geophysical’s (as was then) new data processing facility. In those days computers were the latest new fangled technology and he had clearly quizzed the clients as to their purpose and application. He made it sound so interesting and so off I went to Cardiff for an undergraduate degree, where John Shaw, Mike Brooks and Bob Pearce opened my eyes to the big wide world of practical and theoretical geophysics.
A PhD in the Marine Group in Cambridge followed, where I discovered the challenges of sea-going research and gained a broad range of instrumentation skills, before moving to Durham where I still am some 25 years later having, in the interim, developed an ocean-bottom instrumentation facility, lead the UK marine geophysics community and reinvigorated the geophysical equipment base in the National Marine Facility, in addition to the “day job”. Although I am being honoured for these activities, they were not sole endeavours and I have to thank, in particular, Tim Minshull and Tim Henstock who can always be relied upon to provide knowledge, ideas and support for any bid I may have been working on for the community’s benefit.
Throughout my career I have been fortunate to work with many exceptionally talented and generous colleagues – co-investigators, sea-farers, post-docs, postgraduate students, engineers and technicians – without whom the equipment could not be designed, built and deployed, and the science would not have been possible. There are far too many to mention them all, but there are three in particular I will mention. They are Martin Sinha, Colin Day and Tony Watts. The former showed me the secrets to success in “research cruising”, the middle has been unerringly supportive of the facilities required for forefront marine geophysical research, and the latter has and continually inspires me to know more, to “do science” better and to do better science.
However, none of this would have been possible without the never-ending and unconditional support of my family, starting with my father’s comprehensive practical skills training from an early age and, in particular, my long-suffering partner who has shared the many cold winter evenings and weekends in the workshop “proto-typing” equipment developments.
This very great honour that the Geological Society of London bestows is as much a result of the achievements of all these people as it is mine, and it is with great pleasure that I accept the Coke Medal.
Jane Francis (Coke Medal)
The second of the Society’s Coke medals is awarded to Jane Francis, Director of the British Antarctic Survey.
Jane Francis’s scientific expertise lies in the field of fossil plants, especially of the high-latitude forests, which she has used as tools for interpreting the Earth’s climate, and determining biodiversity in past ages. These were times when forests, rather than ice-caps, covered polar regions; times when global climate was much warmer that we know it today. She has studied their wood, leaves and pollen to detect climate signals from rocks dating from Permian through to Pliocene, and so provided much-needed hard data to constrain computer climate models.
However, at the same time as carrying out this research she has also come to play a truly pivotal role in shaping and directing the Earth science carried out in polar regions, through her extensive service on a staggeringly wide range of national and international policy committees. She was, for example, a member of NERC’s Science and Innovation Strategy Board, President of the Palaeontological Association, and Chair of the Antarctic Funding Initiative. She has been chair of the UK National Committee for Antarctic Research, as well as UK Delegate to SCAR, the international Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research.
This experience amply fitted her to become Director of the British Antarctic Survey, a post she took up in October 2013 on leaving her former position as Dean of the Faculty of Environment at the University of Leeds.
Jane is also a formidable proselytizer of Earth science, through her work with the media and by delivering public lectures.
Jane Francis, these many achievements make you a worthy recipient of the Coke Medal of The Geological Society of London.
Jane Francis replied:
Thank you for your kind words. I am deeply honoured to receive this medal. I am also pleased that the Geological Society recognises the importance of the contribution that people make to the strategic leadership of their discipline.
I have taken my inspiration from my mentors and role models who have been both great scientists and strong leaders: Bill Chaloner, one of the greatest palaeobotanists of our time, with whom I enjoyed life as a postdoctoral fellow with his many international visitors that he entertained with picnics around the lakes in Regent’s Park near Bedford College; Joe Cann, who brought me back from Australia to a lectureship at the University of Leeds and taught me to forage for wild food amongst the ophiolitic rocks in Cyprus; palaeobotanist Diane Edwards and geophysicist Mary Fowler have been inspirational throughout my career; Larry Frakes in the University of Adelaide sent me on adventures into the hot deserts of Australia in search of evidence for Cretaceous climates; and Peter Barrett in New Zealand, a legendary Antarctic explorer and geologist. I thank them sincerely for their support.
I started my career in geology in the mid 70s when I graduated from the University of Southampton. It was tough for women geologists at that time. I remember well an advert for core-logging geologists – at the bottom of the page it said ‘Women need not apply’ (the work was usually on oil rigs or in the Middle East). I was close to accepting a position in a company outside geology when a PhD on the Purbeck rocks of southern England saved me. I am therefore particularly pleased that this has subsequently led to my position as the first woman director of the British Antarctic Survey. I work with some outstanding female PhD and postdocs and we still need to do all we can to keep them in science.
Peter Styles (William Smith Medal)
The medal named for William Smith celebrates outstanding achievement in the field of applied geology, and this year we are delighted to present it to Former President of this Society, Professor Peter Styles. Peter studied physics at Oxford but became fascinated by plate tectonics and for his PhD at Newcastle University studied the rifting of Africa to form the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. This resulted in two critical papers in Nature (and numerous others) that significantly advanced triple junction theory.
As lecturer at Swansea University, Peter became interested in micro-seismicity as a tool for predicting mine collapses and outbursts, and was among the first to recognise the potential of applied geophysical monitoring in the quantitative assessment of near-surface hazards including landslides.
Moving to Liverpool, Peter pioneered the use of micro-gravity for detecting and characterising near-surface voids. This proved an immense boon to the geotechnical industry, which was struggling at this time with undertaking intrusive investigations in difficult sites. Despite these commitments, Peter still found time to investigate the Chilean subduction zone.
Now Professor of Environmental and Applied Geophysics at Keele University, Peter has continued to develop time-lapse monitoring of micro-gravity, as well as geomechanical 3D modelling. He has developed microseismic monitoring of environmental vibrations from wind turbines, and written several recent reports for governments on fracking, about which he is rarely off the television. He is also known for his expertise in the long-term storage and geological disposal of radioactive waste.
Having served as President during the renegotiation of the Burlington House lease, a particularly tense time, he remains strongly committed to the Society, including as Editor-in-Chief of the Fellowship magazine, Geoscientist. Peter Styles, influential researcher and inspirational leader, it is my great pleasure to award you the William Smith Medal of The Geological Society of London.
Peter Styles replied:
When I set out (probably with a map as I was that kind of boy!) from Alnwick in Northumberland 45 years ago to study for a degree in physics at Oxford-itself a daunting prospect for a callow youth-I never imagined that I would end up standing here in the Geological Society of London, having been Secretary and President and now receiving the William Smith Medal for contributions to Applied Geoscience.
It is a testimony to two things principally: first my inability to resist following the lure of researching into and teaching things which inspired my interest which led me down the geophysical and then the geological primrose paths but perhaps more importantly the incredible way in which the Geological Society is able to embrace, take to its bosom and make its own, those who might not at first glance be a ‘good fit’.
Those who know a little about history might know that it was not always so, as that erstwhile William Smith was seen as not only an outsider but also rather infra-dig as a common man and a surveyor to boot, and booted he certainly was and rather ruthlessly plagiarised and his map copied by Greenough. Now, of course, both maps hang side by side outside this lecture theatre and one of the other medals, the Wollaston, was struck in Palladium to honour him.
I have always been inspired by the journey, both literal and metaphorical, which William Smith made to complete his map and so am honoured and eternally grateful to the Geological Society for adopting me and for this award.
Julian Pearce (Murchison Medal)
Sir Roderick Impey Murchison was, among his countrymen, one of the 19th Century’s most widely travelled Earth scientists; so it is perhaps appropriate that we award this year’s Murchison Medal to a widely travelled geochemist, Julian Pearce of Cardiff University.
After moving from Cambridge to UEA for his PhD and subsequent lecturing posts at the Open, Newcastle and Durham universities, Julian Pearce is now a world leader in the use of geochemical data to fingerprint the tectonic environment in which magmas form. He joins such luminaries as Norman Bowen in the honour of having a diagnostic diagram named for him. The diagram in question discriminates the settings of granitic magmas. Used by geologists the world over, the source paper, published in 1984 in the Journal of Petrology and co-authored by Open University colleagues Nigel Harris and Andrew Tindle, has been cited over 4,500 times. That is one of six papers by him that have received over 1,000 citations, within a total corpus of work that has garnered more than 28,000. Julian was also one of the first geologists to realise that most ophiolites formed in supra-subduction zone settings, rather than at mid-ocean ridges.
Although best known as a geochemist, Julian has extensive field experience both on and offshore. His current research includes the geochemical tracing of mantle flow, element cycling and mantle melting above subduction zones; the geochemical evidence for geodynamic processes in the early Earth, and the development of new and better methods of geochemical fingerprinting.
Julian Pearce your work, covering four decades, remains at the forefront of your field, and provides the foundation for much of our modern understanding of tectonic processes. You are indeed a worthy recipient of the Murchison Medal of The Geological Society, which it is my great pleasure to present to you now.
Julian Pearce replied:
Thank you, Mr. President, for this unexpected honour. And many thanks too to those who have made this possible: family, mentors, lecturers and fellow students from my undergraduate and postgraduate days, colleagues, research collaborators, research students, post-doctoral research assistants, nominators….there are far too many of you to thank individually, but you know who you are!
Looking through the list of past Murchison medal winners, there are, however, two who had particular influence on my career. My supervisor at UEA, Joe Cann, was the medallist in 1990. He provided ideas, knowledge, a mid-ocean ridge sample set and one of the first commercial XRF machines, resulting in some well-cited papers on geochemical fingerprinting while I was still a research student. My first boss, at the Open University, was Ian Gass, the medallist in 1988. Like Joe, he did so much for his subject, but most importantIy from my perspective, he set up the Oman ophiolite project. The Oman ophiolite remains one of the best natural laboratories for studying the formation of oceanic lithosphere, and it was of huge benefit to be one of the first to work there: the concept of Supra-Subduction Zone ophiolites came directly from work carried out in Oman with Open University students and colleagues.
I worked in the field with other past medallists as well: notably with Robert Shackleton in Tibet, with Mike Searle in Oman and, more recently, with Ian Dalziel on a research cruise in the Scotia Sea. Throughout my career, it has been a pleasure and education to collaborate with field geologists such as these, as well a great help to me in my goal of integrating geochemistry and field geology. The strong field geology tradition in the UK, begun by Murchison among others, owes much of its sustainability to the Geological Society and for that, as well as this medal, I am very grateful.
Martin Brasier (Lyell Medal)
The medal named for one of the 19th Century’s most influential geologists, Sir Charles Lyell, goes this year to a key international figure in palaeontology, Professor Martin Brasier of Oxford University.
In over 200 peer-reviewed publications, Martin Brasier has made many seminal contributions to our understanding of the Earth’s early life and its evolution, from its origins, to the so-called ‘Cambrian Explosion’, tackling fundamental questions about how and when life arose on Earth.
Martin Brasier’s early research involved mapping living microbial and plant communities in Caribbean lagoons and reefs, and he published extensively on the growth and evolution of the foraminifera (also writing the definitive undergraduate textbook on micropalaeontology).
Later, his interest turned to early Cambrian reef-like structures, leading him to pioneering studies on the biology of archaeocyathids and other early skeletal fossils. He then went on to develop the first ecological and taphonomic assessment of the sudden appearance of skeletonised creatures in the early Cambrian, and it is here that his international reputation largely rests.
Through a series of field campaigns and benchmark papers he has since made major contributions in reconstructing and calibrating the progression towards early animal life, and has been at the vanguard of deciphering the environment and geological context for the origins of multicellular life between one and 2.6 billion years ago. Perhaps his greatest contribution has been to establish criteria for distinguishing between biogenic and abiogenic structures, so helping to resolve controversies surrounding the earliest candidate fossil remains.
Martin Brasier, you have been a key player in helping to build an internationally agreed timeframe for the biotic events that led up to the Cambrian Explosion. It has been an exemplary contribution, and it is my great pleasure to acknowledge it by awarding you the Lyell Medal of The Geological Society of London.
Martin Brasier replied:
Thank you Mr President; it is a great honour to receive this medal, named for Charles Lyell whom I so deeply respect and admire. In particular, Lyell inspired Charles Darwin, who went on to puzzle over the Cambrian explosion of fossil remains, and their seeming absence in older rocks.
Much that we have learned about the early biosphere has emerged during my lifetime. Progress has demanded new definitions and new protocols, involving tough debates about the earliest fossils, plus characterisations of new time intervals.
I was long ago drawn in this direction by people of great vision. Tom Barnard (UCL) and the Royal Navy engaged me to serve as Ship’s Scientist aboard HMS Fox and Fawn, surveying Caribbean shoals and their biota throughout 1970. Rather like both Lyell and Darwin, I was therefore able to begin with the present. But I then formed the somewhat impudent plan of working on ever older and more puzzling rocks - as I myself grew more ancient and more puzzled.
Three illustrious geologists - Perce Allen (Reading), Michael House (Hull) and John Dewey (Oxford) - successively endorsed my deep yearning to get back to the world before trilobites. It then took twenty years (1973-1993) to help settle a definition of the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary, and another two decades to help characterise the new Ediacaran System - work now flourishing.
But deeper questions in deeper time then beckoned me onward. Just how good is the earliest fossil record? And just how good can we get at decoding it? Our explorations into life’s origins were greatly stimulated by John Lindsay and David MacKay (both of NASA) plus the Geological Survey of Western Australia.
My research has clearly benefited enormously from the inspiration of colleagues around the world; from the energy and intelligence of a stream of proteges; from my ‘geological’ wife Cecilia, and our three surprisingly scientific children. I gratefully accept this Lyell Medal on behalf of all.
Maureen Raymo (Wollaston Medal)
Finally, we come to the Wollaston Medal – the Society’s senior medal and highest accolade, first awarded to William Smith in 1831. This medal has never before been awarded to a woman. We are glad to be able to set that right today in presenting our most prestigious accolade to Professor Maureen Raymo of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University.
Maureen Raymo is a palaeo-oceanographer who has had a truly profound impact on Earth System Science over the last three decades. Her reputation rests on three major achievements. During the 1980s she developed the controversial uplift-weathering hypothesis to explain the onset of cooling during the Cenozoic. She conducted seminal stratigraphic research, based on the deep-sea oxygen-isotope record, which is now internationally recognised as the fundamental global stratigraphic template for the last five million years. She has also performed groundbreaking work on sea levels in the Plio-Pleistocene, integrating geological observations with glacio-isostatic adjustment models.
Maureen Raymo rose to prominence as Bill Ruddiman’s graduate student at Lamont-Doherty, when they jointly proposed the uplift-weathering hypothesis to explain why the global climate cooled and led to the onset of Antarctic glaciation around 34 million years ago. The suggestion that uplift of the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau resulted in a drawdown of atmospheric carbon dioxide through the chemical weathering of silicate minerals remains a fruitfully controversial hypothesis, stimulating a significant body of subsequent research. It is the most important idea in Cenozoic climate change to emerge in the last 30 years.
In the 1990s and 2000s, during which time she moved to MIT and the University of Boston before returning to Lamont-Doherty, Maureen Raymo was central to many of the most significant developments in the astronomical/orbital interpretation of deep-sea oxygen isotope records, and what they tell us about Cenozoic climate and sea-level change. This work culminated in the 2005 publication (with Lorraine Lisiecki, in the journal Paleoceanography) of the ‘LR04 Stack’ of benthic oxygen isotope records covering the last 5.3 million years, which measures global ice volume and deep ocean temperature.
The Stack provided the palaeoclimate community with two widely applicable stratigraphic tools: a common timescale, and a correlation target for the vast number of paleoceanographic records that have since been collected worldwide. Not surprisingly, this work has been cited nearly 2,000 times.
Realising that the Pliocene (with atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations greater than 400 parts per million) provides one of the most important geological analogues for a globally-warmed future, Maureen Raymo has led the international PLIOMAX project to investigate and refine our understanding of global sea levels during this period. This has led to seminal collaboration with geophysicists, notably using glacial-isostatic adjustment models to establish Pliocene sea level, and comparing these with the observational database.
Maureen Raymo, you are a profoundly important figure in marine geology, palaeoceanography, climate and Earth System science. Your ideas and creativity have set the agenda for 30 years. It therefore gives me the greatest pleasure to acknowledge your outstanding achievements by adding to your many awards, the Wollaston Medal of The Geological Society of London.
Maureen Raymo replied:
Thank you Mr President, Society Council, ladies and gentlemen, my friends and colleagues.
This is an amazing and wholly unexpected honor to be awarded the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society and I’d like to thank, wholeheartedly, the Society and especially those members who nominated me. This award has also nourished a deep gratitude I feel for the many opportunities I have had over the years, opportunities that led me to this moment.
Early in my career, I had the great fortune to work with, be taught by, and be inspired by some of the very best scientists in my field, including two former Wollaston winners, Wally Broecker and Nicholas Shackleton. Along side John Imbrie and my thesis advisor William Ruddiman, these four scientists had a profound influence on my intellectual development as a young scientist in graduate school in the 1980s. At the same time, I shared classes and long nights in the lab with an incredible cohort of fellow graduate students at the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and three of these scientists in particular, Delia Oppo, Christina Ravelo, and Terry Plank, have shared decades of friendship and been an ongoing source of strength and inspiration.
The most wonderful thing about a life as a scientist are the relationships and friendships you build with people around the world; in the lab, in the field, at meetings, during months at sea, at summer schools, in this room… I want to thank all the colleagues, collaborators, and students with whom I’ve had the privilege of working, debating, writing papers, sharing meals and travels, and teaching over three decades. In particular I’d like to acknowledge one of my former post-docs, Lorraine Lisiecki, now a professor at UC-Santa Barbara, whose determination and technical prowess brought the now iconic LR04 stack to fruition. A special thanks also goes to Jerry Mitrovica for opening up the world of sea level theory to me.
Lastly, I must thank my family, parents, children Victoria and Daniel, and partner Steve for all their love and support over years that were not always smooth sailing. When I was eight years old we lived in London for a year, my father Chet Raymo studying at Imperial College. With him, I visited the prime meridian in Greenwich, the Science Museum, the Geology Museum, the Royal Geographical Society Headquarters, and many other places. And nearly every weekend, my brother, sister and I rented stools, drawing boards and a clutch of colored pencils for a big copper penny at the Natural History Museum and drew pictures of the animals. That was the year I first began to consciously think of myself as a scientist. Over my entire life my father supported, inspired, and cheered that ambition. There is a wonderful symmetry to being here, back in London at the Geological Society, receiving the greatest honor of my career. I am deeply grateful and moved. Thank you everyone.