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Biographies of members of Council 2020/2021

Dr Michael Daly

President

Mike DalyI am a Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford with research interests in continental tectonics and resource systems, mainly executed in Africa and South America. I have a small teaching commitment leading academic and industrial field classes in tectonics and stratigraphy, as well as giving occasional seminars at Oxford’s Saïd Business School. I also supervise PhD and Master's students.

A graduate of the University College of Wales, I started my professional career as a field geologist in the Geological Survey of Zambia. I followed this with a PhD in African Tectonics at Leeds University and then a 28-year career with BP Exploration Plc. 

In BP I was initially appointed as a research structural geologist and then held a series of leadership roles in geoscience and international exploration in South America, Scotland, Iran and the Middle East. I then spent eight years as BP's Global Head of Exploration and New Business Development based in London and serving on BP’s Group Executive Team.

Today I am a non-executive board member of CGG, a French Geoscience Technology Company, and Tullow Plc. I am Co-Principal Investigator on the UKRI-funded Copper Basin Exploration Science Project (CuBES). As a part of this research activity I work with several mining companies in Africa, developing their expertise in basin analysis and the understanding of sediment-hosted mineral resource systems related to metals important to the current energy transition.

I joined the Society as an undergraduate, have previously served on Council, co-convened the “Plate Tectonics at 50” conference in 2017, and co-edited GSL Special Publication 472 on Cratonic basins. 

As President I have three priorities: securing the Society’s future by assisting it to respond to the changing context of geology in the natural sciences and society at large; bringing my industrial experience and connections to the Society’s significant financial, strategic and diversity challenges; supporting and challenging the Executive Secretary and his team to deliver on Council’s strategy.

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Mrs Joanna Alexander

Joanna AlexanderIt’s a unique time to be a Geologist. Humankind is becoming acutely aware of our dependence on a healthy planet, the need to use resources sustainably and respond to the climate emergency. I want to help the Society use this moment of profound change as an opportunity, not only to adapt and evolve, but to lead and inspire.

After studying Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford, I worked as an Exploration Geoscientist with BP for 10 years. During that time, it became increasingly difficult for me to ignore my concern about climate change. Since leaving the oil industry I’ve worked with charities and businesses, promoted corporate purpose and influenced investors to consider environmental risks.

My experience has shown me that the benefits of change, both personally and for organisations, greatly outweigh the discomfort. It has also shifted what being a geologist means to me. Geology used to be what I did, but now my love for the Earth defines why I do anything. It’s my motivation.

I hope my positivity about change and sense of purpose will be infectious – to the Society and individuals. I will champion the skills of geologists and support them in creating positive impact through their careers.

(Chartered Geologist since 2016)

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Mr Thomas Backhouse

Tom BackhouseTom is an entrepreneurial business owner and geologist, founder of Terrafirma, NetworkWith and Insight. After gaining a 1st in Geosciences and beginning his career as a mining geologist in Cornwall, Tom founded Terrafirma. Terrafirma is a company focused on providing solutions to better understand, manage and resolve the risks the ground pose across the UK, winning an ‘Outstanding Achievement’ industry award in 2017.

Tom has provided over several hundred hours of Continuous Professional Development, training and education to professionals, public and academics, and pursues a personal ambition to provide a platform for geoscientists to create, be free-thinking and to innovate, further benefiting the commercial and academic opportunities within geoscience. 

He strongly believes in building better links between business, academia and student/graduate geoscientists, in order to better provide careers advice, prospects and networking opportunities. Tom is proud to act as a spokesperson on the Council, able to voice new and innovative ideas and concerns, and further enhance the capabilities of the Geological Society to support and benefit all members.

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Mr Andrew Bloodworth

Andrew BloodworthAs BGS Science Director for Minerals and Waste, I am responsible for BGS activities related to mineral extraction and geological disposal of radioactive waste. Experience of these contentious uses of the subsurface has taught me that good decision-making requires independent, authoritative scientific information and advice.

I believe that the Society has a major role to play by facilitating science debate in these areas. Using its unique status and considerable academic/ professional expertise, it should proactively inform policymakers and civil society on geoscience-related topics, including those seen as controversial.

I have been a Fellow since the early 1990s and a Chartered Geologist since 1996. For the last decade I have been a scrutineer for Chartership applications and have mentored a number of applicants. I have also served on the Society’s Chartership Appeals Panel. I strongly believe in a robust and transparent process for our Chartership candidates, and in the value of Chartership in the individual and collective development of our profession. 

Elsewhere, I am an Associate Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and a founder member of the UK Minerals Forum. I represent BGS at the Confederation of British Industry Minerals Group and the Mineral Resources Expert Group of EuroGeosurveys.

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Mr John Booth

Vice President

John BoothI am Managing Director of Geotechnics Limited, one of the UK’s largest independent geotechnical investigation specialists. I have 35 years’ experience of engineering geology in the UK and overseas. I hold a BSc in Geology (University of Liverpool, 1983), and an MSc in Engineering Geology (University of Leeds, 1991). I have been a Fellow of the Society and a Chartered Geologist since 1991, and a Chartered Scientist since 2005. I am a UK Registered Ground Engineering Adviser (RoGEP).

I have been committed to the Society and the wider geoscience community throughout my career. I am a former member of the committee for the NW Regional Group (1993 to 1996), and am an active CGeol Scrutineer. I have been involved in promoting career opportunities at schools and universities, and in mentoring colleagues as they approach Chartership.

Engineering geology has a large role to play in developing our communities for the future, and is the direct link between the natural and the built environment. The availability and management of resources, water and energy, together with greater awareness of natural processes, floods and climate change are fundamental to safeguarding our world. An understanding of geology and how we use and husband these vital reserves underpins the improvements we need in infrastructure, building our cities, and delivering improvements in health, education and wellbeing for an ever-expanding population.

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Dr Jennie Gilbert

Jennie GilbertI attended my initial Society meetings as a geology undergraduate while at Imperial in the 1980s. Inspired, I became a Fellow in 1986. While a PhD student in volcanology and geochemistry at Cambridge, Society meetings – in particular Volcanic and Magmatic Studies Group (VMSG) meetings – were highlights because these were opportunities for me to present my work, extend my network and learn beyond my discipline.

I continued into academia via post-doctoral positions in volcanology at the University of Bristol and later secured a permanent post at Lancaster University, which is where I am currently based. I have previously served the Society as a committee member and secretary of VMSG, and a member of the organising committee of two VMSG meetings held in Lancaster and other meetings sponsored by the Society.

As an academic, I offer knowledge and skills in research and teaching in Earth sciences; I hold a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy qualification. In addition, I am deeply interested in equality, diversity and inclusivity issues, and geologic conservation. I have benefitted from opportunities with the Society and am ambitious to help others do similarly.

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Dr Joel Gill

Secretary, Foreign and External Affairs

Joel GillDr Joel C. Gill is International Development Geoscientist at the British Geological Survey and Founder/Executive Director of the not-for-profit organisation Geology for Global Development. Joel has a degree in Natural Sciences (Cambridge, UK), a Master's degree in Engineering Geology (Leeds, UK), and a PhD focused on multi-hazards and disaster risk reduction (King’s College London, UK).

For the last decade, Joel has worked at the interface of Earth science and international development and plays a leading role internationally in championing the role of geoscience in delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Joel has been a Fellow of the Society since 2012, was elected to Council in 2019 and to the position of Secretary, Foreign and External Affairs in 2020. He is an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society.

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Mr Graham Goffey

Treasurer

Graham Goffey Having spent 32 years in the petroleum industry I now provide expert consulting services to a range of clients in and connected to the petroleum industry, as well as working on various natural resource-related initiatives of my own. My qualifications are BSc Geological Sciences (Birmingham), MSc Petroleum Geology (Imperial College) and MBA (Warwick).

I have been a Society Fellow for most of my career. From 2004 to 2010 I served on the committee of the Petroleum Group, including three years as Chairman. During this period I convened many Petroleum Group workshops and conferences. I led the NW Europe section of the PGC VII conference in 2009, and co-edited GSL Special Publications 254 (The Deliberate Search for the Stratigraphic Trap) and 348 (Hydrocarbons in Contractional Belts).

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Dr Kathryn Goodenough

Kathryn GoodenoughI am a Principal Geologist with the British Geological Survey (BGS) in Edinburgh, where I have worked for 18 years. After a PhD studying alkaline igneous rocks in Greenland and a first job in geo-conservation, I joined BGS, initially doing Scottish and international field mapping. 

I now research the genesis and geodynamic context of mineral deposits, and lead a DFID-funded capacity-building programme that partners BGS with geological surveys in developing countries. Geologists in these countries are in great need of professional networks, and as a member of Council I would like to investigate ways for the Geological Society to collaborate with, and support the professional development of, our colleagues overseas. I am also a strong supporter of the Society’s diversity agenda, and particularly interested in ideas to fix the ‘leaky pipeline’.

I have been a Fellow of the Geological Society and Chartered Geologist since 2003. I served on the Awards Committee from 2011 to 2013, and was Secretary of the Volcanic and Magmatic Studies Group from 2002 to 2009. I have also been a Mineralogical Society Council Member (2007 to 2009) and General Secretary (2011 to 2016). I sit on the NERC Peer Review College, am Petrology Editor for Geological Magazine, and have recently finished a term as Chair of the Scientific Advisory Group for the International Continental Drilling Programme.

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Prof James Griffiths

Secretary, Professional Matters

James GriffithsI have been an FGS since 1980 and CGeol since 1991. I completed my PhD research at King’s College London in April 1979 before embarking on a 40-plus year career in geology that has been divided between industry, working as an engineering geologist, and academia.

At the Geological Society I was chair of the Engineering Group from 2006 to 2008, and I have served on the QJEGH Editorial Board, the Books Editorial Committee and the Science Committee. I was elected to Council in June 2018.

My interest lies in promoting professional standards in all aspects of geological practice through accreditation of geology degrees, supporting company training programmes and furthering recognition of the importance of Chartership for all geologists.

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Dr Michael Kehinde

Michael KehindeI want to serve on Council, working with others, to help the Society achieve its outcomes and enhance its public brand. I bring onboard experience as trustee, school governor and as EDI champion in the Environment Agency as Founder/ex-Lead of the B.A.M.E. Network and as Steering Group member of Defra’s Project Race.

I want to focus on improving the way we communicate the critical role of the geosciences in attaining the global Sustainable Development Goals and in securing resources for the future; and on stretching EDI to include empowerment.

Prior to joining the Environment Agency, I worked in the water resources and environment management sector in Europe and Africa as consultant to industry, to national government and to UNICEF on various local, national and international projects; and I was a senior university academic involved in teaching and research at the University of Lagos.

I have been a Fellow of the Society for six years, became Chartered in 2014 via the 20-year route, and belong to the Hydrogeology Group. I hold an MSc in Applied Geology and PhD in Hydrogeology and speak German fluently. Additionally I am a Prince2 certified project manager with good track record of managing successful projects.

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Prof Chris King

Chris KingEver since leaving diamond prospecting in the 1970s, I have been trying to bring the fascination of geology to a wider audience, first as a geology teacher, then as a geology teacher trainer, then by leading the Earth Science Education Unit offering professional development to thousands of teachers across the UK, and now as Emeritus Professor of Earth Science Education at Keele University. By being a member of Council, I hope to carry this message forward, whilst contributing to the educational impact of the Society.

I have flown the flag internationally, by leading the development of the International Geoscience Education Organisation and currently by chairing the IUGS Commission on Geoscience Education and the EGU Committee on Education. Nationally, I work with the Earth Science Teachers’ Association and the WJEC exam board.

I have chaired the Society’s Education Committee in the past and been a member of the more recent iteration of the Education Committee as well. I currently chair the Earth Science Education Forum, bringing together representatives of organisations interested in geoscience education across the country.

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Mr Andrew Moore

Colin NorthI started out in 1989 with a Geology degree from Kingston Polytechnic. My first job was Engineering Geologist with a contractor immersing me in site investigation fieldwork, logging and reporting. In 1995 I joined the new Environment Agency to pursue an interest in hydrogeological assessments and develop interpretation, risk assessment and regulatory skills.

I moved to environmental consultancy in 1998 and managed teams of geoscience professionals. The 1990s was a busy period, gaining experience and achieving milestones including MSc Engineering Geology (1992), Chartered Geologist (1996) and Chartered Engineer (1999).

I am a Technical Director with WSP UK, promoting technical excellence across the Ground Risk Team and supporting clients on ground risk in infrastructure, property and industry sectors. I practise in contaminated land and have professional qualifications including Specialist in Contaminated Land (SiLC), Suitably Qualified Person (SQP) and Qualified Person (QP).

I have served as committee member of the North West Regional Group of the Geological Society for over 20 years and held the posts of Secretary and Chair. I am an active mentor, promote careers events, present lectures and am a scrutineer of candidates for Chartership.

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Prof Bryne Ngwenya

Bryne NgwenyaI have been a Fellow of the Society since 2002, and while my activities in that time have focused on academic research, my passion is to see this research translated into practice in order to further the aims of the Society. 

By serving on Council, I hope to promote and support policies that encourage closer collaboration between practitioners and academics, and use the Environment Network, of which I am Convenor-designate, as a vehicle for hosting events that enable this close collaboration.

I am a Reader in Microbial Geochemistry at the University of Edinburgh. I am also currently Head of the Earth & Planetary Sciences Research Institute, one of three institutes that make up the School of Geosciences.

I am currently not a member of any specialist group, but have a network of former students who work in the commercial-environmental and mining sectors, which informs my research.

Qualifications: BSc Geochemistry (Reading, 1987), PhD Geochemistry (Reading 1992).

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Dr John Perry

John PerryI have been a Fellow for 40 years and a Chartered Geologist with national and international expertise in engineering geology for construction. Within the Society’s Council, I will assist in maintaining and improving the technical and professional awareness of geology and engineering geology, particularly in the field of sustainability.

I believe the Society has a lot to offer in promoting the environmental, economic and social pillars of sustainability. I am also keen to employ my commercial, financial and development experience to the benefit of the Society. I would like to continue to develop its marketing and societal profile, and to look at different fundraising methods.

I have a broad mix of experience in research at a national and international level (Transport Research Laboratory), in research implementation (government departments) and in industrial practice and commercial drivers (Mott MacDonald, a large international consultancy). I have experience in commercial business development and global leadership from the last ten years.

I am a past chair of the Engineering Group, co-author of two Engineering Group special publications (numbers 16 and 21) on stone and clay, and a past member of the QJEGH editorial board. I have over 20 publications in engineering geology.

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Mr Nicholas Reynolds

Vice President

Nik Reynolds_councilI am a Senior Geo-environmental and Geotechnical engineer at a small consultancy in Chester and have been employed at this company for over 17 years. I have been a Fellow of the Geological Society since I was an undergraduate at Aberystwyth University. I graduated with a Master’s degree from Cardiff University, and became a Chartered Geologist in 2009. I later became a Chartered Scientist in 2011.

I was elected the Secretary of the North West Regional Group in 2012 and have been responsible for organising the lecture programme, field trips and annual newsletters for the region. Within the lecture programme, I have brought the Geological Society and the regional Geology Association groups together for annual lectures. 

I have developed and introduced a conference for A-level students which was organised in conjunction with the University of Manchester and ESTA, which involved lecturers from across the region presenting revision lectures on difficult syllabus subjects.

I am very keen to serve on Council to increase the profile of practising environmental and geotechnical consultants within the Society. I am also very keen to improve regional support, and bring the Society to A-level and undergraduate students, as well as external organisations who explore the outdoors such as Scouts and Guides.

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Mrs Sarah Scott

Sarah ScottI am a practising hydrogeologist and I have been working at the Environment Agency for over 29 years. I am responsible for ensuring that we regulate activities in order to protect groundwater resources and quality, much of this is related to oil and gas industry activities. I joined the Geological Society as a Fellow in 2005 and became Chartered in 2012. I have served on the Hydrogeological Group's committee for the past three years as Treasurer.

My current focus around oil and gas operations gives me a real appreciation of the importance of politics and communication when explaining contentious geoscience in ways relevant to the audience. I believe this is useful experience to bring to Council, and to help the promotion of geological and hydrogeological understanding in the wider world.

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Ms Gemma Sherwood

Gemma SherwoodI am a Senior Geologist for EDF Energy, working on the construction of Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Station. I read for a Geology MSci (University of Bristol) and later studied for a MSc in Geotechnical Engineering (University of Birmingham). I became a Fellow of the Geological Society in 2008, achieving Chartered Geologist status in 2016 and was listed on the RoGEP in 2017. I am proud to have won the Glossop Award in 2017.

I have been on the Western Regional Group committee for five years; serving four years as Programme Coordinator and currently as Chairperson. While on the committee, I have restarted our regional heat of the Schools Geology Challenge, organised multiple field trips and lectures, and promoted entrants for the Early Career Geoscientist Award.

I am passionate about promoting STEM subjects, regularly volunteering as a STEM ambassador at schools and science festivals, aiming to promote and encourage Earth science careers. I believe that I can help Council to realise the Geological Society’s Strategy 2017-2027, particularly engaging with schools and stimulating public awareness.

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Miss Jessica Smith

Vice President, Regional Groups

Jessica SmithAs the Secretary of the Central Scotland Regional Group (CSRG), my key motivation for joining Council is to bring the voice of the regions to the table. I believe that geographical diversity plays a role in ensuring that the Society remains relevant to the membership and can have a positive influence on the engagement of Fellows.

I joined the Geological Society as a Candidate Fellow while studying my BSc in Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow, and upon graduating in 2004 I became a Fellow. Thereafter, the practical experience gained in work combined with my MSc in Engineering Geology at Imperial College London culminated in my obtaining Chartered Geologist status in 2014. Supporting and enabling others to achieve this career landmark is something I take great pride in through my work activities as well as my involvement with the CSRG.

In my current role as a Senior Engineering Geologist with Atkins, I am privileged to be in a position where I can promote STEM careers to young people, and particularly to young women. It will be a great honour to continue do so as a member of Council with the Geological Society.

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Dr Helen Smyth

Helen SmythI am a Geoscience Advisor at Neftex Insights, part of Halliburton-Landmark. In addition to sitting on the Neftex Insights management team, I am responsible for Landmark’s university outreach programs globally and through this role seek to build closer ties between academia and industry. I serve on the Petroleum Geoscience Advisory Board at both Royal Holloway and Imperial College London.

A field geologist by background, I have undertaken numerous expeditions in Indonesia and the Canadian Arctic. Source-to-Sink investigations were the focus of much of much of my early research career, following my PhD and Post-Doc at Royal Holloway and subsequent geologist role at CASP.

I served on the Petroleum Group of the Geological Society's committee between 2010 and 2016, and held the role of Publications Secretary, and through this role co-convened four conferences and edited two Geological Society Special Publications.

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Prof Robin Strachan

Secretary, Publications

Rob StrachanI am passionate about developing the role and importance of the Geological Society as the preeminent face of geosciences in the UK. I am currently Professor of Geology in the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences at the University of Portsmouth, recently having stepped down after 10 years as Head of School. I have been a Fellow of the Society since 1983 and a Chartered Geologist. I served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of the Geological Society from 1997 to 2005 and was then Chief Editor from 2005 to 2011.

I was awarded a Coke Medal in 2012. Since 2012, I have served on the Books Editorial Committee as one of the Society’s Books Editors. In January 2018 I commenced a four-year term as an Editor of the Geological Society of America Bulletin. 

I have a particular knowledge of, and interest in, scientific publishing as a result of my extensive editorial experience supporting and managing the Society’s flagship journal, and assisting in the development of Special Publications (co-editing three) and Memoirs. This experience coupled with my international contacts means that I will be able to serve Council and the Society very effectively.

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Dr Alexander Whittaker

Secretary, Science

Alex Whittaker_councilI am a senior lecturer at Imperial College London. My research combines field, remote sensing and numerical modelling approaches to address how tectonics and climate drive landscape evolution over a range of scales. At Imperial I lecture in structural geology and tectonics, and I co-ordinate the department’s field programme, leading excursions to the Spanish Pyrenees and the Apennines.

I read Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge between 1998 and 2002, before moving to Edinburgh University to do a PhD in landscape dynamics and neo-tectonics. Following an Entente Cordiale Fellowship at Université Joseph Fourier, France, I moved to Imperial College London. I was appointed a Lecturer in 2010 and Senior Lecturer in 2014.

I have been a Fellow of the Society for seven years and I received the President’s Award in 2009. I have subsequently served the Society in a range of roles; currently I sit on the Research Grants and Society Awards committees. As a member of Council I will also serve on the Science Committee.

The geosciences are central to addressing many of the problems that we and the planet face in the coming years, and the Society has a vital role to play in leading these discussions and linking research with both policy and practical applications. I am passionate about making our membership as diverse as possible, and I am keen to promote engagement with the wider public and policymakers who need to know why our discipline matters.

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Mrs Lucy Williams

Lucy Williams

  • Chartered Geologist
  • Society Fellow since 1993
  • Chair of the Petroleum Group 2018 to 2019
  • Member of the Society Awards Committee
  • Geoscience Manager at Rockhopper Exploration
  • 27 years of industry experience
  • BSc in Geology (UCL), MSc in Petroleum Geology (Imperial College)

It has been an absolute pleasure to Chair the Petroleum Group and I am proud of what the Group delivers, from technical conferences, publications and awards to representation of petroleum geoscience on behalf of the Society. In this role I worked closely with the Society and appreciate the tremendous work it does to support the broad discipline of geoscience.

I will apply the considerable organisational and governance experience I have gained from convening high quality scientific conferences and workshops into the Society’s broad events programme. I consider it a great honour to serve on Council and I will be an advocate for my industry in the Society, and equally strive to see the Society proactively support all geological sciences associated with delivery of the future energy mix, aimed towards a low carbon economy. I passionately believe the Society is uniquely placed to assume this role.

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Dr Keith Myers

Co-opted – Treasurer designate

Keith MyersI am Head of Research at Westwood Global Energy, a global oil and gas research company, responsible for research across the business. I graduated in Geology from the University of Edinburgh and went on receive a PhD in Sedimentology from Imperial College.

I joined BP as a geologist in 1987 where I had both senior technical and commercial roles. After leaving BP in 2000, I was the managing director of an energy software company and an advisor to numerous energy companies on strategy and partnership issues. 

I was the co-founder and managing partner of Richmond Energy Partners, providing research and advice to investors in smaller oil and gas companies. REP went on to launch the Wildcat exploration intelligence service which is now relied upon by E&P companies globally. REP became part of Westwood Global Energy Group in 2015 following its sale to Energy Ventures private equity.

I have been a Fellow of the Geological Society since graduating. I have published papers on a range of topics, including in five Geological Society Special Publications, and co-authored a textbook on Sequence Stratigraphy.

I have a keen interest in the oil sector's governance and have been an Associate fellow at the foreign affairs think tank Chatham House. I have led capacity building initiatives for the parliaments of several emerging oil and gas-producing countries and I serve on the advisory group for the Natural Resource Governance Institute.

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