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Strength to strength

Prof. Tony Watts

Prof. Tony Watts, Science Secretary, looks forward to 2008 and a packed programme of cutting-edge meetings.

Geoscientist 17.12 December 2007

The Science Committee focuses mainly on the Society's programme of scientific meetings, whether organized through the Conference Office or Specialist Groups. Part of our role involves commenting on and approving proposals from the scientific community; but the Committee also plays an important role in stimulating ideas for interdisciplinary meetings and workshops. Our recently introduced structure for meeting proposals has bedded in well, and has resulted in a steady stream of well thought-out ideas.

The past year brought a range of very high-profile international and national speakers to Burlington House, including our own medalists on President's Day, who once again delivered short talks about their research as well as responding to their citations at the ceremony itself. As part of his talk, Murchison Medalist Herbert Huppert of Cambridge University set up a tank and gave us a wonderful practical demonstration of gravity currents (picture).

There was no 2007 William Smith ‘flagship’ meeting in 2007 because of the bicentennial celebrations. However, we did have a well-attended 2007 Lyell meeting on Early Palaeozoic peri-Gondwana terranes: New insights from tectonics and biogeography, organised by Mike Bassett (National Museum of Wales, Cardiff).

During 2007, Burlington House played host to an exceedingly successful series of 10 public lectures, sponsored by Shell as part of the Society’s bicentennial celebrations. The first, by the President on The History of Life, was followed by topics as diverse as earthquakes, water resources, and the geological record of climate change. The lectures have been given by leading UK-based scientists to a packed auditorium, and it has been clear from questions that the audiences have found them both an enjoyable and stimulating experience. The Society has just heard that Shell wishes to sponsor these lectures for a further three years.

Indeed, next year is already shaping up to be a busy one. The 2008 Smith and Lyell ‘flagship’ meetings will cover two topics of great current interest in Earth science: climate and sea-level change. The Lyell meeting, entitled Marine Climate Change Past and Future is being organised by Daniela Schmidt and Sarah Cornell (Bristol University) and Jennifer Pike (Cardiff University). The Smith meeting will be entitled Observations and Causes of Sea-Level Changes on Millennial to Decadal Timescales and is being organised by Glen Milne (Durham University) and colleagues. Further details of these meetings will be posted on the Society website in due course.

The Science Committee is the meeting place for all the Society’s Specialist Groups, and I am very grateful to all whose regular attendance makes them so interesting. The work of the Committee depends on the expertise and dedication of the Conference Office, and it is a pleasure to acknowledge here the help provided us by Georgina Worrall and her team.