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Professor Iain Stewart the inaugural recipient of the UNSW Medal for Science Communication

Scottish geologist and TV documentary presenter Professor Iain Stewart was awarded the inaugural University of NSW Medal for Science Communication and delivered the first Scientia Lecture in Sydney last Friday, 11 July, 2014.

Professor Stewart, who is Professor of Geoscience Communication at Plymouth University in the UK, presented a talk on the topic of 50 Shades of Grey: communicating rocks.

Dubbed geology’s “rock star” by The Guardian newspaper, Professor Stewart is well known for his intrepid adventures on TV while explaining the science of earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis and the volatile history of our planet.

Professor Stewart has presented many programs for the BBC, including the award-winning Earth: The Power of the Planet, a five-part series about the forces that shaped Earth.

His four-part BBC series, Rise of the Continents, aired on ABC TV in 2013, and featured an episode on Australia. Other notable programs he has presented include Earth: The Climate Wars, How Earth Made Us, How to Grow a Planet, and Volcano Live.

The UNSW Medal for Science Communication was established in 2014 by the Dean of UNSW Science, Professor Merlin Crossley, to recognise excellence in the public communication of science.

The annual award honours individuals who have shared their knowledge and scientific insights with a broad audience – informing, inspiring and engaging the public on scientific topics and issues. The recipient will give the annual Scientia Lecture.

Talk Synopsis

2014 Scientia Lecture: 50 Shades of Grey: communicating rocks. The 21st century is like a golden age for geology. Rocks not only provide a fascinating window into the distant past; we live at a time when we have the technology to see geological processes that could affect our future occurring in front of our eyes. Drawing on experiences from more than a decade of documentary-making for the BBC, this talk explores how it is possible to communicate these exciting aspects of geology through better storytelling, so there can be meaningful public engagement on geological issues that affect society.

UNSW media release, 11 July 2014

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