Academic receives award for work to enhance understanding of the geosciences

Professor Iain Stewart meets with AGI staff to discuss areas of interest in geoscience communication (Credit: American Geosciences Institute/J. Lilek)

An academic at the University of Plymouth has been presented with an international award in recognition of his efforts to enthuse the public about geology.

Iain Stewart, Professor of Geoscience Communication and Director of the Sustainable Earth Institute, received the Outstanding Contribution to Public Understanding of the Geosciences award from the American Geosciences Institute (AGI).

It was in recognition of his academic work but, in particular, a broadcasting career which has included BBC programmes Journeys from the Centre of the Earth, Earth: The Power of the Planet, Volcano Live and Rise of the Continents.

In its citation, the AGI said Professor Stewart’s work in this area for the BBC and other organisations had “given geology a recognisable and distinctive persona”.

It also said that despite his work in television, he has remained steadfastly dedicated to geoscience, with his title at the University highlighting his outreach efforts.

This is the latest award for Professor Stewart, who was appointed an MBE in the 2013 Birthday Honours for services to geology and science communication. He said:

“For me, the award is recognition that many of the critical issues that the planet and society faces require international dialogues between geologists and the public. We need to explore how we exploit natural resources sustainably and confront natural threats collectively, so it is important to be communicating Earth science on the global stage.”

The American Geosciences Institute is a non-profit federation of geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists.

Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment.

Previous winners of this award include the BBC, for its 1980s series The Making of a Continent, and the US Geological Survey and Professor Stewart received his award at the Geological Society of America’s Annual Meeting in Seattle.

Professor Iain Stewart poses with AGI President Jean Bahr as he receives the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Understanding of the Geosciences (Credit: American Geosciences Institute / J. Lilek)

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