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Editor’s welcome

This issue, we celebrate some trailblazing geoscientists

Words by Amy Whitchurch
16 May 2022

As summer rolls around, with it comes the most exciting day in the Society’s calendar: President’s Day. The ceremony will again be virtual and, while it is disappointing to miss an opportunity to meet in person (p 23), a virtual gathering will allow Fellows, family and friends from across the globe to join the celebrations.

In this edition of Geoscientist, we provide a section dedicated to the Annual General Meeting, President’s Day and the Awards Ceremony (p 9), featuring interviews with Tanya Atwater (Wollaston Medallist), William (Bill) Ryan (Lyell Medallist) and Anna Joy Drury (Wollaston Fund winner) that provide fascinating insights into the personal histories and scientific journeys of these trailblazing geoscientists.

Tanya and Bill tell passionately engaging stories of a remarkable period in Earth science, at the height of the plate tectonic revolution. Both began their careers in marine geoscience during the 1960s, when the many pieces of the plate tectonic puzzle were falling into place, leading to the acceptance of a theory that has transformed our understanding of the planet. Their words paint an intoxicating picture of discovery, of days filled with marine expeditions, and the opening up of the oceanic realm for detailed exploration. Likewise, Anna Joy highlights how marine data continue to reveal Earth’s great secrets, as well as crucial insights into the future path it may take.

In all of these stories, the critical role for data stands out. Plate tectonic theory was finally accepted because of a data explosion that allowed robust testing of the principle. As Anna Joy notes, it is essential to embrace the FAIR data principles, ensuring that data are Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable – a point detailed in an article by Alex Dickinson and Mark Ireland (p 32) that underlines some of the challenges associated with accessing archived data in the UK.

Join us for President’s Day when we will celebrate all the awardees

Sadly, we only have room to feature interviews with a small number of Medallists and Fund winners in our pages. So please join us for President’s Day when we will celebrate the incredible achievements of all of the awardees.

The AGM will also take place virtually on 8 June, giving Fellows the opportunity to hear about the Society’s activities (as summarised in the Annual Review on page 57), elect new Council members and Officers, and discuss issues. The Society has undergone dramatic change in the past few years and things remain unsettled as our incoming President, Ruth Allington, takes the helm (p 12). Ruth’s priorities include finding a replacement for our Executive Secretary, Richard Hughes, who will retire later this year, and easing uncertainty associated with the Burlington House lease – for which a dedicated (virtual) discussion meeting will take place on 19 May that is open to all Fellows (p 6).

Despite this uncertainty, our out-going President, Mike Daly, notes the positive direction in which the Society heads (p 10), thanks in-part to the strategic review that has focused our efforts, as well as Council’s decision to release finances from the Fermor Endowment Fund (to support minerals research critical to the energy transition) and to create the ‘Geological Society Futures Fund’ (to invest in membership services and activities) – proactive initiatives that signal a bright future.

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