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Why does OGG hold this event?

At the 2011 Oxford Geology Group Christmas Lecture, Professor Stewart spoke about the importance of communicating our understanding of geosciences to different audiences. Iain Stewart particularly emphasised the challenge of engaging the general public with the role that geoscientists play in solving the many problems that society faces. Iain said that we had to dispell the popular notion that geoscience is just about the rocks, instead changing the narrative to include fascinating stories that geoscientists  can tell about our planet. There are significant challenges in the fields of energy, resources, water, waste disposal and hazards that geoscientists work on and the general understanding of the Earth system processes that decisions will have to be made is poor.


The lecture showed how often the media of science communication is not often the media of mass communication and if geologists are to explain their science to the public, they have to engage with the mass media and increasingly social media on the Internet.


Iain Stewart offered the audience a salutory reminder of the Italian seismologists who have been imprisoned for inadequately communicating the idea of scientific uncertainty. 


Communicating science to the public is becoming more and more important and to underline this fact, OGG runs an annual competition open to DPhil/Phd research students.  




Participants give a talk to an infomed, but non-speacialist audience and a panel of three judges.  At the end of the competition, the audience is asked to rank the talks.  The panel of judges take into account the results of the audience vote before determining the winner.  The winning speaker receives The Young Geoscientist of the Year Award (a monetary prize of £400 from the Oxford Geology Group Community Chest) and the McKerrow Cup.   The winner will be invited to speak at the Oxford Colloquium on Saturday October 13, 2018.


Nigel Banks

Dr Nigel Banks has had a 40+ year career as a geologist in petroleum exploration and production.  He worked initially in international exploration for Shell and Occidental before taking up management positions with UK consulting companies ECL and Intera Information Technologies.  In 1996 he joined Bitech Petroleum as Vice President of Subsurface for oil field developments in Russia. Following the acquisition of Bitech by Lukoil Overseas in 2001 he joined Cairn Energy India as General Manager-Geoscience and was closely involved in Cairn’s Rajasthan oil discoveries.


Since leaving Cairn in 2005 he has been working as an international consultant providing technical and strategic advice and training courses to a number of oil companies, banks and governments.   


Nigel has BA and D.Phil. degrees in geology from Oxford University. From 1995-2002 he was a Visiting Professor at Oxford Brookes University and from 2008-2015 he was a Visiting Lecturer at Imperial College London, where he taught on the M.Sc. programmes in Petroleum Geoscience and Petroleum Geophysics.  He has published more than 20 papers on petroleum geology and related subjects.  

Dexter Brown

Dexter has been a keen member of the Oxford Geology Group for the last four years and particularly enjoys the field trips run by the group. Whilst fascinated by the subject he has no formal geology qualifications (other than an 'O' Level when at school). He looks forward to hearing informative presentations which can be grasped by anyone with a basic scientific understanding. This is his second year as chairman. Dexter is married and has three teenage children. He is a dental surgeon running a general practice in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire.

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Winners of the McKerrow Cup

2014         Harriet Rawson  University of Oxford  (Supervisors: Professor T. Mather & Professor D. Pyle)

2015         Jack Matthews  University of Oxford   (Supervisor: Professor M. Brasier)

2016         Jonathan Burley  University of Oxford  (Supervisor: Dr R. F. Katz)

2017         Eleni Wood  Open University  (Supervisor:  Dr C. Warren)

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