Three Geos honoured in Queen’s Birthday list

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Three geoscientists were appointed officers of the Order of Australia among 900 Australians to receive an honour in the Queen’s Birthday 2017 Honours List.

Former Geoscience Australia Chief Scientist Dr Phillip McFadden, a recipient of the Gold Medal of the Geological Society of South Africa in 1977, a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 1991 and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 1996, received the award for, ‘Distinguished service to earth sciences as a geophysicist, through leadership of Australia’s peak geoscience body, through collaboration and innovation in research, and to professional societies.’

Also honoured in the same list in the general division were: Andrew John Gleadow (Victoria), for ‘Distinguished service to the earth sciences, and to education, as an academic and researcher in the field of thermochronology and landscape evolution, and to professional geological and scientific societies'; and Brian Gordon Richards (South Australia), for ‘Distinguished service to geotechnical engineering and soil science, particularly through research and development of measuring and understanding soil suction and its effect on soil strength’.

While Chief Scientist at Geoscience Australia Dr McFadden was responsible for the peak body’s response to the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. He then led the team that obtained funding ($80 million) from the Australian Government to build the Australian Tsunami Warning System in Geoscience Australia and had oversight responsibility for the team that designed the system. This is recognised as one of the best tsunami-warning systems in the world.

He is a past Chairman of the Academy of Science’s National Committee for Earth Sciences and in that role developed the first national decadal plan for Australian geoscience. As part of the implementation of that plan he oversaw the process in which Australia won the right to host the 2012 International Geological Congress. Implementation of the plan brought in an approximately $500 million of extra money to the Australian Earth Sciences through funding to Geoscience Australia and improved success rates for research applications to the ARC. He is currently involved in developing the next national decadal plan for Australian geoscience.

Amongst other roles he has served on the Executive and Council of the Australian Academy of Science, the Commonwealth Committee for Coordination of Science and Technology (CCST), the National Stores Advisory Committee (NSAC), the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee (ASAC), and the Research Quality Framework Development Advisory Group. In the past two rounds of development of national research priorities he has chaired the process for development of the priorities for “Food and Water” and then for “Resources”.

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