Geoscientist’s outstanding contribution rewarded with Academy of Science award

Geoscientist’s outstanding contribution rewarded with Academy of Science award

One of Australia’s most highly respected geoscientists, who is currently an Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Wollongong, was today (21 January) announced a recipient of a prestigious 2014 annual award from the Australian Academy of Science.

Professor Neil Williams, who holds the record for being the longest-serving CEO of Australia’s national geological survey and topographic mapping agency (Geoscience Australia), is currently involved in teaching and research with UOW’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

He led Geoscience Australia for 15 years (1995-2010) and was the chief geoscience advisor to the Federal Government on a range of geoscience issues including geohazards (earthquakes, landslides and tsunamis), environmental and land management (dry-land salinity, groundwater resources and CO2 geosequestration) and earth-resource availability and prospectivity (fossil and nuclear fuels and metalliferous resources).

Professor Williams has today been honoured with the Haddon Forrester King Medal which is one of the Australian Academy of Science’s career awards for life-long achievement and outstanding contribution to science.

The award recognises the contributions of the late Haddon Forrester King whose work applied the geological and related sciences to the search for mineral deposits in Australia and elsewhere. Haddon King joined Zinc Corporation as its Chief Geologist in 1946, became Director of Exploration for the merged Conzinc Rio Tinto of Australia (CRA) in 1962 and continued in this capacity until his retirement in 1970. He was a consultant at CRA until 1986.

The award given to Professor Williams is made to a scientist, resident in Australia or overseas, and normally awarded once every two years. It recognises original and sustained contributions to earth and related sciences of particular relevance to the discovery, evaluation and exploitation of mineral deposits, including the hydrocarbons.

In 2007, Rio Tinto began a series of financial contributions to the Haddon Forrester King Fund and to acknowledge this generosity the medal is now known as the Haddon Forrester King Medal, sponsored by Rio Tinto. In addition to a medal presentation dinner, this award includes a $3,000 honorarium and up to $7,000 towards a short lecture tour.

Since becoming an Honorary Professorial Fellow at UOW, Professor Williams is maintaining his interest in the application of geoscience to the economic, environmental and social challenges facing modern society.

In the 2006 Australian Day Honours, Professor Williams received the Public Service Medal for outstanding public service in the provision of geoscientific advice to government, geoscience services, industry and the public, and was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in 1996.