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Earth Sciences - Alumni

Earth Sciences - Alumni

Some world-class scientists, academics and environmental professionals began their careers at Royal Holloway.


Earth Sciences alumni have taken their careers to all corners of the world and even into space, creating international reputations along the way.

Earth Sciences has hosted some individuals that have gone on to have stellar careers in fields such as astrophysics and palaeobotany.

Lady Rachael Workman MacRobert

Geologist. Feminist. Pioneer for gender equality in the geosciences.


Michael was Head of the Astrophysics Group at Imperial College in London from 1993 to 2007 and taught at the Blackett Lab between 2007 and 2012.

He was President of the Royal Astronomical Society from 2006 to 2008 and chaired the UK Ground-Based Facilities Review in 2009. In 2011 he became Chair of the European Southern Observatory's Observation Planning Committee.

He has worked with the joint European Space Agency (ESA), NASA and ISIS (Japanese space agency) Infrared Space Observatory and has been involved with the Infrared Astronomical Satellite since 1977.

Michael is a committee member of ESA's scientific missions and of the Hubble Space Telescope project and is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and of the Royal Astronomical Society.

He was also awarded the Hoyle Medal in 2008 for his pioneering research in infrared and submillimetre astronomy and observational cosmology.

Andrew was trained in geology and paleontology at the University of Reading before receiving his PhD from Bedford College.

He then spent a number of years based in Kenya where he directed The International Louis Leakey Memorial Institute for African Prehistory in Nairobi, conducting fieldwork at Lake Baringo and in the Siwaliks in Pakistan.

Andrew discovered what was later revealed as the Laetoli footprint tuff which, along with Australopithecus afarensis fossils from Laetoli and the Afar, revolutionized the field by proving that bipedal locomotion preceded the evolution of large brain size in hominin evolution.

He moved to Harvard University for a postdoctoral position in 1981 where he established the Baringo Paleontological Research Project, which he directed for 34 years.

In 1984 he expanded his fieldwork to the UAE serving as co-director of the Baynunah Palaeontology Project. In 1985 he became a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology at Yale, becoming Full Professor in 1992 and department Chair (2000-2006).

Andrew was appointed the J. Clayton Stephenson Professor of Anthropology in 2006 and was inducted into the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2009.

After graduating, Andrew undertook his doctoral research in the Botany Department at Birkbeck College with Professor W. G. Chaloner FRS. His PhD in 1976 entitled "Environmental Control of Westphalian Plant Assemblages from Northern Britain" received the University Science prize.

Following post-doctoral research in the Department of Geology at Trinity College Dublin he was appointed Lecturer in Geology in the Department of Geology at Chelsea College, University of London in 1978.

In 1985 the department merged with others at Bedford College and King’s College to form a new Geology Department at Royal Holloway. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1989, Reader in 1993 and Professor of Applied Palaeobotany in 1996.

He was Director of Science and the Media (then Science Communication) from 1998 to 2006, spending a sabbatical year at Yale University and Berkeley College.

In 2002 he was awarded a London University DSc for “contributions towards our understanding of ancient terrestrial ecosystems.”

He was a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow 2012-2014 and is currently Emeritus Professor of Geology.

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