2014 Scientia Lecture and UNSW Medal for Science Communication


Scottish geologist and TV documentary presenter Professor Iain Stewart was the inaugural recipient of the UNSW Medal for Science Communication in July 2014. The event was chaired by science journalist and ABC broadcaster Robyn Williams, presenter of Radio National’s The Science Show. After a brief medal presentation Professor Stewart then delivered the Scientia Lecture on the topic 50 Shades of Grey: Communicating Rocks.


50 Shades of Grey: Communicating Rocks

The 21st century is like a golden age for geology. Rocks not only provide a fascinating window into the distant past; we live at a time when we have the technology to see geological processes that could affect our future occurring in front of our eyes.

Drawing on experiences from more than a decade of documentary-making for the BBC, this talk will explore how it is possible to communicate these exciting aspects of geology through better storytelling, so there can be meaningful public engagement on geological issues that affect society.


Speaker Biographies

Iain Stewart is a geologist and Professor of Geoscience Communication at Plymouth University in the UK with a special interest in earthquakes, volcanoes and the volatile history of our planet. He has presented many science programs for BBC TV, including the award-winning Earth: The Power of the Planet, a five-part series about the forces that shaped Earth.

His four-part BBC series, Rise of the Continents, aired on ABC TV in 2013, and featured an episode on Australia, showing how its journey through time affected many aspects of the continent, including its wildlife, Aboriginal history and mining. Other notable programs he has presented include Earth: The Climate Wars, How Earth Made Us, How to Grow a Planet, and Volcano Live. Professor Stewart also regularly appears in BBC TV specials on geoscience topics such as the Japanese tsunami, the Russian meteor strike, fracking and shale gas, and sinkholes.

Robyn Williams AM is a science journalist and ABC broadcaster, presenting Radio National's The Science Show and Ockham's Razor. He has conducted countless interviews with scientists on ABC TV on programs such as Quantum and Catalyst, narrated the Nature of Australia series and appeared in World Safari with Sir David Attenborough.