Professor Chris Turney, Department of Geography

Professor Chris Turney.

Exeter geographer wins medal

University of Exeter geographer Professor Chris Turney has been awarded the Bigsby Medal for 2009 from the British Geological Society of London.

Medals have been awarded by the society since 1831 for significant achievement in the Earth sciences.

The Bigsby Medal, established by John Jeremiah Bigsby, has been awarded to scientists under the age of 45 since 1877 for eminent services to Geology.

Professor Turney is based in the University's School of Geography. He was awarded the medal for his groundbreaking research into past climate change and what this means for the future. Chris’s work has focussed on ancient trees, fossils and mud from around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Europe. By working on what happened when, Chris has been trying to gain a greater understanding of the causes of long-term, abrupt and rapid climate changes, including ice age cycles and historic variations. 

On hearing of his success, Professor Chris Turney said, ‘I'm blown away by this. I feel incredibly honoured. Some of my scientific heroes have been recipients.’ 

The awards ceremony was held at Burlington House in London, where he was presented with the medal in front of a prestigious audience of scientists and invited dignitaries.

Originally from London, Professor Chris Turney joined the University of Exeter in 2007 from the University of Wollongong, Australia. He researches and teaches geology and is particularly interested in what the past can tell us about the future. Chris carried out the radiocarbon dating on the ‘Hobbit’ fossil of Flores, Indonesia that hit the world’s headlines in 2004. He has published numerous scientific papers and magazine articles and given frequent media interviews. In 2007 he was awarded the Sir Nicholas Shackleton Medal for outstanding young Quaternary Scientist for his pioneering research into past climate change and dating the past. In 2008 he was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize to fund his research on historic climate change for three years. He is the author of two popular science books: Bones, Rocks and Stars: The Science of When Things Happened and Ice, Mud and Blood: Lessons from Climates Past, both published by Macmillan. His popular science website is

Date: 15 June 2009

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