My interest with geology dates to an undergraduate field trip to Central Australia as a science student at Melbourne University in 1977. The wonderful sense of expectation I felt walking from the folds and thrusts so beautifully exposed in Ormiston Gorge through to the inverted stratigraphy of the syn-orogenic sediments in the Amadeus Basin, is still with me. Here was the very workings of an orogenic belt exposing itself for full view and appreciation, and I was discovering it as though it had never been seen before. It was an experience that has profoundly influenced both my research and my teaching.
My first serious encounter with geological research was as part of my Honours degree (Melbourne University, 1978) during which time I worked on the stratigraphy and diagenetic history of Devonian limestones at Waratah Bay on the South Gippsland coast in Victoria under the supervision of Owen Singleton. My direction changed radically during my PhD (1980-84) when I traveled to Enderby Land in Antarctica with Chris Wilson to map some of the oldest, and highest grade, gneissic complexes known. At this stage I had little idea what metamorphism was, having no recall of lectures on the subject at undergraduate level. However, it soon became apparent that I needed to learn some metamorphism, and my PhD thesis supervised by Chris Wilson at Melbourne University concentrated on the links between deformation and metamorphism in the deep crust. Following my PhD, I worked with Roger Powell in what was to become a very productive few years looking at all manner of phenomena to do with crustal metamorphism, from theoretical phase petrology to crustal dynamics. This stage of my career saw a tremendous maturing in my research, which was in large part due to the close a association with Roger. In 1986 I traveled to Cambridge University under the auspices of a CSIRO post-doctoral fellowship, and spent a wonderful year traveling to famous European field locations, meeting famous (and infamous) geologists and observing the operations of one of the really great Earth Science Departments.
While at Cambridge I was offered (and accepted) the lecturing position in metamorphic geology at Adelaide University, which I took up in late 1987 (a time at which Dawkins was just beginning to run rampant with the Australian Higher Education sector). Teaching has been tremendously important and those early years at Adelaide certainly caused me to reassess and differentiate what I really knew from what I thought I knew. At Adelaide University I was responsible for undergraduate teaching primarily in metamorphic geology, but also geodynamics, mineralogy and field mapping. During this time I was fortunate to have supervised and worked with some wonderful students and post-doctoral fellows.
I am now back at Melbourne University, courtesy of an ARC senior research Fellowship (2000-2005).
My research focusses on the structural, metamorphic and geodynamic aspects of crustal evolution. I am now working on the way in which crustal deformation and associated surface processes modify the distribution of heat producing elements and thus prejudice the long-term tectonic response of the lithosphere: a notion that I refer to as "tectonic feedback". My published work includes some 80 papers covering diverse aspects of geology including: structure, metamorphism, geophysics, geodynamics, geochemistry, mineralogy, and neotectonics. Almost all of this work reflects two profound motivations. The first is provided by field observations gathered through field trips to many parts of the world including Antarctica, Sri Lanka, the Alps, the Himalaya, as well as many parts of Australia. The second is the belief that geologic phenomena should be understood in terms of basic physical (and chemical) principles.