Dr Neil Clark, Hunterian Museum (Retiring Presidential Address)
The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow has long been closely associated with the Geological Society of Glasgow. It is important that we celebrate the early historical links and recognise that it has not always been smooth. From the early keepers of the Hunterian such as Henry Darwin Rogers, who refused to even join the Geological Society of Glasgow, to his successor John Young (the bad), Ethel Currie and Ian Rolfe, who all became president of the society, the Hunterian has always had an influence on the society. Where will the future of the Society take us post pandemic and is there a future for geology at the Hunterian and Glasgow?
Neil studied geology at Edinburgh University where he became a part-time research assistant travelling around southern Scotland looking for rare Carboniferous fossil crustaceans. At the same time, he began working as a part-time assistant curator at the Hunterian before starting his PhD in 1985. He completed his PhD on the world-famous Carboniferous Bearsden arthropod fauna in 1989 before working in interactive science centres in Edinburgh, Halifax and Glasgow. In 1990, he began working as part of a team of geological curators at the Hunterian as a result of the Earth Science Review process that amalgamated several university geology departmental collections in Scotland with the Hunterian.
In 1989, Neil began a public engagement exercise to promote geology in Scotland by instituting a national geology week. This soon evolved into a major undertaking with hundreds of events being organised across Scotland during the month of September until 2011.
Much of his early work at the Hunterian was dinosaur-related, beginning with the discovery of a four-toed track from the Jurassic of northern England in 1990, and he was described by the Glasgow Herald as “worth his weight in sand”. Since then he has been working on dinosaur eggs from China as well as Scotland’s first dinosaurs. From 1996 to the present day, there have been new discoveries of Scottish dinosaurs, nearly every year, all from the Isle of Skye. In 2006 he appeared in the book of Guinness World Records with his discovery of the world’s smallest dinosaur footprint. He has now published several dinosaur books for Dorling Kindersely and Readers Digest, as well as having worked on several encyclopedia and a book on Baltic amber. He works on all aspects of Scotland’s fossil heritage and because of his work on Scottish Jurassic dinosaurs was nicknamed Jurassic Clark by the Times Educational Supplement.
This will be an in-person event in the Boyd Orr Building and will be recorded and posted on YouTube . It may be live-streamed if we can master the technology. We will be using Eventbrite to reserve places; we have been told that we are limited to 50 attendees, which will allow for social distancing in the large lecture theatre.