By Nick


The Olympics have arrived! As a major sports fan I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve even flown to London to watch some events myself (it helps that it is where I grew up so I’ll also be seeing my parents and friends)*.

But what has the Olympics got to do with geology? This post isn’t about the geology of Olympic National Park in the US, or Mt. Olympus in Greece (a tectonic window of the Gavrovo – Tripoli geotectonic belt, thrusted under the Pelagonian sheet, its lithology comprising a continuous (Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous) calcareous sequence**).

Instead this post is about geologists who also excel at sport. I hope to dispel a scientific myths that scientists might all be bookish, or not very good at sport. Want to have an olympic medal and a paper in Science or Nature. Well you can have it all!***

I was reminded of such extraordinary feats of time management whilst at the Goldschmidt conference, listening to a lecture from a former lecturer of mine, Josh West, who, back in 2008, not only taught me about river geochemistry and associated mass spectrometry, but also went to Beijing and picked himself up a nice shiny silver medal in the GB Men’s rowing eight.

Dr. West is a very, very tall man, and quite physically imposing, as you would imagine for a rower, and this helps him command rooms at conferences. Everyone listened to what he said, people were quoting him and referencing his work all though the session. But it wasn’t just his physical size that helped, but his scientific standing in his field is pretty immense too. The dedication to both his science and his sport are obvious, and they need to be. To keep both to such high standards takes a lot of work.

Now RSES isn’t without it’s own sporting prowess either, and I’m not just referring to the Friday evening social football match. Whilst we may not have an Olympian in our ranks, we come close, because if Orienteering were an Olympic sport, our very own PhD student and paleomagnetist Lizzie Ingham would be there. Instead Lizzie has been away from the department for the past month at the World Orienteering Championships in Switzerland.

Lizzie’s months and years of hard work paid off during the championships, where she came in a very impressive 9th place in the Women’s Sprint distance Orienteering. So congratulations to Lizzie, and good luck to all those geologists competing over the next few weeks, be it a race up Mt. Ainslie, or on the world’s biggest stage.

* not quite true, I’m writing this in a hostel in Melbourne because my flight out of Canberra was delayed due to fog and I missed my connecting flight. But hopefully I will be home at some point soon.

** Thank you:

*** Note: requires dedication, hard-work and very, very good time management.