NHM/MCT Marsh Awards 2018 – Winners announced! | Earth Sciences

Mr Brian Marsh, chairman of the Marsh Trust delivered the 2018 Marsh Awards for Mineralogy, Palaeontology and the Best Earth Sciences Book of the Year in partnership with the Natural History Museum in a ceremony that took place at the Museum in London on 11 January 2019.

The winners were:
Marsh Award in Mineralogy: Steve Rust
Marsh Award in Palaeontology: Chris Duffin
Marsh Award for the Best Earth Sciences Book of the Year:
Alan Graham for Land Bridges – Ancient environments, Plant Migrations and New World Connections

The Marsh Christian Trust (MCT) was founded in 1981, as a grant-making body by Brian Marsh. In addition to its grant-making, over the past 30 years the Trust has developed an awards scheme to provide recognition to those who work to improve the world we live in.  Recipients of Marsh Awards are always people who make a difference by selflessly contributing their time and energy to causes that they believe in.

The three awards run in partnership with the Natural History Museum (NHM) form part of a larger scheme of some 80 awards that the Trust runs in collaboration with 40 charitable organisations, spanning across the areas of Heritage, the Arts, Social Welfare, and Conservation.

Mineralogy Marsh Award 2018 winner

Steve Rust is well known to the mineral collecting community in the UK and through his work at Crystal Classics in Somerset, England. He is primarily recognised for his relentless fieldwork, which over the past 45 years, has resulted in many new discoveries in both species and topographic mineralogy. 

From a young age Steve began collecting with his brother Don and together wrote detailed accounts of their finds and observations in early publications such as Mineral Realm.  One such article was that of their discoveries in the long disused Milltown quarry in Derbyshire during the early 1980s.  This article famously described two unknown minerals, which were destined to become the type specimens for the minerals Ashoverite and Sweetite.

In 2008 a mineral new to science, yet another of Steve’s discoveries, was named in his honour, Steverustite; a lead-copper thiosulphate found in the Welsh county of Ceredigion. 

Steve is a recognised expert in visual mineral identification and focus-stacking digital photography and is currently working on his new book, a beautiful photo-atlas of The Mineralogy of Frongoch Mine.  He commands an amazing knowledge of British mineralogy, especially that of mid-Wales; the Leadhills-Wanlockhead ore field; the Tertiary volcanic minerals of western Scotland, the mines of Devon and Cornwall and the Laurium-Kamariza mining district in Greece.  He is an administrator and regular contributor to Mindat, an essential database and website for mineralogists, and an active member of the Facebook mineralogy forum.

Palaeontology Marsh Award 2018 winner

Chris Duffin discovered a passion for fossils as a child, searching the Cornbrash for specimens on the margins of the Cotswolds around Chippenham, in the West Country. Study for a Geology degree was followed by research in Vertebrate Palaeontology at University College, London before entering the world of work as a High School Biology teacher in South London.

Later, he managed to juggle competing demands on his time – a growing family, and increasing responsibilities in education – with a steady research output. His study of the vertebrate fauna of the Late Triassic Rhaetic Bone Bed expanded to consider the history of hybodont and early neoselachian sharks, chimaeroids, lepidosaurs, coprolites, and crustaceans, and his interests have subsequently embraced not only Triassic, but also Carboniferous, Permian, Jurassic and Cretaceous faunas.

In over 200 publications, he has described over 50 new species and genera, and co-authored the Handbook of Paleoichthyology volume on Palaeozoic sharks’ teeth. An interest in the history of geology has led to numerous papers and four books on the historical links between geology, fossils and medicine, plus a second PhD, this time in the history of medicine from Kingston University.

Chris has been at the forefront of a number of different topics within, and related to, palaeontology for several decades.

His early work focused largely (but definitely not exclusively) on the sharks and related fossils of the Late Triassic cave and fissure deposits in SW England. Chris has diversified his interests to the fascinating topics surrounding the relationships between fossils and folklore and in doing so has bridged the gap between palaeontology, history and sociology.

As well as his purely academic work, Chris is deeply committed to outreach in most of its forms, from writing popular articles on geology, fossil roadshows to night classes. He is particularly interested in fossils and folklore and fossils in the history of medicine. Over the years Chris has gained a reputation as an entertaining guest lecturer at almost all the geological and natural history groups in the southeast of England.

Best Earth Sciences Book of the Year, Marsh Award 2018 winner

Alan Graham won the Best Earth Sciences Book of the Year for Land Bridges – Ancient environments, Plant Migrations and New World Connections, published in 2018 by the Chicago University Press.

Alan is Curator of Paleobotany and Palynology at the Missouri Botanical Garden. He is the author of several books, including Late Cretaceous and Cenozoic History of Latin American Vegetation and Terrestrial Environments and A Natural History of the New World: The Ecology and Evolution of Plants in the Americas, the latter also published by the University of Chicago Press.

The Land Bridges book tracks the tectonic and climatic changes and evolutionary processes that constitute an important part and contributes to a better understating of the origin and biotic history of the New World. 

In his book, Alan describes five long lasting connections (land bridges) between continents. These are: the Bering Land Bridge between northwestern north America (Alaska) and Siberian Russia; the North Atlantic Land Bridge between northeastern North America and Europe; the Antilles and Central American Land Bridges connecting North America with Central and South America; and the Magellan Land Bridge between southern South America, Antarctica, and continuing on periodically to Australia and Australasia. 

When these were intact biotas moved between the regions to form floristic and faunal biogeographic relationships and when they were disrupted disjunct affinities were established as, for example, between eastern Asia and eastern North America.

In Paul Manos’s (Duke University) words, ‘Graham is among the best paleobotanists in the world. In multiple works, he has synthesized vast amounts of information to produce a paleo perspective on plant diversity through the last hundred million years. Within those works, he has touched on the role of land bridges, but not with the attention shown here. The topic is clear and timely, and this highly original work has great potential to contribute to the biogeographical history of the Americas.’

Another reviewer of the book, Henry Hooghiemstra from the University of Amsterdam, informs that ‘Land Bridges attempts to reconstruct the broad outlines of the geological and paleobotanical history of the last hundred million years. The history of plate tectonics—how it influenced past plant migration, current composition of regional floras, and intercontinental linkages—makes this book a great pleasure to read.

‘While reading, admiration gradually increases for how Graham is able to make a fascinating story out of such a large bulk of evidence. Few scientists have developed such an impressive, integrated picture of earth history. Spectacular.’

NHM/MCT Partnership Awards: Previous Winners

Marsh Award in Palaeontology

2017 David Ward
2016 William Blows
2015 Dean Lomax
2013 John Quayle
2012 Peter Austen
2010 Steven Sweetman
2009 Stan Wood
2008 Joe S.H. Collins

Marsh Award in Mineralogy

2017 David Green
2016 Roy Starkey

Marsh Award for the Best Earth Sciences Book of the Year

2017 The Origin and Nature of Life on EarthThe Emergence of the Fourth Geosphere Authors: Eric Smith and Harold J Morowitz. Cambridge University Press, 2016.