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Iain Stewart is Professor of Geoscience Communication at the University of Plymouth, UK, and Director of its Sustainable Earth Institute. His academic interests in applying Earth science to pressing societal concerns - climate change, geo-resources, geo-energy, disaster risk reduction - form the basis of his 2018 recognition as UNESCO Chair in ‘Geoscience and Society’.

Iain’s research roots are in active tectonics and geohazards. After completing a BSc in Geography and Geology at Strathclyde University (1986), and a PhD in earthquake geology at the University of Bristol (1990), he taught Earth sciences at Brunel University, west London, until 2002. In 2004, he joined the University of Plymouth, where he developed his interdisciplinary interests in ‘geo-communication’.

His geo-communication activities build on a 15-year partnership with BBC Science, making popular mainstream television documentaries about planet Earth. Major multi-part television series presented by him include Journeys from the Centre of the Earth [2014], Journeys into the Ring of Fire [2016], Earth: The Power of the Planet [2007], How Earth Made Us [2009], How To Grow A Planet [2012], Volcano Live [2012]; and Rise of the Continents [2013].  In addition, he has tackled controversial societal issues, notably climate change in Earth: The Climate Wars [2008) and Hot Planet [2009], and energy in Fracking – the New Energy Rush [2013] and Planet Oil [2015].

This ‘popular geoscience’ has led to an academic interest in how best to convey complex and contested Earth science to non-technical (public) audiences. Working with a team of doctoral students, Iain has forged novel research alliances with human geographers, psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists to apply social and cognitive science perspectives on communicating risk and uncertainty to Earth science problems. The work includes understanding how lay publics conceptualise the geological subsurface and analyzing public and media attitudes to geo-energy (geothermal and shale gas). He regularly delivers plenary addresses and keynote talks on ‘communicating contested geoscience’ at international geoscience fora and industry conferences, as well as specialist technical workshops on geoscience communication. He is the Executive Editor of the EGU’s academic journal, Geoscience Communication.

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Job title: 
Professor of Geoscience Communication
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Academic member