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Chris Turney

Author, Corporate, Inspirational Speaker, Speaking Out

Chris is an Australian and British professor of Earth science and author of three popular science books. Chris is an Australian Research Council (ARC) Laureate Fellow and Professor of Climate Change at the University of University of New South Wales, where he and his team are focusing their efforts on finding lessons from the past.

Chris investigates past and future climates, how people have responded to change, and recent human evolution and migration. He does this in a hands-on fashion: he digs down into the ice of Antarctica for core samples, the depths of a volcanic crater, or searches for Hobbit fossils (seriously!) across Indonesia. He has stories to tell and bring to life.

Chris has earned a reputation as scientist who can demystify and articulate, for any audience, exactly what it is that a scientist does for a living. His enthusiasm shows us not only why he pursues these interests, but points out what we stand to gain through scientific education.

What themes are recurring in your work?

I’m fascinated by what happened when. I believe that the value and excitement of science can be best communicated by telling stories from the history of science.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about communicating the value of science to better understand the world about us. As part of these efforts, I regularly communicate with the public during fieldwork, allowing anyone to take part virtually in my expeditions.

What have been the highlights of your career?

I have been extremely lucky to work in many remote location across the world, from the tropics to the polar regions, including visiting the South Geographic Pole in 2012.

I led the carbon dating of a newly discovered species of human, Homo floresiensis (the Hobbit) which hit the world’s headlines in 2004.

In my book 1912, I uncovered previously unknown details that one of the returning parties on Scott of the Antarctic’s expedition took more than fair share of supplies, contributing to the British leader and his team’s death.

In 2007, I was privileged to be the first recipient of the International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA) Sir Nicholas Shackleton Medal for outstanding young Quaternary scientist for pioneering research into past climate change and dating the past. In 2008 I was the recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Prize for contributions to understanding the evolution of the Earth’s climate over the last 50,000 years.

Most recently I was honoured to be awarded the 2009 Geological Society of London’s Bigsby Medal for services to geology.In 2010, I became an Australian Laureate Fellow.

Haven’t I seen you before?

I was science advisor and interviewed on a Channel 4 TV series Man on Earth, presented by Tony Robinson, looking at the impact of past climate change on our ancestors. I have also been interviewed on numerous other documentaries and news reports.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I have a popular science website (, a Google+ page, a YouTube Channel and a Twitter feed where the public can follow me on expeditionary work.

I am currently raising funds to lead a privately-funded expedition to Enderby Land, a part of Antarctica rarely visited and for which little scientific information is available (the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014).

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