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Victoria scientist honoured for communication


30 June 2014

Victoria scientist honoured for communication

A track record of excellence in communicating science has won Victoria University of Wellington scientist Dr Simon Lamb a distinguished international award.

Dr Lamb, an associate professor in the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences and one of the makers of Thin Ice, a documentary on climate change, is the recipient of the 2014 Athelstan Spilhaus award presented by the world’s largest earth science organisation, the American Geophysical Union.

The award is given annually to recognise individuals who have “devoted portions of their lives to expressing the excitement, significance and beauty of the Earth and space sciences to the general public”. The American Geophysical Union has 62,000 members spread over 144 countries.

Thin Ice – the Inside Story of Climate Science shows the range of human activity and scientific endeavour that continues to be applied to the effort to understand the world’s changing climate.

Dr Lamb was co-director and photographer, as well as narrator of the film. Thin Ice has screened at film festivals around the world and been downloaded tens of thousands of times.

Dr Lamb has also written several books and made television programmes and films which have reached large global audiences. His book, The Devil in the Mountain, which outlines his own research into how the Andes were formed, was named on the New York Times Book Review’s list of 100 Notable Books for 2004.

Dr Lamb says he is thrilled to receive the award from the international geophysical community.

“I have never really thought about awards because I have found it such fun over the years trying to communicate widely, through books, television and films, my own scientific research, together with the broader understanding of how our planet works.

“I have to confess, however, that I have sometimes been worried that it has used up a lot of my time, in a profession where one is judged mainly by one's own original scientific output.

“But being honoured like this by my scientific colleagues shows that there is now increasing recognition, in a world where science is playing such a huge role in both identifying and solving global problems, that all scientists must take the time to talk directly to the rest of the world about what they are doing."

To find out more about the Athelstan Spilhaus award, visit

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